Much like the actors and script, the filming locations behind some of the most memorable ’90s movies are equally paramount to a film’s enduring quality. Often, the backdrop and setting of a particular scene can drastically affect the ambience of a film in wild and unexpected ways. Few might recall the record-breaking hurricane that threatened the cast and crew of “Jurassic Park” while shooting in Hawaii or the ice-cold waters that afflicted Kate Winslet with hypothermia during the production of “Titanic.”
Many of the locations you can still visit today, like the boyhood home in “Goodfellas,” where the actual owner is used to fans stopping by to take photos. Other notable locales, like many of the iconic Los Angeles locations in “Pulp Fiction,” are no longer standing due to changes in ownership or other unforeseeable circumstances—for example, one character’s apartment was destroyed in a natural disaster in 1994.
From “Forrest Gump” to “The Matrix,” Giggster made a list of locations from 10 iconic movies from the 1990s. IMDb and Metacritic scores are provided for popular and critical context. Keep reading to learn more behind-the-scenes stories about the places that made the movies.
- Director: Martin Scorsese
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Metascore: 90
- Runtime: 145 minutes
The mob movie that launched the careers of several of our favorite “Sopranos” cast members was filmed in and around New York City—mainly in Brooklyn and Queens. Film fans will be disappointed to learn that, out of all the “Goodfellas” filming locations in Astoria, the only building still standing is Henry’s boyhood home, where the owner is accustomed to fans stopping by for a photo. The other still-standing iconic landmark is the bar where they had the Christmas party: Neir’s Tavern, which dubs itself “the most famous bar you’ve never heard of.” It almost closed in 2019, but is still open and lined with “Goodfellas” memorabilia.
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The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Director: Jonathan Demme
- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- Metascore: 85
- Runtime: 118 minutes
This iconic thriller was shot mainly in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, despite being set in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Tennessee. The mental hospital where Anthony Hopkins was interned was a real infirmary but was demolished in 2011 even though it was registered as a historic landmark.
Another highlight in the film “Flashdance” fans will recognize is where Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling meets the entomologist; the scene was filmed at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the same place where Alexandra Owens (Jennifer Beals) applies for a dance audition in the 1983 film. But the best trivia nugget is that portions of the film were actually filmed at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where Foster prepared for her role by immersing herself in the daily routine of FBI trainees.
Jurassic Park (1993)
- Director: Steven Spielberg
- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 127 minutes
Much of “Jurassic Park” was filmed on the island of Kauai. The bulk of production, however, was under real threat—not from dinosaurs but from Hurricane Iniki, the largest hurricane in the state’s history—which wrecked several of the sets and terrified the cast and crew. Apparently, Laura Dern asked Sam Neill if they would be OK, to which he replied, “I think we might die, Laura.”
Besides that, much of the film was shot on a soundstage in Los Angeles—except for a foray into Red Rock Canyon State Park in California’s Mojave Desert, which was meant to be a stand-in for a Wyoming paleontological dig. “Jurassic Park” marked Steven Spielberg’s return to the island, where he previously filmed “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on Kauai in 1980.
Forrest Gump (1994)
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Metascore: 82
- Runtime: 142 minutes
The most iconic filming location in “Forrest Gump” is, of course, the bench where he tells his life story to participants with varying degrees of interest. Originally located in Chippewa Square in Savannah, Georgia, it now resides in the Savannah History Museum, where it will live on as one of the most famous benches of all time.
Another filming location forever memorialized is a stretch of road on Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. It has since been renamed Forrest Gump Curve, despite Tom Hanks only running in the location for about five seconds. Film buffs may also recognize the hospital where Hanks’ character recuperates alongside Lt. Dan, which was filmed at the Ebell of Los Angeles and has also appeared in other notable films like “The Addams Family,” “Air Force One,” and “Ghost.”
Pulp Fiction (1994)
- Director: Quentin Tarantino
- IMDb user rating: 8.9
- Metascore: 94
- Runtime: 154 minutes
Quentin Tarantino was thinking big when making “Pulp Fiction.” Originally, the director wanted to close Lankershim Boulevard for filming—something that was wildly implausible at the time. (Though, 25 years later, he was able to pull off closing Hollywood Boulevard for “Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.”) “Pulp Fiction” was shot in more than 20 locations across a range of Los Angeles neighborhoods, from South Bay to the Valley—many of which are no longer standing. Brett’s apartment was demolished in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. The Hawthorne Grill, which was originally an abandoned diner, was briefly reopened due to the film’s popularity but is now the location of an AutoZone.
In a 2019 interview, the film’s set decorator, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, recalled scouting the diner: “It had so many great elements to it and the fact that it looked like it was a functioning diner and it looked like something happened; [the owners] left everything in place and just walked out of it. There were napkins and place settings on the tables. It was really odd.”
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- Director: Amy Heckerling
- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- Metascore: 68
- Runtime: 97 minutes
True to its setting, “Clueless” was filmed in and around Los Angeles over a period of 40 days. The hectic schedule contributed to Alicia Silverstone getting severe stomach ulcers brought on in part by stress from long days of filming, an illness that temporarily halted production. The film is largely a portrait of Beverly Hills life in the ’90s, and sadly, the mall where Cher blows off steam is a relic of another era; it closed in 2019 and now mainly houses offices for Google. “Clueless” was also supposed to have a quintessential California eatery in the film: The scene where Tai and Dionne talk about Cher’s virginity was set to take place at a California Pizza Kitchen, but the chain declined, feeling the jokes would negatively impact how customers viewed their food.
- Director: James Cameron
- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- Metascore: 75
- Runtime: 194 minutes
The set used in James Cameron’s epic drama was constructed in 100 days and was located not in the chilly waters of the Atlantic, but at Rosarito Beach, near Tijuana on the coast of Mexico. The production did, however, also go to great depths for the film—namely, to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to capture shots of the original ship itself over the course of 12 dives. Despite being filmed in Mexico, cast members had to spend time in a massive water tank filled with water from the freezing Pacific Ocean. The water was apparently so cold, Kate Winslet—who didn’t want to wear a wet suit that might affect her performance—ended up getting hypothermia during shooting.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
- Director: Gus Van Sant
- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- Metascore: 70
- Runtime: 126 minutes
Despite the film essentially being an advertisement for the city of Boston, due to financial constraints, much of the film was shot in Toronto. The University of Toronto stood in for Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, though some scenes were shot at the colleges, which was a lucky break. Harvard is notorious for not allowing films to be shot on campus, but Harvard alum John Lithgow helped convince the university to make an exception. Other films that are “set” at Harvard but weren’t actually filmed there include “Legally Blonde” (which is set almost entirely at Harvard but was actually filmed at the University of Southern California) and “Prozac Nation,” which was actually filmed at Wheaton College.
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The Matrix (1999)
- Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- Metascore: 73
- Runtime: 136 minutes
The location of “The Matrix” is never explicitly stated, which is on purpose. Though it was shot in Sydney, Australia, over five months, the city’s landmarks were kept out of shots in order for the setting to appear like a generic yet futuristic American city. Much of the film was shot on custom-built sets at Fox Studios, but a great deal of scenes was also filmed on location in the city, which wasn’t easily ignored by Sydney residents. While they were filming the scene with the Woman in Red, a driver was distracted by the woman, and a door ended up coming down on his roof, damaging his car. Guess she didn’t distract only Neo.
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Fight Club (1999)
- Director: David Fincher
- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- Metascore: 66
- Runtime: 139 minutes
David Fincher shot “Fight Club” in and around Los Angeles on more than 1,500 rolls of film—three times the average—but one of the most infamous locations was the 1906 Bristol Hotel in downtown L.A., which stood in for Marla’s apartment. At the time, the area was considered to be less than desirable, and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth was hospitalized after being struck on the head by a beer bottle thrown down by a resident. The hotel, which closed in 2003, has since been renovated and opened as affordable housing units.