American Beauty movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was American Beauty filmed?


City Locations

Los Angeles (USA), Burbank (USA), Chicago (USA), Long Beach (USA)

Location Types

American, Mansions, Modern, Diners, Schools/Colleges, Gym/Sports, Film Studio

Location Styles

Cape Cod, Dutch Colonial, Contemporary Modern, Modern Building, Southern

About American Beauty

Sam Mendes' 1999 American Beauty is a masterpiece starring Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey. Other acclaimed actors such as Thora Birch, Annette Bening, and Mena Suvari also feature in the gripping drama of emotions that explores the depths of human relationships.

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), a middle-aged man amid an emotional midlife crisis, is at the center of this captivating film. His wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) appears to have everything she needs professionally, yet finds herself still dissatisfied with her life.

Their daughter Jane (Thora Birch) has been struggling with depression and low self-esteem due to her basic physical features compared to those of Angela (Mena Suvari), their beautiful guest star - which only exacerbates Lester's consuming obsession towards the said guest star and creates further tumult within the family dynamics.

Sam Mendes, the celebrated theater director renowned for his 1998 Cabaret revival and collaboration with Nicole Kidman in The Blue Room, made a lasting impression on viewers through his motion picture debut by exposing the bleakness of an American family. This film is an eye-opener about what beauty looks like in our appearance-oriented society.

American Beauty was released to critical acclaim, but the positive reception didn’t reflect in its box office earnings initially. However, it cleaned up by receiving lists of accolades, including five Oscars for Best Picture, Sam Mendes for Best Director, Kevin Spacey for Best Actor, Alan Ball's Original Screenplay win, and Conrad L Hall taking home the award for Best Cinematography.

American Beauty not only won three Golden Globe Awards, for Best Picture, Drama, Best Director – Motion Picture, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Kevin Spacey), but it also earned two prestigious BAFTAs for both Best Film and Direction.

At the same time, it was praised for its darkly comic satire of suburban American values and poignant themes about family dysfunctionality, loneliness, beauty, and sexuality. Since its release, it has become a cult classic, with many filmmakers citing it as influencing their work.

American Beauty Locations

American Beauty was filmed in various locations around the United States. Most of the scenes were shot in Los Angeles, California, with other filming locations including Chicago, Illinois, and Mobile, Alabama. The backdrop of these regions showcases a wide array of visuals, from bustling city streets to quaint suburban neighborhoods.

Los Angeles provided the perfect setting for many key scenes, thanks to its urban landscape which made it easy to evoke the more emotional and chaotic moments. Viewers can easily spot familiar landmarks such as Hollywood Boulevard and Paramount Studios.

Apart from Los Angeles, Chicago also played a pivotal role in providing a setting for some of the best scenes in American Beauty. While not as visually flashy as some of California’s landmarks, the Windy City still has plenty to offer potential visitors.

It is home to iconic attractions such as Navy Pier and Millennium Park, providing excellent photo opportunities alongside glimpses into some of its unique local cultures, such as world-class museums or delicious restaurants.

All three regions have something unique to offer viewers interested in reliving their favorite moments from American Beauty. Whether it's exploring movie sets up close or taking in breathtaking views from afar, any trip to visit these locations would be worthwhile, even if only for pure nostalgic sake!

Lester at Mr. Smiley’s scene in American Beauty

20105 Saticoy Street Winnetka CA 91306, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Lester's (Kevin Spacey) life took a turn for the unexpected when he decided to accept a job at Mr. Smiley's fast food restaurant. Little did he know that his wife (Annette Bening) would be visiting him unknowingly through the drive-thru!

It was an unforgettable moment in cinema and it didn't take long for us viewers to sympathize with Lester as we watched him approach this tedious task with a nonchalant attitude. The tone of the scene is lighthearted yet poignant, conveying his emotional journey from one stage to another in his life.

The sky is hazy, like all of Winnetka, and it has a subtle, yet lonely feel to it. The parking lot is almost empty, but there are a few cars driving by, hinting at some of the life that exists in this small California city. Mr. Smiley's itself looks like your typical fast food restaurant with bright lights, red and yellow signs which read "Open" and "Come on in,” and a warm atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.

To get to this location, head northwest out of Los Angeles for about 25 miles until you reach Winnetka, home of Chatsworth High School where Spacey attended. Once you arrive at Winnetka, you'll find Saticoy Street running east-west while Carl's Jr is towards the east on that road at the corner of Tampa Avenue.

You'll know you've made it when you see the hard-to-miss sign with its trademark smiley face logo! While at it, consider visiting other famous nearby attractions like Universal Studios Hollywood or Six Flags Magic Mountain for a full day of fun!

High school outdoor scenes in American Beauty

4801 Pacific Coast Hwy, Torrance, California 90505, USA

The scene in American Beauty where Lester is transfixed by Angela (Mena Suvari) takes place at South High School, a real high school located in Torrance, California on the Pacific Coast Highway. The exterior of the learning institution appeared in the movie to provide an atmosphere of teenage innocence and freedom that could be taken away at any moment.

The interior scenes were actually filmed at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, which is about 30 miles south of Torrance. At both schools, visitors can easily pick out some of the landmarks that were featured in the film including the hallway where Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) and Angela meet up after school and Angela’s bedroom window that she stares out of longingly before jumping out.

Even more exciting than these locations are the backdrops built specifically for the movie like Ricky’s room with its blue light and starry sky wallpaper, providing a dream-like feel, or Colonel Fitts' living room that is reminiscent of an old-timey hotel lobby setting.

To visit either location, take Interstate 5 south of Los Angeles and exit onto Long Beach Boulevard. From there, drive approximately seven miles until you reach Pacific Coast Highway and continue south until you reach South High School in Torrance which should be about 15 miles down Pacific Coast Highway from Long Beach Boulevard.

To visit Long Beach Polytechnic High School, stay on Long Beach Boulevard until it ends at Atlantic Avenue then turn left and follow Atlantic Avenue for about 5 miles.

High school gym scene in American Beauty

Long Beach Polytechnic High School, 1600 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90813, United States

This American Beauty scene takes place in the hallways and gym of Long Beach Polytechnic High School. It portrays a moment of admiration between Lester and Angela, an object of his newfound infatuation. Lester and his wife are watching their daughter perform but instead, he is completely mesmerized by Angela.

The Long Beach Polytechnic High School is located in California near Los Angeles and is a public school. With its classic architecture and warm colors, it has become a well-known landmark in the area that many people recognize when they pass by.

Long Beach Polytechnic High School is easily accessible from most points in the city either by car or public transport. This destination also includes plenty of nearby cafes and restaurants.

Burnham house scenes in American Beauty

11388 Homedale St, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The dinner scene at the Burnham home sees the family gathered around the table. Lester and Carolyn, have an emotional conversation that reveals elements of dysfunction in their marriage, and how it has affected their daughter Jane.

Positioned just off Sunset Boulevard, in the upmarket town of Brentwood, Los Angeles is Lester's exquisite abode. From its sprawling front window, you can witness the breathtaking views of Mount Baldy.

To get to this location, take either I-405 or I-10 Freeway, depending on which direction you are coming from, to Santa Monica Blvd and turn left. Then take Santa Monica Blvd until it hits Sunset Blvd, before turning right onto Sunset Blvd to Homedale Street. Make another right, that is where you will find the American Beauty filming location used for Lester Burnham's house scenes.

Open House scene in American Beauty

22421 Collins Street Woodland Hills 91367, CA, USA

Carolyn stands before a group of potential buyers and showcases her home, while they parade through it as if they own it. She is every bit the professional realtor, pointing out to each group of prospective buyers, men, women, couples, singles, gay and straight, something that makes it seem more appealing.

Her mantra throughout this interaction is "I will sell this house." The open house scene was filmed at 22421 Collins Street Woodland Hills 91367 in Los Angeles County, California. This residential area is in a suburban neighborhood located just north of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley area.

It stretches from Canoga Park in the east to Calabasas in the west and borders Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village to the north. This part of town is well known for its natural beauty. Getting to Collins Street is as easy as taking US-101 North or South until you reach Canoga Avenue exit 22A. From there, follow that road until you reach Fallbrook Avenue where you'll take a right turn towards Collins Street (just past De Soto Avenue).

Once on Collins Street keep driving until you reach 22421 which will be on your left side just after Topanga Canyon Boulevard. You can also easily get here via public transportation using Metro or taking a bus from various locations such as Santa Monica or downtown LA using lines 862X/252X/705X/734X/656X all leading directly to Collins Street & De Soto Avenue intersection which is just around the corner from 22421.

Carolyn's affair scene in American Beauty

8525 Sepulveda Blvd, North Hills, CA 91343, USA

The scene at the Top Hat Motel is a pivotal moment in Carolyn's story. It's where her affair with her high school sweetheart takes place, and it's where she reaches a turning point in her life.

The motel itself stands out for its old-fashioned look, lending it a certain charm that reflects Carolyn's nostalgia for her youth. The building is situated along Sepulveda Boulevard, North Hills, California - an area known for its lush greenery and quiet streets.

The outside of the Top Hat Motel has a classic brick facade, complemented by arching windows and checkered floors. Inside, the lobby has vintage furnishings, such as retro chairs and couches set against walls adorned with art deco wallpaper and framed paintings. It’s clear from the atmosphere of the motel that this isn’t any ordinary place, but rather one with a rich history behind it - all of which make it the perfect setting for Carolyn’s journey of self-discovery.

To get to this location from downtown Los Angeles, take either Interstate 405 or Interstate 5 northbound until you reach Exit 24B (Roscoe Boulevard). Turn right onto Roscoe Blvd., then right again onto Sepulveda Blvd., heading southbound towards North Hills. After approximately 1 mile on Sepulveda Blvd., you will reach 8525 Sepulveda Blvd., just before Parthenia Street on your left side - that is where you will find the charming facade of the Top Hat Motel as seen in the movie.


American Beauty is a powerful and thought-provoking drama that examines the lives of middle-class Americans and their struggle to stand out in a highly conformist culture. With its clever script, excellent performances, and striking visuals, it's easy to see why this movie earned its stripes as a cult favorite.

Kevin Spacey delivered an unforgettable performance as Lester Burnham, a man who decides to take control of his destiny by defying societal expectations and embracing his true desires. His transformation from a meek everyman to a self-assured rebel is inspiring, as he finds strength through embracing his individualism.

Annette Bening delivers an equally strong performance as Carolyn Burnham, a woman desperately trying to maintain her socially accepted facade while her inner turmoil threatens to break through. The tension between Lester and Carolyn's contrasting ideologies creates interesting conflict and further explores themes of non-conformity.

The movie is also visually stunning, with director Sam Mendes using beautiful cinematography and striking compositions to create an immersive atmosphere that draws viewers into the story. He does an excellent job at highlighting the small moments in life that often go unnoticed; these moments are what truly shape our characters and give them depth beyond their surface-level personalities.

Overall, American Beauty stands as one of the best films of its era - not just because of its technical merit but also because of its profound exploration into complex human psychology and relationships. Its message on nonconformity still resonates today and proves that there is beauty in being different. For an emotionally charged yet uplifting viewing experience, American Beauty is worth watching.