Where was Basic Instinct filmed?
San Francisco, California
American, Apartment, Beach/Oceanview, Police/Jails
Beach House, Beachfront, Luxury
About Basic Instinct
It’s hard to believe Basic Instinct was released more than 30 years ago. This erotic psychological thriller, directed by Paul Verhoeven and produced by Alan Marshall, starred Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone in a titillating and at times brutally violent game of cat and mouse.
The film centers on the investigation of the murder of musician Johnny Boz, played by Bill Cable, who is found stabbed to death. The unfortunate rocker was killed while in a passionate embrace with a mystery woman, and all clues soon point to Boz’s girlfriend Catherine Tramell (as the main suspect).
The sexually provocative Tramell is an author, and she’s written a novel featuring a killing with many similarities to Boz’s murder. But after a memorable interrogation (including Stone’s famous leg-crossing scene) by homicide detective Nick Curran, played by Michael Douglas, Catherine passes a lie detector test and is released. But the question remains: did Catherine kill Johnny Boz, or is someone trying to frame her?
From there the investigation starts to unravel. Nick is a cop with a troubled past and is under investigation by Internal Affairs for indiscretions while battling drug and alcohol addiction. He’s also engaged in an affair with his therapist, Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn), and soon discovers that Catherine is basing her latest book around him.
And when Nick embarks on a passionate affair with the woman he’s meant to be investigating, it inevitably leads to bloody consequences for the detective and those close to him.
While many critics weren’t huge fans of Basic Instinct, audiences were, with the film grossing over $350 million worldwide. It also boasts an engrossing musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, and the plot has more than enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.
As a treat for fans of this 1992 classic, we’ve searched far and wide to find the filming location of Basic Instinct. Keep reading for details and settings of where some of the best scenes in Basic Instinct were filmed (spoiler alert!).
Basic Instinct Locations
Basic Instinct is set in San Francisco, and that’s also where much of this popular thriller was filmed. It all starts with the Johnny Boz crime scene, which was set at a home on Broadway in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. Catherine Tramell’s townhouse is just a short walk away on Vallejo Street, while her beachfront pad is found around 120 miles to the south of the city in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Also in San Francisco are Basic Instinct locations like Nick’s apartment on Montgomery Street in the city’s north, Pier 7 where Nick and Gus have a heart-to-heart discussion about Beth, and Gibb Street where Internal Affairs investigator Marty Nielsen (Daniel von Bargen) is found shot dead.
But not all Basic Instinct locations are found in San Francisco. The building where Nick shoots Beth, for example, is found in Oakland, while the leg-crossing scene was filmed in the studio.
The infamous leg-crossing scene wasn’t actually in the Basic Instinct script. Instead, it was the idea of director Paul Verhoeven on the day of shooting.
Johnny Boz is found murdered scene in Basic Instinct
Boz’ home, 2104 Broadway, San Francisco, CA
As the opening credits roll across the screen, Basic Instinct begins with musician Johnny Boz and an unknown blonde woman making passionate love. Of course, this isn’t your average steamy session between the sheets, as the woman soon ties her lover to the bed and, in the throes of passion, plunges an ice pick into his neck, face, and chest.
Arriving at Boz’s expansive home, Nick and his partner Gus (George Dzundza) break down the facts about the case. Confronted with the grisly crime scene, Gus tries some gallows humor: “He got off before he got offed,” Gus remarks about the victim.
And after dismissing Boz’s maid at the suspect, Nick wants to know more about Boz’s girlfriend, who he was seen leaving a club with just a couple of hours before his death. The woman, of course, is none other than Catherine Tramell.
Boz’s home, with its eclectic collection of decor, is found at 2104 Broadway in Pacific Heights. This prestigious San Francisco neighborhood is known for its excellent Golden Gate views and pricey real estate, so it’s a part of the city well worth exploring.
Nielsen is found dead scene in Basic Instinct
Gibb Street in Chinatown, San Francisco, CA
Internal Affairs investigator Marty Nielsen has always had it in for Nick. And when he finds out that his psychologist, Beth, shared Nick’s confidential patient information with Nielsen when the other man was trying to get him kicked off the force, Nick flips out big time.
Confronting Nielsen in his office, Nick hurls the other man against a wall and accuses Nielsen of selling his psychiatric file to Catherine Tramell. Nick has to be pulled off Nielsen by other detectives, and as he walks away, a furious Nielsen delivers a parting promise: “You are out!”
So, when Nielsen is found dead later that night, a bullet in his head as he lies slumped behind the wheel of his car, Nick comes under immediate suspicion.
You can find this Basic Instinct filming location where Nielsen’s body was found on Gibb Street in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It’s quite a small side street that’s easy to miss, but it branches off Columbus Avenue.
Nick and Catherine sleep together scene in Basic Instinct
Tramell’s home, 157 Spindrift Road, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
Nick is addicted to danger, and sometimes he just can’t seem to stop himself from playing with fire. So, while it would be logical to maintain a safe distance from a murder suspect, Nick has other ideas. Despite the fact that Catherine may very well be a cold-blooded killer, Nick’s about to engage in a torrid affair with his prime suspect.
After a spot of dirty dancing and sharing a passionate kiss at a nightclub, Nick and Catherine head back to her place and hit the sheets. Then, as they’re locked in an embrace, Catherine moves to tie Nick to the bedhead — just as Johnny Boz’s killer did.
The townhouse used as Catherine’s San Francisco home is at 2930 Vallejo Street, just a handful of blocks away from where Johnny Boz was found dead. If you’re visiting this location, it’s worth mentioning that the popular Lyon Street Steps are just a short walk away from the street. But if you’re looking for Tramell’s beachside pad, it’s found a couple of hours’ drive away at 157 Spindrift Road in Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Car chase scene in Basic Instinct
San Francisco Marriott Marquis, 780 Mission St, San Francisco, CA
After a night out with a drunken Gus, Nick leaves the diner and is walking to his car. But as he strolls through the dimly lit carpark, he’s deliberately mowed down by an unknown driver. Thrown over the roof of the car and hitting the pavement with a thud, Nick watches the car speed off.
Desperate to find out who’s behind the wheel, he jumps into his own car and gives chase. In a jarring, bone-rattling ride, Nick pushes his car to its limit, driving up a series of steps in a frantic bid to keep pace with the mystery driver. “You wanna play, huh? Come on” Nick yells, eventually forcing the other driver to crash spectacularly into a building site.
The stairs Nick drives up are located on Kearny Street and are named in honor of San Francisco sculptor and jeweler Peter Macchiarini. They’re found just off Broadway to the north of the city center. And in case you’re wondering, the car Nick is chasing eventually crashes into a building site near the San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel.
Nick tells Gus he suspects Beth scene in Basic Instinct
Pier 7, San Francisco, CA
As the plot twists come thick and fast and Nick grows increasingly close to Catherine, he starts to suspect that Beth might not be as innocent as she seems. Nick learns that Catherine and Beth slept together in college, with Catherine alleging that Beth became obsessed with her. And when other pieces of evidence came to light, Nick starts to suspect that Beth killed Nielsen and is trying to frame Catherine for Johnny Boz’s murder.
He shares his suspicions with Gus, but his partner remains unconvinced. “She’d have to be nuttier than a 20-pound Christmas fruitcake,” he says, protesting Beth’s innocence. “She’s not the one who hangs out with multiple murderers — your girlfriend is!” Furious with Gus, and completely under Catherine’s spell, Nick storms off.
This scene where Nick and Gus argue beside the water was filmed at San Francisco’s Pier 7. With striking views of the Oakland Bay Bridge, this scenic spot is just 2.5 miles from the heart of San Francisco.
Nick shoots Beth scene in Basic Instinct
2201 Broadway, San Francisco, CA
Is Catherine the cold-blooded killer, or is Beth the murderous psychopath? That’s the 64-million-dollar question Nick is desperate to answer, but the web of lies and deceit is proving nearly impossible to untangle.
But when Gus is lured to an office building and murdered, and Nick arrives too late and finds Beth at the scene, he thinks he knows for sure that she’s the killer. Beth claims she got a message on her phone to meet Gus at the building, but a frantic Nick doesn’t believe her. Pulling his gun and telling her to stay where she is, Nick accuses her of being the murderer.
“What’s wrong with you?” Beth asks, advancing towards Nick with a hand in her pocket. He yells at her to take her hand out of her pocket, but she ignores him. Believing Beth is reaching for a weapon, Nick shoots her in the chest. “I loved you,” Beth whispers just before she dies, and Nick is horrified to see that Beth wasn’t reaching for a gun in her pocket but merely grabbing her keys.
The office block where this scene was filmed is found in the nearby city of Oakland, at 2201 Broadway. It’s a little over 10 miles from the heart of San Francisco, but it’s well worth the drive to see the spot where Basic Instinct reached its shocking climax.
No matter which way you look at it, Basic Instinct is a whole lot of fun. It may have been criticized for its minimal character development, but with such an incredible cast of Sharon Stone at her seductive best, Michael Douglas as the cop who loves danger, and lots of violence and sex scenes to keep things rolling along, it’s the ultimate guilty pleasure.
Best of all, you can check out a host of Basic Instinct locations for yourself. With several memorable scenes from the movie filmed in and around the greater San Francisco area, it’s easy to relive some of the biggest and best moments from this 1992 neo-noir classic in person. Just make sure to watch out for homicidal, ice-pick-wielding femme Fatales in your travels!