Where was Dragonfly filmed?
Evanston, IL; Arcadia, CA: Kaua’i, HI
American, House, NatureScapes, Victorian, Hospitals/Medical, Religious
In this movie with an all-star cast, Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) has a perfect life. He’s married to Emily (Susanna Thompson), a beautiful fellow doctor, and is the head of emergency services at a Chicago Hospital. And with Emily seven months pregnant with his child, Joe’s life is about to be complete.
But all that changes in an instant when Emily’s life comes to a tragic end. Performing humanitarian work in Venezuela, Emily is killed when the bus she’s traveling in is swamped by a landslide and sent plunging into a river far below.
As a way of coping with his debilitating grief, Joe tries to throw himself into his work. But when strange things start happening, the normally rational Joe begins to believe Emily is trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave.
Before she died, Emily asked him to check in on her patients in the hospital’s pediatric oncology unit. When he starts visiting them, Joe becomes convinced that Emily is communicating with him through her patients. He starts receiving all sorts of cryptic messages and symbols relating to Emily and even starts having visions of her.
Before long, Joe realizes he has no choice but to visit the site where Emily died. What he finds when he gets there will change his life forever.
But is Emily still alive? And if she’s passed away, what is she trying to tell Joe from the afterlife? To find the answers, you’ll need to watch the 2002 film Dragonfly, directed by Tom Shadyac.
Once you’ve watched this supernatural thriller, you might want to check out the filming locations of Dragonfly. We’ve tracked down the sites where some of the best scenes in Dragonfly were filmed (spoiler alert!), so keep reading to find out exactly where they are.
If you want to check out some of the best Dragonfly locations in person, you can. While a decent chunk of the movie is set in Venezuela, you might be surprised to learn that many of the filming sites from Dragonfly are actually located much closer to home.
For example, in one particularly memorable scene in the movie, Joe sees a bus submerged in a Venezuelan river. Putting all thoughts of his own safety aside, Joe jumps off a cliff and plunges into the turbulent waters below. Rather than Venezuela, this scene was filmed on the Middle Fork American River in northern California, a location known for its excellent whitewater rapids.
Other scenes with action supposedly taking place in South America were filmed at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, while waterfall shots were filmed on the island of Kaua’i in Hawaii.
However, Joe and Emily’s Chicago home is found in Evanston, a little over 10 miles north of the heart of Chicago. It’s a gorgeous Queen Anne-style home and actually sold for $1,950,000 in September 2021.
The role of Joe Darrow was originally written for Harrison Ford.
Parrot scene in Dragonfly
Joe and Emily’s home, 1104 Michigan Ave, Evanston, IL
If Joe thought he’d be able to get over Emily’s death quickly, he’s in for a rude shock. Not only has his strange and rude behavior seen him falling out of favor at work, but a series of bizarre happenings at the hospital and at home are forcing him to question his sanity.
And things are about to get even weirder. Late one night, he spots a dragonfly (an insect Emily was obsessed with) outside the window. “It’s just a bug, big bird. Attracted to the light. Let’s not get crazy here,” Joe murmurs, trying to reassure himself as much as his pet parrot.
Then, in the middle of the night, his previously placid parrot starts announcing “Honey, I’m home,” before flying into a rage. The bird eventually calms itself and lies still on the floor, but after tending to the bird to make sure it’s OK, Joe is startled when he looks up and sees a vision of Emily standing outside the window.
If you want to check out Joe and Emily’s gorgeous home in Dragonfly, you can find it at 1104 Michigan Avenue in Evanston, Illinois. It’s about 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, with the shores of Lake Michigan just a couple of minutes’ walk away, and you’ll instantly recognize its exterior from the movie.
River scene in Dragonfly
Middle Fork American River, Auburn, CA
As the strange occurrences continue and his life starts to fall apart, Joe realizes he has no choice but to travel to Venezuela and visit the spot where Emily died. Upon arrival, he’s taken to a secluded village in the rainforest, and sees the graves where the crash victims have been buried.
Showing his wife’s photo to two local tribe members, he asks which grave is Emily’s. “Does anybody know where?” he asks desperately, then watches on in confusion as the locals argue as to whether or not they should take him to a village. Then, spotting a towering waterfall nearby, Joe races off into the jungle and heads for the village.
Climbing to a cliff above the river, he sees the bus that was washed away in the landslide now partially submerged in the river below. He’s followed by his guide Victor (Jacob Vargas), who tells him he is forbidden to be in the village. “Senor, we can return with government people, but you must come back with me now.”
Ignoring his requests, Joe turns and leaps off the edge, plunging into the water below.
These scenes were shot on the Middle Fork American River, which is found near Foresthill in northern California. The view of the bus in the water was filmed near Coffeepot Rapids, while the shot of Joe making the leap was shot near the famous Tunnel Chute.
Joe recovers from nearly drowning scene in Dragonfly
Los Angeles County Arboretum, 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA
After his brush with death in the sinking bus, Joe sees a vision of Emily and finally understands what happened during his wife’s final moments alive. He’s pulled to safety by Victor, who drags him to shore.
Eventually awakening, he’s confronted by a furious Victor. “You are one crazy son of a bitch, you know that? You’re lucky to be alive, senor. You were not breathing.” Victor wants to leave straight away so they can make it to the airstrip before nightfall, but Joe has other ideas.
“She lives through the bus accident. She made it to the village,” Joe says, in an almost trancelike state, before leaving an angry Victor in his wake and racing towards the village.
This Dragonfly filming location where Joe lies recovering on the riverbank is actually the Los Angeles County Arboretum. You can find it at 301 North Baldwin Avenue, Arcadia, a little less than 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
It may not have received the best of reviews from the critics, and it certainly wasn’t what you’d call a huge box office success, but there’s still a lot to like about Dragonfly. Kevin Costner is always a highly watchable star, and fans of supernatural thrillers will find plenty to enjoy in this 2002 film.
Happily, if you want to check out some Dragonfly locations for yourself, you won’t have to trek deep into the South American rainforest. With the movie filmed in California, Chicago, and the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, there are plenty of easily accessible film shoot locations that you can visit in person.