Where was Magnolia filmed?
Los Angeles City, California; Reno-Sparks, Nevada
American, Apartment, Clubs/Bars, Buildings/Offices, Retail, Hotel/Motels
Americana/Anywhere America, Classic Car, Dated/50's-60's-70's Building, Dated/Retro, Luxury Hotel
Magnolia is a 1999 drama film about different but interrelated characters with emotional stories intertwined by coincidence. It is written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, featuring an all-star cast, including Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Robards, John C. Reilley, William H. Macy, and Julianne Moore, among others.
Discover what makes Magnolia one of the best American movies ever made and the best movie of 1999. We’ll also cover some of the best scenes in Magnolia (spoiler alert!) and the iconic locations where it was filmed.
Magnolia begins with a narration about three events of amazing coincidences. First is the account of three men convicted for the murder of Sir Edmund William Godfrey (Pat Healy), a family man and pharmacist living in Greenberry Hill, London. The surnames of those men were Green, Berry, and Hill.
The next story was reported in the Reno Gazette in June 1983. It was about Delmer Darion (Patton Oswalt), a Reno blackjack dealer and passionate scuba diver. In one of his diving expeditions at the lake, a firefighting plane putting out a nearby forest fire accidentally picked him up. He died due to a heart attack somewhere between the lake and the tree.
The next day, the volunteer firefighter and the plane’s pilot committed suicide. Incidentally, he got into a fight with Delmer Darion two days ago at the casino. The third story occurred in Los Angeles in March 1958, when an unsuccessful suicide became a successful homicide. Like the two stories, it happened as a matter of chance.
In San Fernando Valley in the present day, the audience is introduced to a series of strange events that happen within twenty-four hours in the film. It covers odd coincidences and intersecting and overlapping lives.
Without a doubt, Magnolia is a soul-stirring film that delicately interweaves the characters’ emotional stories and backgrounds into a unique storyline. Watching it is like being on an intriguing journey with the characters going through varying levels of pain, crisis, and self-discovery. For three hours, this movie will introduce various subplots and lead you in different directions.
Magnolia is set in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s San Fernando Valley neighborhood in Los Angeles County, California. This urbanized valley is home to several gorgeous suburbs and major network and movie studios. If you’ve been to this area, you’ll likely recognize it in the movie, as it’s one of the primary filming locations of Magnolia, as well as other neighboring cities in the county.
The Magnolia production spent significant time filming on location in Los Angeles County, but it also used the NBC Studios in Burbank, California. Many streets and other parts of the downtown LA area were also featured in the movie.
For the outdoor scenes featuring lake and forest sequences, the cast and crew headed to San Bernardino National Forest. It’s the premier year-round outdoor destination in Southern California, offering numerous opportunities for fishing, hiking, backpacking, and more. More specifically, the production team shot several scenes in Big Bear Lake and the surrounding Big Bear Valley, which are the jewels of the National Forest.
Another significant Magnolia filming location is Reno, the largest city in Northern Nevada, situated in the southern area of Washoe County. It serves as a host to the cast and crew as they film a few scenes in the county and the neighboring cities.
The movie’s main poster features its visual motif, a magnolia flower, which appears in every Magnolia film set.
The gambling scene in Magnolia
Nugget Casino Resort, 1100 Nugget Ave, Sparks, NV
Remember the three incredible coincidences at the beginning of the film? One of the stories features an employee of the Nugget Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada, Delmer Darion.
Before he dies after being lifted out of the water by the firefighting plane while diving in the lake, he had a fight with the plane’s pilot, Craig Hansen (Brad Hunt), at the casino two nights before. As the narrator said, “the weight of the guilt and the measure of a coincidence was so large” that it prompts Craig to take his life.
The casino scenes in the film were taken inside the iconic Nugget Casino Resort, a prime destination in Reno-Sparks, Nevada. It’s a full-service casino with elegant rooms and suites, bars & lounges, restaurants, meeting spaces, live entertainment venues, and more. It also often hosts sporting events, live concerts, food expos, holiday celebrations, weddings, and other events.
This casino resort offers excellent dining, high-end accommodations, entertainment, and nightlife in the heart of Victorian Square. It is also best known for scenic tower suites overlooking the bustling Reno, Nevada.
Nugget Casino Resort is nestled in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area, about 45 minutes from the lake and within minutes of downtown Reno. Take a FlixBus with a bus stop near the casino or buses 9, 11, 54, and LNCN with routes that pass near the casino resort.
A man falling from the rooftop building scene in Magnolia
Bryson Apartment Hotel, 2701 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
The third story in the opening sequence is a bit dark but memorable. It’s when a suicide attempt turns into an accidental homicide. Sydney Barringer (Chris O'Hara) stands on the ledge of a nine-story building while an argument is happening three stories below him.
Inside the building, the wife threatens her husband with a shotgun. When it accidentally goes off, Sydney, who jumped from the rooftop, happens to pass.
It turns out that these tenants arguing are Sydney’s parents. When the police confront the couple, Faye (Miriam Margolyes), Sydney’s mother, says she didn’t know the shotgun was loaded. “She always threatens with the gun, but I don’t keep it loaded,” Arthur Barringer (Clement Blake) adds.
Later they find that it was Sydney who loaded the gun six days prior. He would’ve survived the fall, as a safety net was installed a few stories below. Unfortunately, the gunshot killed him.
Despite the grim and sad story that occurred in the building in the film, the actual location of the film shoot provides an elegant apartment living in Los Angeles. Opened in 1913, The Bryson Apartment Hotel is home to 96 apartments featuring sophisticated mahogany woodwork, living rooms, tiled kitchen and bath, and spacious rooms.
The apartment hotel appeared in numerous films and shows over the decades and was a popular venue for receptions, parties, fundraisers, and other events. It is located in West Lake, just outside of downtown LA and accessible by bus.
Donnie crashes his car into a store scene in Magnolia
Liquor Stop N Go Supermarket, 20001 Roscoe Blvd, Winnetka, CA
A woman shrieks, the crowd shouts, and a man announces, “It’s the Quiz Kid, Donnie Smith (William H. Macy).” This is after Donnie crashes his car into a liquor store after driving from the dentist for his braces.
The store that Donnie crashed into in the movie was the Liquor Stop N Go Supermarket at 20001 Roscoe Blvd in Winnetka, California. It’s a small grocery store you can stop at when you need food and other essential items without going to major stores. If you’re not here to buy anything, you can take a photo of the exterior where the crashing scene took place. The staff is nice and friendly, so you’ll feel welcome to have a look inside.
The supermarket is open from 7:45 AM until 12 AM. It is close to several shops and an elementary school. You can take the bus 152 to get there, with stops just a short walk from the store.
Donnie confesses his love to Brad scene in Magnolia
Fox Fire Room, 12516 Magnolia Blvd, Valley Village, CA
Looking at Brad the bartender (Craig Kvinsland), Donnie says, “I love you. I love you and I’m sick. I’ll talk to you… I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Then he confesses that he is getting braces even though he doesn’t have money because Brad has braces. He’s desperate to connect with his crush.
This bar scene in Magnolia was taken in the Fox Fire Room, a cocktail bar that became famous for its appearance in the film. But it isn’t just any dive bar featured in the movie. Locals and residents love to come here due to its delicious cocktails and drinks, friendly staff, and warm vibe. It also serves delicious food and non-alcoholic beverages like fresh juice.
If you want to experience the area’s cool nightlife while visiting the site where Donnie professed his love for the barman in the film, head to this cocktail bar. It’s a wonderful place for happy hour or spending time with friends after a long day. If you’re not driving, the easiest way to get here is by catching bus 155, with stops near the bar.
The investigation scene in Magnolia
Parthenia Apartments, 15150 Parthenia St, North Hills, CA
Officer Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly) investigates a crime scene at an apartment complex, where he finds a dead body inside Marcie’s (Cleo King) bedroom closet. As he’s heading away from the apartment, a young boy, Dixon (Emmanuel Johnson), starts walking with him. “How much you pay me for my help?” Dixon asks to which officer Jim responds, “I think it's more complicated than that little man.”
The apartment you’ll see in this scene is a property at Parthenia Street in North Hills, California. It’s still a rented apartment, so you might not be able to see inside. You can take a photo of the exterior, though, and picture where Jim and Dixon talk in the movie.
This apartment complex is in a convenient location, making it ideal for exploring the picturesque San Fernando Valley. It’s less than twenty miles northwest of downtown LA and is close to parks and recreational areas. On the eastern side of the apartment complex lies the 405 freeway, making it easy to see nearby attractions.
The road scene in Magnolia
Valley Plaza, 12121 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA
After the film’s ensemble cast sings Aimee Mann’s “Wide Up,” we see the rain clearing over the quiet Valley Plaza. Later, Linda Partridge (Julianne Moore) appears, who passes out in her car. When Dixon approaches and finds her unresponsive, he climbs in the passenger seat. He continues to call out, “Lady! Lady! Hey, wake up!” in an effort to walk her up, but to no avail.
These and many road scenes in the movie were filmed around Valley Plaza at Laurel Canyon and Victory Boulevard, one of the prominent Magnolia locations. It’s where several of the film’s flawed characters intersect. You’ll often see the Valley Plaza sign and other stores nearby featured in Magnolia.
Opened in 1951, Valley Plaza was one of the country’s largest open-air shopping centers. Several drugstores, banks, a supermarket, and a shoe store were built around Sears, the center’s anchor store. Its most remarkable feature was the Valley Plaza Tower, a 165-foot-tall building that opened in 1960. It was San Fernando Valley’s tallest structure at that time.
Though it’s not as busy as during its peak period, the Valley Plaza is still worth a visit. It will take you back in time when the area was populated and filled with vintage cars and period wardrobes. The empty storefronts and vacant property now offer filmmakers creative possibilities. If you want to visit, take the metro B Line (Red) or buses 164, 152/353, 230, and 224/230.
Magnolia is not like any other American drama film. It changes perspectives and links the characters’ lives in a chain of regret, loneliness, pain, resentment, and chance. It’s a masterpiece, a mosaic of interrelated people with different stories that are all connected in one way or another.
It was supposed to be a small and quick movie. Though it remained intimate, it grew and kept blossoming. However, for a film with an epic storyline and a great cast to work, you need the right filming location to obtain greater realism, and Magnolia achieved that.
There are so many things to love about this movie, and its filming locations are certainly among them. From the streets around downtown Los Angeles, hotels, and private stores to extensive forest areas and lakes, there are plenty of places to explore and see if you want to visit the Magnolia location during your film tour.