Starship Troopers movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Starship Troopers filmed?

1997

About Starship Troopers

Fans of sci-fi films looking for out-of-this-world adventure and action shouldn’t miss the Starship Troopers movie. It is loosely based on Robert A. Heinlein’s military science fiction novel of the same name that centers on humanity’s fight against giant alien bugs invading the Earth.

There have been several versions of the movie made over the decades. If you haven’t seen any of them, let’s start exploring some terrific scenes from the 1997 film (spoiler alert!) We’ve also included the Starship Troopers filming locations you can add to your travel bucket list.

Starship Troopers follows a young soldier, Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien), who engages in a full-scale war against a race of alien insects called Bugs. Together with his high school friends and girlfriend, Carmen (Denise Richards), they become starship troopers trained to destroy Klendathu’s deadly inhabitants.

Johnny seems to enlist in the army for the wrong reason. He seeks to follow his close friend, Carl Jenkins (Neil Patrick Harris), and does not want to separate from Carmen. However, his grades are too low to be with Carmen in Flight School.

Instead, he is appointed to the Mobile Infantry and becomes a squad leader, while Carl is part of the Military Intelligence. As they join the military to battle the species of a ruthless enemy, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that it’s a perilous place to be.

During a training incident that leads to one of his squad member’s death, Johnny experiences a dark time in the military. Then he decides to quit. But this changes, as well as his motivations for joining the Mobile Infantry when a tragedy hits Buenos Aires, obliterating his hometown and killing his parents and most of its population.

This time, he is more determined than ever to defend the human race and put an end to these alien aggressors. But the Bugs prove to be more prepared and smarter than they realized.

City Locations

Los Angeles, CA

Location Types

Architectural, American, House, Mansions, Modern, Nature Spaces, Hospitals/Medical, Schools/Colleges

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Modern Building, Retreat, School

Starship Troopers Locations

Starship Troopers is set in a futuristic world where space travel is like going out of town. The futuristic technology allows citizens to explore the solar system and go to other planets, like Klendathu. Since the movie required lots of CGIs and green screen, some scenes were recorded in a studio or a soundstage. However, Starship Troopers production also took place in several locations throughout the U.S.

To create a realistic alien world feel for the movie, the filmmakers headed to Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming. Its dramatic landscape and geography capture an otherworldly setting, making it one of the primary Starship Troopers locations. With only minimal touchups, they turned this place into the planet Klendathu.

But Hell’s Half Acre was not the only place that stood in for the Bug planet. South Dakota’s Badlands National Park was also featured to create the battle scenes in the film. Its extraordinary landscapes span steep canyons, towering spires, pinnacles, and layered rock formations, drawing filmmakers and visitors worldwide.

Several places in Los Angeles and California were also used in the movie. These include parks, commercial properties, homes, and event venues.

Fun fact:

The filmmakers built some life-sized, robotic models of arachnids, and most of the Bugs that appeared in the film were computer-generated images. However, the actors would often look at the director during the battle scenes, jumping, screaming at them, and chasing them to elicit their reactions.

The battle scene in Starship Troopers

Hell's Half Acre, Wyoming

Since it’s a military sci-fi movie, Starship Troopers is not without battle scenes. The opening sequence is one of the first Starship Troopers action scenes, where the viewers are introduced to Klendathu. It’s the home planet of the arachnids, located in the Klendathu System.

The Sixth Mobile Infantry Division has just landed on the planet the cap troopers refer to as the Big K to eliminate the Bugs. Reporting from Klendathu is lieutenant Jean Rasczak (Michael Ironside). He describes the Big K as “an ugly planet, a bug planet, and a hostile planet to life.” But the place representing the planet Klendathu isn’t ugly and hostile, and thankfully, not infested with giant bugs.

Situated in Natrona County, Wyoming, Hell’s Half Acre served as the home of dangerous arachnids in the movie. It’s a massive geological formation encompassing more than 960 acres, making it an ideal setting for battle scenes. It’s one of the primary Starship Trooper locations worth exploring today, consisting of unique rock formations, caves, hard-packed eroded earth, and deep ravines.

With the film’s success, the area has also attracted many tourists who wanted to witness and explore Klendathu. The view of the rock formations from above is absolutely a magnificent sight, while the distant cave openings will pique your interest and imagination.

Driving your car is the easiest and most convenient way to get to Hell’s Half-Acre. Casper, Wyoming, is the nearest town to the site, approximately 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of the 20/26 highway. Be sure to arrive early, as it’s a day trip from the town.

The football game scene in Starship Troopers

The Walter Pyramid, Long Beach, CA

During a football game between Tigers, Johnny’s team, and Giants, Zander’s team, we see Zander (Patrick Muldoon) talking and laughing with Carmen. This doesn’t sit right with Johnny, so he pushes Zander and tells him not to get any ideas about his girlfriend. But Zander doesn’t back away. Instead, he pushes him back and responds with the ever-famous quote, “All is fair in love and war.”

This intense football match takes place in Buenos Aires Sports Arena in the film. But the actual location for this scene was the Walter Pyramid on the Long Beach State University Campus in Long Beach, California. It’s a pyramid-shaped stadium that can hold over 4,000 people.

Also called The Pyramid by many locals, the Walter Pyramid is an iconic sight you shouldn’t miss when touring the university or visiting the city. It’s been the home of Long Beach State volleyball and basketball for over twenty years. Its floor space can accommodate nine volleyball courts or three basketball courts and additional four half basketball courts.

As a multi-purpose arena, the Walter Pyramid also hosts numerous events and activities. The building features a world-class conference center, The Ponte. It’s a state-of-the-art venue for banquets, academic lectures, seminars, and workshops. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, it’s a must-see architectural structure in Long Beach.

Take buses 45, 171, 173, and 560, as they have routes that pass near The Pyramid. The Atherton & Fanwood SE is the closest bus stop, only about a three-minute walk from Walter Pyramid.

The classroom scene in Starship Troopers

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Baldwin Park, CA

At the beginning of the film, you’ll see most of the main characters in Starship Troopers, including Johnny, in a classroom. As Mr. Rasczak sums up the day’s lesson, he gives a speech about the failure of democracy and “how the social scientists brought our world to the brink of chaos.”

Serving as Buenos Aires Education Center, where Johnny Rico and his friends receive education, is the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center. It also appears in various scenes in the film, including the futuristic prom dance. You can still find the outdoor water feature today, which adds an elegant party vibe to the prom scene in the movie.

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center is an operating hospital and healthcare center that’s open 24 hours with emergency services seven days a week. However, you can’t just go there and explore the place anytime. If you want to see its exteriors, you can ride the bus or train to get there. You may take the Metrolink San Bernardino Line for train or the bus 486, Express Line, Teal Line, or Express Line.

The Rico’s house scene in Starship Troopers

Henman House, Mulholland Highway, Malibu

The early part of the film shows Johnny arguing with his parents about his military enlistment. His father, Bill Rico (Christopher Curry), isn’t pleased about the possibility of his son joining the Federal Service. On the other hand, his mother (Lenore Kasdorf) fears more for her son’s safety, arguing that “people get killed in the Federal Service,” which isn’t exactly wrong.

As you watch this scene, pay attention to the lovely glass house with glorious nature views. The Henman House at 33583 Mulholland Highway in Malibu, California, provided a beautiful setting for this scene. It’s an awe-inspiring property, nestled atop a large promontory with a spectacular view of the Malibu canyons below.

This private mountaintop estate features a glass cathedral-like structure with intricately-designed skylights and soaring glass curtain walls. Besides its stunning interiors, you’ll also fall in love with its surroundings. When you go to the patio area, you’ll be rewarded with idyllic canyon and mountain views.

Everything about this property speaks of luxury, relaxation, and beauty. It’s in a highly secluded spot, so getting here via public transportation is a little tricky. But due to its striking beauty, the Henman House remains one of the coveted locations for films, music videos, and TV shows.

The boot camp scene in Starship Troopers

Mile Square Regional Park, Fountain Valley, CA

Johnny and the new recruits, including his former high school classmate, Dizzy (Dina Meyer), are drilled brutally by Career Sergeant Zim (Clancy Brown) in the boot camp. It’s where you’ll hear his iconic line, “Pain is in your mind,” which he says after breaking the trainee’s arm in one-on-one combat against him.

The Mile Square Regional Park served as the military boot camp where the training scenes in Starship Troopers were filmed. It was once a bean field, which the Navy acquired as a training base until it was developed into a regional park. Today, it is a must-visit urban park in the city of Fountain Valley, spanning about 607 acres of land.

There are many things to do in the park, so ensure you arrive early to maximize your experience. It features a nature area, golf courses, soccer fields, an archery range, and more. For other activities, you can go fishing in the lake, bike along the trail, ride a paddle boat, or enjoy an afternoon picnic with friends. It also hosts special events and private parties for various celebrations.

Bring your friends and enjoy the facilities and nature activities in the park. To get there, take bus 72, with stops just a short walk from the park.

The recruitment scene in Starship Troopers

Los Angeles Convention Center

Do you remember the dark humor in the scene where Johnny, Carl, and Carmen submit their paper to the recruitment officer after their oath-taking ceremony? Johnny announces she’s joining the Mobile Infantry. Then, the recruitment officer responds, “Good for you. The Mobile Infantry made me the man I am today.” As he says this, she shakes Johnny’s hands with his prosthetic arms and reveals his pair of amputated legs.

This scene was filmed inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, located in the heart of downtown LA. It’s the leading destination for exhibitions, trade shows, meetings, conventions, and special events. Thanks to its impressive architectural design and space, it’s often used in photo shoots and filming. Also, its advanced technological functionality matches the film’s futuristic vibe.

Due to its central location, the LA Convention Center is easily accessible by public transportation. Head to the Pico Station and take the Metro Blue or Expo Line. Metro Bus also has numerous lines stopping near LACC, including the Silver Line and Lines 30, 81, 442, and 460.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that shooting on location can provide a unique and exciting experience for the cast and crew. But apart from the fun of traveling, it results in more authentic scenes and less contrived settings. It also elevates your production and augments the movie’s narrative, as you use the world as your backdrop.

Sure, some movies can be filmed entirely in a soundstage or studio. However, for films like Starship Troopers, shooting on location is vital to bring the story to life and take the viewers from Earth to another planet without space travel.

Although the filming location of Starship Troopers is nowhere near space, it gives us an out-of-this-world adventure while watching the movie. That’s because the production crew was able to pick the best film locations effectively that represent extraterrestrial planets.