Where was Stepmom filmed?
New York, Manhattan, Maplewood, Glen Ridge, Morristown
Apartment, House, Naturescapes, Restaurant, Schools/Colleges
Castle/Chateau, Colonial, School
Released in 1998, Stepmom is a comedy-drama directed by Chris Columbus. Screenwriting legends Ronald Bass, Gigi Levangie, Karen Leigh Hopkins, Jessie Nelson, and Steven Rogers teamed up to work on the script. Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts, and Ronald Bass share the screen as the film’s main cast.
The premise largely focuses on Jackie Harrison (Sarandon) who has to come to terms with her ex-husband’s new flame, Isabel Kelly (Roberts). Things come to a head when her former husband, Luke (Brass), proposes to Isabel. Their impending nuptials essentially means that Isabel is set to become a permanent presence in their lives.
The two women couldn’t be any more different; to start with, Isabel and Luke share a loft in SoHo. On the other hand, Jackie, and the kids she shares with her former husband occupy a restored farmhouse located just north of Manhattan. Her husband’s fiancé is also several years younger than Luke.
Isabel, a high-powered fashion photographer, isn’t too fond of children but in light of her engagement with Luke, she decides to figure things out. She offers to take care of the kids, Anna, and Ben, for a weekend. Jackie essentially “poisons” her kids’ minds against their future stepmom.
Anna is the most difficult, and she doesn’t open up too quickly to Isabel. Ben likes her but still complicates their relationship by getting up to plenty of mischiefs. Isabel approaches Jackie with caution, believing that her fiancé’s ex-wife overcompensates for the split by spoiling the kids rotten.
Jackie, who formerly worked in the publishing world before quitting to become a stay-at-home mom, is also cold towards Isabel and considers her a selfish career woman. She also still resents Luke after their divorce, and it comes up several times through their endless confrontations. She raises issues about Isabel’s parenting, and the issues are only aggravated by Luke’s proposal.
The story unfolds in New York, and unsurprisingly, several of the Stepmom filming locations are found around the Big Apple. New Jersey provided diverse settings for a few of the scenes.
Production kicked off in September 1997 and filming wrapped at the end of January 1998. With the narration tackling modern-day issues that a majority of New York couples can relate to, the production team filmed around familiar sights and tourist spots.
Columbus, known for also directing “Only the Lonely” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” packaged the film as a comedy that turns into a tragedy. After “Mrs. Doubtfire,” the comedy-drama is the second film Columbus filmed that focuses on the subject of divorce.
Sarandon’s daughter Eva made a cameo during the Thanksgiving play scene. Columbus’s daughter Eleanor also had an uncredited appearance in the ballet class scene.
There is lots more to unpack about the film, and here is a breakdown of where the best scenes in Stepmom were filmed.
While Sarandon and Roberts’ characters were always at loggerheads, in reality, the two stars are great friends. They specifically chose the project so that they could work on it together.
Luke and Jackie meet Anna’s school counselor scene in Stepmom
Bronxville High School, 177 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville, NY
In one of the earlier Stepmom scenes, Luke and Jackie have a meeting with Anna’s school counselor. Mrs. Franklin (Mary Louise Wilson), the counselor, explains that while “change is exhilarating for adults, it can be quite challenging for a child.”
Mrs. Franklin continues that Anna is overjoyed by the fact that her folks are remarrying and moving to Switzerland. Jackie is taken aback by the news, but a fire drill alarm cuts the conversation short.
After Mrs. Franklin assures them about the drill, Jackie explains they are not remarrying or moving. The next distraction comes from Luke’s beeper, but the pair talk through the issue with Mrs. Franklin. Luke admits that he has been seeing someone and they recently moved in together.
Bronxville High School at 177 Pondfield Road provided the setting for the school scene. “Firstborn” is another production with scenes filmed at the learning institution.
Jackie tells the kids she has cancer scene in Stepmom
The Glenholme home, 501 North Broadway, Nyack, NY
We later find out that Jackie has been battling cancer in silence, and the disease has turned terminal. Her emotions quickly turn to jealousy, given that she views Isabel as the woman set to replace her in all regards.
Mostly, she is hurt by the fears of leaving her children and not being able to watch them grow up. It’s heart-breaking when she breaks the news to the kids, “I have cancer. Do you know what that is?”
Overcome by emotion, she kicks things up a notch with her sabotage streak. Most notably doesn’t allow Anna to go to a Pearl Jam concert with Isabel. Instead, she takes her daughter to the event
Nestled in an idyllic setting near the Hudson River, a residence at 501 N Broadway, Nyack, New York functioned as a Stepmom film set. However, separate sound stages modeled to mirror the house were used to film the interior scenes of the Harrison residence.
The Glenholme residence is also seen in “The Bounty Hunter.” Constructed in 1897, six bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms take up part of the 5,239 square feet. In 2019, the movie-friendly abode appeared on the market for $3.75 million.
Luke and the kids go sailing scene in Stepmom
Conservatory Water, E 72nd St, New York, NY
During dinner, Luke tells Isabel that they have the kids for the weekend. Since he is scheduled for a work commitment away, he says that he will hire a babysitter because she will also be busy working.
Isabel offers to take them to work with her, but Luke tells her she doesn’t have to. She asks if he doesn’t trust her with them, but he assures her that he does.
Isabel jokes, I know how responsible, caring adults parent children. I’ll bribe them, maybe buy them a dog or something.” Later, Luke and the kids go sailing, and he breaks the news about leaving them in Isabel’s care for the weekend.
Several other locations found within Central Park served as Stepmom locations. The first is the Wollman Skating Rink at 830 5th Avenue, between East 62nd & 63rd Street. It’s the same rink seen in “Home Alone 2: Lost In New York,” which is yet another movie Columbus helmed.
Luke and the kids go sailing at the Conservatory Water in Central Park. It is a location seen in other big screen flicks like “Weekend at Bernie’s” and the TV series “Gimme a Break!”
Several landscaped hills surround the Stepmom location, including Pug Hill and Pilgrim Hill. Other attractions found in the area include the Hans Christian Andersen sculpture and the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.
Isabel loses track of Ben scene in Stepmom
Belvedere Castle, Central Park, Manhattan, NY
On the occasion when Isabel takes the kids to Central Park, they aren’t too thrilled about it. They sit on a bench watching as Isabel is wrapped up in her work.
Hours go by, and it only amplifies the kids’ boredom. The next time she checks up on the kids, Anna Is asleep on the bench with Ben nowhere in sight. She had been caught up in the photo shoot and didn’t notice Ben wandering off.
Temperatures flair as they frantically search for Ben, and Jackie says that she has never lost track of any of her children. Even after Ben is found, safe and sound, she still issues ultimatums and threatens to sue.
“You listen carefully because I am going to say this once. That woman has nothing more to do with my children.” Later, after the two patch things up, Jackie admits that she has lost track of Ben a couple of times before. We even witness it in one of the earlier scenes.
Belvedere Castle in Central Park is the location where Isabel hosted the photo shoot. The Stepmom location houses exhibit rooms, Central Park’s weather station, and an observation deck.
Isabel previously had another historic shoot at Washington Square Park North. A brownstone found on the street is also featured in “I Am Legend.”
Jackie attempts to tell Luke about her diagnosis scene in Stepmom
The Old ’76 House, 110 Main St, Tappan, NY
Jackie gets dressed up for a meet-up with Luke at a West Side restaurant. When Anna questions why she is putting on mascara, Jackie responds that she is still friends with her dad and there is no reason why she shouldn’t wear some makeup.
At the restaurant, Jackie plans on telling Luke about her diagnosis but before she can open up, Luke steals the thunder. He lets her know about his plans to pop the big question and ask Isabel to marry him.
“I’m gonna marry Isabel. I know you don’t think much of her but she’s a special person. This is a bridge we never wanted to cross but it’s not helping her or the kids if I don’t really commit to that.”
The Old ’76, located at 110 Main Street in Tappan, Rockland County, served as the setting of at least two dinner scenes seen in the film. That includes the scene where Jackie finally opens up about her diagnosis and later calls it a truce with Isabel.
A National Historic Site, it stood in for the 76 House restaurant and in real life, it is a site where British office Major John Andre was held as he awaited trial. Major Andre assisted turncoat Benedict Arnold and was arrested by General George Washington. At the time, the building functioned as a tavern and inn, and it was located across from the town church and meeting hall that hosted the historical trial.
On the other hand, Jackie and Luke co-own a restaurant in the movie, and the real-life location was found at 227 67th Street, New York. Known as L'Absinthe Restaurant, the dining establishment closed its doors in 2014.
Touted as America’s oldest restaurant, The Old ‘76 tavern is worth a visit, if only for the photo-op. Bus 92 or 97 can get you to the Stepmom filming location.
Jackie and Isabel make peace scene in Stepmom
Isabel’s apartment,139 Spring Street, Manhattan
Anna and Isabel’s relationship improves as they bond over several of their shared interests. Jackie eventually invites Isabel for dinner. They agree to a shaky truce, given that they can’t change the facts.
Jackie is living out her last days while Isabel is set to become her children’s stepmom. On Christmas morning, Jackie’s health has taken a visible turn for the worst, and she is bedridden. With the family gathered to celebrate, she has emotional moments with each kid separately.
She assures them that they will always feel her presence as long as they remember. Isabel takes a portrait of Jackie, Luke, and the kids. In another heart-warming moment, and display of acceptance, Jackie asks her to join them. “Let’s get a photo with the whole family.”
The Stepmom production team filmed Isabel’s apartment scenes at a building found between 139 Spring Street and Wooster Street in Manhattan.
If you ever go on a Stepmom locations tour, also consider stopping by Glen Ridge and Montclair in New Jersey. The production team filmed the horseback riding scene at the Sunnyfield Farm located at 787 S Bedford Road, Bedford Hills.
Beyond the locations, the comedy-drama is a film filled with some neat moments. Jackie and Isabel’s relationship continued to be strained and it only worsened when each offered conflicting advice to Anna about a bullying situation she faced. While Jackie always called out Isabel for her tardiness, in the end, Isabel showed up for the kids on several occasions when Jackie couldn’t.
The dinner scene where the two women iron things out is equally packed with emotion. They bond over a moment when both open up and laud the other’s strengths. Isabel admits that she admires how Jackie has a natural maternal instinct.
In turn, Jackie acknowledges that Isabel’s trendiness enabled her to connect with Anna. Finally, the two women come to a meeting of the minds that Jackie will always have her children’s past while Isabel is set to create plenty of future memories with them. The kids don’t have to choose who to love, and instead, they can love them both.