Hollywood is 2,457 miles from Amelia Island. However, local pursuits have brought it much closer. With a stunning stretch of Atlantic beach, a National Historic District with 50 blocks of Victorian splendor, and a lush maritime forest marked by romantic moss-bedecked live oaks, it’s always ready for a close-up (or a long shot.)
Pictured above, the nod to 1940’s noir Lonely Hearts, starring John Travolta, Salma Hayek, Laura Dern, and Jared Leto was filmed on Amelia Island locations including the famed downtown Post Office on Centre Street (the building was originally modeled on a Medici Palace.)
The biggest production of recent years was the indie hit Sunshine State directed by John Sayles and starring Angela Bassett and Edie Falco. In 2004, Fernandina’s lovely Steamboat House at 10th and Ash Streets was one of the settings in The Manchurian Candidate starring Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Jon Voight.
In the late 1980s, the The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking movie was produced at a charming house in Old Town, the Captain’s House which sits on the small State Park that is the former Plaza San Carlos. The movie’s climactic ice cream fight was staged with local children and filmed at the Palace Saloon downtown (the warm weather and the heat from the camera lights required that colored mashed potatoes stand in for the ice cream.)
Although Naked in the Sun, a drama about the struggles of Osceola and Seminole Indians, was filmed in the late 1950s, the scenes at the perfectly preserved Fort Clinch could still take place today on the monthly weekends with re-enactors.
A few years back, Demi Moore slipped into town to observe the filming of The Diary of Preston Plummer starring her daughter, Rumer Willis. (Of course, Willis’ father is actor Bruce Willis.) Moore did not make her presence widely known. She came out from her room at mostly at night, when the filming was done.
In other brushes with fame, actor and model Andie MacDowell snacked at Fantastic Fudge one summer night. Basketball legend Michael Jordan golfed here, and the mega-yacht “Casino Royale” from the James Bond movies docked at the harborfront for several days. House of Cards > star Kevin Spacey has strolled the streets of Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach (perhaps comparing it to Amelia’s neighbor to the north, Savannah, the setting of his star turn in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Before he played the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Paul McCartney hid out at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island. Tom Cruise was spotted in local restaurants the same week.
While you may not spot a movie star during your visit, Amelia Island’s tradition of hospitality ensures that you will feel as if you have top billing. Do your own location scouting with this photo tour.
[Insider tip: this weekend is the Shnit International Short Film Festival and DOCtoberfest Film Festival at the Fernandina Little Theatre.]
Adapted with permission from Steve Niklas from an article on AmeliaIslandLiving.com.