Leadenhall Market, London - Site of The Leaky Cauldron in the Early Harry Potter Films
I love going to the movies, and with London being a key player in so many of my favorites, I felt like I sort of knew the place when I first visited - and now when I view a film set in London I have a greater appreciation of the places depicted. Movies have such a powerful effect on our imagination, and in fact serve to influence many people by inspiring them to travel to their favorite movie locations.
If you fancy going behind the scenes to see how the Harry Potter films were produced, Warner Brothers offers a studio tour experience just outside of London specifically called "The Making of Harry Potter."
I’ve listed below several movies set in London; if London is on your travel bucket list, be sure to check out these movies to get you and your travel companion in the mood for a visit. Trying to convince a group of friends to go with you? These movies will help!
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What’s your favorite movie set in London? Comment below.
PS - I love Hugh Grant - so Four Weddings and a Funeral, About A Boy, Notting and Love Actually top my list - as well as the Sean Connery-era James Bond movies. And I love the sweet optimism of Bend it Like Beckham!
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Charles (Hugh Grant) is looking for The One in Richard Curtis’s sweet, soppy movie. The capital provides a picture-perfect backdrop as Grant and his band of twenty-something aristo-Londoners date, flirt and consider settling for sub-standard partners in an effort to walk down the aisle. Proof that spending every sunny Saturday at a friend’s wedding is not a modern affliction.
London location Charles lives (and has that romantic, rainy reunion) on Highbury Terrace in Highbury Fields, the lucky sod. He also wanders along the South Bank and has a matrimonial meltdown at Smithfield’s St Bartholomew the Great.
A Fish Called Wanda
John Cleese hauled Ealing comedy legend Charles Crichton out of retirement to co-write and direct this acid-tongued shout-out to the classic comedy crime caper. Cleese plays a barrister (that’s a lawyer) swept up in a robbery plot; Michael Palin outraged stutterers worldwide as an animal-loving getaway driver; and two Yanks, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline offer scathing observations on British life.
London location The iconic scene where Kline dangles Cleese out of a window was shot at New Concordia Wharf in Bermondsey.
Sir Conan Doyle’s sleuth gets a post-modern update, with Robert Downey Jr playing a beefed-up version of Holmes.
London location Shot in and around London (as well as Liverpool and Manchester), Guy Ritchie’s London of yesteryear is a romantic place of heaving bosoms and ridiculously cool heroes.
From the same makers as Love Actually, with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, Notting Hill is a funny, light-hearted fantasy romance that has its tongue pressed entirely in its cheek.
London location: While not reflected in this film, Notting Hill is one of London’s most multicultural hot spots. The neighborhood looks the best it ever has – though Portobello Road is where you’ll find Grant’s bookshop.
Bridget Jones Diary
Renée Zellweger stars as the perpetually-single Bridget in this canny update of Pride & Prejudice.
London location: Visit Borough Market and you’ll easily spot Bridget’s little flat near the pub, not to mention the restaurant that's the setting for the hilarious dust-up between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.
Bend It Like Beckham
Two 18-year-old girls aspire to become professional football (soccer) players in Gurinder Chadha’s gentle comedy.
London location: Chadha captures the city’s cultural diversity beautifully as Parminder Nagra rebels against her orthodox Sikh upbringing – with Hounslow providing the perfect suburban backdrop.
The 1960s classic musical, in which young orphan Oliver falls in with a gang of street urchins who’ve been trained as pickpockets.
London location: The city’s a smoggy place filled with danger in this movie adaptation of Dickens’ novel – you definitely believe a character like Fagin could live here.
28 Days Later
Sci-fi horror from Danny Boyle in which an incurable virus sweeps the UK, transforming people into ravenous zombies.
London location: Trust us, it’s never this empty in London – not even at 4 am when the clubbers are all tucked up in bed. Which makes the sight of a deserted central London all the creepier…
The Bourne Ultimatum
Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) continues his hunt for answers while dodging the CIA.
London location: Waterloo Station is a battlefield at the best of times, but it becomes a hustle-bustle setting for a fantastically tense action scene in Damon’s last Bourne film, as he attempts to protect Paddy Considine’s journalist.
Mary Poppins (1964)
Joyous musical romp starring Julie Andrews as the Mary Poppins, who’s hired to look after two very unhappy children.
London location: This is London as envisioned by Walt Disney Pictures, where everybody’s smartly dressed, the townhouses are towering and gorgeous, and the parks boast cartoon characters. Dare to dream, Disney…
A Bangladeshi woman arrives in London, leaving behind her family and friends.
London location: Cultural diversity is all part of London’s charm, and here we get a look at the East End’s Bangladeshi community, where the aftershock of 9/11 is strongly felt.
Eight films adapted from JK Rowling’s bestselling book series, with Daniel Radcliffe as the lightning-scarred boy wizard.
London location: Sad to say, Diagon Alley doesn’t actually exist in our beloved capital. That doesn’t stop Columbus, Yates et al from lavishing the city with adoring screen time, whether it’s the Millennium Bridge getting destroyed in Half-Blood Prince or those gorgeous over-city shots in Phoenix. And, of course, there’s King’s Cross station…
The King's Speech
Oscar-nabbing historical drama starring Colin Firth as King George VI, who struggles with a debilitating stammer.
London location: Rush’s Harley Street practice should look familiar – it’s a Georgian townhouse 33 Portland Place, a popular location used loads of films…
A 1998 British-American romantic drama film written and directed by Peter Howitt and starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah, while also featuring John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Virginia McKenna. The film alternates between two parallel universes, based on the two paths the central character's life could take depending on whether she catches a train, and causing different outcomes in her life.
London location: The bridge featured is the Albert Bridge between Battersea and Chelsea. The late-night scene when Paltrow and Hannah walk down the street was filmed in Primrose Gardens (formerly Stanley Gardens) in Belsize Park.
Ready to head to London? I’d love to help you plan that trip for you and the people you care most about. Reach out and contact me today - firstname.lastname@example.org | 760.815.7400
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