When Hollywood Came to Williamsburg

Follow in the footsteps of stars who have appeared in movies and TV shows filmed in Greater Williamsburg.

HBO John Adams filmed in Colonial Williamsburg
Turn filmed in Yorktown
Turn filmed in Colonial Williamsburg

Paul Giamatti, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Christian Bale, Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Renée Zellweger, Laura Linney, Lassie and a bunch of ghosts. That's who you'll see tooling around Greater Williamsburg in the comfort of your easy chair while staring at your big screen.

They've appeared in movies or television series filmed in the area over the years. Yes, Greater Williamsburg has its share of star power, thanks to the beauty and history found throughout the area.

Here are some of the big hits and slight misses where you'll catch enough of a glimpse of the area to map out your own Greater Williamsburg of the Stars.

John Adams

Giamatti and Linney appeared in this HBO miniseries about the Founding Father filmed in 2007 that features Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area and the Wren Chapel at the College of William & Mary. 

Photo Courtesy HBO John Adams 

Cold Mountain

Law, Kidman, and Zellweger starred in this 2003 blockbuster, the film version of Charles Frazier's best-selling Civil War novel that chronicles the journey of a wounded Civil War soldier to find his sweetheart. The scenes in the movie featuring the exterior of a fictional mansion in South Carolina were filmed at Carter's Grove Plantation in Williamsburg.

Photo Courtesy of Cold Mountain

The New World

Director Terence Malick's 2005 film starring Christian Bale, Colin Farrell and Christopher Plummer depicts the settlement of Jamestown and is inspired by the stories of John Smith, Pocahontas and John Rolfe. Key moments in the film were shot off the Colonial Parkway between Jamestown and Yorktown. The Godspeed, one of the replica ships at the Jamestown Settlement, was used in the film. Another scene featuring Farrell practicing swordplay was shot on a spit of land along the Jamestown Island Loop Drive. While no scenes were shot at Historic Jamestowne or the Jamestown Settlement, the actors and director visited them for inspiration.

Photo Courtesy New World

TURN: Washington's Spies

Williamsburg was infiltrated by spies from AMC’s Revolutionary War-era drama during its run. Filming sites included Shirley Plantation, where the barn serves as the show’s jail; Tuckahoe Plantation, which stands in as the home of Judge Richard Woodhull; the Great Hall of the Christopher Wren Building at the College of William & Mary, which appears as the throne room of King George IV; and the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, which substitute for Philadelphia.

Lassie

In a 1966 episode of Lassie the Voyager, a turkey farmer accuses Lassie of being a dangerous wild dog while she's roaming Colonial Williamsburg. Many area landmarks appear in the episode including the Governor's Place, Raleigh Tavern and the Magazine. 

Photo Courtesy Oocities

Ghost Hunters

OK, OK, get that Ghostbusters theme song out of your head. This is Ghost Hunters, a Syfy channel show. In 2009, it featured the story of Lizzie Rowland, daughter of the builder of Edgewood Plantation in Charles City, reputed to have died of a broken heart waiting for her love to return from the Civil War. 

Paranormal After Party

No, this isn't a hipster's late-night imagination. It's a series sometimes found on The CW network that takes a not-so-serious look at the paranormal. The Generic Black Shirt Group, as they call themselves, made a 2015 pilgrimage to Colonial Williamsburg looking for old hams and finding some delightful sightseeing, apart from that incident with a cast member too long in the stocks.

Other notable dramas have highlighted Greater Williamsburg, but were not filmed here. They include The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, which featured the Battle of Yorktown in the closing narration, and the British television hit, Jamestown, which follows the first English settlers and a group of women who landed in 1619 to marry the men of Jamestown and keep the colony growing. Season two of the series began in February 2018. 

Now, put down the remote and plan your visit to these hotspots today. If that's not enough, discover the unexpected pleasures,  outdoor activities and family fun things to do.