What Movies Have Been Filmed at Biltmore Estate? 9 Noteworthy Flicks

Biltmore estate on the left, Jennifer Garner on the right

Biltmore is listed as one of the many filming locations for "The Odd Life of Timothy Green". Pictured: Lead actress Jennifer Garner during a premiere event in 2012 (left photo by Konstantin L/shutterstock.com, right photo by Tinseltown/shutterstock.com)

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate and a partner of other affiliate programs including Booking.com, CJ and Tripster, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases via links found in this article.

In Selma, the muddy and mighty Alabama River curves under the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge. And it is there, and along the foundations of several historic old brick buildings, that the infamous Sunday Civil Rights March took place.

I worked in one of those buildings, right next to the bridge.

When the water came up, you’d have to be careful. Snakes and other critters could come up out of the mud and muck. In fact, some found some shelter in the press room.

Living and working next to an iconic location you get used to a few things, including the idea there are going to be times the thing is shut down for special events as well as television and film crews.

The bridge is a heavily trafficked one through the center of town. So shutting it down is no small thing.

After I left, filmmakers came to town to make the excellent “Selma”. The movie is about Martin Luther King Jr., the events before and after the Sunday march and the subsequent Selma to Montgomery march.

However, they didn’t shoot a lot of “Selma” in Selma. Georgia, it seems, has better incentives for film crews. Therefore, the Peach State courthouse filled in for the Dallas County Courthouse and other Georgia locations served as Selma.

But they had to shoot on the bridge.

Filmmakers often utilize a bit of ‘movie magic’

It’s weird seeing something you know so well up on the big screen.

For the movie, they changed the direction from which the marchers approached the bridge. Specifically, coming in from the west instead of the east so they walked right under the same newspaper awning where I worked for a handful of years.

Past the front door. Past the loading dock bay and up onto the bridge where you can see the window that was next to my desk.

Of course, you’re not supposed to focus on that background. You’re supposed to focus on the actors and action.

With that in mind, if you’re not really paying attention to the small details, Hollywood can do things like shoot scenes that are supposed to be in New York or London or Chicago in Toronto.

And it also allows Bryson City, North Carolina present itself as Illinois in “The Fugitive” – which stars Harrison Ford and turns a simple intersection and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad into a tourist attraction.

And it also lets the iconic buildings and grounds of The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina fill in for many other locales in a variety of movies. It turns out that George Vanderbilt’s dream makes for one of the best movie locations in the United States.

Read Also: 10 movies you didn’t know were filmed in the Smoky Mountains

the biltmore estate
The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC is a popular location for filmmakers (photo by Konstantin L/shutterstock.com)

How many movies has Biltmore been in?

How many movies have been shot at the Biltmore House in Western North Carolina?

The answer varies depending on the source consulted. One site said 15, but it appears that not all the movies listed were shot at the Biltmore. Another source says 12 but only lists seven.

The Biltmore website itself lists five movies shot but acknowledges a sixth in the comments. 

The movie information site IMDB.com – which has a bit of an inconsistent reputation – lists 12 movies. However, it lists 2017’s “Orient Express” despite only having used the Biltmore for a “digital composite of the Armstrong Family House in a deleted scene.”

Does that count?

For our purposes, we’re going to say no.

However, it does not list “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” so we’re back to 12 feature films and at least one Phyllis Diller television vehicle.

Who is the biggest star to appear in a Biltmore scene?

I’m going to cheat a bit here. The Biltmore grounds were used in one of the cross country running scenes in “Forrest Gump”.

Was Tom Hanks on location? Does he have scenes on the very road that runs to the property’s Antler Hill Village?

Was it his brother who handled a little stunt running for him? Let’s not delve too deep.

Oscar winners who have worked in movies that featured some filming at the Biltmore Estate include Hanks, Robin Williams, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jack Lemmon, Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins.

Also, other well-known actors who have worked in films that used the estate as a location include Macaulay Culkin, Don Knotts, Jennifer Garner, Tim Conway and Peter Sellers.

For the purpose of this question, I think the answer has to be Grace Kelly. Her film “The Swan” came out in 1956, the same year she wed Prince Rainier III of Monaco and retired from acting.

Now, let’s get to the rankings.

Jennifer Garner arrives at the world premiere of 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green'
Jennifer Garner arrives at the world premiere of “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” (photo by Photo Works/shutterstock.com)

Movies filmed at the Biltmore Estate

9. The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Spoiler Alert. I don’t do movies where dogs or kids pass away. Sometimes, you can’t help it. You go in unsuspectingly to watch a movie and the next thing you know, you’re a weeping mess. No thank you.

In fact, my brother is still mad that our mom let him watch “Turner and Hooch.”

Of course, if we’re being technical, Timothy Green – who has leaves growing on his legs – doesn’t exactly pass away. Specifically, he fades into nothingness as he performs good deeds and his leaves fall off. But it’s a very weird sort of deal and I want no part of it.

For the record, this was not based on a true story.

8. Mr. Destiny

I have vague memories of this Jim Belushi vehicle.

Oh yeah, kids. There was a time there in the late 80s when we felt so bad about John Belushi’s untimely passing we let his brother Jim make a whole lot of movies.

In this one, Jim plays an umpire given the “Wonderful Life” esque chance to see what his life could have been like if he’d made that winning home run as a teenager. 

Michael Caine was also in this movie as was a pre-“Friends” Courtney Cox.

7. Richie Rich

They made this Macaulay Culkin vehicle a couple of years too late.

Home Alone era Mac was growing up and he couldn’t save this horrible, horrible effort based on the comic about the richest kid in the world that also featured Edward Herrmann and John Larroquette. 

6. My Fellow Americans

James Garner and Jack Lemmon play former presidents on the run in this movie.

This mostly forgettable comedy is trying to tap into that Grumpy Old Men energy that gave Lemmon a late-career box office resurgence. And it is memorable chiefly for the presidents revealing their personal lyrics for “Hail to the Chief”.   

5. Patch Adams

This much-maligned Robin Williams vehicle isn’t as bad as you remember but that doesn’t make it good.

Based on a real-life doctor, Williams plays the title character who “ventured where no doctor had ventured before, using humor and pathos.”

4. Hannibal

The sequel to the popular movie “Silence of the Lambs” isn’t particularly good.

The plot features Dr. Hannibal Lector trying to reconnect with disgraced FBI agent Clarice Starling – now played by Julianne Moore, not Jodie Foster – and finds himself a target for revenge from a powerful victim.

Always a good idea to take a bad guy with a habit of eating people and turn him into something of an anti-hero.

3. Being There

This Peter Sellars classic is a true work of genius – or so I’m told. But I’ve never really gotten it if I’m being honest.

Sellars’ Chance the Gardner is truly one of his all-time classic characters, but honestly, the whole thing is over my head.

It won or was nominated for dozens of awards. It’s all an allegory for something. Great movie. Iconic film. Not for me.

2. Last of the Mohicans

The Biltmore Grounds provided the old-growth forest and mature trees to capably serve as the Catskill Mountains of the early 19th Century.

Based on the classic novel and starring a young Daniel Day-Lewis, this is literature come to life.

The Magnificent Biltmore Estate grounds – designed by Frederick Law Olmsted – make for a perfect location.

1. Forrest Gump

At one time, the biggest movie in the world, “Forrest Gump” has taken a few critical hits over the years, mostly for beating out “Pulp Fiction” and “Shawshank Redemption” at the Oscars.

Gump isn’t either of those movies, it’s certainly not my favorite movie but it is still a classic. 

Honorable mentions

I also wanted to throw in a few honorable mentions for films that I have not seen or don’t have enough knowledge of to properly rank.

Read Also: What tragedies happened at the Biltmore Estate?

The Swan

This Grace Kelly film stars the future Obi-Wan Kenobi, Sir Alec Guinness. The romantic comedy is set in Europe in the early 1900s.

Kelly plays a minor princess pressured to wed so she can win back the family’s throne which was taken by Napoleon. This qualifies as the first movie shot at George Washington Vanderbilt’s dream estate.

The Biltmore website helpfully notes that part of the Biltmore’s collection includes a game table and chess set once owned by Napoleon – because that’s a perfectly normal thing to have. But it wasn’t used in the movie.

The Private Eyes

Barney Fife (Don Knotts) and Dorf (Tim Conway) play a pair of Scotland Yard detectives sent to investigate foul play at a mansion outside 1920s London.

A Breed Apart

Somehow this movie starring Rutger Hauer, Powers Boothe and Kathleen Turner was made in 1984 at the height of their collective powers and yet was not good. Not even memorable enough to be considered a cult classic.

How is that possible? Oh, wait. The plot summary says a conservationist and a widow meet a mountain climber hired to steal bald-eagle eggs. So there’s your answer.

Have you ever spotted the Biltmore Estate in a movie? Let us know in the comments!

Things to do

Best theme parks in the Smokies
Best Shows and Theaters in the smokies
Best attractions in the Smokies
Best tours in the Smokies
Best mini golf in the Smokies
Best ATV and side by side rentals in the Smokies
Best go karts in the Smokies
Best ziplining in the Smokies
Best zoos and farms in the Smokies
Best rafting in the Smokies

Is Appalachian Outlaws Scripted? A Review of the History Channel Show

What Does Anakeesta Mean? Does the Theme Park Live Up to Its Name?

Photo of author


John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

Leave a Comment