19 films you might not know were made in Essex
PUBLISHED: 13:17 11 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:50 11 March 2019
From James Bond to Batman, Essex has been known to bask in a little Hollywood glitz. Here are 19 that have used our county’s incredible locations on the big screen
1) Goldfinger (1964)
Back in the Swinging Sixties, the original terminal building at Southend Airport featured in the classic James Bond film Goldfinger. In a famous scene, Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce is loaded onto a British United Air Ferries Carvair prior to the master villain’s flight to Geneva.
Having tracked his quarry, Bond drives his iconic Aston Martin DB5 onto the airport’s apron before loading it into the huge plane’s belly and pursuing Goldfinger in Switzerland.
2) Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
In keeping with the airline theme, Stansted Airport’s exterior has doubled up as New York’s JFK in this rom-com starring Renee Zellweger. As all the filming took place in the UK, the production had to use the site to portray scenes where love interest Mark Darcy reluctantly flies across the pond for a new job.
3) Batman Begins (2005)
Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury provided the setting for a Bhutanese prison, in which Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) finds himself while travelling the world during a period of personal crisis. In the fort – appropriately decked out to look as miserable as you would expect from a Bhutanese prison – Wayne fights numerous inmates in preparation for becoming the Batman. Tilbury’s docks also doubled up as Gotham City’s in the same film.
4) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
For a rather more glamorous setting, Tilbury’s waterfront was transformed into Venice in the third entry of the Indiana Jones series as the world’s favourite archaeologist is hunting for the Holy Grail. Alongside supposed associate Dr. Elsa Schneider, Jones battles assassins and ship propellers in this high-octane chase scene.
5) The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Seven years after Christopher Nolan’s hit comic book trilogy first used Essex as a filming location, the production returned to use Stansted Airport as a double for Gotham Airport. Stansted’s interior can be seen in a brief scene where Selina Kyle attempts to leave Gotham but is stopped by cop John Blake.
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6) Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
St Clements Church in West Thurrock was the chosen spot for the funeral in this blockbuster comedy starring Andie MacDowell. The director, Mike Newell, said he, ‘wanted the sense of a fine church lost forlornly in an industrial landscape’ which the location scouts duly delivered given that St Clements is dwarfed by the looming Proctor and Gamble building behind it.
7) This is Essex (2005)
Stepping into the South Essex film scene is Terry Bird, the Ilford-born actor of this independent film that received praise for being an honest portrayal of Essex and about as far removed from the clichés of TOWIE as possible. Filmed in South Essex, this low budget film looks at the relationship between a group of locals who manage to get themselves involved with the wrong sorts of characters.
8) The Woman in Black (2012)
Daniel Radcliffe, having called time on his Harry Potter days, can these days be seen filming quirky horror films such as this from director James Watkins, which was filmed on Osea Island, located on the Blackwater estuary close to Maldon. The beachside cottages and Edwardian manor house on Osea Island can be rented privately to normal folk and film companies alike.
9) Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)
At time of writing the latest entry in this action franchise led by Tom Cruise has not actually hit the big screens but we know that some scenes will feature Brentwood’s Thorndon Country Park. In a trailer for the flick, the park can be briefly seen as Cruise drives down a narrow lane with a lorry bearing down in the opposite direction. The action star even called town mayor Will Russell to say what a wonderful time he had filming in the area.
10) Wonder Woman (2017)
One of the latest DC Comics films to use Essex is Patty Jenkins’ critically acclaimed – a rarity for recent films in the DC cinematic universe – hit starring Gal Gadot. A bridge in Southend-on-Sea was used to show soldiers returning to the UK from fighting in WWI while many of the bombastic, CGI-heavy war scenes were shot at Tilbury Fort.
11) The Shining (1980)
Who’d have thought Stansted Airport would have been such a prolific filming location? Once again the airport – although completely unrecognisable from its current state – was used as a stand-in for Denver Stapleton Airport’s interior when Halloran makes a call to the Overlook Hotel as he grows increasingly concerned about the Torrance family’s welfare.
12) Full Metal Jacket (1987)
After filming part of The Shining in Essex, visionary director Stanley Kubrick returned to the county with his production for this intense war film. Many scenes were filmed across East Anglia and Epping Forest was chosen for training scenes as a new group of US marines prepare for the Vietnam war. While filming in the forest, R. Lee Ermey – who played Gunner Sergeant Hartman – crashed his car and was fortunately saved by a passing motorist.
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13) A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Kubrick chose counties surrounding London to depict his vision of a futuristic dystopian Britain and Essex was not excluded from this selection. After delinquent lead character Alex goes through extreme aversion therapy, he fails in a suicide attempt and the hospital he is treated at is Princess Alexandra’s in Harlow.
14) World War Z (2013)
In the last entry Essex was used as part of a dystopian world and in this film a county location was used as a prison during a zombie outbreak – we hope there’s not a pattern emerging here! A disused part of Hanningfield water treatment works became Camp Humphreys’ prison in South Korea as Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane travels the globe trying to solve the outbreak. Here Lane meets a rather unhinged CIA agent with a habit of pulling out his own teeth – if that’s even possible.
15) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Epping Forest provided the setting for one of the most memorable comedic scenes in British film history as King Arthur faces off with the Black Knight in this slapstick flick. The hilarious skirmish sees the Black Knight reduced in size one limb at a time and gave rise to the quote ‘tis but a scratch!’
16) Essex Boys (2000)
This is the first of many gangster films that were based upon the Rettendon murders of 1995 – Rise of the Footsoldier and Bonded by Blood are a couple more in this particular micro-genre – and it was appropriately filmed in county locations. Even though the film received poor reviews, it’s still worth a watch to pick out Southend, Clacton, Grays and Woolston Hall near Chigwell.
17) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
At the time of release this film from Robert Zemeckis was way ahead of its time as it seamlessly combined live-action and animated characters. Gray’s distinctive art deco State Cinema – which could soon become a Wetherspoons – was on-screen for around three minutes as Eddie Valiant – played by Bob Hoskins – hides from Judge Doom’s henchman with animated co-star Roger Rabbit.
18) The Brothers Grimsby (2016)
The latest film from Sacha Baron Cohen may have lacked the subtle social commentary of Borat and Bruno but it still provided some decent laughs in varied locations. A number of areas in Essex were used to portray Nobby’s hometown, Grimsby, including Adelaide Road in Tilbury for his house, Tilbury Docks and Epping Forest for wider environment shots and North Weald Railway Station for Grimsby’s train station.
19) The Mercy (2018)
Along with Teignmouth in Devon and Malta, a number of locations in Maldon were visited by Colin Firth as he starred in this biopic telling the story of Donald Crowhurst’s doomed circumnavigation of the globe. Not only did filming take place at Hythe Quay, Down Yard boatyard and the Ironworks Building, the boat used in the film was created by local boat builder Jim Dines.