For decades, Charleston, South Carolina has been used for its stunning scenery in television shows and movies. Some are classics, while others you may have forgotten about. This is by no means an exhaustive list. For more television shows and movies filmed in Charleston, check out the IMDB page.
Television Shows Filmed in Charleston
Dozens of television shows have been filmed in Charleston ranging from dramas to comedies to reality.
Running from 2007 to 2013, Lifetime’s Army Wives focused on a group of women who bonded over their ties to the military. It used the Old Navy Base as its headquarters during the show’s tenure but also used locations like the Charleston Air Force Base.
The crime drama The Inspectors ran from 2015 to 2019, focusing on the postal service inspectors. Starring Jessica Lundy, the show was financed by the real US Postal Service’s asset seizure department. The show was filmed throughout Charleston.
The Netflix mega-hit was released in 2020 to rave reviews. Outer Banks is, despite the name, not filmed in North Carolina, but around Charleston. A group of young people find a treasure map and try and track it down while the bad guys are after them. They also clash with the rich, preppy elites in their coastal town. Notable locations include Shem Creek, the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, Lowndes Grove, and Kiawah Island.
The Righteous Gemstones
The Righteous Gemstones premiered in 2019 and follows a dysfunctional family of televangelists in their various mishaps on the rise for power. Danny McBride stars with John Goodman and Adam DeVine. Among the locations used are Whirlin’ Waters Adventure Park, the North Charleston Coliseum, and Fenwick Hall on Johns Island.
While not exactly representative of life in Charleston, Southern Charm is a hit Bravo reality series that focuses on a group of wealthy friends living and playing in the Holy City. Every episode uses a shop or restaurant as its backdrop, featuring these local businesses. It premiered in 2013.
Before The Righteous Gemstones, Danny McBride filmed his 2016-2018 series Vice Principals in Charleston. Two school administrators face off in hopes of securing the principal position. Walton Goggins, Bill Murray, and Busy Philips also star. Real high schools in West Ashley and North Charleston were used for filming.
Movies Filmed in Charleston
The big screen loves Charleston as a location, almost always used for its historic buildings and marshy scenery. You might be surprised at which of your favorite movies were filmed here!
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
The sequel to the Jim Carrey comedy was released in 1995 and was one of the first film productions in the city. Botany Bay on Edisto Island was transformed into the jungle and African villages where Ventura worked. Film sets were also created in an industrial part of North Charleston, where the animals were also kept.
While the majority of the movie based on Charles Frazier’s book was filmed in Europe, some scenes of Cold Mountain were filmed in Charleston. The award-winning film starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger came out in 2003 and used the College of Charleston and Cypress Gardens as backdrops.
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
The 2002 comedy-drama The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys is based on a book of the same name. Emile Hirsch stars with Kieran Culkin, Jena Malone, Jodie Foster, and Vincent D’Onofrio. It tells of a group of Catholic school friends getting into trouble, working on their own comic book together.
While not as popular as some of the other Nicholas Sparks books-turned-movies, Dear John, released in 2010, presented a large selection of Charleston locations. Bowen’s Island Restaurant, Sullivan’s Island, the old Gaillard Auditorium, and the campuses of both the College of Charleston and The Citadel. Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum star in the tearjerker as star-crossed lovers during the post-9/11 years.
Die Hard With a Vengeance
Another sequel is the 1995 third follow-up to the action and holiday film Die Hard. Bruce Willis returns, along with Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Irons. A North Charleston plant was used to build sets, including a full-sized replica of the New York City Subway. The old Cooper River Bridge, since demolished, also made an appearance.
The 2018 follow up to the classic horror film, Halloween sees the return of Jamie Lee Curtis in the seminal role of Laurie Strode. The movie uses Military Magnet High School as the prison courtyard where Michael Myers escapes and the houses around Old Windermere.
The Legend of Bagger Vance
The 2000 film The Legend of Bagger Vance told of struggling soldier turned golfer Rannulph Junuh who meets a caddy with what seems like special powers named Bagger Vance. Matt Damon stars alongside Will Smith, Charlize Theron, and Jack Lemmon. A private plantation on Edisto Island and Kiawah Island’s golf course were used as settings.
Perhaps the most well-known movie filmed in Charleston is The Notebook, which came out in 2004 and stars Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. The romance film based on the Nicholas Sparks book has spawned such a following that the movie’s filming locations are highly sought after for visitors to the city. There are even The Notebook tours, which visit landmarks like the American Theater, the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, and Cypress Gardens.
Presented as a modernized take on the Shakespeare classic “Othello,” O recreates it in the modern day. Set on a high school basketball team, a tough coach favors Odin over his own son. He makes a plan to take down Odin at any cost, starting with his girlfriend. Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, Martin Sheen, Josh Hartnett and Andrew Keegan star. The College of Charleston campus was used, as were the barrier islands nearby.
The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson and Jason Isaacs, was released in 2000 and became an instant classic. It is based on the true story of Francis Marion, also known as the “Swamp Fox,” who was known for his guerilla warfare tactics during the Revolutionary War. The film production used locations like Randolph Hall, Botany Bay, Cypress Gardens, and Middleton Place.