6 Oscar-winning movies filmed on location in Hertfordshire

Knebworth House, an Academy Award and Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.

Knebworth House, an Academy Award and Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Charlotte Steedman / Alan Davies

With stunning countryside, magnificent mansions and plenty of heritage sites, Hertfordshire is often seen on screen in the movies.

The county has appeared in big budger blockbusters such as Fast & Furious 9 and Wonder Woman, TV period dramas Bridgerton and Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firthand reality TV series, the latest being Netflix dating show Sexy Beasts.

It helps that Herts boasts two successful film studios, Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden where the Harry Potter movies were made, and Elstree Studios in Hertsmere, where The Crown is based.

How the entrance to Sky Studios Elstree, which is currently under construction, will look.

How the entrance to Sky Studios Elstree, which is currently under construction, will look. - Credit: Sky

The state-of-the-art new Sky Studios Elstree is currently under construction alongside the A1 Barnet Bypass in the borough of Hertsmere and will bring billions into the Herts economy over the next decade once completed.

Another proposed complex, Hertswood Studios – potentially the largest in the country if given planning permission – is suggested for land next to the Sky Studios project in Hertsmere, just a few miles south of the M25. 

There's also BBC Elstree Centre where the BBC One soap EastEnders is based.

Visit Herts is looking for the county to capitalise on its rich film and TV heritage through a new screen tourism strategy.

The tourism specialists see Herts as a potential go-to destination for film and TV fans, if successfully promoted, with movie trails, themed events, and immersive experiences to add to what the county already offers visitors.

Here's 6 movies filmed on location in Hertfordshire that have picked up Oscars that could be used for any silver screen heritage tours of the county.


1. Anastasia 

The film poster for Anastasia starring Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman, who won an Oscar for her role in the movie

The film poster for Anastasia starring Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman, who won an Oscar for her role in the movie partly shot on location at Knebworth House. - Credit: Alan Davies

The King and I's Yul Brynner and Casablanca legend Ingrid Bergman star in this 1956 drama which includes scenes filmed at Knebworth House.

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In the movie, the scheming General Bounine (Brynner) tries to pass off a mysterious impostor as the Grand Duchess Anastasia.

As amnesiac Anna Koreff / Anastasia, Ingrid Bergman won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Helen Hayes also star as the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna in the movie.

Knebworth House is now a regular filming location – it doubles for the inside of Balmoral in The Crown – but the mansion's movie heritage dates back to this 1956 film. 


2. Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan. Picture: Dreamworks/Paramount Pictures

Saving Private Ryan. Picture: Dreamworks/Paramount Pictures

This World War Two epic brought Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks to Hatfield for filming back in the 1990s. 

The ruined French village of Ramelle, where Ryan (Matt Damon) is eventually discovered, was built on the former British Aerospace airfield in the town – now the Hertfordshire Sports Village and University of Hertfordshire's de Havilland Campus.

Pre-production took place at Elstree Studios. Spielberg said: "When I needed an English studio there was no question in my mind where I wanted to be. It had to be Elstree."

A bust of film director Steven Spielberg made by Lifecast at Elstree Studios.

A bust of film director Steven Spielberg made by Lifecast at Elstree Studios. - Credit: Elstree Studios

The film was nominated for 11 Oscars at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hanks, and Best Original Screenplay.

In the end it won five gongs, with Spielberg picking up Best Director while other Oscars were won for Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing.

Spielberg and Hanks later returned to the Hatfield aerodrome to make acclaimed HBO series Band of Brothers.


3. Shakespeare in Love

While Saving Private Ryan was nominated for Best Picture at the 71st Academy Awards, the golden statue in 1999 went to Shakespeare in Love – another movie partly filmed on location in Hatfield.

Set during the Elizabethan era, the romantic period comedy-drama depicts a fictional love affair between playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), who has writer's block, and 'muse' Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow).

The cast also includes Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, Ben Affleck, and Judi Dench in a scene-stealing cameo as Queen Elizabeth I.

The South Front of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire.

The South Front of Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Alan Davies

Hatfield House was used for the scene where Viola meets Elizabeth I and a £50 wager is made.

This took place in the Marble Hall at the Hertfordshire stately home, while the South Front was also used for the film.

While Shakespeare's comedy in the movie, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter, was never going to set the world on fire, the movie won seven Oscars in total.

File photo of Gwyneth Paltrow. She won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, which includes scenes filmed in Hatfield.

File photo of Gwyneth Paltrow. She won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love, which includes scenes filmed in Hatfield. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The film's other winners included Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola and Judi Dench as Elizabeth I – rather apt considering the real-life monarch grew up on the Hatfield estate.


4. The King's Speech

While Colin Firth played Lord Wessex in Shakespeare in Love, he took on the role of the future King George VI in Tom Hooper's acclaimed The King's Speech – and won an Academy Award for Best Actor in the process.

Scenes of the movie were filmed on location at Knebworth House, where Firth and Helena Bonham Carter, who played Queen Elizabeth, were left stranded during filming in winter by a snow storm.

A banner for The King's Speech at Elstree Studios. Picture: Alan Davies

The King's Speech was made at Elstree Studios and used locations in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Archant

Based out of Elstree Studios, director Hooper also shot scenes in the grounds of Hatfield House.

The King's Speech received 12 Oscar nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards – more than any other film in that year – and took home four, including Best Picture and Best Director.


5. The Favourite 

Filming of The Favourite at Hatfield House with Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman on set of Yorgos Lant

Filming of The Favourite at Hatfield House with Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman on set of Yorgos Lanthimos's period drama. - Credit: Picture courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman all gained Oscar nominations for this period black comedy set in the court of a frail and rabbit-loving Queen Anne.

Around 85 per cent of Yorgos Lanthimos' bawdy drama was shot on location at Hatfield House and in the Hertfordshire estate's grounds. 

Emma Stone stars in The Favourite, which was filmed at Hatfield House. Picture: Fox Searchlight Pict

Emma Stone stars in The Favourite, which was filmed at Hatfield House. Picture: Fox Searchlight Pictures. - Credit: Supplied by BFI London Film Festival / Element Pictures / Scarlet Films

Colman won the Best Actress Oscar at the 2019 Academy Awards, while Stone and Weisz were both nominees in the supporting category for their roles as servant Abigail, who arrives in Queen Anne's court, and Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough.

Olivia Colman as Queen Anne blindfolds Rachel Weisz, left, as Sarah Churchill, in The Favourite. Thi

Olivia Colman as Queen Anne blindfolds Rachel Weisz, left, as Sarah Churchill, in The Favourite. This scene was filmed in the King James Drawing Room at Hatfield House. Picture: Fox Searchlight Pictures. - Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.


6. Rocketman 

This Elton John musical biopic shot scenes at both Brocket Hall and in a private residence with an outdoor swimming pool near Potters Bar – the lavish Brookmans Park property doubling for the singer's LA mansion, no less.

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman - Credit: Paramount Pictures/Entertainment Pictures

While Golden Globe winner Taron Egerton missed out on an Academy Award nomination for playing Reginald Dwight, the real Elton John did win an Oscar for Best Original Song from the movie with Bernie Taupin for (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again.


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