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Join us on a journey of the relationships between Hollywood actors and Pittsburgh!
Pittsburgh and Hollywood have more in common than you think! Pittsburgh’s movie reputation dates back to 1905 when Nickelodeon, the world’s first modern movie theater, was built in the city. Fast forward to present day where more than 120 motion pictures and tv productions have been filmed in the Pittsburgh area, thanks to the work of the Pittsburgh Film Office. Movies filmed in the ‘Burgh range from Oscar-nominated pieces like Fences to the recent HBO comedy An American Pickle.
Follow our Six Degrees of Pittsburgh movies, showcasing the direct link with Hollywood actors and our great city of Pittsburgh.
Our journey starts with an iconic Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Some of the film’s most memorable scenes were filmed in Pittsburgh. For example, Carnegie Mellon University's Mellon Institute stands in as Gotham City Hall, where Bane makes his speech about Commissioner Gordon. And the famous stadium explosion takes place at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. You can visit Heinz Field for stadium tours and snap your own selfie from the field.
You’ll also see Anne Hathaway as Catwoman cruising through downtown Pittsburgh streets on the Batpod.
Before her Batman debut, Anne Hathaway filmed the 2010 Romcom Love & Other Drugs in Pittsburgh alongside co-star Jake Gyllenhaal. Many of the city’s unique neighborhoods are featured including South Side, Station Square, Squirrel Hill and Sewickley. The movie also filmed inside the incredible and historic Omni William Penn Hotel – a place that will become familiar to Gyllenhaal in his second movie filmed in the ‘Burgh.
Gyllenhaal returned to Pittsburgh to film Southpaw, the action-packed 2015 sports drama. The dramatic brawl scene was filmed in an iconic Pittsburgh hotel. Any guesses (wink wink😉)? In addition to filming at the Omni William Penn Hotel, the movie also filmed at the Grand Hall at The Priory Hotel. Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker starred alongside Gyllenhaal in Southpaw, after filming in Pittsburgh many years earlier.
Early in his career, Forest Whitaker played a veteran hitman in the 1991 crime drama Diary of a Hitman. Filming locations include the Pittsburgh region and north of the city in Sharon, PA. Whitaker also filmed drama Criminal Justice a year earlier. His co-star in Criminal Justice was actress Rosie Perez, who supported the black and gold again in the early 2010s.
Rosie Perez returned to the ‘Burgh years later to film the 2012 high school drama Won’t Back Down. The movie is filmed and set in Pittsburgh and includes scenes shot from the iconic Duquesne Incline. Actress Viola Davis won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in the movie. And she went on to receive many awards and nominations for another Pittsburgh-based movie.
Viola Davis starred in the 2016 award-winning movie adaptation of August Wilson’s play “Fences.” Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson grew up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and he wrote many plays about Black American life, each set in a different decade of the 20th century. The play “Fences” was adapted to a film directed by and starring Denzel Washington. Between Viola Davis and Denzel Washington, the movie received eight awards – including the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Viola Davis). The filming took place at 809 Anaheim Street – only a few minutes away from August Wilson’s childhood home at 1727 Bedford Avenue. Today, you can visit the August Wilson House which features exhibits, performances and seminars to promote the literary and social legacy of August Wilson.
More recently, Viola Davis and Denzel Washington teamed up to bring August Wilson's first Broadway hit to the main screen - "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." Released in December 2020 on Netflix, this screen adaptation is about the economic exploitation of the early black performers in 1927. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is the final performance of the late Chadwick Boseman and is expected to receive Oscar nominations.