NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – From Academy Award-winning dramas to cult classic horror films, Tennessee has played a pivotal role in some major motion pictures over the last 50 years. Check out some of the movies that were filmed in Tennessee.
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
The story of Loretta Lynn won Sissy Spacek an Oscar for her portrayal of the famous singer-songwriter. While the majority of the film, which also starred Tommy Lee Jones, was shot in Kentucky, you couldn’t have a film about a country legend not at least have a few scenes in Tennessee. All the concert footage was shot at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. (IMDb)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
The story of a Memphis pimp who aspires to become a successful hip-hop emcee was entirely shot in Tennessee – mainly in Memphis. Terrance Howard was nominated for Best Actor for his performance. Memphis’s own Three 6 Mafia won Best Original Song for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” (IMDb)
Speaking of Memphis, the Home of the Blues has also played host to Woody Harrelson, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Joaquin Phoenix, and more.
The Firm (1993)
The Client (1994)
A year after The Firm, Memphis played host to another legal thriller based on a John Grisham novel. This time Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones (second appearance on the list) take center stage in a tale that centers around the mafia. (IMDb)
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
Memphis was used in another 90’s legal film, though a bit different than The Firm or The Client. Woody Harrelson landed an Oscar nomination for his performance as Larry Flynt in the film that followed the controversial pornography publisher’s fight for free speech. (IMDb)
Most of Castaway saw Tom Hanks and a volleyball stranded on an island. But a brief, though important, scene of the film was shot in Memphis. (IMDb)
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Walk the Line (2005)
While Johnny Cash sang about being everywhere, the country legend’s biopic, which was nominated for five Oscars, including a Best Actress win for Reese Witherspoon, was almost entirely shot in Memphis. (IMDb)
Walk the Line also shot in Nashville at the Tennessee State Penitentiary which has appeared in multiple films.
The Green Mile (1999)
The tale of a death row corrections officer (Tom Hanks – second appearance on the list) during the Great Depression, and the supernatural events he witnessed. The prison in the movie is the Tennessee State Prison but the film was also shot in Shelbyville, Nolensville, and Columbia. (IMDb)
The Last Castle (2001)
The film’s tagline may have been, “A castle can only have one king,” but the 2001 Action/Drama had plenty of star power with Robert Redford, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, and Robin Wright. But the real star of the show was the Tennessee State Prison. (IMDb)
Saving the best for last…
Ernest Goes to Jail (1990)
Ernest P. Worrell went to jail in 1990, but he just as easily could have starred in a movie called Ernest Goes to Nashville. The entire film was shot in Music City. Most of the movie took place at the Tennessee State Prison, but scenes were shot in other parts of Nashville, including the Bank of America on the 1600 block of Church Street. (IMDb)
That wasn’t the only time Jim Varney’s cult classic character appeared in Tennessee to shoot a movie. Varney would come to the Volunteer State for four straight films from 1987 – 1991.
Ernest Goes to Camp (1987)
A few years before going to jail, Ernest found himself saving Kamp Kikike from an evil mining company. The film was shot in Nashville, as well as Burns and Fairview, Tennessee.
Ernest Saves Christmas (1988)
Ernest already saved a camp so why not try and save the holidays as well? Ernest Saves Christmas ended up being the highest-grossing Ernest movie. Unlike Camp, Jail, and Scared Stupid, though, it wasn’t completely shot in Tennessee. Parts of it were filmed in Orlando, Florida.
Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
Varney shot two straight Ernest movies entirely in Nashville. He followed up Ernest Goes to Jail with Ernest Scared Stupid. Granted this one may not exactly be canon in the Ernest P. Worrell universe given the supernatural nature of it – unless we are just supposed to believe child-stealing trolls continue to exist in future Ernest movies.
The family comedy series would leave Tennessee after that, primarily shooting in Canada going forward. But plenty of films, not starring Ernest, have also shot in Nashville.
It would have been weird if a movie didn’t utilize its titular city, thankfully not the case for the Oscar-nominated Nashville. Some of the locations for the movie included Centennial Park and the Parthenon. (IMDb)
Speaking of the Parthenon…
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
The 2010 big-screen adaptation of the first book in the YA novel series Percy Jackson & the Olympians briefly filmed in Nashville. When you’re making a movie about the descendant of Greek gods, having a replica of the Parthenon really comes in handy. (IMDb)
The Matrix (1999)
The genre-defying sci-fi action film was primarily shot in Australia, but did you know Nashville was also used in the production? Blink and you might miss the iconic Nashville skyline in the opening chase scene with Trinity on the rooftops. (IMDb)
Country Strong (2010)
You won’t miss Nashville in Country Strong. Music City was the primary filming location for the country music drama starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, and Garrett Hedlund. (IMDb)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi’s first feature film was shot in a remote part of Morristown, Tennessee in an abandoned cabin. The low-budget horror movie made nearly 10x its budget at the box office and launched the careers of Raimi and star Bruce Campbell…Groovy. (IMDb)
Speaking of movies that would haunt audiences for years.
The Country Bears (2002)
The film, based on the Country Bear Jamboree Disney World attraction, used parts of Franklin and Nashville for shooting locations. (IMDb)
That’s not the only Disney film to shoot in Tennessee. Thankfully the other ones don’t feature any animatronic bears with dead eyes.
The Jungle Book (1994)
Disney’s first live-action version of The Jungle Book took advantage of some of Tennessee’s beautiful state parks. The movie shot scenes at Fall Creek Falls State Park in Spencer and Ozone Falls State Natural Area, near Crab Orchard, Tennessee. (IMDb)
Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)
The big-screen follow-up to Miley Cyrus’ popular Disney Channel show filmed in Columbia, Franklin, and Nashville. (IMDb)
Raw Deal (1986)
The underrated Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick is primarily set around Chicago. But one of the movie’s final shootouts – yes there are multiple – takes place at a rock quarry. The filmmakers turned to Gallatin, Tennessee to find the perfect location to see Schwarzenegger shoot people off large equipment with ease as he drove around the quarry. (IMDb)
Days of Thunder (1990)
Tom Cruise (second appearance on the list) had the need for speed again in 1990. But instead of the air, he took to the track this time to scratch that itch. The racing scenes were filmed at Bristol Motor Speedway. (IMDb)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
The story follows a Black police detective investigating a murder, while also exploring the racial tensions in a small southern town. The movie shot a few scenes in Dyersburg and Union City, Tennessee. It would go on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. (IMDb)
Walking Tall (1973)
Based on the life of McNairy County sheriff Buford Pusser, the surprise hit that told the story of a small-town sheriff’s fight to clean up corruption shot in Jackson, Henderson, and Knoxville, Tennessee. The subsequent sequels (Walking Tall: Part II, Final Chapter: Walking Tall) were also shot in Tennessee. The Rock’s 2004 remake, unfortunately, did not. The remake opted to film in Canada. They also renamed the character, so we all missed out on seeing the Rock play as “Buford Pusser.” (IMDb)