Where Was Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar Filmed? All Filming Locations Explained

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Summary

  • The majority of the Earthbound scenes in Interstellar were shot in Alberta, Canada, despite the film appearing to take place in Colorado, USA.
  • Christopher Nolan had his team plant 500 acres of corn in Canada to create practical effects for the movie, which were later destroyed in a dust storm scene.
  • The ice planet and water planet scenes were filmed in Iceland, specifically in Svínafellsjökull and Orrustuhóll, to capture the feeling of being on two undiscovered planets.


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Interstellar takes place in a dystopian version of Earth in 2067, where the planet is dying, and astronauts set out on a mission to find a new home for humanity in the universe, leading to some unique and beautiful filming locations. Christopher Nolan directed the epic science fiction film, which shot from August to December 2013 in multiple spots around the world before premiering almost a year later on November 5, 2014. The director tends to utilize more practical effects in his movies rather than special effects, so the production crew had to pick the film’s shooting locations very carefully to ensure that Nolan’s vision was achieved.

The cast of Interstellar includes Matthew McConaughey as Joseph Cooper, Anne Hathaway as Dr. Amelia Brand, Jessica Chastain as Murphy “Murph” Cooper, Michael Caine as Professor John Brand, Matt Damon as Mann, Casey Affleck as Tom Cooper, David Gyasi as Romilly, and Wes Bentley as Doyle. McConaughey’s character leads the Endurance mission as he, Romilly, Doyle, and Amelia travel through a wormhole near Saturn to find a habitable planet for humans. They face many hardships along the way, while Murph holds down the fort on Earth.


The Earth Scenes Were Filmed In Alberta, Canada

Casey Affleck in a corn field in Interstellar

Before the expedition crew could search throughout the universe for a new home for humans in Interstellar, the movie had to set up the conflict on their original home planet — Earth. According to The Worldwide Guide To Movie Locations, the majority of the Earthbound scenes were shot in Alberta, Canada, even though the film seemed to take place in Colorado in the United States of America. However, given that Interstellar takes place in a dystopian future where blight and famine threaten to kill off all of humanity, it is unclear how these factors changed the geographical landscape of the world.

The cast and crew seemingly shot the movie’s scenes in order to begin with because they first traveled to Canada to capture the Earth sequences, which is how the film starts. They spent a little over a month in Alberta before moving on to other locations, where they filmed the space sequences, interior shots, and additional Earth scenes. But while in Canada, Nolan got creative and ordered his team to plant 500 acres of corn since Matthew McConaughey’s character was a farmer, after all. The corn was then destroyed in the movie during the dust storm scene, which was created using practical effects. Related: Interstellar’s Time Dilation Explained: Why Time Moves Slower On Miller’s Planet

The Cooper’s Home & School Scenes Were Filmed In Longview, Alberta, Canada

Cooper drinking a beer in Interstellar

While the generic exterior Earth scenes in Interstellar were captured throughout Alberta, Canada, the production team scouted out numerous locations in Longview, a small village in the southern region of the province. The town’s population is around 300, making it the perfect spot for Joseph Cooper’s desolate home in the Christopher Nolan film. Longview gives off a rural and farm-town vibe, as well, so once the production team added corn to the picture, it was easy to sell the location as a struggling city in a dystopian future where the world is actively dying every day.

The cast and crew utilized many locations in Longview to capture Nolan’s vision for the 2014 epic science fiction film. They shot scenes at a ranch house in the town that doubled as the Cooper’s home. Additionally, Longview School was used for the one sequence where Joseph attended a parent-teacher conference at his kid’s school, and the football game that was broken up by one of the many dust storms in the movie was shot at Seaman Stadium, which is a little north of Longview in Okotoks.

The Ice Planet & Water Planet Scenes Were Filmed In Iceland

Matthew McConaughey on the poster for Interstellar

Since Christopher Nolan prefers to use practical effects in his films, he had his production team scout out locations in Iceland that could double as two of the planets in Interstellar. This movie was not the first time Nolan has shot in Iceland — the director also utilized the country’s beautiful landscapes for his 2005 superhero project, Batman Begins. But for the science fiction film, the cast and crew traveled to multiple locations in southern Iceland to capture the feeling that they were on two previously undiscovered planets.

The two main spots that the Interstellar production team used during principal photography were Svínafellsjökull, which is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull east of Skaftafell, and Orrustuhóll in the Eldhraun lava field. Svínafellsjökull doubled as the ice planet, aka Mann’s planet, in the 2014 movie. Mann, played by Matt Damon, initially claimed that the surface was habitable for humans but was lying in an attempt to be rescued. Meanwhile, before Joseph Cooper and Dr. Amelia Brand tried Mann’s planet, they ventured to the water planet, aka Miller’s planet.

Orrustuhóll was the location of the water planet, which was also deemed unlivable for humans. Orrustuhóll is covered in lava fields, but it is also surrounded by water, making it the perfect spot to shoot the treacherous scenes where Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway’s characters lost 23 years due to a time dilation. Unfortunately, while filming these sequences for Interstellar, Hathaway almost got hypothermia due to a malfunction with her costume.

NASA & Additional Scenes Were Filmed In Los Angeles

Jeff Hephner talking to Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar.

The Interstellar cast and crew also traveled to Los Angeles, California, to film plenty of scenes they could not capture outside the country. They shot the NASA facility sequence at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown LA. According to The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations, it took the crew three weeks to build the set they needed for the scene in the hotel but only three days to film it. Plus, not every Interstellar scene could be captured on location. So, the production also utilized a soundstage in Culver City, California, to get some shots that could not be filmed using practical effects in Canada and Iceland.

Related: 25 Best Mind-Bending Movies Like Interstellar

The Exterior Secret Base Scenes Were Filmed In Colorado

TARS in the space ship in Interstellar

The last filming location used in Interstellar was the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Only exterior shots of the facility were captured for the 2014 epic science fiction film since the cast and crew assumingly were not able to film scenes inside of it. The production team likely built a set for these scenes on the soundstage in Culver City, but they were able to get shots of the outside of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex for Interstellar.

Source: The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations