Best for…getting away with murder
Stepping out of his New York comfort zone Woody Allen’s 2005 London-based dramatic thriller Match Point reinforced for adulterers and criminals everywhere that bridges should always be the first stop-off point after a crime scene. The film climaxes with retired tennis pro Chris (Jonathon Rhys Meyers) using Blackfriar’s Bridge to artfully dispose of incriminating evidence after an affair with Scarlett Johansson goes terribly awry.
Best for…parallel universes
Arguably one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s most versatile roles (she plays a long-haired brunette, a short-haired blonde AND does a British accent all in one movie!) the 1998 Sliding Doors is a lesson to us all about the perilous alternate reality that can result from missing the tube. Filmed at Waterloo Underground, the film opens with protagonist Helen getting fired and missing her train by a split second as a result of a child not walking on the right hand side of the stairs, which has devastating effects, obviously.
Best for…taking the law into your own hands
British crime thriller Harry Brown (2009) sees Royal Marines veteran / senior citizen Michael Caine taking the law into his own hands, south London vigilante style, after the grim Elephant and Castle housing estate where he lives becomes over-run with gangs who murder his friend. Filmed on the abandoned Heygate Estate, Caine single-handedly destroys the estate’s entire gang culture and dramatically reduces Southwark’s crime levels, which the police subsequently take full credit for!
Best for…aversion therapy
Set in a dystopian future Britain, one of the most disturbing scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange was actually shot in Nettlefold Hall above West Norwood library. While in prison sociopath Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is subjected to experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals, where he is drugged with nausea-inducing medication and forced to watch violent movies. The doctor administering the eye drops in the scene was actually a trainee physician; during the filming of the scene McDowell suffered a scratched cornea and was temporarily blinded.
Best for… unrealistically good real estate
Though her diary may suggest otherwise, singleton Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) enjoys quite a luxurious London lifestyle in the 2001 Bridget Jones’ Diary. Despite earning a UK-standard communications salary, Bridget’s iconic abode is a one-bedroom flat above the Globe Tavern in trendy Borough Market. More realistically one pivotal scene shows a stuffy Colin Firth awkwardly confessing his love for Bridget through the intercom to her flat while liquored-up onlookers scoffing late night kebabs cheer on.
Best for… getting stabbed
Playing pimp Derek in the award winning 2006 London to Brighton, Bermondsey boy Johnny Harris is the victim of a violent attack under the arches near the St James’ Tavern on St James Road in Bermondsey. Direct reference is made to the local pub when Derek tells his friend on the phone “I’m outside the Jaymo.”
Other notable mentions:
Chevy Chase literally drives his family round the bend in National Lampoon’s European Vacation when he gets stuck on the Lambeth Bridge roundabout.
Wreckage scenes from The Fast and the Furious 6 were shot on Lambeth Bridge
In Mission Impossible Tom Cruise drops into the Anchor Bankside pub for a pint.
When vigilante Paul Kersey arrives back in New York for the 1985 Death Wish 3 he was actually in Lambeth where a number of scenes were shot at the old Lambeth Hospital.
Brad Pitt fought off zombies at the Heygate Estate for his upcoming zombie thriller World War Z.
Michael Winterbottom’s controversial 9 Songs is centred around Brixton’s O2 Academy where a pair of young lovers bond over their passion for live music.
Hugh Grant declares his love for Andie MacDowell on Waterloo Bridge in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne tries to lead a journalist away from a dramatic sniper attack in Waterloo station in the Bourne Ultimatum.