6 Places You'll Recognize from the Background of Every Movie

#3. The Bradbury Building -- Recognize These Stairs?

Luke Jones

The Bradbury Building, a Los Angeles landmark built in 1893, has been called the most famous building in science fiction. Its distinctive interiors have appeared in several sci-fi movies and TV shows over the past 70 years. Sure, it looks pretty mundane in the picture above, but add some moody lighting and copious amounts of trash ...

And Harrison Ford's robot boner.

... and it becomes one of the most recognizable settings from Blade Runner. Yep, this is the building where the inventor guy lives with his creepy robot friends and where the rooftop battle at the end takes place.

But Ridley Scott wasn't the first director to shoot in this place, or even the first to shoot a tense chase sequence where a non-human killer fights a man who doesn't know that he's a robot. Twenty years earlier, the same thing happened in the Outer Limits episode "Demon With a Glass Hand" (the same one that "inspired" Terminator). Here's a comparison:

The building also has an episode of Star Trek and a bunch of classic sci-fi movies on its resume. More recently, however, it has branched out into other genres. Remember at the end of (500) Days of Summer when Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a job interview on the top floor of a building and meets a girl conveniently named Autumn? It's the same place:

A better ending would have been revealing that Zooey Deschanel is a replicant, and then she shuts down.

Last year, the building was also used in the Academy Award-winning silent film The Artist as the place where the male and female protagonists meet by accident and don't talk:


Before that, it showed up briefly in movies like Lethal Weapon 4, Pay It Forward, and Chinatown. It had a more sizable role in the 1994 Jack Nicholson movie Wolf, playing the building where Nicholson's werewolf character worked as a publishing editor:

OK, we have to admit that working in this place would be pretty neat (in fact, Marvel Comics has an office there). But what if you don't like taking the stairs? Don't worry, the Bradbury Building also has a famous elevator, as seen, once again, in Blade Runner ...

... plus episodes of shows like Quantum Leap ...

... and CSI: NY, which is apparently shot anywhere but in New York.

"Quick, the next clue is at the Eiffel Tower!"

#2. Greystone Mansion -- The World's Most Famous Checkered Floor

Bastion & Lark

Greystone Mansion is a property in Beverly Hills that has been featured in over 100 movies and episodes of TV shows. We're guessing that the main reason for this is that it's like a 15-minute drive between Hollywood and Beverly Hills, but it probably doesn't hurt that this place is also classy as shit. So, as a result of this rampant reuse of the same location, it turns out that the older Lebowski's mansion in The Big Lebowski ...

It was cheaper to digitally add the rug in post-production.

... was also Daniel Plainview's (Daniel Day-Lewis') estate in There Will Be Blood ...

... and Kermit the Frog's fancy home in the heart-wrenching "Pictures in My Head" song from The Muppets:

"There's a bowling alley here, but the previous owner spilled tomato sauce or something on the floor."

Kermit's song isn't the only musical sequence shot in this place. There's also the video for Meatloaf's classic "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" ...

"That" = "Stop leaving lit candlesticks unattended."

... and Elton John's "I Want Love," starring a younger, emo-er Robert Downey Jr.

And just to show you that plans of a cohesive Marvel Comics movie universe go back further than anyone thought, the same video takes the future Iron Man to a room with a white fireplace ...

"Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me."

... which is also used as the family mansion for at least two generations of Osborns (Willem Dafoe and James Franco) in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies:

Complete with the Polokus masks from Rayman 2.

The same property also portrayed the exterior garden in X-Men (where it was the garden of Professor Xavier's school) and Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin, in possibly the first Marvel/DC cinematic crossover. But that's just the tip of the iceberg: Greystone Mansion has been used in movies as diverse as The Social Network, The Bodyguard, Eraserhead, The Dirty Dozen, National Treasure, and The Prestige ... basically anything with a non-British rich character.

For instance, here are the Ghostbusters coming into the mansion to meet the mayor of New York City in Ghostbusters II ...

"Anyone seen Venkman?"

... and here's Bill Murray coming out in the also-Ivan-Reitman-directed Stripes:

"Whoa. Deja vu."

#1. Monument Valley -- The Most Famous Rock Formations You've Never Heard Of


Monument Valley, with its vibrant colors and sandstone pinnacles, contains some of the most recognizable rock formations in the world. Since when do people give a shit about geology, you ask? Since never: The real reason you may recognize these rocks is that they've been used a fuck-ton throughout the valley's illustrious Hollywood career.

For starters, John Ford shot no less than nine movies in Monument Valley, including classic John Wayne Westerns like Stagecoach and The Searchers.

As well as the bulk of the Road Runner cartoons.

Thanks to Ford and Wayne, Monument Valley became synonymous with cowboys shooting each other -- so it was only natural that when Marty McFly traveled back to 1885 in Back to the Future Part III, he landed right smack dab in the middle of this place:

"Roads? Where we're going, there are no roads."

Chevy Chase winds up in Monument Valley by accident when the Griswold family crashes the station wagon in the desert in National Lampoon's Vacation, leading to a touching father/son moment:

"See these rocks? They have a better chance of being in the sequels than you."

Astronaut Dave Bowman also ends up in Monument Valley at the end of the stargate scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, although Stanley Kubrick flipped the colors to make the place look like an alien planet here:

In the original ending, Dave wakes up in Utah from a long, confusing peyote trip.

Monument Valley has another cameo in Forrest Gump, which we should note was filmed pretty much everywhere. This is a key scene for the movie, though, because it's the area where Forrest suddenly decides to finish his cross-country run.

"I may not be a smart man, but I'm sure I've seen this place before."

And, of course, the anus-clenching opening scene of Mission: Impossible II was shot entirely on top of one of those huge rocks, because getting insanely high is the only way Tom Cruise can experience what we humans call "pleasure."

The film's accompanying music video by Metallica is also set in Monument Valley, as is the sequence set to the Band's "The Weight" at the beginning of Easy Rider. Another low-budget art-house classic, Wild Wild West, also had some scenes there, including the one in which Will Smith is chased by a giant robot spider or some bullshit:

And finally, the upcoming Lone Ranger movie starring Johnny Depp was filmed predominantly in the valley, bringing it back to Westerns. In fact, this spot in the following promotional still from the movie is now called "John Ford's Point":

The natives called it "Chode Rock."

Erik Germ does all sorts of things over at Hugefrigginarms.com and thinks it would be awesome if you followed him on Twitter.

For more things with more impressive resumes than your acting buddy, check out 5 Things Hollywood Reuses More Than Plots. Or learn about The 6 Most Depressing IMDb Pages.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The North Korean Video Game for People Who Hate Fun.

And stop by LinkSTORM to see the headshots that belong to the tree down the street.

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