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Tuesday September 25th 2018

Being There | 1979

Being There location, Biltmore House, Asheville, North Carolina
Being There filming location: the grand ‘D.C.’ mansion: Biltmore House, North Carolina | Photograph: the Biltmore Estate

The filming locations for Hal Ashby’s Oscar winning satire are around Washington D.C., of course, but also North Carolina, of course, but also in Los Angeles.

Downbeat, deadpan (and Oscar-nominated) Peter Sellers is Chance the naïve gardener, becomes a major celeb as his tiddly little gardening homilies are taken for deep wisdom.

The interior of the dowdy D.C. house, where Chance suddenly finds himself unemployed and homeless on the death of his employer, filmed in the Fenyes Mansion, 470 West Walnut Street, Pasadena, northeast of Los Angeles. You can visit the house – it’s the headquarters of the Pasadena Historical Society.

After wandering the streets of Washington D.C., the grandiose mansion he finds himself guest in after a minor accident is Biltmore House on the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, western North Carolina. The Biltmore House itself is a 255-room French Renaissance-style chateau built in the 1890s for the Vanderbilts. It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, whose other claim to fame on the design front is the plinth for the Statue of Liberty.

The grounds were landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also landscaped New York’s Central Park. The house contains the Vanderbilt’s collection of paintings and it’s open to the public. It’s on Route 25, three blocks north from Route 40. You can also see the house as the estate of Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) in Ridley Scott's Hannibal.

Being There filming location: Washington D.C. interiors: Craven Estate, 430 Madeline Avenue, Pasadena
Being There filming location: Washington D.C. interiors: Craven Estate, 430 Madeline Avenue, Pasadena

More of the interiors were filmed in the Craven Estate, 430 Madeline Avenue, west of Orange Grove Boulevard, in Pasadena. Seen also as the law office of Will Smith in Tony Scott’s Enemy of the State, and in Steven Soderbergh's 2000 Traffic, the estate is HQ of the Red Cross organisation and not open to the public.