Home > Films > T > True Lies

Friday August 17th 2018

True Lies | 1994

True Lies location: Georgetown Mall, Georgetown, Washington DC
True Lies location: the chase through the mall: Georgetown Mall, Georgetown, Washington DC

Dull family man Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) moonlights as a Bondian special agent in James Cameron’s tongue-in-cheek thriller, which took some flak for its casual racial stereotyping, which is set around Washington D.C..

True Lies location: Rosecliffe, Newport, Rhode Island
True Lies location: Harry Tasker infiltrates the Swiss chateau: Ochre Court, Newport, Rhode Island | Photograph: wikimedia / Elisa.rolle

The lakeside ‘Swiss’ chateau, infiltrated by Harry during the opening caper, is a mix of locations – both in Rhode Island.

The exterior is Ochre Court – now the Salve Regina University, 100 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport (‘Lake Chapeau’ itself was nothing more than a canal, dug alongside the mansion).

True Lies location: Rosecliffe, Newport, Rhode Island
True Lies location: Harry tangos with Juno: Rosecliff, Newport, Rhode Island | Photograph: wikimedia / Narith5

The interior, where Harry indulges in a tango with Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere) while downloading something or other, is Rosecliff, Bellevue Avenue near Newport, another of the grand Rhode Island mansions (seen on screen previously in 1974's The Great Gatsby).

The snowy ski getaway is in California, at Lake Tahoe, near Truckee, a few miles north of Squaw Valley in the High Sierra Mountains.

Back home in D.C., Harry is tailed by Middle Eastern fanatic Salim (Art Malik) to the Georgetown Park Mall, 3222 M Street NW at Wisconsin Avenue (seen as a ‘metro station’ in Kevin Costner thriller No Way Out), where there’s a spectacular shoot-out in the men’s bathroom (OK, that’s a studio set). The mall has since undergone a major renovation.

Crashing through the window onto M Street, Harry commandeers a police horse in Franklin Park – but the ‘DC’ hotel lobby, into which he gallops is the old Ambassador Hotel, 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, midtown Los Angeles (since demolished), seen in countless productions including True Romance and as the ‘Taft Hotel’ in The Graduate among many others.

True Lies location: Westin Bonaventure Hotel, South Figueroa Street, downtown Los Angeles
True Lies location: the chase into the glass elevators: Westin Bonaventure Hotel, South Figueroa Street, downtown Los Angeles

The traditional Twenties decor mysteriously metamorphoses into into futuristic chrome and glass as Harry is chased into the scenic elevators of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, 404 South Figueroa Street, also in downtown Los Angeles (seen in This Is Spinal Tap, Rain Man and In The Line of Fire among other films).

Meanwhile, Harry’s wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis), is off on her own adventure, meeting sad-wannabe spy Simon (Bill Paxton) beneath DC’s ‘Key Bridge’ – really the Sixth Street Bridge, downtown Los Angeles (where the T-1000 materialised in Cameron’s Terminator 2, and on which the Lear jet lands in S.W.A.T.. The landmark structure succumbed to deterioration and has since been demolished.

The ‘Hotel Marquis’, where Helen is obliged to pose as Doris the Prostitute, is yet another famous Los Angeles hotel passed of as ‘Washington’; this time, downtown’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 South Grand Avenue (seen in dozens of films, including Beverly Hills Cop, The Sting, Ghostbusters, In The Line Of Fire, New York, New York, Splash, Independence Day, Species and Daredevil..

Abducted by ‘Crimson Jihad’ to the Florida Keys, Harry and Helen escape, with a marathon helicopter/limo chase across the Old Seven Mile Bridge joining Key Vaca and Bahia Honda Key. Originally a railway bridge built in 1910, it once carried Overseas Highway, US1, but was replaced by a new bridge in 1982.

True Lies location: Colonial Bank Centre, 1200 Brickell Avenue, downtown Miami
True Lies location: the highrise trashed by the harrier jump jet: Colonial Bank Centre, 1200 Brickell Avenue, downtown Miami

The gleaming black highrise where the terrorists hole up, and which Harry trashes with a Harrier jump jet, is the Colonial Bank Centre, 1200 Brickell Avenue at SE 13th Street, downtown Miami.

Harry and Helen’s final tango is in the Crystal Ballroom, back in the Millennium Biltmore.