Under the direction of John Putch, ‘A Biltmore Christmas’ takes us on a journey back through time to Hollywood’s Golden Era, and the beginning of Christmas movies. Lucy is living the dream as a screenwriter for a remake of the classic, ‘His Merry Wife.’ However, the director isn’t happy with the ending she has written and sends her to the Biltmore Estate where the original was filmed. Upon reaching the grand venue, she toys with an hourglass, unknowingly transporting herself back to 1947, to the set of the original film. The hourglass breaks, and in trying to fix it, she runs into the movie’s star, Jack Huston. He is intrigued by Lucy and she realizes her opportunity to learn about the movie’s ending.
While slowly becoming romantically intertwined with Huston, Lucy is forced to help the production and prevent a disruption in the timeline before returning to the present. The movie’s focal point is the historical site of the Biltmore estate, which sets the perfect historical stage for a Christmas Movie taking place in 1947. The actors sport clothing of the time, are surrounded by antiques, and there are multiple 1940 Ford Delux Sedans parked out front. With such a transformation in its setting, you may naturally be curious how the filmmakers managed to take us back in time, what significance the location holds, and who are the actors behind it?
Where Was A Biltmore Christmas Filmed?
The time-traveling adventure was filmed almost entirely in Asheville, North Carolina, with some shots of Hendersonville, North Carolina, being used as well. Principal photography commenced on January 9, 2023, and was wrapped up by January 28 of the same year. Let us take a detailed look at the filming location and how it was transported back to 1947.
Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled among the state’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a city with historic sites and a collection of time-honored artifacts and artworks in multiple museums and galleries. The primary location for filming within the city in North Carolina was the 8000-acre Biltmore Estate. Constructed at the end of the 19th Century for George Washington Vanderbilt II, it is the largest privately owned house in the nation. The mansion is open to gallery viewing, stays, and throws the largest Christmas party in town.
— Colton Little (@mrcoltonlittle) January 23, 2023
The Christmas Tradition at the estate is a massive undertaking with months of preparation. The Hallmark film crew made use of this annual event and requested they keep the decorations up till the end of January for the shoot. Nevertheless, the crew had a lot of work to do when it came to taking their elegant backdrop to the past. Set decorator, Christi Whiteley is an antique collector and vintage shop owner. She used her resources to their extreme to acquire enough props and furniture for the scenes while still respecting the invaluable furnishings and architecture of the mansion.
A 35-foot-tall, 3000-pound Fraser fir is raised in the banquet hall as a part of an annual Christmas tradition in November. That is the only real tree within the Estate house, with 64 others being faux trees meant to protect the historic floors and reduce maintenance. For the movie’s scene in the library, Whiteley placed a real 11-foot-tall Christmas tree, unsheared with a tinsel drape around it, as was popular in the 1940s. The hourglass used in the movie also holds historical significance, as it was an intricate timekeeper used by George Vanderbilt himself. They couldn’t use the original, of course, but 3D-printed duplicates with less ornate carvings for the film.
Much like Lucy being sent to the estate for inspiration, the film’s screenwriter, Marcy Holland stayed at the property and was inspired by its timeless allure to write the original screenplay. Kristoffer Polaha, who plays Hudson, grew up watching films from the Golden Era of Hollywood and was naturally excited for his role. He was awed by the monument’s intricate artistic details at such a grand scale, finding its atmosphere profoundly impacting his performance in the film.
Speaking to Southern Living about filming at the Biltmore mansion, he said, “When you’re surrounded by the majesty of that structure, and all of the intricate details, like the bookshelves. There’s 10,000 books in that library and the bookshelves go from floor to ceiling. And then there’s this canvas on the ceiling that’s 13 panels that they brought from Italy and they made the room to fit the canvas so the ceiling looks like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.”
The actor added, “I mean it’s beautiful. And then you have fireplaces big enough to park cars in. It affects your performance. It informs you. It changes you.” Beyond the estate, a couple of local businesses were utilized as filming locations. Chemist Spirits’ Antidote cocktail bar can be seen in the movie as it has a 1900s chemist shop-inspired design. Additionally, an office space situated above Jerusalem Garden Café in downtown Asheville was used as well.
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Located over 20 miles south of Asheville, Hendersonville is a city in Henderson County that also contains multiple heritage buildings and museums. One such location, Hendersonville’s Historic Train Depot, was used to set a few scenes for ‘A Biltmore Christmas.’ Crowds could be seen gathering outside the station to witness the movie magic happen in real time. The historic railway station, built in 1902, was likely used by the filmmakers as it represented their targeted time period of the early 20th Century while covering a substantial area for wider shots.
A Biltmore Christmas Cast
The film is led by Bethany Joy Lenz as Lucy and Kristoffer Polaha as Jack Huston. You might have seen Lenz play roles in films and shows like ‘Dexter‘ as Cassie Jollenston, ‘Grey’s Anatomy‘ as Jenny, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ as Stephanie Malick, and ‘Pearson’ as Keri Allen. Kristoffer Polaha has had a long acting career; there is a good chance you have noticed him in ‘The Shift’ as Kevin Garner, ‘Jurassic World Dominion‘ as Wyatt, ‘Wonder Woman 1984‘ as Handsome Man, and ‘Life Unexpected’ as Nate Bazile.
Other Cast members include Jonathan Frakes, Robert Picardo, Mary Beth McDonough, Colton Little, A.K. Benninghofen, Jennifer Cortese, Annabelle Borke, David Alexander, Caity Brewer, Tommy Cresswell, Philena Gilmer, Zander Ash, Jason Saucier, Alphie Hyorth, Barbara Nuss Stiles, Ray Fawley, Bobbie Peterson, Josh Yarusinsky, Violet Bernice Gernhard, Dillon Belisle, and Corina Violette.
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