In ‘Cast Away,’ Tom Hanks‘ character, Chuck, goes through a grueling catharsis during his time on an isolated island, after his plane crashes in the South Pacific. There are times when he struggles to find food, and then there are other times when life-threatening injuries further hinder his survival. And of course, more than anything else, he has a hard time dealing with his loneliness. But despite all the challenges that he faces on the island, as a viewer, you can’t help but fall in love with the location where almost the entire movie’s shooting took place. The pristine landscapes of the island in the film very well contrast all the trials and tribulations that Chuck faces there, eventually, making the island a character in itself.
Cast Away Filming Locations
The filming of the movie took place for a span of two years, between 1998 to 2000 in many different locations including Fiji, Moscow, Russia, Los Angeles, and Texas. Midway through its runtime, the film takes time-jump and shows how drastically Tom Hanks’ character Chuck has transformed after living on the island for several years.
Tom Hanks had intentionally gained close to 50 pounds during pre-production just to make his transformation more substantial and noticeable. Once all his pre-transformation scenes were shot, the film’s production went on a one-year hiatus so that Hanks could grow out his hair and beard, and loose all the necessary weight for the scenes that followed. During this hiatus, the director of ‘Cast Away,’ Robert Lee Zemeckis, used his time productively to make another film, ‘What Lies Beneath.’
An old guidebook of the Fiji islands, which was published by Lonely Planet, mentions that the movie’s filming was not as far from civilization as most would believe. Monu-Riki just happens to be a subgroup of the Mamanuca archipelago, which is not too far away from Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island.
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The production notes of the movie reveal that searching for the perfect island for the filming was quite a challenging task for the filmmakers. Monu-Riki was finalized as the filming location because of its “dramatic peak, pristine beach, and small coconut grove.” Soon after this, the production had to go through a complex procedure of understanding Fijian customs just to obtain permission to film there. After a formal meeting with the owners of the island, a local ceremony was also carried out.
— JD ANDREWS (@earthXplorer) November 9, 2017
The production of the movie was later moved to the islands of Namotu and Tavarua. Known to be the surfing havens of the region, both of these islands served as the perfect location for docking the small fleet of ships and boats owned by the production. Somewhere around these islands, the final scenes of Chuck’s escape were filmed after months of research surrounding the region’s oceanography along with designs tests of ten different rafts/rigs.
Red Square, Russia
Apart from being filmed in the desolate, sandy shores of Monu-Riki, the filming of ‘Cast Away’ also took place in Russia. The opening scenes of the film where Chuck lectures his FedEx employees about the importance of time and then sets out to deliver packages have all been filmed in and around Red Square, Russia.
— MovieTrip📽🎞🎥 (@MovieTripApp) June 26, 2016
The production notes of the movie also disclose that it was filmed in Red Square for a week, and during this span, the Moscow city square was completely closed down. Soon after this, the production returned to Los Angeles where other initial scenes of the movie were filmed in on soundstages at Sony Pictures and at FedEx in Los Angeles.
— Texas Film Commission (@TexasFilmComm) April 17, 2020
According to local news sources, the closing scene of the movie where Chuck visits a suburban ranch to deliver a package that he held onto all this while was shot on Arrington Ranch in the Texas Panhandle south of the city of Canadian, Texas.
Read More: Cast Away, Explained