Directed by Mike Nichols, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is adapted for the big screen from a book of the same name by George Crile III. The 2007 biographical comedy-drama film follows US Congressman Charlie Wilson and his efforts to organize and fund the Afghan mujahideen in the face of a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, famously known as Operation Cyclone. The film features Tom Hanks in the leading role, with Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing key supporting characters.
Set during the height of the Cold War, the film serves as a visual treat. The cinematography is uncluttered and uses an abundance of medium close-up shots to keep the audience’s focus on the characters and their dialogues. This makes it impossible to miss anything in the movie. Since biographical films are dependent on their production design and accuracy for overall success, choosing the right location to shoot the film becomes even more important. Without further ado, let us find out where ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ was filmed!
Charlie Wilson’s War Filming Locations
The events on which ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is based primarily took place in the US and Afghanistan. However, only the US could be safely used as a location at the time of filming. Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, and Downey in California were used to depict Wilson’s life in the country. A major chunk of the film was captured in Marrakech, Morocco. The production of ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ began in October 2006 and was wrapped up sometime before December 2007. Let’s take a look at the specific filming locations!
Being a US Congressman, Charlie Wilson spent much of his time at the Capitol Building. Since filming a movie in a government building is usually frowned upon, the Downey Studios at 12214 Lakewood Boulevard in Downey served as Wilson’s stomping grounds. Martin Frost, a former Democratic Congressman from Texas, talked about the accuracy of the recreation of Charlie Wilson’s office and the interior of the Capitol Building in the film in conversation with NPR’s ‘Talk of the Nation.’ “…the details were right. Often, when you see a political movie – when I see a movie about Congress, there are little details that aren’t right. All the details were right,” he said.
Other famous productions which were filmed at Downey Studios include titles such as MCU’s ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Cloverfield,’ ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,’ and ‘Pineapple Express,’ among others. Downing Studios was unfortunately shut down in late 2012.
Los Angeles, California
Over the years, the sprawling Southern Californian city of Los Angeles has been the site for many productions, and ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is no exception. One of the defining scenes in the film – the meeting between Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) and Charlie Wilson – was taped at the Otis Chandler Mansion at 455 South Lorraine Boulevard in the luxurious Hancock Park district of Los Angeles.
‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is ultimately about a man raising funds to support the allies of the US in their struggle against the Soviet Union. For politicians, this means speaking with the right people and trying to convince them. A lot of this convincing in the film took place at restaurants and hotels, the venue for which was the world-famous Langham Huntington Hotel, located at 1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue in Pasadena. Aside from this, Santa Clarita was the setting for a lot of the exterior shots which were used in the film.
The fourth largest city in Morocco, Marrakech was used to shoot all of the sequences in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ which took place outside of the US. As per reports, it served as a stand-in for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Egypt. The most memorable scene from the film, which was recorded in Marrakech, is the meeting between Charlie Wilson and Pakistan’s President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (Om Puri) at the Presidential Residence.
Other notable scenes shot in Marrakech include depictions of war between the mujahideen and the Soviet forces, the Afghani refugee camp in Pakistan which convinces Wilson of his cause, and the far-off and hazy shot of minarets which was used to represent Cairo, Egypt, near the end of ‘Charlie Wilson’s War.’