Pop culture fans will be fascinated by Alexandria’s ample celebrity ties, from blockbuster films shot in the city like “Wonder Woman 1984,” to famous faces raised in Alexandria, ranging from Hoda Kotb to Dave Grohl and beyond, to star athletes who’ve called the city home. Read on to be surprised by the city’s star-studded connections.
Movies & TV Shows Filmed in Alexandria
Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
“Wonder Woman 1984,” Warner Bros.’ much-anticipated follow-up to 2017’s record-breaking “Wonder Woman,” was filmed in part in Alexandria in June and July of 2018, with most local filming taking place inside the Landmark Mall in Alexandria’s West End. Set designers transformed the interior atrium into a bustling 1980s shopping mall in its neon heyday, with many classic storefronts making memorable cameos. “Wonder Woman 1984” was released simultaneously in cinemas and on HBO Max on December 25, 2020. Peek behind the scenes of the movie’s filming at Alexandria’s Landmark Mall here.
Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal
In this biographical film directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Noah Oppenheim, Natalie Portman takes on the titular role as Jacqueline Kennedy during the days following her husband’s assassination. The production included filming at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt
J. Edgar (2011)
Clint Eastwood’s Leo-led biopic of the F.B.I.’s most notorious director shot several scenes at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Look closely and you’ll notice that the Masonic Memorial looks slightly different—that’s because the filmmakers used CGI to chop off the tower!
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Dermot Mulroney
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
Given Alexandria’s important role in American history (and its connection to Freemasons like George Washington), it only makes sense that parts of the “National Treasure” sequel were filmed in Old Town. The lecture hall in the movie’s opening scene is actually the auditorium inside the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight, Ed Harris, Helen Mirren
The West Wing (1999-2006)
Quite a few episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s classic serial political drama were filmed in Alexandria, but the most extensive shoot took place for part two of the second season premiere, “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen.” The episode opens with an assassin stepping outside the former Dixie Pig restaurant near Old Town for a smoke when he is immediately surrounded by dozens of federal agents.
Hollow Man (2000)
This Kevin Bacon-helmed sci-fi thriller was a box office hit and a critical flop. One creepy scene involving a swimming pool was shot at 311 South St. Asaph Street in Old Town Alexandria, in a large townhouse with wrought iron on top of the entrance. Kevin Bacon has returned to Alexandria several times since to perform at The Birchmere alongside his brother Michael as The Bacon Brothers.
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin
Random Hearts (1998)
Although director Sidney Pollack’s movie starring Harrison Ford was panned by critics, “Random Hearts’” production was a big hit in Old Town, where it took over King Street for about a week.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas
The Pelican Brief (1993)
Although Denzel Washington did not film in Alexandria for “Remember the Titans,” he did make it out to George Washington’s Mount Vernon a few years earlier for his part in “The Pelican Brief,” a legal crime thriller based on the John Grisham novel.
Starring: Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Sam Shepard, Stanley Tucci, John Lithgow
Broadcast News (1987)
In this clever satire of American television news, centered on a love triangle between a news producer, anchor and reporter, a particularly important plot point is revealed outside 219 Restaurant on King Street.
Starring: Holly Hunt, William Hurt, Joan Cusack, Albert Brooks
No Way Out (1986)
In this smart thriller with a complicated plot, Will Patton’s character arrives to pick up soon-to-be murder victim Susan at 101 Quay Street near Alexandria’s waterfront, also affording us a glimpse of Founders Park in the background.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Will Patton
Movies & TV Shows Based on Alexandria Stories
Remember the Titans (2000)
How could we forget? This award-winning film starring Denzel Washington depicts the consolidation of Alexandria’s three public high schools into one, T.C. Williams High School (the school will soon be renamed), in 1971 and the subsequent integration of the schools’ football team, which went on to win the state championship that same year.
In this understated and moving film, Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton depict Mildred and Richard Loving, the Virginia plaintiffs of the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision which legalized interracial marriage throughout the United States. At the corner of King and N. Pitt Street in Old Town, find a brand-new mini kiosk commemorating the decision, positioned near the former 110 N. Royal Street office of the Lovings’ lawyers.
PBS’ Mercy Street (2016-2017)
The national PBS series “Mercy Street,” the network’s showcase drama series following the conclusion of “Downton Abbey,” was inspired by real events of Union-occupied Civil War Alexandria, revealing the realities of Civil War medicine, changing roles for women and the breakthrough experience of enslaved African Americans claiming their freedom.
The Walking Dead (2010 – )
In AMC’s dystopian hit, “The Walking Dead,” the “Alexandria Safe-Zone” is a refuge against the titular zombies (look for the upcoming spin-off: “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” which is filmed in Virginia).
Dave Grohl: Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl attended Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria. Years later, Grohl returned to Alexandria with the Foo Fighters to record their third album, “There is Nothing Left to Lose,” in the basement of his home on Nicholson Lane. The band also named a track on the 2011 album “Wasting Light” after the city’s northern neighborhood, “Arlandria.”
Jim Morrison: Iconic rock musician and lead singer of The Doors Jim Morrison came to Alexandria and attended George Washington High School (now Middle School) as a teenager when his father, a naval officer, was transferred to the Pentagon in nearby Arlington. Check out his cameo in the mural outside St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Del Ray.
The Mamas and the Papas: Both John Phillips and Cass Elliott of folk rock group The Mamas and the Papas grew up in Alexandria and attended George Washington High School (now Middle School). Phillips lived in Del Ray with his parents and played basketball, while Elliott acted in the theater department.
TV & Movie Stars
Hoda Kotb: The NBC broadcast journalist, television personality, author and “TODAY” co-anchor graduated from Fort Hunt High School just outside of the City of Alexandria, where she was elected homecoming queen, and now makes frequent forays back to visit her mother, who lives in Old Town.
Monte Durham: Monte Durham has dished out advice and dolled up brides as fashion director on TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” since 2010. But did you know this Atlanta reality show star is an Alexandria resident? After putting down roots in Alexandria some 25 years ago, Monte opened Salon Monte on the waterfront in September 2020.
Donnell Rawlings: Known for his recurring roles in sketches on “Chapelle’s Show,” this Alexandria native most recently has drawn praise for his vocal work in Disney Pixar’s upcoming animated feature, “SOUL,” starring Jaime Foxx.
Casey Wilson: Born and raised in Alexandria, actress and writer Casey Wilson graduated from T. C. Williams High School (the school will soon be renamed), then went on to a career that has included two seasons on “Saturday Night Live,” starring roles in the comedy shows “Happy Endings,” “Marry Me” and “Black Monday” and the film adaptation of “Gone Girl.”
Naomi Wadler: The Alexandria activist moved millions as a fifth grader with her 3-minute speech during the Washington, D.C. March for Our Lives event on March 24, 2018, following the Parkland, Florida shooting. Wadler was recently commemorated in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s “Girlhood (It’s complicated)” exhibit, celebrating the anniversary of women’s suffrage by exploring the concept of girlhood in America.
Peter Alexander and Alison Starling: Journalist, NBC News reporter and Saturday “TODAY” co-host Peter Alexander spent years living in Old Town with his wife, WJLA-TV co-anchor Alison Starling, and their children. They are particular fans of the Old Town Farmers’ Market.
Christopher Meloni: Anyone who’s ever been sucked into a “Law & Order: SVU” marathon recognizes Christopher Meloni, who attended St. Stephen’s School in Alexandria (now St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School) and played quarterback on the football team, later taking on starring roles like Julia Robert’s fiancée in “Runaway Bride.”
Dermot Mulroney: Another Julia Robert’s co-star, actor Dermot Mulroney (“My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “August: Osage County”) was born in Alexandria and graduated from T. C. Williams High School (the school will soon be renamed). In a 2012 interview with the Alexandria Times, Mulroney reminisced about jumping off piers into the Potomac and running his paper route in Rosemont.
Charles Esten: The “Nashville” and “Outer Banks” actor and musician was spent much of his childhood in Alexandria and returns on a regular basis to perform at the acclaimed Birchmere.
Elena Delle Donne: The WNBA star and two-time league-wide MVP won the championship with the Washington Mystics in 2019 and currently lives with her wife in Old Town.
Noah Lyles: The record-breaking sprinter who’s given Usain Bolt a run for his money—and has his eyes on gold for the Tokyo Summer Olympics—attended Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School (the school will soon be renamed) along with his brother and fellow pro athlete, Josephus.
Braden Holtby: In addition to bringing home the Stanley Cup in 2018 and winning the Vezina Trophy for best goaltending in the league, the former Washington Capitals star lived with his family in Old Town before relocating to play for the Vancouver Canucks. Check out the hockey star’s favorite Old Town haunts here.
Earl Lloyd: In 1950, Earl Lloyd made his NBA debut as the league’s first African American player. 70 years later, his statue was installed at the former site of his alma mater, Parker-Gray High School, now the Charles Houston Recreation Center and home to the Alexandria African American Hall of Fame. In October 2020, the City voted to re-name the 1000 block of Montgomery Street, part of the Parker-Gray neighborhood, “Earl F. Lloyd Way.”
Want to learn more about Alexandria’s celebrity connections? Embark on our self-guided film and TV walking tour.
Header Image Credits: Warner Bros./DC Entertainment (left); Shutterstock (center and right)