On location: Harbor Island

A look at the Lowcountry’s starring role in the movies 

G.I. Jane (1997)

Harbor Island

The cast

Demi Moore as Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil, Viggo Mortensen as Command Master Chief John James ‘Jack’ Urgayle, Anne Bancroft as Senator Lillian DeHaven, Jason Beghe as Lieutenant Commander Royce Harper, Daniel von Bargen as Secretary of the Navy Theodore Hayes and Scott Wilson as Captain Salem.


“Jada, can’t wait for G.I. Jane 2.” 

That infamous joke told by comedian Chris Rock at the recent Oscars was in reference to the shaved head of Demi Moore’s character in the 1997 American war drama film, G.I. Jane. The film was directed by Ridley Scott and tells the fictional story of the first woman to undergo special operations training similar to the U.S. Navy SEALs.

Most of the filming took place at Camp Blanding, a 30,000-acre National Guard training site in northern Florida. The film used nine other shooting locations, including scenes shot at two islands in northern Beaufort County. The survival camp scenes were shot on Harbor Island, a small residential island located 14 miles east of Beaufort. The jungle and water camp scenes were filmed on nearby Hunting Island, the most popular state park in South Carolina.

Film facts

  • The film originally had a different ending, where Jordan dies while saving her command master chief. Hollywood Pictures execs asked Ridley Scott to reshoot a happier ending of the chief giving Jordan his Navy Cross, the U.S. Marine Corps’ second-highest military decoration. 
  • Ridley Scott’s brother, Tony, supplied leftover submarine footage from Crimson Tide (1995)
    for the film.
  • In her memoir Inside Out, Demi Moore called this film her proudest professional achievement.

Day trip 

Hilton Head Island to Harbor Island 

Drive time: 1 hour, 7 minutes (49.9 miles) via SC-170 and US-21

Travel notes: Ever wonder what wonders lie behind the gates of Harbor Island? If you’re timing is right, you can find out. Due to a provision in the private community’s early development, a limited number of public beach passes are issued each day on a first-come, first-served basis. Public access is restricted to six vehicles or 25 people at a time. Relax on the island’s three miles of pristine beach, go fishing at the seawall, go crabbing off the crabbing dock or ride a bike around the small island. On your way be sure to stop at the nearby Shrimp Shack for its out-of-this-world shrimp burger.

Watch it

  • Tubi

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