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On location: The Joseph Johnson House

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


Forces of Nature (1999)

The Joseph Johnson House


The cast

The film stars Ben Affleck as Ben Holmes, Sandra Bullock as Sarah Lewis, Maura Tierney as Bridget Cahill, Steve Zahn as Alan, Blythe Danner as Virginia Cahill and Ronny Cox as Hadley Cahill. 


Details

Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock star in this 1999 romantic comedy that features scenes shot in Beaufort at “The Castle,” a stately home located at 411 Craven St. The home was used as the Cahill house, where the wedding took place. The grass at “The Castle” was sprayed with green paint to enhance its color on film. During production the parking lot of Carteret Street United Methodist Church was used for the DreamWorks studio’s trailers and canteen tent. Affleck and Bullock stayed at the Rhett House Inn in downtown Beaufort and were frequently spotted riding golf carts around town. 


The plot 

All Ben Holmes (Ben Affleck) wants to do is make it from New York to Savannah in time for his wedding. When a seagull and a hurricane ruin any chance he has of flying there, Holmes reluctantly joins the quirky Sarah Lewis (Sandra Bullock) in a rental car for a road trip back to his waiting bride-to-be, Bridget Cahill (Maura Tierney). But nature seems to conspire against his every attempt at a timely return — and in the meantime, he finds himself growing closer to Sarah.


Pivotal scene shot in Beaufort

As a hurricane approaches, the harsh weather forces Ben and Sarah to abandon their car and run the rest of the way to the wedding. Ben finds Bridget and realizes he does love her and wants to spend his life with her. Sarah witnesses their reunion and leaves quietly.


Film facts

  • The amusement park scenes were shot over a three-day period at South of the Border, a tourist attraction near Dillon. One of the scenes featured the spinning sombrero ride. Thousands of people showed up to be extras, but only 70 were used. 
  • Part of the movie was filmed in Savannah. The Talmadge Bridge, City Hall’s golden dome, the DeRenne globe and other Savannah landmarks are featured. The Kmart scene was also shot in The Hostess City. 
  • The film was initially marketed as a potentially loose remake of Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987). 

Reviews

“An extremely enjoyable neo-screwball comedy about attractive opposites on the road.” — Variety

“With its terrifyingly beautiful images of molten lava and clouds of ash, shattered cities and whirling storms, ‘Forces of Nature’ is spectacular, engrossing, and at times almost overwhelming in its power. But its real achievement — and one that’s much rarer for a large-format film — is the way it uses its gigantic images to educate, engage, and draw connections between natural disasters and human lives.” — Boston Globe

“DreamWorks’ first reprehensible fiasco.” — TIME Magazine


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