Just across the Boston Harbor lies one of Boston’s oldest suburbs, the historical Charlestown. Charlestown is home to the USS Constitution, and the endpoint of Boston’s famous Freedom Trail (most people never make it past Faneuil Hall). Movies tend to give Charlestown a mixed reputation, ranging anywhere from old-fashioned and cultured to having the highest concentration of bank robbers in America, and you see it in person on the private Boston TV & Movie Sites Tour. Let’s explore some of the most notable appearances Charlestown has in film.
Right on the outskirts of Charlestown lies Boston’s community college, Bunker Hill. This location is actually the setting of Matt Damon and Robin Williams’ first therapy conversations in Good Will Hunting, as this is the school Williams works at as a psychology professor. Though a few of the exterior shots from the film were shot on location, most of the interiors were shot in a studio in Montreal, CA. This is also the starting point of their “short” walk to the Public Garden – in reality this would have been a 3+ mile walk!
Blown Away also filmed in Charlestown, this time in more central parts of the region. At the Charlestown Steps (one of our stops on the Boston Movie and TV tour), Tommy Lee Jones can be seen spying on a bomb technician played by Forest Whitaker. Many of the residents of Charlestown use these steps as an added cardio challenge to their morning runs. Right around the corner is a house used as the home of Lloyd Bridges’ character. Director Stephen Hopkins loved the classic look of the New England style homes and wanted to use it as the setting for the older character in this Boston cult flick.
No description of Charlestown is complete without mention of its most famous movie. This of course is Ben Affleck’s The Town. The movie was both filmed in Charlestown and takes place there – and is not shy to provide some lore of the region. The opening quote of the movie is:
“’I’m proud to be from Charlestown. It ruined my life, literally, but I’m proud.” ~Charlestown Man
It also mentions how Charlestown is the bank robbery capital of America. After many of the residents allowed for Affleck to use their homes and properties as locations in the movie, they felt their kindness was abused in the representation Affleck portrayed. Much like Southie, Charlestown 30 years ago was a prominently Irish-Catholic blue collar town, but modern times have allowed the area to evolve into a more diverse population.
The movie features an intense car chase sequence throughout the downtown Boston area, which ends with the crossing of the Charlestown Bridge. Though the movie claims that Boston officials close the bridge as soon as they hear about a bank robbery, this would be impossible given the heavy traffic the bridge sees. Recent plans to tear it down in the summer of 2019 have actually begun, and a new bridge is soon to replace the much outdated one featured in the movie. Another prominent location in the film is the Charlestown Gardens, where Affleck flirts with Rebecca Hall’s character. After the movie’s main heist takes place, it is revealed that this is where he buries the haul – leaving Hall’s character the money from the heist gone wrong.
* In an effort to stay current, we are constantly updating our tours with new locations and cannot guarantee the presence of locations mentioned on our site. If you have a particular interest in locations from a specific TV show or movie, please let your tour guide know and we will do our best to accommodate your request.