Marilyn’s House from “Four Christmases”Dec 14th, 2012 | By Lindsay | Category: Movie Locations
Early yesterday morning, after what had amounted to years and years of searching and thanks to the assistance of both Mike, from MovieShotsLA, and my good friend Nat, I finally, finally, FINALLY managed to track down the San Francisco-area house where Brad (Vince Vaughn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) lived in the 2008 holiday flick Four Christmases. Woot woot! The stalking Gods were definitely smiling down upon me yesterday because shortly thereafter I ALSO found the residence where Kate’s mom, Marilyn (Mary Steenburgen), lived in the flick. And while Nat, who resides in the Bay Area, will be stalking Ben and Kate’s pad for me later today so that I can blog about it next week, Marilyn’s house is, thankfully, located right near me in South Pasadena. So I, of course, immediately ran out to stalk it yesterday.
Surprisingly, finding Marilyn’s house was a snap. I had heard rumblings over the years that the abode was located inside the gated Hancock Park community of Fremont Place, but while scanning through Four Christmases yesterday, I spotted an address number of 1217 on the curb in front of the house and on the façade above the front door. Because Fremont Place addresses are only three digits long, I knew that the dwelling could not be located there – unless, of course, the number had been altered for the filming, which I doubted. Upon closer inspection, I got the strange feeling that I had seen the house before, possibly in South Pasadena. So I decided to begin my search on the most oft-filmed-at street in the area, Milan Avenue. I punched 1217 Milan Avenue into Google and, lo and behold, it was the spot! Let me tell you, I almost fell out of my chair! Here it had taken me YEARS to track down Ben and Kate’s house, but I somehow managed to find Marilyn’s on the very first street that I searched! Go figure!
In real life, the charming home, which was originally built in 1927, boasts four bedrooms, three baths, a whopping 4,447 square feet of living space, and almost half an acre of land.
The exterior of Marilyn’s house only showed up once, very briefly (blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-briefly), in Four Christmases, in the scene in which Ben and Kate arrived at Kate’s mother’s residence to celebrate their second Christmas of the day. Quite a bit of décor was added for the filming, including a white picket fence, a huge amount of wildflowers lining the front walkway and sidewalk, a cross in each downstairs window, and, of course, a myriad of religious statues. I was absolutely FLOORED to discover that the Christmas wreaths that had been displayed in the second floor windows in the movie were there in real life, as well – in the exact same positions! SO INCREDIBLY COOL!
And while I would have bet money on the fact that the real life interior of the home had been used in the movie, that was, shockingly, not the case. According to the Four Christmases production notes, all of the interiors of the four parents’ houses excluding one – the residence where Creighton (Jon Voight) lived, which was actually the Boddy House in Descanso Gardens, which I blogged about way back in May 2009 – were sets built on a soundstage at Ren-Mar Studios (now Red Studios Hollywood, which I blogged about this past March). All I can say is that production designer Shepherd Frankel (who has a Masters Degree in architecture) did an UH-MA-ZING job because, outside of Nancy Meyer productions, I have never seen such detailed sets. Of Frankel’s design, the production notes state, “In keeping with Marilyn’s malleable personality, her home is characterized by what Frankel describes as ‘surfaces and veneers, reflecting no real sense of self.’ At the same time, it reveals a dedication to symmetry and order, with wallpapers matched to upholstery patterns, suggesting the hand of a woman who is constantly striving toward some higher standard of domestic design as much as she strives for the perfect relationship.” You can check out some FABULOUS pictures of the set that Frankel created here.
As you can see in the screen captures below as compared to these real life photographs of the house, the set is much different than the actual residence. Areas of the dwelling that Frankel recreated include the entryway, which you can see real life photos of here and here;
the huge guest bathroom (you can check out one of the home’s actual bathrooms here and here);
I am fairly certain that the backyard that appeared in the movie was a mixture of both the home’s real life backyard and a set. You can see photographs of the actual backyard here and here, and a picture of the set here. UPDATE – Shepherd Frankel contacted me after I wrote this post and informed me that Marilyn’s backyard was just a set. Of the filming, he said, “It was all done onstage where I replicated a version of the rear elevation of the location, but modified it to suit our needs.” He also told me that the view behind Marilyn’s fence was a “plate shot” of the home’s actual neighborhood. SO INCREDIBLY COOL!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Marilyn’s house from Four Christmases is located at 1217 Milan Avenue in South Pasadena. Quite a few other famous homes can be found on the same street, including the former residence of architect Norman Marsh at 1934 Milan ; Matthew Kidman’s (Emile Hirsch’s) house from The Girl Next Door at 1504 Milan; Danielle’s (Elisha Cuthbert’s) house from The Girl Next Door at 1500 Milan; the Beethoven house at 1405 Milan; the Lawrence house from the 1970’s television series Family at 1230 Milan; and one of the houses that the boys painted in American Pie 2 at 820 Milan.