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Action! The camera’s rolling – in Budapest

Gellért HillBudapest Greater Budapest

We’d never have thought that our capital would see so many transformations, but since Hollywood discovered it, we have seen it as turn-of-the-century Paris, Berlin during World War II and Moscow in the eighties. Of course, it also plays itself from time to time, and it looks good in every role.

Angelina Jolie is the Hollywood celebrity who had the most Hungarian media articles written about them this autumn. She has come back to Hungary to shoot a film after thirteen years. The last time she visited Hungary was in 2010, when she was directing her first film, the wartime love drama: In the Land of Blood and Honey. The film was mainly shot on Rózsák tere in the seventh district, and the area was turned into a South Slavic war site with sandbags, barricades and Yugoslav military vehicles. This year, Jolie came to Hungary to shoot a biopic about the world-famous opera singer Maria Callas, in which she is playing the title role. The drama is about the singer's last, lonely years in Paris, so this time Budapest is dressed up as the French capital. 

Everyone remembers Evita

Budapest appeared first in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic Red Heat in 1988, when the Rudas spa was used for a scene set in Russia. Then, in 1996’s Evita Andrássy út, Alkotmány utca, the Keleti Railway Station and the Ethnographic Museum all had roles to play. At the time everyone was hoping to run into Madonna or Antonio Banderas somewhere in the city as they were big stars at the time.  

Budapest is more than a visual element

In 2002, Budapest played itself in the film I Spy, starring Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy, as the comedy is set in the Hungarian capital. That film didn’t go down as a classic but it clearly proved that Budapest is a perfect location for Hollywood productions: the infrastructure is there, the Hungarian professionals are excellent and the view of the city is unique. Underworld with Kate Beckinsale was shot here in 2003 and Steven Spielberg shot his historical thriller Munich here in 2005. During filming, Andrássy út doubled up as both Rome and Paris, but the corridors of the Marriott Hotel and the old Ferenc Puskás Stadium were also used for scenes set the Olympic Stadium in Munich. After that, it became quite regular to see world-famous stars in the streets of Budapest, like Ryan Gosling playing with his children during filming breaks, or Johnny Depp looking for a restaurant at dinner time. In fact, when he stayed here this spring, he couldn’t get a table in a tapas bar in the Castle District because a wedding was taking place there. Perhaps it was Benedict Cumberbatch who recommended the place to him as he had dined there a few days earlier when he was filming a Netflix series. 

Action heroes on the boulevard

The fact that Budapest has become a popular filming location, for example, for spy and action movies, means that sometimes we have to see our beloved city being blown up, but not for real of course. this happened during the filming of A Good Day to Die Hard in 2013, where Budapest was used to film scenes set in Moscow. The action film Atomic Blonde with Charlize Theron and Red Sparrow with Jennifer Lawrence were also filmed here. The latter features the New York Café, the central building of the Szabó Ervin library, the Opera House and the Hall of Art. The trailer for the movie Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, included the wonderful panoramic view of Gellért Hill.