The 1996 dark comedy thriller “Freeway,” starring Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland, was shot in Southern California. In the film, Vanessa Lutz, played by Witherspoon, lives at this motel with her mother, Ramona (Amanda Plummer) and stepfather, Larry (Michael T. Weiss).
LOCATION: 13035 San Fernando Rd, Sylmar, CA 91342
Vanessa is depicted as living in the left unit of this building at the back of the property.
After Vanessa’s mother is arrested in a prostitution sting, a social worker attempts to take her away. Vanessa instead handcuffs the worker to a bed and escapes. The location is not in the safest of areas, so we recommend using caution if you visit in person.
After Vanessa’s car breaks down on the freeway, she is picked up by Bob Wolverton, played by Sutherland. Later, Bob and Vanessa walk at night at Point Fermin Park in San Pedro. They stop next to the Point Fermin Lighthouse, where Vanessa discusses her past trauma. The same lighthouse can be seen in the film “(500) Days Of Summer,” as well as the TV shows “MacGyver” and “Amazing Stories.” It is also located near the Korean Bell of Friendship from “The Usual Suspects.”
LOCATION: 807 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731
In Joel Schumacher’s 1993 film “Falling Down,” Michael Douglas plays the central character, referred to only as “D-Fens,” which is his license plate number. The film follows D-Fens as he makes his was from Los Angeles to Venice Beach. For the most part, the locations actually do follow this path, with a few exceptions.
The opening traffic jam is set at the 101 interchange of the 110 freeway. The traffic pileup is in the southbound lane to the left, while D-Fens abandons his car and takes the northbound lane to the right on foot.
LOCATION: Interchange of I-110 / I-101, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Beth, the estranged wife of D-Fens, played by Barbara Hershey, lives just off the Venice boardwalk. This view next to her house, facing towards the beach, is seen multiple times in the film.
LOCATION: 201 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Beth’s house was unfortunately completely remodeled and looks nothing like it did in the film.
LOCATION: 18 Ozone Ave, Venice, CA 90291
The police station where Detective Prendergast, played by Robert Duvall, works was a set built at Warner Bros. Studios (4000 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91522).
D-Fens makes his was to the market of Mr. Lee, where the first outburst of violence occurs over an overpriced can of soda. This location is right next to the 101 freeway, making it a logical stop along the path of D-Fens. The market has since been demolished and a park (Madison West Park) now exists in it’s place.
LOCATION: 458 N Madison Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Later in the film, Prendergast makes his way to the market and climbs this embankment. After spotting a billboard, he correctly places the proximity to the abandoned car and identifies D-Fens as his suspect. A note to those interested in visiting, this dead end next to the park is not a very safe area, serving as a makeshift homeless community.
As D-Fens makes his way through East L.A., he sits to rest and is approached by two gang members demanding his briefcase. D-Fens refuses and things quickly turn violent. The hilltop where the scene was shot has been converted in to a park, Vista Hermosa Natural Park, but the skyline of downtown Los Angeles still matches up.
LOCATION: 100 N Toluca St, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Looking for retribution, the gang members spot D-Fens in front of a theater, where they attempt to ambush him with a drive-by shooting. The theater has since been demolished, but the surrounding buildings where the car rolls up still match.
LOCATION: 2524 East Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (looking down from N Fickett St)
After hitting everyone in sight except D-Fens, their car turns off East Ceasar E Chavez Ave onto N Ficket St and crashes in front of this building. D-Fens walks up and takes their bag of weapons.
LOCATION: 2600 East Cesar E Chavez Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033 (at N Fickett St)
D-Fens is standing next to a children’s playground in MacArthur Park, when a beggar starts asking him for a handout. The playground has since been moved to another section of the park, but the structure to the left, seen in the film, still stands at the original spot.
LOCATION: 2230 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057
The beggar follows D-Fens through this tunnel, making up a sob story, which is quickly exposed as a lie. MacArthur Park is not the safest of areas in general. We wouldn’t recommend tourism here. This pedestrian walkway is one of several locations rumored to be the bridge that served as the inspiration for the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Under the Bridge,” but singer Anthony Kiedis has never confirmed the true location.
On the other side of the tunnel, the D-Fens gives the beggar his briefcase. The lake in the background is also seen in the movie “Drive,” where Ryan Gosling’s character makes a deal with some criminals.
After discovering the briefcase only contains some lunch food, the disappointed beggar throws the apple at D-Fens, who kicks the apple and continues up the stairs to the left.
The “Whammyburger” in the film is the biggest departure from the true path of Los Angeles to Venice Beach. The restaurant, Angelo’s Burgers, is located much further south in Lynwood, California. It still bears a strong resemblance to how it appeared in the film, aside from the fictitious Whammyburger set dressing. Angelo’s was in fact the same restaurant at the time of filming. It has not changed ownership. The burgers there are quite good as well.
LOCATION: 10990 Atlantic Ave, Lynwood, CA 90262
A view inside the Whammyburger.
A poster for the film can be found inside, noting that filming took place on May 12, 1992.
Celebrating his last day, Prendergast eats lunch at a Mexican restaurant.
LOCATION: 4067 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004
In one of the more poignant scenes in the film, D-Fens sees a man protesting, because he has been denied a loan and was determined to be “not economically viable.” The building is now a post office.
LOCATION: 5350 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
The scene where D-Fens shoots up a phone booth was shot over on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, right along the iconic Sunset Strip. The El Pollo Loco restaurant to the left was seen in the film, although most of the other businesses in the plaza have since changed.
LOCATION: 8148 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
The army surplus store where D-Fens meets a Nazi store owner can be found back towards East L.A. The building really is a surplus store and still operates today. The real owners are nothing like the eccentric man in the film and are very welcoming to visitors.
LOCATION: 3828 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
A view of the front counter, which is brimming with quite a bit more merchandise than seen in the film.
Some of the rocket mortar props seen in the film are still found in the store, albeit a bit tucked away.
The back of the surplus store, where more violence occurs, was actually a set construced at Warner Bros. Studios (4000 Warner Blvd, Burbank, CA 91522).
The construction scene, where D-Fens fires a bazooka, faces towards the 110 and 105 freeway interchange. The same interchange can be seen in the films “Speed” and “La La Land,” the latter of which also opens with a traffic jam, albeit to much different results.
LOCATION: Intersection of S Broadway / W 112th St, Los Angeles, CA 90061
This church can be seen in the background of a few shots during the construction scene.
Near the end of the film, D-Fens finally finds his family at the Venice Fishing Pier. The pier had long been closed at the time of filming and was once set for demolition, but after community backlash, was ultimately saved and restored. The building at the end of the pier is no longer there, but otherwise the area looks the same for the most part.
LOCATION: Venice Fishing Pier, Los Angeles, CA 90292
Prendergast approaches and finally meets D-Fens.
Prendergast and D-Fens have a standoff in the film’s climactic scene.
There are quite a few locations to this film, some demolished or remodeled, others still standing. Other than a few slightly unsafe areas, if you’re a fan of visiting filming locations, most of them are worth a visit. “Falling Down” has grown in stature in the years since the film’s release and it has rightly taken it’s place among the the most iconic Los Angeles-based films.