Free Willy (1993)

The 1993 film “Free Willy” was largely filmed in Oregon, with additional scenes filmed in Washington and Mexico City. Jesse, played by Jason James Richter, is a troubled boy who stays with his foster parents, played by Michael Madsen and Jayne Atkinson, at this home, located in Astoria, Oregon. Astoria is well known for many iconic filming locations, such as “The Goonies,” “Kindergarten Cop,” “Short Circuit” and more.

LOCATION: 3392 Harrison Ave, Astoria, OR 97103

Jesse is assigned to work at a park and clean up graffiti as part of his probation. He goes to Northwest Adventure Park, which is actually Oaks Amusement Park in Portland. There he meets Willy the whale. This building was used as the exterior to where Willy is kept. In the film, on the other side is a water tank and sloped seating arena. At the real location, it’s just a parking lot on the other side. This building is the Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink. The water tank scenes were filmed at the former Reino Aventura Park in Mexico City, which is now a Six Flags (Six Flags México, Blvd. Picacho-Ajusco Km 1.5, Jardines del Ajusco, Tlalpan, 14200 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico).

LOCATION: 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202

Just across from the Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink is the house of Randolph, who becomes a mentor and friend to Jesse. While the house is private, it is easily visible from the park, which is completely open to the public and does not require any admission fee. While it’s on the same park grounds, we’ve provided the exact GPS coordinates below.

LOCATION: GPS coordinates: 45.473363, -122.663271 (on the grounds of Oaks Amusement Park)

Near the end of the film, the park owners hatch a plan to kill Willy and collect the insurance money. Jesse organizes a rescue for Willy and takes him to Dawsons Marina, which is actually Hammond Marina in Hammond, Oregon. Hammond is located just a short distance from Astoria. There’s a sign there identifying it as the filming location. We always love when places honor their film history in this way.

LOCATION: 1080 Iredale St, Hammond, OR 97121

Here’s a closer look at the sign.

Here is where Glen smashes through the gate with his truck.

Here is the boat ramp where they release Willy into the water.

Here is where Dial and Wade approach and try to stop Jesse, with a fight ensuing.

Willy is finally released and has an opening to freedom, but some boats approach and block the opening.

Jesse then runs out onto the jetty and signals Willy to jump over it. In the film, it is made to appear Jesse runs directly along the jetty, but this would be impossible. The crew added a wooden pathway just behind the foremost rocks, to allow a smooth running platform.

Willy jumps over Jesse to freedom, reuniting with his family on the other side.

The Little Things (2021)

The 2021 crime drama “The Little Things,” written and directed by John Lee Hancock, is set in Bakersfield and Los Angeles, California. Production likewise took place around Southern California. In the opening scene of the film, a woman is pursued by a mysterious motorist. She pulls over at a gas station, which is closed. The real location is not actually a gas station, rather a steakhouse and bar, located in Lancaster. The gas pumps were added by the production.

LOCATION: 46643 60th St W, Lancaster, CA 93536

Deke, played by Denzel Washington, visits the Los Angeles County Forensic Unit to collect some evidence. These scenes were filmed at the former City of Glendale police department.

LOCATION: 140 N Isabel St, Glendale, CA 91206 (rear parking lot)

The police station where Jimmy Baxter, played by Rami Malek, works is part of an actual jail facility in Los Angeles.

LOCATION: 450 Bauchet St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Deke gets coffee at a restaurant, where Jimmy invites him to ride along to a crime scene. The restaurant is supposedly located across the street from the police station. In reality, it can be found about 7 miles away in Eagle Rock. The restaurant is only seen from interior views in the film.

LOCATION: 5056 N Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

Jimmy and Deke investigate a murder scene at this building, which is located in the middle of Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles. It is located just a few buildings down from Robin Williams’ apartment in the film “One Hour Photo.” It is obviously not in the safest of areas and caution should be used if visiting.

LOCATION: 512 Wall St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Deke stops for a meal at this restaurant in Alhambra.

LOCATION: 1000 E Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

Deke stays at at this hotel, which is changed to the “St. Agnes Hotel” in the film. The real hotel can be found in Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles and is another location we don’t recommend visiting, but if you do, use caution.

LOCATION: 423 E 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Jimmy investigates a crime scene at the Mullholland Dam in Hollywood.  He is joined by Deke, who gives him a lead on appliance store workers. The dam is accessible to the public, however, it does require a minor walk to reach it.  You have to drive up Weidlake Drive and the nearest parking is at the Hollywood Reservoir Trailhead.  From there it’s just a short distance on foot. The same area can be seen in the opening of “Seven Psychopaths.”

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LOCATION: Mulholland Dam, Los Angeles, CA 90068 (nearest parking area is the Hollywood Reservoir Trailhead at 6381-6399 Weidlake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068)

Jimmy visits a victim’s family’s house, where they tell him she always wore a red barrette.

LOCATION: 3447 Laurelvale Dr, North Hollywood, CA 91604

Jimmy’s house can be found in Studio City.

LOCATION: 4328 Ben Ave, Studio City, CA 91604

Deke visits his ex-wife at this house in North Hollywood.

LOCATION: 4242 Bakman Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91602

Jimmy and Deke meet at the famed Frolic Room on Hollywood Blvd, where they exchange thoughts on the investigation.  The same bar, which is only seen from interior views in this film, has also been featured in such films as “L.A. Confidential” and “Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood.”

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LOCATION: 6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Deke takes Jimmy to La Loma Bridge in Pasadena, where he recounts the details of a past murder scene. The same bridge was featured in the film “Mank.”

LOCATION: La Loma Bridge, 799 La Loma Rd, Pasadena, CA 91105

Albert Sparma, played by Jared Leto, becomes the lead suspect in the investigation. Sparma lives at this apartment in North Hollywood.

LOCATIONS: 10929 McCormick St, North Hollywood, CA 91601

Here is the area where Jimmy and Deke watch Sparma’s apartment.

Jimmy answers a pay phone in this spot.

Sparma heads to a bus stop, just up the same road toward W Magnolia Blvd.

LOCATION: 10929 W Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601 (rear parking lot)

Sparma heads to a bar, where he realizes he’s been duped in order to get him out of his apartment so the detectives can run an illegal search. These scenes were filmed at The Oaks Tavern in Sherman Oaks, which is only seen from interior views in the film.

LOCATION: 13625 Moorpark St, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Two locations were used for the appliance store where Sparma works. The exterior can be found in Whittier, where Deke monitors his activities.

LOCATION: 6744 Bright Ave, Whittier, CA 90601

The interior was filmed at an actual appliance store in Hollywood.

LOCATION: 1191 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Deke watches as Sparma crosses the street into this building.

LOCATION: 6739 Bright Ave, Whittier, CA 90601

Sparma visits this strip club in North Hollywood.

LOCATION: 12147 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606

Jimmy and Deke watch his activities from their car, parked at this corner.