September 6, 2002
‘Cold Mountain’ begins filming at Carter’s Grove
Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 11, portions of the exterior of Carter’s Grove mansion and property will be used as a setting for several scenes of the Civil War feature film, “Cold Mountain.” The cast and crew begins moving equipment onto the Carter’s Grove property late Wednesday afternoon in preparation for shooting several scenes near the mansion Monday, Sept. 16, weather permitting. Monday is the normally scheduled closing day for Carter’s Grove.
The technical crew will bring in several large loads of equipment and props that will require at least two days to assemble and place before the cameras begin to roll. A handful of workers has spent the past month making and planting a special cotton crop between the James River and the formal garden adjacent to the mansion.
Based on the best-selling Civil War novel by Charles Frazier, the Miramax movie stars Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renee Zellweger, Donald Sutherland and Natalie Portman. It is directed by Academy Award-winner Anthony Minghella, who directed “The English Patient” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” The story follows the journey of an injured Confederate soldier, played by Law, from the Atlantic coast to his waiting lover in the Appalachian mountains.
The film’s production company has hired several hundred residents of the region as extras to portray plantation field workers, Confederate soldiers and others to populate the scenes. At its peak, the cast and crew will number upward of 100 people. Of the film’s main characters, only Law will be on-site at Colonial Williamsburg.
The exterior scenes that will be filmed at Carter’s Grove depict a plantation house that has been pressed into service as a Confederate field hospital, the wounded hero’s arrival there and his subsequent “escape,” or desertion, to make his way back to his home in the mountains. Known for his artistic eye and attention to detail, director Minghella, who visited Carter’s Grove several times, was immediately taken with the setting and was unwavering in his view that, of all the places he had scouted worldwide, the Carter’s Grove property was the only place suitable for that particular scene in the film.
While portions of the film are being shot in Romania and elsewhere in the United States, much of the film is set in Virginia. Regional filming is being coordinated by the commonwealth’s Virginia Film Office, which worked closely with Colonial Williamsburg and other Virginia venues on shooting locations. The office of former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore appealed directly to Colonial Williamsburg to allow Miramax to shoot the scenes at Carter’s Grove.
Miramax and the Virginia Film Office have spent the past year working out logistical arrangements with Colonial Williamsburg to ensure the shoot runs as smoothly as possible and minimizes, to the extent possible, disruption to visitors and foundation employees. As part of the agreement to use Carter’s Grove, the production company will remove all their equipment and props within a day after the completion of shooting, and return the property to its prior condition.
The production company also agreed, at the foundation’s request, to house the cast and crew in Colonial Williamsburg hotels during the several days they will be shooting near Williamsburg.
Aside from the scheduled closing day, Monday, Carter’s Grove will remain open throughout the period of the filming activity.