Kid Cudi and Aaron Paul in Need for Speed

Kid Cudi and Aaron Paul in "Need for Speed" (2014)

Columbus Film Tour

From military films to high-octane thrillers, Columbus locations have set the scenes for several surprising projects.

The southwest Georgia city of Columbus might surprise visitors as a backdrop for television and film, but it actually was one of the early camera-ready communities in the state. Thanks in part to Fort Benning, the city has played host to a number of military films, and the downtown attractions and neighboring towns also have been used in Hollywood projects.

Tour these gems seen on screen in and near Columbus

National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center

Fort Benning, National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center

Home to the Army Rangers, Fort Benning employs more than 120,000 active-duty military, personnel and their families. It was originally established during World War I and has been used in over a dozen film, television and documentary projects. Among the most well-known are "We Were Soldiers," which used the Riverside Commandant’s Home and New Soldier Plaza, "The Green Berets," "Tank" and "The General's Daughter." John Wayne, who starred in "The Green Berets," stayed at The Round House on Fort Benning during filming. Although you can't go traipsing around the active base on your own, you can visit the National Infantry Museum, an award-winning museum that details American military history from the Revolutionary War to the present.

RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus

RiverCenter for the Performing Arts

Opened in 2002, this community performing arts space features a theatre that hosts the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, touring Broadway shows and lectures. It also has a smaller theater and black box space. The stunning brick and iron RiverCenter for the Performing Arts is located in the heart of downtown, within view of the Chattahoochee River. So, it makes sense that the film "The Fighting Temptations," about a gospel choir, would use such a setting for its final scenes. The movie starred Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce and employed a number of locals as extras.

Whitewater Express in Columbus, Georgia

13th Street Bridge in Downtown Columbus

The city on the river has a few bridges that connect to neighboring Phenix City, Alabama, but the 13th Street Bridge is a favorite for location scouts. One such was "Need for Speed," a high-octane film starring Aaron Paul that used locations around Georgia and the United States. Based on the video game of the same name, a man vows to avenge his friend’s death by a street racing rival. Macon and Braselton were used as well as the bridge. It’s easy to drive over it, but the bridge is perhaps best viewed from below on one of the rafting expeditions that frequently hit the water with Whitewater Express.

Roosevelt's Little White House State Historic Site

Roosevelt's Little White House State Historic Site

Located in nearby Warm Springs, there was no better setting for the television movie based on Roosevelt's life than his real-life Georgia home. Left almost untouched from the day he died, the president came here to receive treatment for his polio. Today, visitors can tour the Little White House State Historic Site and the namesake warm springs that he frequented. The Emmy award-winning HBO film "Warm Springs" starring Kenneth Branagh and Cynthia Nixon made it as true to life as possible, even using a car like the one Roosevelt drove.

Fountain in downtown LaGrange, Georgia

Downtown LaGrange

Also a short drive from Columbus, LaGrange has been chosen to appear in films because of its appearance, retaining much of the small-town charm over the years. One such movie to use it as a backdrop is "Lawless," which was also filmed in Newnan, Haralson, Grantville and Gay. It tells of a moonshine-making set of brothers who have a local legend about their invincibility, but they clash with a state attorney looking to shut down their operation. The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, MIa Wasikowska and Jason Clarke.

Published: July 2017
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