Orange County on the big screen

Ryan Wu, Staff Writer

It is always exciting to recognize a familiar location in your favorite movie or television show, especially if it’s the place where you live. Although most of us may not have heard about any film crews gathering near our neighborhoods, Orange County is only around 40 miles away from Hollywood, so it makes sense that some of the biggest productions occasionally roll their filming over to the place we call home.

“Iron Man”:

This 2008 blockbuster marked the first installment in the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe. In “Iron Man,” billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces off against Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), his father’s old business partner, to stop him from using Stark Industry weapons to commit international terrorism. In an iconic scene, Tony Stark reveals his superhero identity in a press conference with his unforgettable line, “I am Iron Man.” This conference room setting was shot at the former Nikken headquarters in Irvine.


Director Steve Pink’s 2006 comedy “Accepted” follows a group of high school graduates who found their own college after being rejected from every university they applied to. Although the movie was initially struck with unfavorable reviews from critics due to its outlandish plot, it has since become a cinematic cult classic. The story is set in Wickliffe, Ohio, but filming took place in Los Angeles. Campus scenes for the fictitious Hampton College were shot at Chapman University.

“Ocean’s 11”:

“Ocean’s 11” is a heist movie released in 2001, kicking off a franchise that has since added three more movies. The plot follows the planning and execution of a large-scale heist to rob the vault of Las Vegas casinos, led by ex-convict Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his partner-in-crime Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt). The duo recruits eight specialists to help them carry out reconnaissance and create perfect replicas of the casino vaults.

During one crucial scene, the team steals a physics device called a “pinch” to create an electromagnetic pulse that would block out power in Las Vegas. This part of the movie was filmed in the Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility at UC Irvine.

“Arrested Development”:

This popular television show ran from 2003-2019 and follows the wildly dysfunctional Bluth family, who find themselves penniless after their formerly successful real estate business goes bankrupt. Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the only family member who seems level-headed and sensible, attempts to take himself and his son, George Michael (Michael Cera), away from the family drama.

However, outlandish circumstances always seem to push the family back together. “Arrested Development” was filmed in Los Angeles County, but there is a running gag where the characters frequently regard Orange County as “The O.C.,” with the joke being that residents of Orange County rarely ever use the term “The O.C.” when referring to it. George Michael also attends UC Irvine in the fourth season of “Arrested Development,” although the scenes of the college campus were shot at Occidental College in Los Angeles.