Herts at the Oscars

PUBLISHED: 13:30 17 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:30 17 February 2016

Some scenes from The Danish Girl were filmed at Elstree Studios

Some scenes from The Danish Girl were filmed at Elstree Studios


He’s the most desirable man in film. Small, gold and the mark of greatness, Oscar is the one everyone in the industry wants to take home. As the tension builds to the Academy Awards this month, we take a look at the long and shortlisted Herts-linked films

In The Heart of the Sea made use of the giant water tanks at Leavesden Studios in WatfordIn The Heart of the Sea made use of the giant water tanks at Leavesden Studios in Watford

The Danish Girl

Much of The Danish Girl, starring Eddie Redmayne, was filmed at Elstree Studios in Herts.

Based on the 2000 novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, it centres on the lives of real-life Danish artist Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) and her husband, the painter Einar Wegener (Redmayne), who was one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in the 1930s. 
The film is directed by Tom Hooper who won an Oscar for his work on The King’s Speech, also filmed at Elstree.

Redmayne (A Best Actor winner last time out for The Theory of Everything) is one of five shortlisted for the Best Actor award, while Vikander is on the shortlist for Actress in a Supporting Role. The film is also on the shortlist for Costume Design and Production Design.

Mr Holmes

One of the filming locations for crime drama Mr Holmes was Hatfield House, which has been a backdrop to several Oscar-winning films including Shakespeare in Love, Sleepy Hollow and Batman. 
Set in 1947, the film sees Ian McKellen as a retired Sherlock Holmes battling dementia to solve his final case.

McKellen has previously been nominated for two Oscars, including Supporting Actor for his role as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The buzz was he could be in the running for Best Actor for his portrayal of the great detective, but he did not make the shortlist. The film was also longlisted for Makeup and Hairstyling.


This intense drama follows the ordinary women who became the foot soldiers of the nascent feminist movement in the early 20th century.

Focusing particularly on laundry worker Maud Watts, played by Carey Mulligan, the film opens in the heat of an east London laundry room in which she and several other central characters work. The harsh working environment was recreated at the Factory, a former Methodist orphanage and printing press in Harpenden. The run-down warehouse, which has recently been used as a skate park, evangelical centre and music venue, was stripped and filled with washing tubs and machinery. 
Mulligan was on the longlist for Best Actress for her performance.

In The Heart of the Sea

This adventure thriller recounts the real-life sinking of a whaling ship in 1820, which inspired Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick. 
Much of the filming took place at Leavesden Studios in Watford, location for the Harry Potter films as well as the James Bond movie Goldeneye and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

The production team constructed a huge set depicting Nantucket harbour with cobbled streets, shops and muddy pavements, populated by 250 extras. 
Leavesden’s giant water tanks were a particular draw – the studios has some of the largest in Europe, the biggest of which holds more than two million litres – and many of the storm scenes were filmed here. To create authenticity, a deck was built on top of a gimbal support to mimic the pitch of a storm, and the cast were showered with 500 gallons of icy water from cannons.

In The Heart of the Sea was in the running for awards in Sound Mixing and Editing but did not make the shortlist.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One of the most hotly anticipated films of last year, the latest Star Wars blockbuster was an impressive feature debut for former Tring Park School for the Performing Arts actress Daisy Ridley, who reached interstellar levels of fame almost overnight thanks to her lead role as the gutsy orphaned pilot Rey. 
 Unsurprisingly, the seventh instalment of the fantasy franchise is hotly tipped to add to its seven existing Oscars. It has made the shortlist in Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.


This action-adventure family film is a prequel to J M Barrie’s Peter Pan and was filmed partly at Warner Bros’ Leavesden Studios near Watford. Although the film was not a commercial success, it was longlisted for both Best Soundtrack and Best Original Song thanks to the work of composer John Powell.

The 88th Academy Awards takes place 
on February 28. The full shortlist is at 

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