Filming Location: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 Oscar winning film by director David Fincher, filmed primarily in uptown New Orleans. The film was adapted from a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald by the same name, from the collection “Tales of the Jazz Age.” Screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) adapted the short story, which was originally set in Baltimore. [1] New Orleans was ultimately chosen as the film location for both creative and economic reasons—to take advantage of the city’s unique character and settings and the State of Louisiana’s generous film incentives. [2]

The storyline of the film spans the years between 1918 and 2005 as it tells the story of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt), who is born an 80-year-old man and ages in reverse. As an infant he is left on the steps of a nursing home where he is taken in by “Queenie” (Taraji P. Henson), a caretaker, and consequently raised as her own. While at the nursing home Benjamin meets six-year-old Daisy, whose grandmother is a patient in the home. As the years pass, the viewer watches the lives of Daisy and Benjamin unfold as she progresses in age and he ages in reverse. Daisy moves to New York to become a dancer and Benjamin fights in World War II. As an adult Daisy (Cate Blanchett) and Benjamin grow closer in age, they begin a romance that brings them to New York, Paris, and back to New Orleans.

In 2006 director David Fincher visited New Orleans to scout locations to film Benjamin Button. While visiting the Garden District, Fincher became enamored with the 8,000-plus-square-foot white centerhall cottage at 2707 Coliseum Street. Fincher imagined the house would serve as the retirement home in which Benjamin Button would grow up. The director and his location scout knocked on the door of the house but received no response, so they left a note taped to the front door. The owner of the home, Mary Nell Porter Nolan, was in Houston where she evacuated from Katrina. When the note made it to Ms. Nolan, she originally declined to have the house filmed. Location scout Bill Doyle attempted to find a suitable replacement for the home, looking at as many as 300 other properties. However, director Fincher was resolute on 2707 Coliseum. [3]
Persistent pleas from the director, location manager, and Ms. Nolan’s son eventually paid off. Ms. Nolan was convinced that the film would have a positive impact on New Orleans, still very much devastated by Katrina.

Ms. Nolan was able to drop in on the set on several occasions during the production of the film. She evacuated again to Houston during Hurricane Gustav and passed away there before the film was released. Interestingly, the life of the home’s owner parallels that of Daisy, the heroine of Benjamin Button. Like Daisy, Ms. Nolan met the love of her life in the home on Coliseum street, pursued a career in dance in New York City, and ultimately spent her final days “during the uneasiness of a hurricane.” [4] William T. Nolan II, Ms. Nolan’s son, said that the family was very pleased with the film and the depiction of their home as “character in the movie.”[5]



2707 Coliseum Street, New Orleans, LA ~ Private Property