Louisiana on the Silver Screen and Small Screen
Now Starring: Louisiana! Locally made films and television shows highlight Louisiana's culture and scenery. Watch it on screen, and then experience it in person.
Louisiana is a hot state that’s boiled together with a historic mix of French and Spanish traditions, age-old ghost tales, jazz, alligator-infested swamplands and a roux of voodoo. It’s the perfect setting for storytelling and, along with some attractive tax incentives, has become a hot spot for Hollywood producers looking for a multicultural backdrop to their next blockbuster.
Starting with the silent Tarzan of the Apes in 1918 up to today, there have been around 500 major films produced in Louisiana, featuring movie stars from Elvis Presley to Brad Pitt. Each month, there are independent and big-budget films, plus network and cable television shows, being produced in locations throughout the state. No doubt you’ve watched a few, and perhaps they’ve inspired you to come for a visit.
Take a look at some of Louisiana’s most famous films and shows.
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Scene: It’s based on Tennessee Williams’ 1947 Pulitzer Prize–winning play, and even if you’ve never seen the movie, you know the scene: in the French Quarter in New Orleans, post-World War II, Marlon Brando as Stanley screams like a brainless maniac up to his wife, Stella, played by Kim Hunter.
Experience: At the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival in March, sign up to scream your lungs out at the famous Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest. Join dozens of other lunatics hollering up to the balcony of the Pontalba Apartments in the French Quarter, where there will be a Stella, or Stanley, stand-in. And grab a delicious meal at Stanley, appropriately named after the famous character, right in Jackson Square.
The Big Easy (1986)
Scene: Over conversation about a mob investigation, Remy (Dennis Quaid) wines and dines Anne (Ellen Barkin) at a steamy nightclub. Gumbo spices up the table and a zydeco band plays in the background as Remy tries to get Anne to loosen her lips and her skirt, in either order.
Experience: Take your better half on a date to the famous, real-life Tipitina’s music club in New Orleans. You can’t actually get gumbo there now, but you can get wine and beer and, on Sunday afternoons, a healthy serving of zydeco music during their Cajun fais do-do (dance party).
True Blood (2008–2014)
Scene: Proving vampires have a heart for romance too, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), the King of Louisiana and overseer of vampire order, plans a special evening out for Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin). With a fancy French restaurant all to themselves, Bill asks Sookie to marry him. After excusing herself to the bathroom to think about her answer, Sookie returns to say "yes" only to discover Bill is missing, and there are signs of a struggle.
Experience: Plan your own romantic getaway, free of a mysterious kidnapping, of course, at The Stockade Bed & Breakfast, where this scene was filmed. The Baton Rouge bed and breakfast has an away-from-it-all feel but is near the attractions of the capital city. Enjoy the view from your room's private balcony and be sure to stick around for breakfast. You can also check out two downtown Shreveport sites positioned prominently in the opening credits—the Ogilvie-Wiener House, a creepy Victorian mansion, and just two blocks away, the Lucky Liquor store.
Southern Charm: New Orleans (2018-2019)
Scene: This reality television show brings viewers into the lives of several successful New Orleanians and the challenges (and successes) of maintaining families, relationships and careers in the Crescent City.
Experience: Opulent homes in New Orleans (of course), and some of the finest restaurants in the city. Among them are Brennan’s, CellarDoor and Dickie Brennan’s Tableau. Outside of New Orleans, you can see Louisiana locations including Myrtles Plantation and The Bluffs on Thompson Creek, and Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads — which also happens to be one of the settings of another reality show, Cajun Aces.
Cajun Aces (2017-2018)
Scene: This Food Network reality series focuses on the daily lives of celebrity Louisiana chefs Sam and Cody Carroll. The young duo founded a famous Cajun restaurant, Hot Tails, in the small town of New Roads, as well as New Orleans restaurant Sac-a-Lait (now closed). Episodes bring viewers into Sam and Cody’s day-to-day activities, including the challenges of running restaurants and raising a young family. But the real “meat” of the show is the cooking: Among many other dishes, watch the Carrolls prepare Cajun filet marinated beef tenderloin, pimento deviled eggs (with eggs harvested from Cody’s family’s henhouse), and smoked sausage gumbo with Creole potato salad.
True Detective - Season One (2014)
Scene: This Emmy Award-winning paranormal crime thriller was a massive hit for HBO. The first season starred A-listers Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and prominently featured south Louisiana. To say “featured south Louisiana” is a bit of an understatement, actually — True Detective’s first season is filled with images of the swamps, offbeat characters and, in some of its most intense scenes, a historical 1822 brick fort that was once occupied by Confederate forces.
Experience: Fort Macomb (located between New Orleans and Slidell), Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, the Prairie Cajun town of Eunice (home of the Cajun Music Hall of Fame) and the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road on the outskirts of Lake Charles. Film fanatics who like to enjoy an adult beverage in an off-the-beaten-path locale will appreciate Fisherman’s Wharf in Des Allemands, used for many scenes throughout the season.
Queen Sugar (2016-present)
Scene: A drama series that tells the tales of three siblings who return home after the death of their father to reclaim ownership of their family’s plantation. The series’ executive producers are legendary director Ana DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey, whose OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network debuted the show in 2016.
Experience: Edgard and Vacherie — towns on the Great River Road famous for its plantation museums. Vacherie’s best-known attraction is Oak Alley Plantation, Restaurant & Inn. New Orleans also served as the backdrop for many of Queen Sugar’s scenes.
In addition, popular films and television shows like Breakout Kings, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Dallas Buyers Club, The Originals and more have been filmed around Louisiana.
See movies and TV shows along the Louisiana Film Trail.