What does an up-and-coming young actor have to do with the city of Columbus, Indiana? Plenty! The people of Columbus are bursting with pride watching the flourishing career of honorary hometown girl Haley Lu Richardson who co-starred in the 2017 film, COLUMBUS, written and directed by Kogonada in his directorial debut.
If you are reading this blog, you’ve probably seen the movie, but just in case, here’s the synopsis: A Korean-born man finds himself stuck in Columbus, Indiana, where his architect father, (there for a speaking engagement,) is in a coma. This man meets a young woman who wants to stay in Columbus with her mother, a recovering addict, instead of pursuing her own dreams. (IMDb.com/Columbus)
What the synopsis does not say is a (very) prominent co-star is the city of Columbus itself. The movie was shot in just over seven weeks throughout the city. Several architecturally significant buildings played a compelling role, and are discussed at length by the main characters. Because the city of Columbus features works from some of the biggest names in modern art and architecture, it is an architecture enthusiast’s dream destination.
Columbus movie premiere photo by Tony Vasquez
In fact, Haley Lu Richardson’s character, Casey, talks about her top five favorite buildings in her beloved hometown. An “architecture nerd,” she mentions her list at several points in the movie and introduces them, tucked naturally within the storyline. They are:
- Miller House and Garden, designed by Eero Saarinen, 1957
- Irwin Conference Center, designed by Eero Saarinen, 1954
- Lucabe Coffee Co., (formerly Irwin Union Bank and Trust), designed by Harry Weese, 1961
- Columbus Regional Health – Mental Health Services, James Stewart Polshek, 1972 (Casey does not disclose her fourth in rank during the movie, but she does visit the building in the film. Writer/director Kogonada reveals Casey’s fourth pick in interviews following the film’s release)
- The Republic newspaper building, Myron Goldsmith, 1971
Other famous Modernist buildings showcased in the film are First Christian Church, designed by Eliel Saarinen, North Christian Church, designed by Eliel’s son Eero Saarinen, and the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library designed by I.M. Pei.
These co-starring buildings, and many more, are available to tour for yourself. You can pick up a free guide to the movie’s locations at the Columbus Visitors Center. In the meantime, learn more about the COLUMBUS movie. And, of course, if you haven’t already, be sure to see the movie.
After filming here, Richardson’s career has skyrocketed. Since then, she has played a starring role in no less than five major motion pictures and one season in the Emmy-winning The White Lotus HBO TV Series.
Filming at Cummins Corporate Office Building, photo by Erin Hawkins
On September 27, 2022, Kogonada, Haley Lu Richardson and her co-star John Cho returned to Columbus to attend the Fifth Anniversary Celebration with the Stars. At the North Christian Church building, they sat on a panel in front of 300 adoring fans and local participants who helped facilitate the Columbus filming process. So impressed and charmed with the city of Columbus and the people they met, these three made a rare return visit back to a shoot location.
North Christian Church Celebration event – photo by Mike Wolanin, The Republic Newspaper
Like so many visitors to the city of Columbus, Indiana, the cast and crew of the COLUMBUS movie made a meaningful connection to the city, the people and yes, the buildings themselves. Their love of Columbus led to Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb, proclaiming Cho, Kogonada, and Richardson as honorary Hoosiers.
If you haven’t been, come to Columbus and experience all the connections you’ll make while you are here. You’ll take them with you when you leave, and they’ll stick with you, as they do for so many who pass through here.
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Photo at top of page of Haley Lu with microphone by Mike Wolanin, The Republic Newspaper