Vanilla Sky, 2001
- Tom Cruise
- Penelope Cruz
- Cameron Diaz
- Kurt Russell
- Tilda Swinton
- Jason Lee
- Timothy Spall
- Noah Taylor
- Michael Shannon
- Ken Leung
- Alicia Witt
visit the film locations
New York: Flights: JFK Airport
Vanilla Sky location: Julie careers off the overpass: Riverside Drive at 96th Street, Upper West Side
Cameron Crowe’s reworking of the 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) relocates the story from Madrid to New York. It’s probably best not to compare the films and enjoy each on its own merit.
The apartment of wealthy publisher David Aames (Tom Cruise) is, of course, the famous Dakota Building, 1 West 72nd Street at Central Park West.
Vanilla Sky location: The home of publisher David Aames: The Dakota, West 72nd Street, New York
Memorable as the ‘Bramford’ in Roman Polanski’s film of Rosemary’s Baby, the Dakota no longer permits filming, so only the exterior is seen. The studio-built interior looks a lot more glamorous than it did when Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse lived there.
Aames drives south along a traffic-free Central Park West to an eerily deserted Times Square (no CGI here – the usually packed square was emptied for three hours very early one Sunday morning).
Another normally buzzing Times Square location supplied the HQ of Aames’ publishing empire. It’s the office of Vanity Fair in the Condé Nast Building, 4 Times Square, which was temporarily empty during the Christmas holiday period. This is also where Carrie Bradshaw reports to her editor in the film Sex And The City.
Vanilla Sky location: the HQ of ‘Aames Publishing’: Association Of The Bar, West 44th Street, New York
Dating from only 1999, the Condé Nast exterior looked a little too modern for a company that Aames was supposed to have inherited from his father. The old-school pillared frontage is that of the Association of the Bar, 42 West 44th Street, a couple of blocks east. The very convincing ‘Writers Landmark’ plaque is nothing more than a movie prop.
Vanilla Sky location: the apartment of Sofia: Jay Street, Dumbo, New York
Few areas in Manhattan don’t have a cute acronym, but the fashionably Bohemian neighbourhood of dancer Sofia Serrano (Penelope Cruz) has one of the best – Dumbo (down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). The apartment is 57 Jay Street at Water Street, on the Brooklyn side of the East River.
After drunkenly leaving a packed nightclub, Aames, Sofia and pal Brian (Jason Lee) stroll east along photogenically cobbled Plymouth Street, with its old streetcar rails (actually, they’re walking away from Sofia’s apartment). At the junction with Bridge Street, Aames angrily confronts Brian about whether he’d told Julie they were just “fuck buddies”.
Vanilla Sky location: the apartment: the desperate Julie confronts Aames: Water Street, Dumbo, New York
The junction of Jay Street and Water Street is where Aames wakes up and the lucid dream begins, and it’s on Water Street that the desperate Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz) confronts him, before the nervewracking drive up to the West Side.
Vanilla Sky location: crazed Julie swerves off the road: Riverside Drive at 96th Street, Upper West Side
Suicidally angry, Julie deliberately swerves out of control on Riverside Drive, careering off the overpass to crash sickeningly onto 96th Street below.
Vanilla Sky location: the ‘Life Extension’ corporation building: East 57th Street, New York
After a breakthrough in his treatment, Aames is taken to the office of the ‘Life Extension’ company. The row of clocks is strikingly appropriate, and might give you a clue that the building is high-end watch store Tourneau, 12 East 57th Street, between 5th and Madison Avenues, midtown.
Studio filming, as often, was in Hollywood. A sequence filmed at the Edison Electric Building, Main Street, downtown Los Angeles, was cut from the movie, but the city does put in an appearance. The nightclub, where Aames has a tough time after removing his mask, is The Brewery, a huge arts complex (which was formerly the Pabst Blue Ribbon factory), 620 Moulton Avenue at North Main Street, downtown LA. It houses Barbara’s at the Brewery, restaurant and bar.