Emily Mortimer on The Pursuit of Love's Idyllic Filming Locations

·5 min read
Photo credit: Amazon Studios
Photo credit: Amazon Studios

Though the most enamoring piece of The Pursuit of Love is the plot, the dreamy scenery surely enhances the viewing experience. From sprawling British estates to winding Parisian streets, the new Amazon Prime series transports viewers into the European interwar period, leading up through World War II's end. Actress Emily Mortimer, who wrote and directed the new series (and also appears in a supporting role), hunted across England for the locations to match the vision in her head, bringing to life the world of lead characters Linda Radlett (Lily James) and Fanny Logan (Emily Beecham). The series is based on Nancy Mitford’s 1945 novel by the same name, and not only was it difficult to bring the written word to the screen, but also having do so while following pandemic protocols only added greater challenges.

However, despite the difficulties, Mortimer constructed the universe of Fanny and Linda with existing manors, restaurants, and neighborhoods paired with meticulously constructed sets. Here, Mortimer takes us through the filming locations for The Pursuit of Love in both England and France.

Rousham House as Alconleigh

Photo credit: Epics - Getty Images
Photo credit: Epics - Getty Images

After an extensive search, Mortimer decided that Rousham House had to be the set for Alconleigh, the Radlett ancestral estate. In the series, Linda and her siblings are trapped at Alconleigh with their overbearing father Matthew (Dominic West). Fanny comes to visit for holidays and the group roams the estate, which can be both fantastical and prison-like. Mortimer needed a location to encapsulate the home's duality.

"I knew I wanted somewhere really special that had the feeling of being a castle that [the girls] were locked up in, almost like Rapunzel's castle," Mortimer told T&C. "I also wanted it to have a magic [to it] so that by the end of the show, when finally Linda comes back to that childhood home, it feels much like all of our childhood homes, where it was somewhere that you're longing to escape from and then when you come home older in your life, you feel nostalgic about it and there's a melancholy to the experience because it has so many memories."

Photo credit: Robert Viglasky/Amazon
Photo credit: Robert Viglasky/Amazon

Located in Oxfordshire, Rousham House was built in 1635 by Sir Robert Dormer and is still owned by the Dormer descendants. The house was remodeled by famed British architect William Kent in the 18th century. Mortimer used the interior and exterior of the house in filming. Some of the interior shots had to be filmed a studio, but Mortimer mimicked the inside of Rousham for those sets. For example, though the bathtub scenes were filmed on a set, Mortimer shared that the wallpaper was a replica of the Rousham's actual bathroom wallpaper. In filming at the house itself, the connectivity of the estate's layout was extremely important to Mortimer.

"It was so important for people to move through the rooms. I wanted to have a journey from the front door, coming up the steps, through the hallway into the dining room. And then for Linda to run out of the dining room and go up the stairs and along the corridor and into the cupboard," Mortimer said. "I really wanted to feel like you, the audience, knew the nooks and crannies and the spaces of that Radlett house."

Badminton House as Merlin's Estate

Photo credit: David Goddard - Getty Images
Photo credit: David Goddard - Getty Images

For the eccentric Lord Merlin's house, Mortimer opted for Badminton House, a famous, large country home in Badminton, England. The house is the principal seat for the Duke of Beaufort, a British aristocrat, but is often used for filming. Viewers might recognize the home from Bridgerton. Not only did Mortimer shoot a variety of scenes at Badminton, she also stayed at the estate during filming.

"I stayed in this beautiful old hunting lodge that [designer] Robert Kime had decorated in the 1980s, but it was built in like 1704 and the Duke used to keep his mistress in there—lucky mistress," Mortimer said. "So, I used to imagine that I was the Duke's mistress just waiting for my lover to come down the drive every night when I went to bed."

Photo credit: Amazon Studios
Photo credit: Amazon Studios

They used the house for not only the facade of Merlin's estate, but they also filmed the Spanish refugee camp on the property. The ballroom inside served as Merlin's ballroom, where the character keeps horses—"they already had had a horse in there, so they were open to the idea," noted Mortimer of the filming logistics. The interior also stood in for the Ritz hotel room in Paris, where Linda stays for a period of time.

Paris Streets and the Seine

Photo credit: Amazon Studios
Photo credit: Amazon Studios

The Pursuit of Love team only had one day to film in Paris, due to both scheduling conflicts and COVID precautions. Therefore, many of the Paris scenes were filmed in England (like the Ritz scenes in Badminton). However, the city streets, squares, and Seine were all the real deal. Mortimer noted that the group filmed on Paris's Pont Neuf bridge and in the square just behind it. The scene where Linda climbs out of a window into an alleyway was also filmed in Paris.

Photo credit: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis - Getty Images

Mortimer said of the time crunch, "[The Paris scenes were] at the very end of the shoot and we had no time or money left, but like all things, sometimes these constraints are good—they force you to be imaginative and you find solutions that in the end were just as good if not better than if you'd had all the time and all the money in the world."

As for the Paris substitutions, The Pursuit of Love filmed the restaurant that was supposed to be the French Brasserie Lipp at the Savile Club, a members club in London. The team also created a French nightclub in a wine cellar at Stourhead, another British estate.

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