Iceland is a magical place. Between majestic hot springs and the belief that elves roam the countryside, it’s a destination you’ll likely want to return to again and again in your dreams if you’re lucky enough to visit. And with its idyllic landscapes, it’s understandable why the small country in the North Atlantic has become a popular location for film and television.
Much of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (in theaters now) was filmed in Iceland, with locations ranging from Snaefellsnes Pensinsula in the west to Hofn in the southeast. In Ben Stiller‘s fifth directorial effort, the titular Walter Mitty is an office drone who works deep in the photography archives at Life magazine. It’s a quiet and largely solitary life, but one that suits him. As the world of print media suffers, Walter’s skill is validated through the praise of elusive photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) who trusts him exclusively, yet has never met him face to face. But things at work threaten to sour when Walter can’t find a specific O’Connell negative promised to be the magazine’s final cover, thus forcing him to trade in his overactive imagination for a tangible plane ticket to the unknown.
I had the opportunity to travel to filming locations in Iceland, and learn more about the culture and surroundings that make this beautiful film truly sing. If you’re debating which new release to see this holiday week, or are simply itching to get a new stamp in your passport, read below for everything you need to know about Mitty.
Iceland plays three different countries in the film.
On his quest to find Sean, Walter travels to Greenland, Iceland and the mountains of Afghanistan–a lengthy and adrenaline-filled journey that outdoes anything he could have ever imagined while working at Papa John’s as a teenager.
Stiller and his family lived at the local dentist’s house.Travel to Höfn, a fishing town of roughly 2,000 in the southeast within driving distance of Vatnajökull glacier, asking about Mitty and chances are someone will have a story about meeting Stiller during his stay. He rented a home from the town dentist, so his family could live comfortably while on location. Stiller’s meals were catered by Humarhofnin, known for its distinct take on local langoustine. During lunch earlier this month, the owners–a team of husband and wife–regaled journalists with stories of Stiller and friends sitting at the same table night after night, and expressed their anxiety upon learning the actor is a vegetarian. (They’re a lobster restaurant, after all.)
Mitty largely employs local Icelandic actors.
Including Ólafur Darri Ólafsson who plays the sad pilot Walter comes in contact with upon landing in Nook, Greenland.