Did you see the romantic comedy Monster-in-Law, starring Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez? It had some pretty funny moments, but the sets are what really held my attention. There were four different homes featured in the movie–Charlie’s apartment, Kevin’s Craftsman, and Viola’s two lavish residences. They were created with an amazing attention to detail by the talented production designer Missy Stewart and I thought they deserved a closer look.
Charlie’s Venice Beach Apartment:
Lopez is sweet and likable as Charlie, a temp who spends her days walking dogs and answering phones but dreams of being an artist. She doesn’t know what she’s getting into when she agrees to marry Kevin (Michael Vartan).
If only I could live in a charming apartment near the beach with a courtyard like this on a dog-walker’s salary!
At the beginning of the movie, the camera pans down onto this apartment complex, and looks inside that covered porch (second story, far left). Inside we see Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) sketching:
Her living room shows us that this is a woman with a million creative projects percolating at once. When Kevin sees it for the first time, he asks, “Oh, did you just move in?” No, she says–she’s lived there for years.
Kevin’s Craftsman-Style House:
Kevin is a doctor. He’s young and handsome and thoughtful. Best of all, he lives here, in this beautiful Craftsman-style home, and asks her to move in with him. He really does seem like the perfect man. But then–as the movie’s tagline goes–she meets his mother. Dun-dun-dunnnn.
In a deleted scene, we get a look at the front porch, not seen close up in the final cut of the movie:
Charlie moves into Kevin’s house:
Actor Mark Ruffalo was reportedly asked to play the part of Kevin, but he declined.
Fonda is hilarious as Kevin’s mother Viola, who lends the movie its title. In this shot, we can briefly see the staircase behind her:
The living room, during the rehearsal dinner:
In the DVD special features, we get a look behind the scenes and are treated to a couple of close-ups of the beautiful fireplace and the built-in shelves on either side of it:
Looking from the living room into the dining room and kitchen:
In the dining room for the rehearsal dinner:
Looking into the kitchen:
Wanda Sykes, as Viola’s acerbic assistant Ruby:
This was Fonda’s first film in 15 years. She has said that she based her character on her ex-husband, Ted Turner.
Charlie decides to add some of her own style to the house by painting a wall in the breakfast nook:
We never get to see how it turns out in the movie, but I spied it here in the Behind-the-Scenes featurette on the DVD:
The master bathroom (Viola bursts in and rips the phone out of Charlie’s hand so she can talk to her son, who is on a business trip):
The real house used for the exterior shots is in Pasadena. The interiors were created on a soundstage. Here are the sets being built:
Iamnotastalker did some excellent sleuth work and found the actual house that they used in Pasadena. Here’s what she says about it:
In real life, the Monster-in-Law house is known as the Ross House and it was designed in 1911 by Alfred and Arthur Heineman, the same architectural team who was responsible for giving us Dylan’s house from Beverly Hills, 90210 and the Eppes house from the television series Numb3rs.
The Heineman brothers built the residence, which features Craftsman, Asian, and Neo-Classical design elements, for a rancher named Winslow Ross at a cost of $8,000. The house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, boasts Batchelder tile work, a hand-painted mural, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a whopping 4,657 square feet of living space.
Check out her post for more photos and information.
UPDATE: The owner of this Craftsman contacted me and sent me some of his personal photos of the house. You can see them here.
Viola’s Country Home in Montecito:
We don’t see much of the exterior in the movie except for in this brief shot below. The photo above is from the Special Features of the DVD, which gives us a better idea of how big that wraparound porch really is.
Viola sends Charlie to this bedroom where she has a dress waiting for her to wear to the black-tie party already in swing. Too bad it’s about three sizes too small:
Viola’s Estate in Pasadena:
According to the LA Times:
When location manager Timothy Hillman needed a house that would make a statement about the Barbara Walters-type mother Jane Fonda portrays in the upcoming film “Monster-in-Law,” he settled on a majestic 1927 Wallace Neff home in Pasadena as the character’s home.
“We wanted to show that she oozed class,” Hillman says, “so we picked this gated estate with fountains in front and grand windows into the living room.”
The fireplace is huge. See all of those framed photos on the right? We see Viola with famous people like Oprah and Gloria Steinem. They’re all real photos from Fonda’s collection.
The staircase decorated for the wedding:
After Kevin makes a surprise proposal to Charlie on the porch, Viola runs to her bedroom to meditate and calm down. In this shot you get a glimpse of the connecting bathroom behind her:
In the DVD Special Features, we are shown a close-up of Viola’s bed that we didn’t get in the movie:
The clothes for the movie were just as much fun to look at as the sets. They were all specially designed for the characters by Kym Barrett, the costume designer–including this white gown that Viola wears to her son’s wedding:
Charlie gets ready for her wedding in Viola’s room. Notice how they hung curtains in the arched doorway and blocked the view of the bathroom in this scene with a screen:
Viola’s garden, where the wedding was held: