The 2007 movie Dan in Real Life is a heart-warming comedy about Dan Burns (Steve Carell), a widowed father who writes an advice column about parenting and relationship issues, even though he has plenty of his own. When he takes his daughters to the annual family reunion in Rhode Island, he struggles to connect with them in the way he hopes.
Poor Dan. He becomes even more miserable when he meets the woman of his dreams in a bookstore–only to discover that she’s his brother’s new girlfriend. (But don’t worry–his brother is played by Dane Cook, so you won’t care too much if Dan steals her from him!)
The movie was filmed almost entirely on location in an 8-bedroom summer house known as Riven Rock in Jamestown, Rhode Island. It was built in 1911 and has been in the same family for generations. You can rent it during the summer. Here’s how it looks in the listing:
There’s an interesting article in the Providence Journal about the locations used in the movie. According to the paper, the movie crew changed a few things, like adding awnings to the front of the house (the family liked them but moved them to the water side after filming). They also added steps to one side of the porch to open it up.
Director Peter Hedges says, “To me, the house was another character in the film. The minute I walked in, I couldn’t wait to start filming in it.”
Even though it was a kind of small, quiet film, there were a lot of big actors in it, like Juliette Binoche as the woman Dan has fallen for, and John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest as his parents (even though Wiest is only about 10 years older than Steve Carell).
In this photo of the kitchen from the rental listing, you can see what they changed for the movie, from the island to the flooring:
It looks like they also added a red pegboard and shelving beside the fridge for the movie:
Producers recruited some local children to play Dan’s young nieces and nephews.
I love this sliding “barn door:”
The dining room has a view of the water from the windows:
As the only adult in the house without a partner, Dan has to sleep on a cot in the laundry room:
Peter Hedges, who wrote the screenplay with Pierce Gardner, says that the film was really a tribute to his own father who raised him and his siblings alone: “I know he was really lonely. The nights were the hardest for my dad.”
Hedges says he wanted the movie to be a “human comedy” that just shows the humor in real life, tempered with pain and sadness.
The bedroom in “real life:”
Okay, it has nothing to do with the house, but I have to point out that the police officer who pulls Dan over several times during the movie was played by Matthew Morrison. That’s right–it’s Mr. Schuester from “Glee.”
Back to the house. Here’s the entry hall and staircase:
Family Room with Stone Fireplace:
The stone fireplace as it looks in the listing:
The striped rug in the movie made a big difference in this room:
Amy Ryan played Dan’s sister-in-law Eileen. That same year (2007) she was in the movie Gone Baby Gone, which earned her a Best Supporting Actress nod. In 2008, she joined the cast of “The Office” as Steve Carell’s new love interest, Holly. (I’m still rooting for the two of them to get back together again!)
The family gathers around the piano for a sing-along:
The Family Talent Show:
Each of the cast members actually worked on individual talents for this show so it would seem as real as possible.
The cast–except for Steve Carell, who was busy filming “The Office”–spent four days living in the house and rehearing scenes before the cameras arrived, so they could bond and get into a familiar rhythm together like a true family.
They put on a talent show for Carell when he arrived similar to the one shown in the movie. He jokes, “I probably like these people better than my own family now.”
From this angle, you can see how close the house is to the water:
The house would probably be a little too dark for me to live in year-round, but I thought it was perfect for the movie. It had the authentic feel of a vacation home where a family would gather each summer–and now we know that it really is one!
Have you seen the movie? What did you think?
Visit Liz Brazil’s site for information on renting Riven Rock and to see more photos. (Thanks to Kim and Colette for sending me the links!)