Hollywood’s Real-Life Spanish Courtyard Apartments from “‘Til There Was You”

by hookedonhouses on July 2, 2012

Over the years I’ve gotten a lot of requests to feature La Fortuna, the charming Spanish-style courtyard apartment building from the 1997 movie ‘Til There Was You. I remembered the romantic comedy, starring Jeanne Tripplehorn and Dylan McDermott, and the beautiful sets, but it was hard to find it on DVD.

So when Netflix recently added it to their catalog, I was excited to finally watch it again and see that La Fortuna was just as magical as I remembered. Not only that, but I found out that it was filmed in a real courtyard in Hollywood, and you can actually stay there. Take a look!

In the movie, the picturesque courtyard apartment complex known as La Fortuna is slated for demolition, and the residents band together to fight it.

When Jeanne Tripplehorn’s character Gwen walks into the courtyard for the first time, she’s enchanted by it.

You know a place is magical when you walk in and flower petals are falling from the sky…

…and there’s a guy softly playing a guitar on the balcony overhead.

I had forgotten how many stars were in the movie, like Sarah Jessica Parker, who plays a troubled former child actor who sells the complex to developers. Whenever someone recognizes her in public, she says, “No, I’m not dead!”

We didn’t get to see much of the interior of Gwen’s apartment, but in this scene her friend (played by Jennifer Aniston) drops by for a visit–and brings her a cat, something she, as a single woman, objects to:

We also get a glimpse of her fireplace when she’s moving in:

Her elderly neighbor, who was once a silent film star, lives across the courtyard:

The movie is also memorable for “The Awful Truth”–an awful restaurant where Jeanne’s character hates to eat but keeps getting invited to. It’s so cool that this is the front door–and she can’t figure out how to open it (she finally falls through it):

Inside, everything has sharp and pointy edges, and she keeps hurting herself on them:

Lindsay, who blogs at I Am Not a Stalker, is my hero. Not only is she even more obsessed with TV and movie houses than I am, but she manages to track a lot of them down.

She reports that the movie was filmed at a real apartment complex called El Cabrillo in Hollywood:

“El Cabrillo was constructed in 1928 by none other than Cecil B. DeMille, who needed a place to house his out-of-town actors. The building was designed by noted architects Arthur and Nina Zwebell, who built numerous Los Angeles courtyard style apartment buildings in the 1920’s, many of which are now on the National Register of Historic Places.”

I read on one message board that the courtyard was recreated on a soundstage for filming, but others say it was actually shot here. May have been a mix of both. Either way, I thought it was the star of the movie.

There’s a vacation rental website that shows photos of a unit at El Cabrillo that you can rent. Here are some of them:

This fireplace looks similar to the one in the movie:

Wish the photos were a little clearer, and that we could see more of this kitchen–love it:

Lindsay says that other things have been shot here over the years, too, from a Rudolph Valentino movie to the TV show Chuck:

“Chuck’s pilot episode was actually filmed on location at El Cabrillo.  The courtyard area and three different apartments were used for that episode.  But once the show got picked up by NBC a replica of the apartments and the courtyard were rebuilt on a soundstage at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank.”

If they built more apartment complexes that looked like this, I think a lot more of us would want to be happy to rent! :-)


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Stephanie July 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

It looks like the same complex from the Ashton Kutcher/Amanda Peet movie A Lot Like Love as well.

hookedonhouses July 2, 2012 at 9:05 am

Yes, I think it was!

Lindsay Blake July 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

The “A Lot Like Love” complex is called “Villa Elaine” and it’s one of my favorite movie locations ever. You can see my post on it here – http://www.iamnotastalker.com/2008/01/22/a-lot-like-filming-locations/
The interior of Amanda Peet’s apartment in the movie reminds me SO much of the interior of the El Cabrillo vacation rental. :)

Julia July 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

I always loved that courtyard from the movie (the movie, not so much), but I didn’t know it was the same one on Chuck. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.

Luciane at Homebunch.com July 2, 2012 at 9:29 am

Good morning, Julia!

I hope you had a great weekend! We had a wonderful one, celebrating Canada Day!!! :-)

This is a very interesting post. I always love seeing movie houses.

Have a blessed week, my friend!


Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Sarah @ housecrazy July 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

I’m obsessed with those Spanish-style courtyards! I’ve always wanted to own a house with my own private courtyard.

Janelle July 2, 2012 at 11:03 am

I thought it looked like the courtyard from Chuck. Exact same fountain.

Wade Watson July 2, 2012 at 11:27 am

I never saw “Til There Was You”, but I was a big fan of Chuck and I quickly recognized the look of the place. When they reproduced the main apartment for Chuck, they actually subtracted or added a fireplace (I forget which). Many big scenes throughout the series took place in the studio version of the courtyard by the fountain. The place always added a certain warm feeling of refuge from the spies and killers, though not always successfully.

If you look up “El Cabrillo” in Wikipedia, there’s a nice article on it’s history and architecture.

Lili July 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Yay! That’s the one from Chuck!! I TOLD you you should feature Chuck’s house! Now you HAVE to!! (As a follow up).

The Other Sue July 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Thanks for sharing — it’s now driving me crazy! I keep thinking that I’ve seen either a Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Lopez film there, but can’t think of what.

Lindsay Blake July 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I think you’re thinking of the building where Charlie (Jennifer Lopez) lived in Monster-in-Law, which was very similar. That place is called El Cadiz and was also where Sydney (Jennifer Garner) lived in “Alias”. I blogged about it here: http://www.iamnotastalker.com/2010/04/29/charlies-apartment-building-from-monster-in-law/

hookedonhouses July 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thanks for the link!

The Other Sue July 2, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Thank You!!! Now I can sleep.

Lindsay Blake July 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm

LOL Anytime. :) Glad it was the one you were thinking of. :)

Margie Ford July 2, 2012 at 1:44 pm

The apartments remind me of the ones in The Ugly Truth with Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. Gorgeous.

Lindsay Blake July 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm
hookedonhouses July 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thanks, Lindsay! :-)

Aaron @ QuinnImagery July 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Having seen a few episodes of Chuck, I thought it looked familiar, but thought I might be mistaken, then I got to the end of your post, and yes, I’m not crazy, that is the Chuck courtyard/apartments!

Lindsay Blake July 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Thank you so much for the shout-out, Julia! Always great to read your posts on movie locations. :)

LosAngelish July 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm

El Cabrillo is actually the “older” sister of The Andalusia, which has a star-studded history. http://www.ocreader.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=10939

hookedonhouses July 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Interesting! Thanks!

Kim July 2, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I had never seen or heard of this movie until now. Those apartments are so nice and peaceful. It would be a great place to get away from the world. Too bad there’s not any apartment complexes like this today.

Carisa July 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm

It’s Giles’ apartment in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series)”!

hookedonhouses July 3, 2012 at 7:11 am

Is it? Didn’t know that!

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) July 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Julia, what a fun tour! I’ll have to look for that one on Netflix….to hot to do anything here but stay inside in the AC! :)

Rebecca C. July 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm

I don’t remember that movie, but I thought that fountain was familiar. Glad you mentioned that Chuck pilot was filmed there. It’s so much fun attempting to figure out where things were filmed. There’s lots of stuff filmed where I live. My son and I had lots of fun watching Justified, trying to figure where a particular house was (and no, Justified is filmed in LA for the most part, not Kentucky).

Esther George July 3, 2012 at 2:42 am

Good Morning Julia this was fun I have not seen or heard of this movie must look for it on DVD. I love spanish style courtyards. Thank you for sharing. Regards Esther from Sydney.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com July 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

What a gorgeous place. I love it.

Marcia July 3, 2012 at 8:23 am

Never seen this movie. I’m not too fond of Spanish style homes but always enjoy seeing all the features you highlight. Must browse Netflix for this one some time. I’m hooked on houses and hooked on movies. 😉

Did you ever do a feature on Alyssa Milano’s NY apartment in Sundays at Tiffany’s.? Cute place.

missy July 3, 2012 at 8:27 am

I’ve always loved this movie for it’s set. I never knew what the name of it was because I would just catch bits of it on cable every now and then. I’ll have to watch the whole thing on Netflix so I can look at this beautiful building again.


Candie K July 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

From the very 1st photo, I just KNEW it was Ellie’s place. I always liked how the plot lines ended with the WHOLE Bartowski clan living in that complex. :)

Maria July 4, 2012 at 1:02 am

Swoon! Gosh I love these courtyard buildings (cottages too) and always wanted to live in one. Had friends that lived in one and hung out there pretty much an entire summer many (many) moons ago. They were actors (‘natch) in a troupe specializing in 1920’s style (think flash mob theater) which they lived and breathed, so their 1920’s apt was done up with original ’20-’30’s furnishings – it was like stepping back in time. Very cool.

When I first checked out the rental listing the map showed it on the corner of Yucca (it’s actually on the other corner at Franklin) because of this I had to street view stalk the area — my how times have changed. A couple of years (decades?!) ago I knew someone who lived on Yucca and we deemed the name (this apt is Yucca!) to be perfect as it was a *seriously* shady slummy area. Now it looks very hipster upscale!

This link has more photos and a video of the building:

hookedonhouses July 4, 2012 at 8:04 am

I hadn’t seen those photos–thanks, Maria!

Kristen @ More Than Mulberries July 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I’m sorry, but anything with Dylan McDermott in it is the only sure fire way for me to NOT notice the surroundings. 😉

Jennifer July 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

I’ve always laughed at that restaurant! So horrible. Have you written anything on three men and a baby? I didn’t see it on the list but that would be a great one to do :)

Sensibly Sassy July 8, 2012 at 11:01 pm

This apartment complex (I’m pretty sure-they never explicitly say) was just featured on celebrity ghost stories-apparently Dorothy Dandridge died there. Here is the link: http://www.biography.com/tv/celebrity-ghost-stories/videos/aaron-carter-chris-mcdonald-kaya-jones-david-proval-full-episode-2251897695 (its Kaya Jones’ story)

hookedonhouses July 9, 2012 at 7:41 am

Interesting! Thank you!

Sandra Cardona July 31, 2012 at 10:02 am

Thanks for posting. I have to catch it on netflix. didn’t know it was added til i read your post. i like this movie for the eye candy, and not dylan mcdermott, although he is easy on the eyes, but the architecture. the movie itself is not that great even though the actors are tremendous. just didn’t care much for the dialogue and editing. the set design more than makes up for it imho. there are some movies that aren’t that great but have something else going for them like the set design and cast. this is definitely one of them.

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