Henry & Clare’s House in “The Time Traveler’s Wife”

by hookedonhouses on September 24, 2012

The 2008 movie The Time Traveler’s Wife featured Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams as Henry and Clare, newlyweds struggling to deal with his inability to stop disappearing into different times and places without warning. They move into a big brick house after winning $5 million in the lottery (his time traveling does have some advantages). Let’s take a look:


They filmed most of the movie in Toronto, but the story was set in Chicago.

In an interview, Production Designer Jon Hutman said he was told to create a New Orleans-style house for the characters to live in that would have some kind of walled courtyard.

They found a house in Toronto that had the courtyard and the style they wanted and shot a few scenes outside of it. Most of it was recreated on a soundstage, though. The interiors were all sets.

This is one of those movies that I had no interest in seeing, really, but I got so many requests to feature the house that I finally broke down and watched it this week.

I have to say it was better than I expected, but the mood was unrelentingly dark and gloomy (two things I don’t particularly like in movies–I always prefer light, bright, happy, and funny). You can definitely see that somber tone reflected in the sets.

The Kitchen:

The kitchen has a back staircase and rustic fireplace.

Hutman says, “For someone who travels through time, you want to have a house that has a burnished, timeless quality, like a ship that has sailed around the world. The set was pretty delicious.” You can watch the full interview on Making Of.

Henry & Clare’s Bedroom:

Christmas looked good in this house. What a tree!

Some of the scenes with Henry and his daughter Alba were heartbreaking, like when she tells him to sing to keep from disappearing…but he vanishes anyway.

The Time Traveler’s Wife was based on the bestselling 2003 novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Anyone read it? Apparently they changed quite a few things, but don’t they always?

Clare’s Art Studio:

I thought Rachel McAdams was the perfect Clare.

Another good “house movie” she starred in was The Notebook, which I wrote about several years ago:

I recently added bigger and better photos of the houses featured in that movie, including some historic black and white pics that a reader sent me. It’s fascinating to see how “Noah’s house” looked a hundred years ago: The Real Houses from The Notebook.

Those of us who love great movie houses love Jon Hutman, the creative mind behind other faves I’ve featured, like It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, and The Holiday. All 3 of those movies are among my Top 10 Most Popular Posts each month.

(Most pics are screenshots from the movie, but the production stills were taken by Alan Markfield for Warner Bros. Studios.)

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Dena Stevens September 24, 2012 at 7:45 am

While I was hoping for more from the story, I’m not sure what, I do remember thinking the house had a lot of “character”

Ricki Jill Treleaven September 24, 2012 at 7:54 am

I did read the book, and I also read Her Fearful Symmetry. Audrey Niffenegger is a visual artist, so her books are very visual. She has the ability to suck the reader into a story, and then *BAM* there is a definite *ick* factor with her characters….right when you think you might like them and relate to them. Her books are definitely creepy…..

Great post, Julia. I thought the film adaptation was pretty good, actually. The Time Traveler’s Wife is a long book.

xo,
RJ

Casey September 24, 2012 at 8:12 am

I agree. I read both books and loved them both, while also creeped out by them both. I have a girl crush on Rachel McAdams, so I’d watch anything she’s in :) But I really didn’t think the movie did the book justice (do they ever?).

Donna September 24, 2012 at 7:56 am

So disappointing. You’d be hard pressed to find a house like that in Chicago. It was all so much better in my imagination. :)

Danielle September 24, 2012 at 7:57 am

I read this book and loved it, but the I thought the movie was awful. I didn’t find Claire and Henry had an ounce of chemistry and they omitted some of my favourite story lines from the book version.

I forgot how interesting their house was though.

Tammy September 24, 2012 at 8:01 am

The book was so awful, I had no interest in sitting through the movie, but the house is very interesting! Thanks for this post.

Laura September 24, 2012 at 8:10 am

I loved the book but was not a huge fan of the movie. I don’t know how anyone could understand the movie if they hadn’t read the book. I had more vivid images of their home also from the book too. The movie ruined my imagination!!

Amy September 24, 2012 at 8:12 am

I loved the bones of the house, but it looked like they never fully unpacked or committed to it even though that aspect was woven into the story line. It just evoked a kind of empty lonely feeling. Maybe that was supposed to reflect the feelings of abandonment that Clare would be experiencing? I would love to see the interior of it today, I’ll bet its stunning!

Jane September 24, 2012 at 8:21 am

The Time Traveller’s wife is probably my favourite book of all time. I reread it immediately after finishing it, and I’ve never done that before or since. I still really liked the movie, but it had been some time after I finished the book. Their house is a little too rustic for my taste (which says a lot because my house is 200 yrs old).

jana September 24, 2012 at 8:31 am

My husband and I watched this movie in an airport waiting for a flight last year at this time. I was bawling so hard it was embarrassing! Bad choice of movies to watch in an airport! I didn’t read the book but I am sure I would have been sorely disappointed in the movie if I had. Rarely do movies do a book justice. Thanks for sharing the house. Jon Hutman is a genius!

T. September 24, 2012 at 8:52 am

I read the book when it first came out. I thought it was fascinating, and I really liked it until the ending. The ending was horrible. I had no desire to see the movie. You might like the book, Julia. The story is put together flawlessly. All that shifting timeline must have been so challenging for the author and editor to handle, but it was so well done.

Kathleen September 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

I saw this movie, and was really intrigued by it. But it drove me NUTS that the house was so dimly lit. Did this couple own a 100-watt light bulb–ever? It looked almost abandoned at times. The house/set seemed to have lovely features, if only they could be seen. I’m sure this lighting choice was intentional and supported the mood of the film. Thank you for posting the pics. :^)

hookedonhouses September 24, 2012 at 9:09 am

I know! You should have seen how long it took me to tweak each of these photos to make them light enough so you could see them. They did it to set the mood, and it worked, but I was squinting a lot!

65andcounting September 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

I didn’t read the book. I never saw the movie, so I have little to add except to share that my husband sits on the floor and chats with me when I’m in the tub too. [Not!]

Amanda @ Serenity Now September 24, 2012 at 9:48 am

They did do a good job of giving the house some history and character. I didn’t read the book, and the movie was sooooo somber. I’m in your camp–I like light and happy. :)

Londen September 24, 2012 at 9:48 am

I read the book years ago and really liked it…a bit weird and creepy for me but really good. Living in th Chicago area it was cool to know a lot of the places they talked about. Maybe give the book a try, it was much better than the movie. Loved that old house.

Amanda September 24, 2012 at 10:06 am

Thank you so much, I have been wanting to see more of this house. The movie was ok but I rented it again and watched it strictly to see the house again. I love the house but would change things to make it more light and cheerful. Thank you for todays post.

Shabby Chick September 24, 2012 at 10:09 am

The premise of the movie is really off-putting to me, I at least like my movies to be realistic. I love the Christmas tree – and that’s about it.

emily September 24, 2012 at 10:16 am

I really liked the book, it so sad though. I pretty much never cry, maybe once a year. And I had a hard time reading the end of the book due to tears. I really liked the movie too. They actually did a good job translating it into film, unlike most others. The house is just beautiful. Perfect mix of industrial, modern, and traditional design.

Black Eyed Susans Kitchen September 24, 2012 at 11:54 am

I liked the movie and the book. I also liked the house very much…especially the kitchen.

Bridget McArthur September 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

The book was SO much better. I liked the movie and all the actors were perfect. But they made changes that really gutted the story, and I hate that. AWESOME house though. Thanks for showing it.

I recommend the book 100%!!!

Shannon September 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

The book was so much better than the movie (aren’t they always!). Another depressing movie that she’s in (and she also has an art studio) that I’d love to see is The Vow. I did not like the movie but I loved their apartment!!!

Abby R September 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

One of my favorite books of all time, hands down. I love it so much I can’t even watch the movie because I’ve heard it isn’t good — and Rachel McAdams is my favorite actress, so that tells you how much I really love this book!

Erica September 24, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Rachel McAdams does seem to get some great houses in her movies. Have you seen “The Vow” yet? It’s very cheesy, but the homes are great!

Kelly @ Talk of the House September 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Hooray! A movie Monday! My daughter and I went to see it with the thinking that it would be a love story…but it was so dark and gloomy as you said, that we were both quite disappointed. The house reflects the mood very well. That Christmas tree WAS amazing!

Tracie September 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Loved the book, never saw the movie. The house in my head was soooooo much lovelier and comfiest.

Tracie September 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Loved the book, never saw the movie. The house in my head was soooo much comfier and more homey…the set house seems so big and dark….

belledame September 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm

last week my niece was over and saw my copy on the shelf. she didn’t know the film was based on a book. when i get talking about books her eyes glaze over so i simply said the film didn’t do the book justice. it really is a magnificent piece of literature, romance and science fiction. puzzling out the nature of henry’s disorder is quite an exercise. i guess there is no answer. but given the way it works over his lifetime, i prefer to think that someone made a mistake when they made henry and the best remedy they could find was to limit his travels to a small group of people and places. maybe that makes it a work of fantasy as well…

anyway, the movie is nice but not nearly a worthy treatment. there’s just too much of henry, of clare, of their couple, their adventures – to fit in. and it’s miscast. rachel mcadams is far from the clare in my head. bana is great but… if he were younger. even the sisters playing alba (and I loved them!) but they weren’t right. ron livingston as gomez, everything about movie-gomez is wrong.

Of all the many beautiful passages on the book, i happened to pass over this one the other day. it’s the point at which henry decides they need a house:

“the next evening i’m standing inthe doorway of clare’s studio, watching her finish drawing a thicket of black lines around a little red bird. suddenly, i see clare, in her small room, closed in by all her stuff, and i realize that she’s trying to say something, and i know what have to do.”

Nita September 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm

My favorite thing in this house? The framed newspaper! It is so cool.

Nita September 24, 2012 at 9:48 pm

There are some interesting time traveler photos out there on the web that show one person with modern clothes and hair standing with many Victorian times people and places. Some say Tesla did succeed and that is what the Philadelphia Experiment was about. Others say there is a place in Alaska where the govt is researching time travel.

shawna September 25, 2012 at 12:07 am

I loved the book but was luke warm on the movie. That might be because I am the only one in the world who isn’t a Rachel McAdams fan. The house is quite gorgeous though.

Kim September 25, 2012 at 2:00 am

I tried to watch this movie, but I just couldn’t get into it. As for the house, it’s too dark inside and needs more light. It is nice though.

Jane September 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm

We can have days without sun in the winter so that house would be too dark for me. I’ll bet plenty of others could find it cozy but it just wouldn’t suit my mood. In the winter and actually year round I like quirky spaces with a lighter feel.

Voluptuous Vegan September 25, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I watched the movie and then read the book. The book was infinitely better than the movie. In fact, I wished I hadn’t seen the movie.

Lisa T. September 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I haven’t read the book or watched the movie. I wanted to see the movie, but the guys at my husband’s job panned it so bad I changed my mind. They laughed at how he always arrives at his new time destination naked. And how creepy that was when he first met Clair when she was a little girl. At least that’s what they said.

As far as the house pics go; it looks like a business from the outside and the inside is kinda cool, but some rooms look like you could put a couple of cubicles in there and it wouldn’t look out of place. Cool, but definitely looking for some love and homeyness.

belledame September 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm

my theory is, meeting claire as a kid is what makes her the perfect wife for him. she learns about his disorder first and accepts him from that point of view. and she meets him when he has matured into a better man. one of those things that seems to have been set up by an external force, imho.

Rebecca | MidcenturyModernRemodel September 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Did not love the book, but the house is decent. The pictures are pretty sad though.

Wendy September 25, 2012 at 11:45 pm

That house looks like an old insane asylum. I would not want to spend time there.

Jenny Qld September 26, 2012 at 3:22 am

The book is magnificent and the movie just ok.
I love the sets so thank you for showing them :)
Please read the book….it really is worth it!

A.Men September 26, 2012 at 6:27 am

Please, feature J.K. Rowlings’s home in England. It is on the market. She wrote all the Harry Potter books there.

Love your site! Would love to see your post on her home! Very little is given in The Telegragh online.

Cindy October 1, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I’ve read the book for book club. I just got a bit lost with all the to-ing and fro-ing. Now, typical me, I want to see the film because you’ve featured the house. Jon Hutman is brilliant. Funny how they have a scene where he’s talking to her while she baths. They have a similar scene in ‘It’s Complicated’, another of his movies. I’m with 65andcounting on this – if my husband did that it would creep me out.

rachel October 4, 2012 at 8:50 am

I loved the time traveler’s wife book; I remember not wanting the story to end. The movie was just okay, but I’m used to being disappointed wtih movies inspired by the book (the Lovely Bones, Twilight, the Devil Wears Prada, etc). I love Rachel McAdams so I’ll watch anything she’s in (including Red Eye, which was terrible. I love the rustic house but looking at the pictures, it does feel a little bare and cold.

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