What Lies Beneath was a movie starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, filmed in 1999 at the DAR State Park in West Addison, VT. Other filming locations were in Chittenden and Washington counties.
Although the fictional setting for the house was supposedly Waterbury, VT., the filming location was actually in West Addison, on the border of Lake Champlain, with the old Lake Champlain bridge partaking in a cameo role, just years before it was demolished and replaced.
The beautiful house located at the DAR State Park never actually existed, so it was specially constructed and later torn down after filming had been completed.
Below is a photo of the house under construction for the movie. Courtesy of the Facebook Group What Lies Beneath 2000.
Shawn Sweeney of Shelburne, VT was a film location manager. The last movie Shawn worked on was “What Lies Beneath” with Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfieffer filmed here in Vermont. A full working house and a half house was built and disassembled in Addison on Lake Champlain. Pieces of that set house were used in building Shawn’s own house in 2004 in Shelburne, Vermont.
Shawn Sweeney started his career when he purchased a live entertainment venue in Burlington, VT. Bands like Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Betty Carter, Richie Havens, Phish, The Spin Doctors & Blues Traveler all played the stage there. The next step in his journey was a slightly bigger one as he started working for renowned filmmaker Spike Lee. After working on “Malcom X” and “Jungle Fever”, Shawn worked all over the U.S on various films and eventually became a location manager where his duties included finding and securing real estate where scenes would be filmed.Construction and renovating sets was an integral part of the production process. This was his first taste of design build on a large scale.
Although local rumors abound that the house built for the movie is still there, the truth can be confirmed in the images below. The house was indeed replaced by a new pavilion that now graces the state park property.
I asked the state park caretaker and he said there were actually two houses built for the movie. The house that the main characters lived in and the mysterious neighbors next door. Both buildings are now long gone and exist only on What Lies Beneath celluloid (or home video)
Local memories – I remember one night when filming was taking place at UVM. The lighting was so bright that it made night time seem like day. Harrison Ford was also known to frequent RiRa’s, an Irish pub type bar on lower Church St in Burlington.
During the late 1980’s and 1990’s it seemed as if Hollywood had really descended upon Vermont as other major Hollywood films such as Ethan Frome, Spitfire Grill, Sweetheart’s Dance, Cider House Rules, etc. were filmed throughout Vermont.
Me, Myself and Irene, starring Jim Carrey and Renée Zellweger was also filmed throughout Chittenden County around the same time. Though the story is that Jim Carrey found himself stuck on a rock near the Milton dam for a couple hours and was outraged, as locals fought to stop the water from flowing too fast. Needless to say, Mr. Carrey was not at all gracious about signing autographs and a bit “vocal” about his opinion of the locals.
This article was updated on 10/29/21