Caltech Home > Filming Home > Caltech & Hollywood
Search open search form

Caltech-Hollywood Connections

Television and Film

Modern Family: Scenes from the "Do Not Push" episode (Season Six) of the ABC comedy were filmed on campus in August 2014, and the character "Alex Dunphy" (played by actress Ariel Winter) attends Caltech.

The Big Bang Theory: The multiple Emmy Award-winning CBS comedy centers on a group of Caltech physicists who are friends and roommates, and "The Hawking Excitation" episode (Season Five) was filmed at the Athenaeum and in one of the Caltech-owned residences.

Numb3rs: The CBS drama, which concluded a six-season run in 2010, centered on a mathematical genius at the fictional CalSci university (inspired by Caltech) who comes to his brother's rescue each episode. Many parts of the show were filmed on campus, and Gary Lorden, professor of mathematics, emeritus, served as a consultant on the series.

Interstellar: Kip Thorne (BS '62), the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus, served as an executive producer on the Academy Award-winning film, and he continues to work with Christopher Nolan, the film's writer and director, on upcoming projects.

Real Genius: The 1985 comedy starring Val Kilmer centers on a science prodigy (inspired by a Caltech undergraduate) and his adventures on the campus of Pacific Tech (a university strikingly similar to Caltech).

The Caltech campus and Caltech-operated facilities have been used as filming locations for Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Jay Leno's Garage, Man of Steel (at OVRO), Beverly Hills Cop, The X-Files, The West Wing, Legally Blonde, Entourage, Greek, and Mission: Impossible.

Caltech science, students, and faculty are frequently referenced in television shows, including The Simpsons, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Scorpion, and 90210.

Caltech faculty and researchers are regularly called upon to serve as scientific advisors on film and television productions, including Rod Kiewiet (Moneyball), Kip Thorne (Contact, Interstellar), Sean Carroll (Angels & Demons, TRON: Legacy, Thor, Big Hero 6, Bones, Fringe), Spiros Michalakis (Ant-Man), David Politzer (Fat Man and Little Boy), and Mark Wise (Iron Man 2).

Frank Capra (BS '18) was a director, writer, and producer on such films as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and the iconic seasonal classic It's a Wonderful Life.

Ray Feeney (BS '75) is a six-time Academy Award recipient, honored for his pioneering work in improving the film industry's visual effects. Among other things, he is credited with helping develop motion-control camera systems, implementing blue-screen technology, and leading groundbreaking work in scanning, recording, and composition.

Mark Meyer (MS '00, PhD '04), a senior scientist at Pixar Animation Studios who specializes in character articulation, worked on the Disney/Pixar full-length animated feature Brave.

Documentary / Nonfiction

Paul Rudd (Clueless, Friends, Ant-Man) recently appeared with Stephen Hawking in the short film, "Stephen Hawking v. Paul Rudd in Quantum Chess," created for the IQIM "One Entangled Evening" event. The video—produced by Spiros Michalakis—was narrated by Keanu Reeves (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Speed, The Matrix) and directed by Alex Winter (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure), and has been viewed on YouTube more than 1.7 million times.

Through the Wormhole: The Science Channel series, hosted by Morgan Freeman, highlighted the research of several Caltech faculty members and filmed multiple episodes on campus.

Curious: The 2007 documentary follows Caltech researchers as they conduct experiments, discuss their findings, and distribute a newly created cancer drug to the first human subjects.

Quantum Hoops: The 2007 documentary takes an intimate look at Caltech athletics—specifically the men's basketball team—as the players and coach attempt to end a 21-year losing streak during the final week of the 2006 season.

Director James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic, Avatar) is a member of Caltech's Space Innovation Council.

photo of Beckman Auditorium Beckman Auditorium Credit: Caltech