Princeton University, the real-life college of John Nash, plays itself in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, which chronicles Nash’s life.
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2001’s “A Beautiful Mind” was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four, including Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly, Best Director for Ron Howard, and Best Picture. The based-on-a-true-story film chronicles the life of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician whose life is not all that it seems.
The real Nash attended Princeton and the real university plays itself in Howard’s film – at least parts of it. Most of the filming was centered around Rockefeller College, which is located on the northwest corner of Princeton’s campus. Specifically, production used areas of Holder Hall and its courtyard.
When I visited in late May there were a lot of tents up for graduation, so pardon the obstructions in the photos – but if you’re there walking around, you will definitely get that “A Beautiful Mind” vibe from the old Hogwartsy-looking buildings.
The gorgeous hallways connecting the buildings at Rockefeller are also seen early in the film:
The door that John Nash (Russell Crowe) goes into at the end of the above scene leads to the Rockefeller (“Rocky”) Common Room in Madison Hall, which was used in the film as the faculty lounge/dining hall where the pen ceremonies take place. Nash witnesses one here at the beginning of the film:
Of course, later in the film, Nash is the recipient of his own pen ceremony (which makes me cry, obviously):
The dining room looks much the same today, although it’s not a dining room (it’s known as the Rocky Common Room) and the pen ceremony is not actually something that happens at Princeton. Whoops.
Princeton, aside from being a filming location, is totally gorgeous and worth a good walk-around. And there’s a delicious pancake spot called Pj’s Pancake House that’s right across the street, less than a quarter of a mile from Rockefeller College. Go there! THEY HAVE S’MORES PANCAKES THAT ARE DELICIOUS.
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