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"So Cold the River" Stars on That First West Baden Moment

So Cold The River snapshot
Remember that feeling of stepping under the West Baden Springs Hotel dome for the first time? Even Hollywood was blown away by it. 

As we continue with our bonus content from the upcoming So Cold the River movie set to debut March 25, hear from the the cast and crew about their first impressions setting foot inside West Baden's iconic atrium.

Bethany Joy Lenz (“One Tree Hill,” “Dexter”)

“I couldn't believe when we drove in, driving through a lot of country, cornfields, flat lands, and wooded areas … and of all of sudden there is this place that looks like a castle in the middle of nowhere. It's wild, but it's really beautiful and it's one of the things I love about exploring and finding hidden gems like this.

Bethany Joy Lenz


The history here is outrageous — the fact that it has been here for so long, it's not just somebody built it like 25 years ago. I love learning about the Al Capone history here. I took a little peek over the old bowling alley pavilion, just kind of look around through the doors and the windows and you can just see the history. You can see how long it's been here, and I'm so impressed that they are continuing to renovate, that they've kept this place alive. It's a total hidden gem in the United States and in the world. It's just one of these places you had no idea that it's here. I love that everywhere I go, I can feel the history: I love all the photos on the wall, the black-and-white photos and sepia tone photos, the barbershop. There's just so much rich history, which is one of my favorite things — I'm such a sucker for anything like that.”

Andrew J. West (“Once Upon a Time”)

“I grew up in Indiana (Lake County) so a lot of this area feels very familiar, but at the same time, nothing can really kind of prepare you for seeing this resort. When you're driving in, it does sort of look like a mirage, you know? Because it just looks so ... so out of place. It's beautiful, but you just don't expect it. And even though you expect it, even though you're looking for it, you don't expect it to look the way that it does. Especially when you walk inside the West Baden Springs Hotel and you see that grand atrium, there's something incongruous about it but in a really exciting kind of way.

andrew j west
I'm just so happy that now I have a familiarity and a working knowledge of this part of my home state. I worked on one other film for a few days in Indiana, but this is the first time that I've worked on a production that's set and shot entirely in my home state, and it's just not something that I ever thought would happen.”


Katie Sarife (“Annabelle Comes Home”)

Katie Sarife

“I was really excited to come here. I think it's so crazy that there's this extremely large dome building in the middle of nowhere, essentially, so I thought that would be a really fun experience to kind of just submerge myself in semi-isolation, but in this gorgeous, gorgeous building. I think I showed just about everyone that I knew, like, ‘Hey, this is where I'm going. Look at this crazy place.’ All the trees amongst it … you would just never picture it. You know, where it is, and why is it here? And walking into that atrium was astounding. You just have this overwhelming feeling. You can look at all the pictures you want (beforehand), but nothing compares to actually walking in, looking up and seeing everything. It's gorgeous.”


Zach Spicer, Movie Producer and Co-Owner of Pigasus Pictures

“I grew up in Greencastle, Indiana. My grandfather and I used to take drives down through here when it was still abandoned and everything. So the last thing that I knew about this hotel was that you could see a part of the interior of the hotel because it had completely collapsed in on itself. Then I learned the hotels had been restored — I had no idea. When I realized that, and we took the very first trip down here, I was just like, ‘How can this not be a movie?’

It’s like stepping back in time into a pocket of something it used to be, that was my feeling. It was like stepping into a memory that was tangible. You could look at it in photographs and never really completely understand what it is to stand in that atrium for the first time and look up. Everybody talks about the atrium. The atrium's gorgeous, but it's the painting on the walls, it's the tiles in the floor. If you just sit there and look at those tiles and think about how much time it must have taken to put each one of those in. They were put in by hand at a penny of tile. That's insane. The love and the craftsmanship that has gone into not just restoring this place, but doing it justice and paying homage to all of the people that originally built it in the first place, to notice the artistry and the gravitas of what all that must have meant to the people here back when it was first built. I think that's the most endearing thing about this hotel is what it has meant to the people that have lived here.

If you stand in the atrium and you try to take a photo — one individual photo that kind of captures not only the feel, but the size and the, and the eloquence that is that atrium — it's incredibly difficult to do. I have about 200 photos on my iPhone that don't do anything justice.”

behind the scenes of so cold the river


Dana Mroczek, Sound Mixer

“To be honest, every day when I walk into the atrium, I'm blown away. I mean, every time. This place is just nuts. There's nothing not ornate and pretty about it. I mean, every little nook and cranny is just gorgeous.”

Julia Zhu, Buyer/Set Dresser and Props Assistant

“I knew that we were going to do this film a while back. So over the summer, my parents and I were like,

‘Oh, what should we do as like a little vacation? We actually came here and looked around and I was getting myself all hyped up for this. It's a great location. I don't even think I was able to take in, like, how breathtaking it was. I was just thinking about the movie. And then I also was like, ‘This is gonna be a great place to live for a month or so, you know?’”

Julie Powers, Department Head for Makeup

“The setting for this is phenomenal. It's just extraordinary. Every time I get a chance to walk under the dome, I will — because like the line in the film, ‘it never gets old.’ My dad came here before it was restored, and some other folks who saw it before that happened when it was in decay … how moved they are get teary-eyed talking about it and how amazing it is now, it's just phenomenal.”

Lara de Bruijn, Costume Designer

“(This movie) is different from others in that we get to stay in the space that is the subject of the film. You don't very often do that. To be staying at the site of the film is pretty exciting, because you're living and breathing the thing. Art is a creative process, it is an all-encompassing thing, so living in the space that is the subject is pretty special.”

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