It’s easy to see why North Carolina bestselling author Nicholas Sparks loves the coastal settings of Southeastern North Carolina. It’s the charming historic towns, quiet beaches, tidal rivers and pretty marshes. The setting is something of a Hollywood movie — literally.
The quaint coastal charm captured in Spark’s movies drive our imaginations, after-all these lands were once of pirate fairytale and grounds to battles that shaped the country we now live in.
The fatal attraction of Coastal Carolina draws in movie goers, celebrities and politicians alike. It’s the secluded and private beach communities that make the area a perfect place to get away and stay out of view the paparazzi. Communities like Figure Eight Island are secluded enough that to get there one first must be invited, and then cross a private draw bridge, pass a guard shack to enter the exclusive community with its own beaches.
The Wilmington area is a perfect concoction of privacy, beach, boating and restaurants, a perfect combination for elite vacationers. Amongst the ocean front communities and moss draped oak trees are we where the world’s top elite play and relax. In this article we are going to outline the celebrities and politicians that live or frequent the Wilmington, North Carolina area today and past.
1. Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman is rumored to have a house on Figure Eight Island and first came to Wilmington to shoot a film and fell in love with the area and purchased a home on the island. He has been spotted at local restaurants in the Wrightsville Beach area.
2. Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger fell in love with the Wilmington area when in February 1986 she rolled into town to film the movie No Mercy which was filmed in and around the area. It is not known if Kim owns property in the area, and has been spotted at local restaurants in Topsail in recent years.
3. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. came into town in 2012 to film the movie Iron Man 3. It was said that Mr. Downey Jr. frequented the Downtown and River District areas and was even spotted in Wrightsville Beach. It is unknown if he owns property here.
4. Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston is no stranger to Wilmington, in fact she has filmed multiple movies here including We’re the Millers and also owns a house on Figure Eight Island. Aniston has been spotted in Hampstead.
5. Vice President Al Gore
Democratic Vice President Al Gore spends part of the year at his estate on Figure Eight Island vacationing, generally with family and friends. He and John Edwards are the highest ranking political figures on the island. The Gore family has been vacationing at their estate since the late 90s.
6. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan moved to Wilmington when he was 5 years old, before going on to play at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jordan’s childhood home is on the outskirts of town off of highway 117 on Gordon Road. Today Michael Jordan owns a home in the area but the exact location is unknown. He has been spotted at fishing tournaments in the area and his boat is somewhat of a local legend when it pulls in from the intercostal waterway.
7. Lara Trump
Lara Trump is from Wrightsville Beach and is currently married to President Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump. The couple own a home in Wrightsville Beach and frequent the area from time to time. Lara has come through Wilmington to campaign for President Trump.
8. John Travolta
John Travolta has owned a home in the area since the 90s and flies his private plane in and out of the Wilmington International Airport. Travolta has been spotted in Wrightsville Beach and boating out on the inter-coastal is almost a local regular.
9. Julia Roberts
Julia Roberts first came to Wilmington in 1991 to film the movie Sleeping With the Enemy, filmed on at the Shell Island Resort on the north end of Wrightsville Beach. She purchased a home on nearby Figure Eight Island, she is rumored to still live there today.
10. Nick Nolte
Actor Nick Nolte came to the Wilmington area to film “Weeds” in 1986 and fell in love with the place. It is rumored that Nick still owns property at Pleasure Island.
11. Michael Strahan
Michael Strahan is no stranger to the Wilmington area. His ex-wife Jean Muggli is a North Carolina native and the couple owns an equestrian estate in New Hanover County. Even though the couple has divorced, Jean Muggli still lives in the area with the couple’s twin daughters.
12. Nicholas Sparks
Best selling author and screen writer Nicholas Sparks is a North Carolina native and while he lives full time in Greenville, he frequents the Wilmington area where he gets his inspiration for movies like Safe Haven and A Walk To Remember among others. It is said that Sparks has a house on Topsail and frequents the property multiple times a year.
13. Charlie Daniels
Country music legend Charlie Daniels, knowing for his famous song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was born and raised in Wilmington. Daniels’s estate is said to own property in the area.
14. Maury Povich
TV show personality Maury Povich frequents the Wilmington area and owns a house on Thistle Golf Course in Sunset Beach.
15. John Edwards
Former U.S. senator and presidential candidate owns a resort house at Figure Eight Island and is said to frequent the area with his family during the summer months.
16. Dennis Hopper
Actor Dennis Hopper owned and lived in Wilmington for years and his estate still owns property in the area. He first came to Wilmington to film the movie “Blue Velvet” and fell in love with the place. Dennis was very active in the local community and was a key investor and organizer of the restoration of the Masonic Temple Building on Front St. While he passed away in 2010, Dennises old Masonic Temple apartment was used as an exhibit for “Blue Velvet” in 2011 during the Cuclaorous Film Festival.
17. Peter Jursaik
Actor and award winning screenwriter Peter Jurasik from the TV series “Babylon 5″ has lived in Wilmington with his family for nearly two decades. Peter teaches classes at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and has appeared on locally filmed TV series “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” and also co-starred in the locally filmed feature “Amy & Isabelle.”
18. William Bennett
Former U.S. education secretary and federal drug czar and author of the book “The Book of Virtues” has owned and lived on Bald Head Island for years.
19. Richard Gere
Richard Gere first came to Wilmington to film the movie Nights In Rodanthe. He is said to own a beach home in South Port and has been spotted in town and on the ferry to Ft. Fisher.
20. Vanna White
Vanna White is said to have a home on Figure Eight Island where she spends part of the year. She moved to Figure Eight from Myrtle Beach in the early 2000s. Vanna White has been spotted in Hampsted with her family.
21. Andy Griffith
Andy Griffith used to live in Wilmington while he was filming the TV series Matlock. Once the series ended he lived on Figure Eight Island and was often spotted in Wrightsville Beach and at local restaurants and events in the area.
22. Howie Long
Sports and TV celebrity Howie Long owns land on Bald Head Island and frequents the Wilmington area with his family a couple of times per year.
23. Ben Stiller
Movie star Ben Stiller owns a home on Figure Eight Island and has worked on a number of major motion pictures filmed in the Wilmington Area. He is said to spend time each year with his family on the island.
24. Katie Holmes
Katie Holmes used to frequent the Wilmington area while she was filming Dawson’s Creek. Holmes purchased a house in Wrightsville Beach and used to be a regular at area cafes and gyms. She has been spotted in the area recently with her daughter and parents.
25. Bill Hawkins
Bill Hawkins the former CEO of Medtronic, the medical device giant is a native to Wrightsville Beach. He has an ocean front home near Crystal Pier and is ‘true local’ and can be spotted at The Workshop Cafe and other restaurants around town.
26. Oprah Winfrey
TV personality and billionaire Oprah Winfrey frequents the Wilmington area often but keeps it simple and low profile. Winfrey owns a beach house on Topsail Beach and has been spotted walking on the beach by locals.
27. John Mack
John Mack is the the former CEO of and Chairman of the Board of Morgan Stanley. Mack is a Wilmington native, lives on Wrightsville Beach and participates in the local community.
28. Sugar Ray Leonard
Renowned professional boxer and motivational speaker Sugar Ray Leonard is born and raised in Wilmington. Leonard is a local legend and is said to own a house on Wrightsville Beach.
29. Jim Goodnight
Jim Goodnight is the founder and board member of tech giant SAS Institute and one of the richest people in the world. Goodnight is a Wilmington local, he owns a home at Wrightsville Beach and has been spotted around town.
30. Ellyn Bache
Award winning author of books such as Safe Passage, Ellyn Bache lived at Wrightsville Beach.
31. Pat Hingle
Famous actor Pat Hingle known for his role as Commissioner Gordon in the first Batman movies lived at Carolina Beach for many years. Hindle was always spotted around the Wilmington area and used to wash his car at the Car Wash.
32. Hank Mckinnell
The former CEO of Pfizer, Hank Mckinnell lives full time on Figure Eight Island. Mckinnell’s home on Figure Eight is considered to be one of the largest homes on the island.
33. Harvey Pitt
Former Securities and Exchange Chairman Harvey Pitt is a local to the Wilmington area and currently lives on Figure Eight Island. Just like Mckinnell above, Pitt has one of the largest homes on Figure Eight.
34. Woodrow Wilson
The 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson lived in Wilmington at the Presbyterian Manse.