Helen Mirren stars as Sarah Winchester in Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built, which arrives in theaters Feb. 2.
One of San Jose’s biggest tourist attractions will soon hit the silver screen. Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built is based on the story of Sarah Winchester and her enigmatic residence. Helen Mirren plays the heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms fortune, who, legend has it, believed her home was haunted by those killed by the company’s rifles. From 1884, when she bought the property, until her death in 1922, she built additions nonstop. Her motivation—to protect herself or appease the spirits—is unclear. Ultimately, a small farmhouse was turned into a mansion with 160 rooms and myriad curiosities, including doors that open onto walls and a staircase that dead-ends at a ceiling. While the movie was primarily shot in Australia, the cast and crew spent several days last year filming at the historic landmark. “It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen or visited before,” says Peter Spierig, who directed Winchester with his twin brother, Michael. “There was literally no master plan, and that is very obvious when you first arrive. … No matter how familiar you think you are with the house, it’s so easy to get lost! Every crew member involved in the shoot required a guide to find their way around. It’s really extraordinary and worth checking out.” Mirren told reporters assembled on set that she herself does not believe in ghosts. In the movie, though, you can watch the Oscar winner take on the supernatural. And for those wanting more, along with its regular tours, the Winchester Mystery House will be hosting special events around the Feb. 2 release.
Originally published in the January issue of Silicon Valley