Nancy Drew: 2019 – The Making of the Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase Movie

Nancy Drew 2019:

The Making of the Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase Movie

I was psyched when I learned they were filming the new Nancy Drew movie… right under my nose, or rather my mother’s nose in Monroe, Georgia last year (June 2018)!


Darn… I missed the casting call as I left Monroe for home, just before this announcement came out… and I also just missed the age date, but I think I might still pass for age 60… at least my husband thinks so! He knows where his bread is buttered at!

I arrived back in Georgia on May 29th… ready to hunt down the action! Before leaving the first time, I had secretly already found where the “Drew” home was in Social Circle…. only a hop, skip and a jump from Monroe; an awesome small town with one red light… and home of the famous Blue Willow restaurant… well known in Georgia!

I seemed to have an “in” on the filming…

Behind the scenes gossip: In stopping at city hall on business, I learned about the downtown filming of the skateboard scenes, and as my mother lived on the “detour” town route, once I saw lots of traffic and transfer trucks on her street… I knew they were filming downtown. I quickly found… just chat with people and they love to give up the local gossip!

pics of the filming: I managed to show up on several of their filming days… trying to be inconspicuous, but once I was noticed, they’d always ask me to not take photos. Really! I still managed a few photos here and there… when they turned their heads!

Social Circle Drew home: After learning the whereabouts of the “Drew” home, at least I’m thinking it’s the Drew home, but later felt it might be the home where the mystery would take place… I’ll have to wait for the 2019 movie to actually confirm if it’s where they filmed the scenes of The Hidden Staircase.

Sophia Lillis plays the lead in Nancy Drew in the Hidden Staircase, with Ellen DeGeneres as producer, and Wendy Williams as executive producer; I spotted neither of them, unless they were dressed incognito.

Nancy Drew and the The Hidden Staircase was the second book in the Nancy Drew saga, published in 1930 and later adapted into a movie in 1939, the fourth (1939) in a series of Nancy Drew movies. Bonita Granville played the feisty teenage girl sleuth Nancy Drew who helped the elderly Turnbull sisters solve their mystery of who was haunting their mansion. When I first learned of these early movies, I quickly searched them out. While they weren’t exactly like the Nancy Drew that’s in my head… as she was quite daffy at times… but I enjoyed them. Poor Ned, with a name change of Ted, didn’t quite fare so well in them, and such a disservice was done to Hannah’s character… acting like a lame brain in several of the movies.

The new movie: The 2019 Nancy Drew movie has certainly changed our look of Nancy from a titan/blonde feisty confident sixteen to later eighteen year old girl into a short ginger-haired pixie high schooler who enjoys a little sleuthing… but honestly she looks more like my childhood character of Trixie from the Trixie Belden books; it seems the directors must have never read the Trixie books! Their Nancy Drew isn’t written as my remembered confident Nancy, but instead more of an outsider in her new town and trying to fit in.

Even though this new Nancy isn’t how I remember… I’m willing to give her a chance in the movie… one reason being of where it was filmed and in bringing Nancy Drew back for the now generation will help to keep her alive; will that finally bring us a Nancy Drew Barbie, Nancy Drew Monopoly, Nancy Drew Clue… Oh I’m so hoping!!!

cotton cafe

The Cotton Cafe (Walton Tribune Photo)

We arrived back in Georgia on May 29th… and after discovering that they were filming downtown Monroe the next morning… postponed from the previous week of rainy days… we headed there early the next day. In driving by the downtown area, we saw they were set up toward the end of the street, just across from The Cotton Cafe… a great place for breakfast and as the outside tables were empty… what better place to enjoy breakfast and filming!

Tell me that’s not a yummy looking Southern breakfast…. love my biscuit & grits!

While enjoying a very leisurely breakfast, and I definitely lingered… we were entertained with the many takes and retakes of Nancy Drew’s stunt-double riding her skateboard up and down Main Street. What was more entertaining than watching her, was the drone which hovered above in filming. It wasn’t a small everyday drone, but instead probably in excess of over four feet in diameter or more with blades spinning. It took quite a large crew to manage its takeoff, landing and filming… and each time it went up a new battery pack went in… they weren’t taking any chances of a battery dying. But it was the sound that captivated our attention… having a sound of a huge beehive descending down upon us! Hubby immediately said, “that’s what I heard outside last night around 10 o’clock, they must have been filming near us.” That drone was faster than a speeding bullet in its quick takeoff and swooshing down the street as they filming Nancy Drew on her skateboard. My first thought was… Nancy Drew rides a skateboard! But as this is the new Nancy Drew in the 21st century, we have to appeal to new Nancy Drew readers… our Nancy persona will just have to remain in our minds. I guess I can safely say that this Nancy Drew doesn’t drive a car… the skateboard will be her mode of travel; not sure if she’ll be chasing villains on it!

Stunt double Nancy Drew riding on Main Street with drone hovering overhead. Sophia (Nancy Drew) was always on set studying.

The drone was very interesting to see… definitely see why they’re used!

monroe bookstore

“The Story Shop” bookstore in Monroe featured Nancy Drew!

I was happy to find that the local bookstore was featuring Nancy Drew books… but disappointed to find no shirts advertising the movie… someone missed the boat!

When they weren’t filming in Monroe, we assumed they were over in Social Circle… but it seemed that they were taking time off to decorate the outside of the “Drew” home. In riding by I caught the “behind the scenes” of them spray painting the grassy area by the driveway “pink” and also the bushes next to the front steps. Who knew you could color your grass and not kill it… maybe I’ll spray mine! They worked on that house and grounds for over a week in perfecting it.


Look how pretty in “pink” it turned out!

We decided to go downtown for dinner one night to see if they were filming after noticing extra  traffic and trucks on my mother’s road; whenever they filmed downtown, her road became the bypass around town… it was always a clue for us. We quickly found them filming on the courthouse square… which actually looked like a real craft festival. It was there that I first saw the real Nancy Drew close up… she was slumped down in a chair studying her school books; as this Nancy is only 16 years old, they keep her in school for much of the day. Loved the director chairs on set… and I so wanted one! I always manage to snap a few photos before being asked again to not take photos.


Sophia Lillis studying on set of Nancy Drew movie


I so wanted a Nancy Drew chair!

After they wrapped filming, we were able to walk on the courthouse grounds for a closer look at the River Heights signs and banner posted on the courthouse. Hubby kept a close reign on me as I really wanted a few souvenirs … but I didn’t feel like explaining that to the judge… as to why I took it!



Filming the River Heights festival on the Monroe courthouse square!

The Monroe courthouse transformed into River Heights!

As we headed out for a ride in the country the next day, we rode by the house in Social Circle to discover that they were almost finished with their yard decorating… the yard seemed to have erupted in pink flamingos… literally everywhere! Now, I’m really curious as to how all the flamingos fit into the scene! They were here, there and everywhere, even on top of the corner cupola roof on the front porch. I would have enjoyed sitting across the street to watch the decorating but didn’t want to look like a stalker. Hubby just shook his head every time I wanted to ride by… his answer always was, “you’ve seen it once, what’s the big deal“… but he appeased me… even slowing up so I could take photos.


The Nancy Drew home… finally ready for filming!

The yard was all finished by the next day… almost over-decorated with flowers, and flamingo’s… which were everywhere. On the front porch was an antique wagon and sleigh, which I believe actually belonged to the owners. Hubby drove by slowly…. again… so I could photograph the front yard in all its “pink” glory, but there was now a blue car in the driveway that somewhat hindered my photographs. Later I concluded, that whoever sat in that car was security… making sure no one came on the property as they were filming the next day. That meant one last ride by before we came home.


The grass sprayed pink! (Security car keeping it all secure)

Flamingo’s here, there, and everywhere!

My last trip to Social Circle found them finally shooting at the house, but I could no longer see the front porch now as it was all draped in black cloth. Good thing I had gone the previous day or I would not have gotten photos of the house all colored in pink.

In as much as this Nancy Drew is set in today’s times, and not following the book stories that I love and remember, I’m definitely going to see the movie. It will be interesting to see how they tied it all together, especially since I’ll recognize the areas they shot in… often standing across the street while they were filming.

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase “premieres” March 15th, 2019


I’ll be there… stay tuned for my post on the movie!

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Like to read more Nancy Drew stories… click HERE!

© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


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1 Response to Nancy Drew: 2019 – The Making of the Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase Movie

  1. Anne Young says:

    just read your movie review 🙂


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