Otherwise known as “that Scarlett Johansson Glasgow film”, Under The Skin is a British indie Sci-Fi movie and potentially one of the most peculiar and unlikely films shot in Scotland. And not just because it’s about an alien who looks like Scarlett Johansson preying on unsuspecting Scotsmen. Yes, you read that correctly. And the Under The Skin locations don’t make this film’s existence any less weird.
Why? Because Under The Skin film locations include several random Glasgow streets, a club in Livingston and an old East Lothian Castle. This is a Scarlett Johansson movie. Filmed on a fairly modest budget in Scotland. How did director Jonathan Glazer pull this off?!
Well, Under The Skin (2013) was shot using guerilla-style filmmaking techniques. Johansson wore a dark, bobbed wig so she managed to walk around Glasgow and other Scotland filming locations largely undetected. Under The Skin isn’t really “my” kind of film but I absolutely love the locations. So much variety in one country! And if you do too, here is a list of all the Under The Skin locations around Scotland plus a map.
Where Was Under The Skin Filmed?
Under The Skin Filming Locations in Scotland
1. Buchanan Galleries, Glasgow
There’s a bit of, erm, sciencey space stuff at the start of the film (you can really tell I studied Film at university, right?) and some very brief, quiet scenes so we’ll kick off when things start getting loud.
Johansson AKA Alien Woman travels down the escalator next to the Ernest Jones jewellery store in Buchanan Galleries, a shopping centre/mall in the middle of Glasgow, to buy some new clothes. And yes, everyone she walks passed is just a regular shopper who had no idea they were going to be in a Scarlett Johansson film when they decided to pop to the shops that day. This is where the “guerilla-style” filmmaking comes in.
2. Many, many Streets in Glasgow City Centre
Next, the alien hops into her van and starts eyeing up potential victims on the drive. She starts on George Street near the NCP Car Park then turns left onto George Square and drives past Glasgow City Chambers. There’s a lot of jumping around but she also drives along Trongate. I bet Scarlett Johansson loved learning how to drive a huge van on the left-hand side of the road. I bet she’s always fancied herself as a White Van Man.
She also drives along Argyle Street, Sauchiehall Street and St Vincent Street in various scenes later in the film, but it’s hard to say exactly where on the streets. A lot of shops have shut down and changed hands since 2013. But one thing’s for certain, there’s a heck of a lot of Under The Skin Glasgow filming locations!
3. Celtic Park, Glasgow
Towards the end of her first drive around Glasgow, the alien witnesses a crowd of football fans leaving Celtic Park stadium. It looks like she’s driving down Springfield Road then turns left onto Dechmont Street. For an alien who preys on vulnerable men, you could say all her Christmasses have come at once finding a crowd of football fans!
4. Auchmithie Beach, Arbroath
Scarlett AKA Alien Woman has gotten tired of the city, so she drives out to watch the waves lap the stone-laden beach at Auchmithie Harbour. There, she chillingly ‘offs and drags away an open water swimmer who mere moments earlier attempted to save a young girl from drowning. This scene demonstrates the alien’s lack of empathy and, like me, zero upper body strength.
This very small beach/harbour is on the east coast of Scotland about 40 minutes north of Dundee.
5. Almondside, Livingston
Not content with her catch-of-the-day, she heads to a town to pick up another male lifeform to feast on. But instead, the alien is practically set upon by a gaggle of underdressed ladies heading to a club in what looks like a retail park in Almondvale, Livingston. Definitely one of the most glamorous Under The Skin locations, am I right? Livingston is a large town in West Lothian, about 30-minutes drive from Edinburgh. Let’s just say it’s not known for being a tourist hot spot.
By the way, I’m not dragging what these ladies are wearing. I just love when I see people in the UK go to a nightclub in the dead of winter wearing only a mini dress. And it’s, quite clearly, winter in Under The Skin. I think this is the only nation that is fervently against wearing coats on a night out under any circumstances.
5. Club Earth, Livingston
So the women force the alien into the club with them which is Club Earth Nightclub in Almondvale, Livingston. Apparently, it’s still open so I know where my next night out is going to be…
6, Dumbreck Marsh, Kilsyth
Thankfully not all of the alien’s prey is doomed as one man manages to escape. Naked, of course, but still escape. He tentatively walks through long grass on Dumbreck Marsh in Kilsyth just outside of Glasgow.
7. Loch Restil, Cairndow
Finally tired of Glasgow, the alien heads out into the Scottish countryside. There are some beautiful, scenic Under The Skin locations from this point in the film onwards.
One of the first is the mystically swirling fog on top of Loch Restil just next to the A83. There’s a gorgeous viewpoint near this loch called the “Rest and be Thankful” Viewpoint where you can see the long, windy road stretching out into the distance.
8. Toll Brae, Wanlockhead, Dumfries & Galloway
After abandoning her car in the fog at Loch Restil, the alien rocks up a cafe to eat human food for the first time ever, which she promptly regurgitates. If anyone knows where this cafe is, do let me know!
Next, she walks down a steep village hill to a bus stop. This is Under The Skin location is called the Post Office Bus Stop on Toll Brae in a village called Wanlockhead.
Never thought I’d see the day where Scarlett Johansson would be travelling on a rural Stagecoach bus, yet here we are. Also, a brief moment of appreciation for the variety and authenticity of Scottish accents and dialects in this film, especially the bus driver.
9. Muirdykes Avenue and Glenside Road, Port Glasgow
Though the average woman would not follow a random man she meets on the bus home, Scarlett Johansson’s alien does, of course. Though he seems relatively harmless. This man lives in one of the houses between Muirdykes Avenue and Glenside Road in Port Glasgow.
As this point in the blog post, it goes without saying that the Under The Skin locations are hopping around all over. But in the world of the film, she’s probably just supposed to stay in and around the outskirts of Glasgow.
10. Tantallon Castle, North Berwick
It’s a ruined castle on the Firth of Forth that also featured in the background of Outlaw King (2018) during the last shot on nearby Seacliff Beach.
Read next: Outlaw King Filming Locations in Scotland
11. Lochgoilhead, Cairndow
After the alien freaks out about something she notices, erm, down below, she runs into the woods. These woods are in Lochgoilhead near the tippy top of Loch Goil in the Loch Lomand and the Trossachs National Park. This is the last significant Under The Skin location.
I’ve not mentioned this character before, but the casting behind The Motorcyclist who is constantly following the alien is quite interesting. The production needed an actor who was so adept at motorbiking that he could ride safely, at high speed, through the windy Scottish roads in wintery, wet weather. Those actors are, unsurprisingly, few and far between! So they had to cast a professional rider in the role.
12. Rowchoish Bothy, Loch Lomond
Johansson’s alien stumbles upon a mountain bothy, specifically Rowchoish Bothy on the West Highland Way by the banks of Loch Lomand. Bothies are tiny huts or cabins meant to provide hill walkers or those stranded in remote places with shelter, which is why there are a few knocking about the Scottish Highlands. But there are also one or two in England and Wales.
Bothies generally have zero amenities: no bathrooms, kitchens, etc. Maybe some chairs and a table. Possibly a fireplace, if you’re lucky. If you want to know more about bothies and their locations around Scotland (and why the heck wouldn’t you?!), check out The Mountain Bothies Association.
Bonus Under The Skin Locations
13. Wishaw, North Lanarkshire & New Cumnock, Ayrshire
I’m throwing these locations at the end because I think Wishaw and New Cumnock featured in Under The Skin but I’m not sure when or where in the towns specifically. There are a lot of housing estates in this movie so it’s likely the towns were utilised for those scenes. But again, I’m not sure.
And those are all the top Under The Skin locations in Scotland! Have you watched Under The Skin? Or visited the filming locations? Let me know in the comments below!