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Movies Filmed in South Carolina – The Abyss

 SC Movies Guide > Movies Filmed in SC > The Abyss

Spill Your Scoop!
If you have a story about the filming of The Abyss in South Carolina, let us know.


  • Director – James Cameron

  • Cast – Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn

  • Genre – Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi

  • Plot – A diving team searches for a lost nuclear submarine and encounters an alien aquatic species.

SC Locations

  • All of the underwater scenes in the movie were shot in containment tanks at the abandoned Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant in Gaffney.

Fun Facts

  • The Abyss used the largest underwater set to date, at more than 7.5 million gallons. It won an Oscar for best visual effects in 1990.

  • The containment tanks at the Cherokee Nuclear Power Plant were built in the mid-1970s by Duke Power, but never served their intended use. In January 1986, Earl Owensby, a film producer from North Carolina, bought the abandoned facility and converted the site into a movie studio.

  • After the production went above budget, the set was never dismantled and still rests in the abandoned and empty Cherokee plant. In fact, 20th Century Fox posted signs warning people not to take pictures because it still owns the copyright on the set. Visiting the set is illegal and considered trespassing. One person got fined $100 trying to enter the abandoned nuclear plant.

  • The cast was flown to the Cayman Islands to become certified divers before shooting the film.

  • During the production, the actors endured a grueling schedule, with Ed Harris almost drowning while filming a scene. Both Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio refused to do publicity for The Abyss and have openly mentioned that they will not work with Cameron in any future productions. (Wikipedia)

  • The movie was shot from August 18, 1988 - March 20, 1989.

  • Duke Power announced in March 2006 that it had plans to develop a new nuclear facility next to the abandoned plant that was used in the movie.

  • Rodger Painter of Gaffney shares his experience on the set with us: "The abandoned Cherokee Nuclear Station is not far from my house. I actually worked on The Abyss as a First Assistant Cameraman on Camera "B" for several weeks. I also worked with Camera "C", which was a Steadicam. I worked on most of the scenes which were shot on the main "dry" set known as Deep Core.

    "I was there when the ILM crew came in to shoot the watersnake sequence. A corrugated tube on the end of a short pole was used as a snake stand-in for the actors to react to, and the watersnake was [digitally] inserted in the film later.

    "I found Ed Harris to be the friendliest of all the actors. On my first day on the set, he walked up to me and introduced himself. He always had something pleasant to say to me each day."

More Abyss Resources

Photos of The Abyss Set

Purchase The Abyss

More Feature Films Shot in South Carolina


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