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Virginia’s Old Soul: Richard Kelly’s Historic State
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Virginia often plays a key character in Kelly’s films. His 2009 mystery, The Box, was based on his father’s work at Norfolk, Virginia’s NASA research facility.

His set team recreated the late 1970s NASA structure and the city of Richmond “down to the facade of every single building.”

Living history

The director also holds deep appreciation for Virginia’s history. “There is a lot that has transpired here,” Kelly says. “If you want to understand America and see where America started, in a sense, it is Virginia.” Significant events shaped Virginian history, from the formation of early U.S. government to momentous Civil War battles to the abolition of slavery. Kelly calls attention to other filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Terrence Malick for cinematically recreating such transformative events.

Virginia is home to countless historic sites like Jamestown (the first permanent English settlement), many Revolutionary War and Civil War battlegrounds, and the historic Virginia State Capitol building, which once served as the Capitol of the Confederacy. These places “feel as though they are preserved forever,” Kelly says. “I think it's important for people to walk in the shoes of those who helped build this country.”

What you’re seeing is 400 years of history that’s stayed with an incredibly old soul and preservation.

Kelly visits Virginia often. He loves the natural beauty and versatility of its landscape – from mountains and forests to beaches and coastlines. Kelly also enjoys visiting Richmond’s downtown bars and restaurants and the James River, and appreciates the city’s rich history and recent redevelopments.

For more information, visit Our Virginia Guide.

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