Vegas Movies and The Riviera Hotel
When we describe The Riviera as a classic, iconic Vegas landmark, it’s not hot air. The Riviera was one of the oldest standing casino resorts along or near the Strip.
Here’s a handful of our favorite films shot at the Riviera.
Director Martin Scorsese wanted a Viva Las Vegas look for his gritty film, but he quickly discovered that Vegas style is constantly in flux, and many area casinos had updated to pared-down ultra-modern looks. Seeking that classic feel one that evokes an era of high rollers and peerless celebrity performers led his production team right to the Riviera.
In the words of FilmScouts.com: “The Riviera itself stars as the fictional Tangiers Hotel and Casino, center stage for much of the action in Casino. For more than six weeks, for four nights each week, part of the casino’s floor was commandeered and converted to a fully operational soundstage.”
Producer Barbara De Fina explains that, by filming at the Riviera, they could capture the experience of “hundreds of real people, non-extras, in the deep background who were actually gambling in the fifth largest casino in the world.”
That, in turn, provided just the quality Scorsese wanted in his film: the living, breathing vibrancy of an old-school casino.
The energy was alive, people really winning, yelling and screaming. We couldn’t tell them to be quiet in order to get some dialogue forget it so we have it all on the soundtrack. It’s like a breathing mass of people and machines and money.
Celebrities sighted: Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci
Award-winning sleeper hit The Hangover chose the Riviera thanks to the casino’s signature ambiance. With an atmosphere that’s both fun and grown-up, perhaps capturing the idea behind the slogan What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, The Riv was the perfect location for the riotous comedy.
In the video above, production designer Bill Brzeski praises the Riviera casino’s traditional interior, [which] felt like a real gaming place. You felt comfortable there, with a traditional casino, and a well-done one.
Celebrities sighted: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Modern decor trends in newer casinos may be beautiful, but why shy away from Vegas’ distinct, playful personality? At the Riv, they embraced it. Sometimes wandering the halls of the Riviera was like discovering a hidden architectural and historic gem. That can give the Riviera, compared to other casinos, a kind of whimsical feel.
That unique blend of class and whimsy was spot-on for another of our favorite movies featuring the Riv: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. That’s why most of the interior shots were filmed you guessed it st The Riv.
Celebrities sighted: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner, Seth Green
Other Celebrities at the Riviera Hotel and Casino
Over the years The Riv hosted legendary crooners like Vanessa Williams and Trace Adkins, as well as top athletes like race car driver Jeffrey Earnhardt.