One September day, a young woman with red lips and a young man with high cheekbones turned Huntington’s Oheka Castle into the backdrop for the combustion of their fictional relationship – the creation of seven-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift.
The castle hosted Swift for one day as she and her crew – along with costar Sean O’Pry – shot parts of the music video for her song “Blank Space,” off of album 1989.
“It was certainly a surprise to have had Oheka showcased so well,” said Oheka Castle Marketing and Design Director Nancy Melius. “We have a lot of photo shoots that come here, film and photo shoots, and many times… the shots are very close-up to the architecture, so you don’t really see the whole grand scheme of the gardens.”
The grand staircase becomes one of Swift’s props, as she leans over its railing and descends in a floor-length dress of black lace. The library’s chestnut-colored walls surround Swift and O’Pry as they ride bicycles past cushioned chairs and couches of mauve and burnt sienna. The castle’s gardens, dotted with gumdrop-shaped bushes and skinny-trunked trees, are the view from Swift’s window.
Swift and O’Pry ride white horses down the distinctive tree-lined West Gate Drive and men in suits drive vintage cars across the cobblestone entrance.
“Blank Space” presents a satirical take on Swift’s own dating history, a nod to abundant media commentary on her reported relationships. In the song and video, Swift portrays herself as insane and obsessive, taking golf club to car, ax to tree, and fire to suit jacket. The couple’s picturesque relationship ends in violence and resentment.
Often, Melius said, Oheka appears in final products as an indistinct backdrop, nearly unrecognizable in tight shots. Swift’s video is the exception, with abundant wide shots that she said capture “some of the beautiful glory of the estate and the essence of it in a fun and artful way.”
The castle has hosted film and television crews before, making appearances in such works as 1941 film “Citizen Kane” and television show “Royal Pains.”
And if you want to check it our yourself, here is the full music video - try to see how much of Oheka Castle you recognize in it!