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Productions You Might Not Know Were Shot in Canada

Being separated by only a land border, Canada and the U.S. overlap in certain cultural ways, but even more so infrastructurally, which has made Canada a frequent location of choice for American productions in both film and television. Many would be surprised at some of the productions that are based in the U.S. but actually shot in Canada, so here is a list of some of the most unexpected ones.

 

Suits (2011 – 2019)

Suits is one of the foremost examples of Toronto standing in for New York, given its enduring popularity and convincing framing of The Six as The Big Apple…if you don’t know what to look for, that is. Toronto has its own Wall Street equivalent, Bay Street, and for eagled eye Torontonians there are plenty of landmarks by which to recognise the show’s shooting locations. Suits also introduced the world to Toronto native Patrick J. Adams, whose turn as Mike Ross in the majority of the show’s nine-season run made him a fan-favourite for many. And yes, this is also that show with Meghan Markle in it.

 

Deadpool (2016)

When you consider all the factors at play, it should come as no surprise that Deadpool was shot in Vancouver. This is, after all, a labour of love by Ryan Reynolds that took years for him to get made, and so it makes sense that there would be talk of shooting the film in his hometown, especially considering the general rule of thumb that where Toronto stands in for New York in many productions, Vancouver is used as a double for California, which is clearly what the production was going for here. There is a reason why Vancouver is known by this very publication’s namesake, Hollywood North, after all. This is all without mentioning the fact that Canada offers enticing tax incentives to companies looking to produce movies here, and when it comes to making an R-rated superhero flick that the studio was hesitant to produce for years, it only makes sense they would try to cut costs where possible. Seems to have worked our quite nicely for all parties involved!

 

Mean Girls (2004)

Mean Girls – one of the absolute quintessential teen movies of the century whether you will openly admit it or not – centres on navigating the dog-eat-dog world of a U.S. high school, but in a stroke of irony the film was largely shot in Toronto. Written by the incomparable Tina Fey, Mean Girls dials the high school cattiness to an eleven, while Fey uses her unique sense of humour to transcend a genre that had become precariously stale at the time. It also features a very young Rachel McAdams in the first of her two breakout roles of 2004, with the other being The Notebook alongside fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale (2017 – Present)

In yet another case of irony, here is a show that envisions a frightening alternate reality of the U.S. that sees people fleeing north to Canada where they can, but it is actually filmed entirely in Ontario. I even frequently pass a bridge used in a number of scenes in the show throughout my average work week. The show makes excellent use of the Toronto’s baron leaflessness during winter to capture the cold, harsh reality of women living in this totalitarian reimagining of American society, yet despite this, it also captures the beauty of Ontario with scenes shot in the countryside of areas such as Hamilton and Oshawa.

 

Juno (2007)

For a movie that conveys a strong sense of Americana, namely through its pitch-perfect soundtrack and superb screenplay by Diablo Cody, Juno is actually a very Canadian production. Not only is the movie directed by Jason Reitman, the Quebec-born son of Canadian film legend Ivan Reitman, but its lead stars Elliot Paige and Michael Cera also hail from the Great North. The film is set in Minnesota, yet it was actually shot in Vancouver, while even featuring other notable Canadian actors, such as Ginger Snaps star Emily Perkins in a brief appearance. Juno is so entrenched in Canadian influence that Peter Howell of the Toronto Star noted in an interview with Michael Cera “I thought Juno [sic] was a very Canadian movie, even though it was set in the U.S.”

 

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Yes, the most famous movie ever made about gay cowboys (apologies to Jane Campion and The Power of the Dog) was shot in Canada. This tale, directed by Ang Lee and starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, is a tragedy of love and loss, but one nonetheless beautifully told, and thus it needed the sweeping  imagery to match it as the rolling planes and majestic mountain ranges of Alberta fill in for its intended setting of Wyoming. There is a poetry to how Brokeback Mountain is shot, and the breath-taking scenery played an integral part in capturing that.

 

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