10 Famous Movies You Didn’t Know Were Filmed in Canada
As a favourite filming location for Tinseltown's big-budget productions, Canada has always been ready for its close-up—even when it's doubling for somewhere else!
Famous Movies Filmed in Canada
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
One of the most iconic movies filmed in Canada was this groundbreaking 2005 drama starring Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. Shot in Alberta—standing in for Wyoming—director Ang Lee made great use of the breathtaking scenery in the Canadian Rockies, with sequences filmed in Cowley, Elbow Falls, For Macleod and Calgary. The cowboy romance was celebrated at the 78th Academy Awards, winning three Oscars: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score.
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This critically acclaimed Truman Capote biopic was shot primarily in Winnipeg, with additional scenes captured in Selkirk, Manitoba. While the story of the In Cold Blood author is set in Kansas, the film’s producers selected Manitoba as the American city’s stand-in. Stony Mountain Institution, the Manitoba Legislative Building and Gilbart’s Funeral Home star prominently in this Oscar-winning flick (Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Academy Award for Best Actor).
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Real-life catastrophe and movie magic are intertwined on Canada’s east coast in one of the most famous movies filmed in Canada. In 1912, when the Titanic was ripped apart by an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, Halifax was the closest major seaport to the disaster. Despite feverish rescue attempts, few survivors were pulled from the frigid waters and over 100 victims were laid to rest in Halifax cemeteries. When James Cameron began production on his 1997 epic, he brought his cast and crew to Halifax. The city would once again play a role in the story as Cameron shot the film’s harrowing ocean scenes aboard the icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent.
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Mean Girls (2004)
Toronto often serves as a stand-in for American cities, and in Tina Fey’s 2004 high school comedy Mean Girls, the Big Smoke became Chicago. Sherway Gardens, the University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall, Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, and Malvern Collegiate Institute all played host to rising stars Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried.
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Calling all Twihards! Come to British Columbia and follow in the footsteps of Bella, Edward and Jacob. Three of the four movies in the Twilight saga—New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn—were shot in various locales around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, including David Fraser Secondary School (appearing as Forks High School), Minnekhada Regional Park and the Ridge Theatre. Of all the movies filmed in Canada, Twilight is one of the most recognizably Canadian with its depiction of thick forests and sprawling landscapes.
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My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
Canadian actress Nia Vardalos didn’t have to look far for the perfect filming locations for her 2002 box office smash hit. Although Vardalos’ movie is set in Chicago, eagle-eyed film buffs will easily recognize Toronto’s charms peeking through the silver screen. The city’s Greektown along Danforth Avenue appears prominently throughout the movie, and if you watch carefully, you’ll also spot downtown’s Toronto Metropolitan University and Jarvis Collegiate Institute.
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Good Will Hunting (1997)
Despite being one of the most famous Boston-set films in the last 30 years, Good Will Hunting was actually mostly shot in Toronto. The University of Toronto’s campus features prominently as both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while a few classroom scenes were filmed at Central Technical School.
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Although set in Minnesota, this Oscar-winning comedy-drama was actually shot in and around Vancouver. Along with the Canadian filming locations, Juno also boasts impressive Canadian talent on both sides of the camera: Elliot Page was born and raised in Halifax, Michael Cera is a native of Brampton, Ontario, and director Jason Reitman hails from Montreal.
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Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Long ago, Hollywood discovered that certain Canadian locations exude European charm—a fact that could save them from having to cart entire productions across the Atlantic. Case in point: Catch Me If You Can. This biographical crime film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks used Montreal as a stand-in for various areas in France. The Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in Quebec City, meanwhile, was used as the setting for a pivotal scene.
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American Psycho (2000)
This controversial cult classic does an incredible job of using Toronto as a stand-in for New York City. Toronto-Dominion Centre serves as the office building of main character Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). American Psycho‘s dance club scenes were shot in the Phoenix Concert Theatre, while Toronto pillars The Senator and the Omni King Edward Hotel’s Consort Bar are restaurants the film’s characters frequent.
For more great movies filmed in Canada, check out esteemed film critic Linda Barnard’s guide to the best Canadian movies of all time.