Where the Ricky Gervais Netflix Movie Special Correspondents Was Filmed in Toronto
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Where the Ricky Gervais Netflix Movie Special Correspondents Was Filmed in Toronto

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

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If you’re type who follows the social media or loves dry, uncomfortable British comedy, it was kind of hard to miss when Ricky Gervais was in town last year. Indeed, he filled his Twitter and Instagram with the kinds of loving portrayals of the city that we so crave.

The result of all that effort is Special Correspondents, the Gervais-directed and -written film that hit Netflix last month. It stars he and Eric Bana as a couple of New York (of course) journalists who (long story short) pretend they’re actually in Ecuador covering a war. Somewhat interestingly, Australian Bana and Scottish Kelly MacDonald resort to (passable, barely) American accents while Gervais gets to talk like, you know, Ricky Gervais.

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One thing a lot of the stinkier productions fail to do when faking a city like New York is actually film anything at all there, but you can’t level that accusation at Special Correspondents.

The opening finds Bana leaving an Irish bar…

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…and strolling through Manhattan…

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…until, rather seamlessly…

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…he arrives at the Royal York Hotel, which you will note has been regicidally stripped of its Royalness…

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…and you can even see Union Station back there.

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Bana then goes inside to the lobby.

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Afterwards he and his crew hang out beside the hotel…

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…on York Street.

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This ballroom, where Gervais and Vera Farmiga are hanging out…

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…is also in the Royal York. It’s their upstairs Upper Canada Room.

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Their house is over in Cabbagetown…

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…on Winchester Street.

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The main location is the radio station where the guys work.

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It’s supposed to be out in Queens or something, but it’s actually the Argyle Lofts, at Dovercourt and Argyle. In its former life it was the headquarters of the Ideal Bread Company, dontcha know.

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They also hang out in the “Famila Cafe” across the street…

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…and even the alleyway behind it…

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…but it’s actually the Luna Cafe, right across the street.

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And it’s always fun when our actual news anchors pop up in locally shot movies. Here’s Anne Mroczkowski showing up in a montage.

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Usually when they shoot an airport they use the Direct Energy Centre or some other grand locale but we’re actually not sure where they shot this…

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…though we know it looks nothing whatsoever like either JFK or Laguardia. Nor Newark, come to think of it.

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When they’re driving to the airport you can see a bit of the city out the window…

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…including our landmark Hooters.

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There’s another airport at the end of the movie. We only see the tarmac but…

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…it looks like it’s probably Munro Airport, in Hamilton.

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Eventually they do get to Ecuador but, sadly…

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…it’s really just the Scarborough Bluffs with a “tropical sun” orange filter slapped on the camera.

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The jungle/forest scenes were filmed up in the wilds of Brampton, in the Claireville Conservation Area, right by Wild Water Kingdom. Indeed, this is the Wiley Bridge, a lovely “rainbow arch” span that, as we all know, was built in 1924.

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Despite some very tight framing, we can see the Quito Embassy here…

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…is actually the Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Centre, on St. Joseph. You can even see U of T’s Kelly Library in the back there.

Thanks to a reader who somehow recognized the Ecuadorian bridge from the Claireville Conservation Area. The article has been updated accordingly.

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