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16 Movies You Probably Didn’t Know Were Shot at U of T

U of T often plays an Ivy League school in Hollywood. But its brutalist architecture makes it popular in horror and sci-fi films as well

February 20, 2015

As far as we can tell, only one Oscar-winning movie has ever been filmed at U of T. But if they gave out an Academy Award for most popular film location, U of T would definitely get a nod. Here are just a few of films starring one or more of the university’s three campuses:
 
 

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Good Will Hunting (1997)
U of T fills in for MIT and Harvard in this Oscar-winning drama about a math prodigy. Several campus locations were used, but the easiest to spot are actress Minnie Driver’s residence, shot at the Whitney Hall residences at University College, and the MIT lecture hall, shot at the McLennan Physical Laboratories.
 

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The Skulls (2000)
Showing that it doesn’t take sides in longstanding Ivy League rivalries, U of T plays a (very) thinly disguised version of Yale in this tale of a secret university society. The “Skulls” meet inside the Croft Chapter House, but Victoria University and Knox College also have starring roles.
 

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PCU (1994)
It’s certainly not the best movie ever filmed on the St. George Campus but PCU makes great use of the school — with clear shots of Victoria University, Philosophers Walk and front campus. Even the movie’s poster features the cast on the steps of University College.
 

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The Incredible Hulk (2008)
If there’s one location on the downtown campus that gets more screen time than the neo-Gothic facade of University College, it’s Knox College. In one scene, actor Edward Norton, disguised as a delivery man, infiltrates the fictional Culver University, where he runs into former Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno.
 

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Cocktail (1988)
Edward Norton is not the biggest star ever to wander the halls of Knox College. Tom Cruise has been there too — in one of the most successful movies to emerge from the early days of Hollywood North.
 

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Enemy (2014)
This is one of the few movies filmed in Toronto that’s actually set here, but it’s a dark, dehumanizing version of the city. With its brutalist concrete architecture, U of T Scarborough (in the movie called “The University of Greater Toronto”), fits in perfectly.
 

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Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Brutalist architecture on the St. George campus has gotten its 15 minutes, too! Here Robarts Library plays a zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic, mega-prison. At the brighter end of the campus’s architectural spectrum, there’s also a glimpse of those cool pods in the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.
 

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Urban Legend (1998)
This slasher flick in which people die in ways described by urban legends seems to cover the entire downtown campus, with scenes at Victoria, Knox and the Rotman School. The University College quad is ground zero, however, with shots inside and out and in front of the Sir Daniel Wilson residence. The characters also have a coffee at Diabolos’ Cafe.
 

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The Prince and Me (2004)
The cutesy-pie characters in this predictable romantic comedy study at the EJ Pratt Library, walk out of the Earth Sciences Building and even hang out at the cafe at Sid Smith.
 

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Total Recall (2012)
Just because this sci-fi remake takes place in the future doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for U of T’s historic architecture. Knox College appears in an extensive sequence with stars Bryan Cranston and Colin Farrell. You might also recognize UTSC’s Meeting Place as a futuristic train terminal.
 

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Robocop (2014)
Not to be outdone, the re-makers of Robocop chose the handsome Donnelly Centre to stand in for “Detroit” police headquarters. In this shot, Con Hall is pretty obvious.
 

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Pacific Rim (2013)
Most of this blockbuster features giant robots punching giant alien monsters so, not surprisingly, there’s wasn’t much on-location filming. There is, however, a crucial flashback set in Tokyo that was actually shot on Elizabeth Street, right outside the Chestnut Residence.
 

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Tommy Boy (1995)
In the opening shots, the late Chris Farley dashes across campus, past Hart House and Front Campus. Then the credits end, his character flunks out and the plot is set in motion. Inspired comedy ensues.
 

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Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Knox College appears (again!) in this cult classic, this time as Princeton University.
 

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Mean Girls (2004)
Lindsay Lohan stars in this Tina Fey-scripted comedic exploration of high school social strata. Convocation Hall is the setting for the climactic Mathletes competition.
 

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The Freshman (1990)
St. Mike’s gets its day in the spotlight in this crime comedy starring the late Marlon Brando. Alas, we don’t see Brando in this shot, but Matthew Broderick and Penelope Ann Miller seem to be having a nice conversation.
 

This list is not exhaustive, but it’s safe to say we get a lot more horror, comedy and sci-fi flicks than Oscar contenders. And only once did we play ourselves — in Cannibal Girls, starring Eugene Levy and Andrea Martin. In one shot you can see that their car bears a U of T sticker.

Can you think of any we missed?

Read more about films shot at UTSC here.

David Fleischer (BA 1997 UC) writes the “Reel Toronto” column for Torontoist and is a contributor to the book World Film Locations: Toronto.


Reader Comments

# 1
Posted by Giselle BA%202003 on February 20th, 2015 @ 2:41 pm

How about that upcoming movie Love, Rosie? There’s a clear shot of King’s College Circle and UC that are supposed to be Harvard.

# 2
Posted by Scott Anderson on February 20th, 2015 @ 5:57 pm

It’s true! Thanks to Maya Deeb for posting this on the U of T Facebook page. See 1:37: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zL3YJKygd4

# 3
Posted by pierre atlas BA%20political%20science,Vic%208T4 on February 20th, 2015 @ 6:49 pm

The Paper Chase, 1970s. Old Vic was the Harvard Law library

# 4
Posted by Phil Falco Bsc%202009 on February 20th, 2015 @ 7:39 pm

You forgot about American Pie, Beta House

# 5
Posted by Anna SMC%201977%20BA%20HONS on February 20th, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

The 1974 film Black Christmas starring Olivia Hussey was filmed in University College

# 6
Posted by Elizabeth Kirsch BA%202017 on February 20th, 2015 @ 11:13 pm

Emma Watson’s upcoming movie Regression was partially shot at UTM

# 7
Posted by Oli Clayton Bédard on February 20th, 2015 @ 11:38 pm

This list is missing Black Christmas (1974), which contained numerous shots filmed outside Hart House.

# 8
Posted by James Madhier Undergrad on February 21st, 2015 @ 1:39 am

Nikita, one of my favorite series, was shot here at U of T too.

# 9
Posted by Erika on February 21st, 2015 @ 7:18 pm

Hannibal TV show uses Robarts!

# 10
Posted by Dorothy on February 22nd, 2015 @ 1:50 pm

The Fringe pilot has UC and King’s College Circle

# 11
Posted by howard on February 22nd, 2015 @ 7:40 pm

An oldie, The Dream Team (1989) with Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle. Shot in Galbraith and the back door to Sandford Fleming & Engineering Annex. Saw Michael and Peter between takes in behind EA.

Also, last year, I forget the name of the action movie, but a location is the back of McLennan Labs, Earth Sciences, Anthroplogy. It was a substitute for Washington DC location. Also did shots on University Ave.

# 12
Posted by Ron McMillan (former parent) on February 22nd, 2015 @ 8:16 pm

Fox series Class of ’96 was filmed around the downtown campus. The movie Searching for Bobby Fischer was filmed in and around Trinity’s Quad.

# 13
Posted by Paul Fraumeni on February 26th, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

Pierre Atlas is right, the classic The Paper Chase (1973) was filmed at U of T (with U of T masquerading as Harvard). And I believe the sequence where the students go to a hotel to study for exams was at the Windsor Arms Hotel on St. Thomas St.

# 14
Posted by Anne-Marie Finn MSc%20Anthropology,%201999 on March 2nd, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

SNL alumni movie Superstar, also shot extensively at Knox College, my residence! There were also lots of TV shows and commercials shot there from 1997 to 1999. We were constantly tripping over wires, props, background performers and being shushed by the directors shouting “Quiet, rolling!”

# 15
Posted by Tyreke Philbin on May 8th, 2015 @ 5:09 pm

American Pie Presents the Naked Mile, filmed at Vic

# 16
Posted by Cynthia MEd%202004 on May 16th, 2015 @ 9:48 pm

I think parts of the Anne of Green Gables sequel were filmed at Victoria College. I was probably 5 when they made the movie.

# 17
Posted by Matthew Charlesworth ThM%202016 on June 9th, 2015 @ 1:12 pm

Regis College, at 100 Wellesley St. W., has played location to the following:
* Clark Rockefeller – November 2009
* Beyond the Screen – Sherlock Holmes – December 2009
* The Kennedy Series – July 2010
* Skins – August 2010
* Warehouse 13 – September 2010
* Perception (TV Pilot) – December 2010
* Nurse – September 2011
* Covert Affairs – August 2012
* Lost Girl – August 2014
* Pay the Ghost – August 2014

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