Celebrity spotting in Vancouver is just as good - if not better - than Hollywood.
There’s something very satisfying about Vancouver – with its clean air, harbour views and mix of old and new architecture it’s very reminiscent of Sydney.
But would you believe that – as far as the world knows – it’s actually also New York, Gotham City, India and hundreds of other places too?
You see Vancouver has a booming film and TV industry thanks to the tax breaks it gives filmmakers and on any given day you may find yourself on set of one of your favourite shows, or a movie. The city is constantly playing a huge role as other places, and it does it very well indeed.
To start my exploration of the celebrity city I first dive in to a walking tour with Fans of Vancouver. As we walk from my hotel around the streets, my guide points out places where TV shows like Supergirl and Supernatural are filmed, as well as movies like 50 Shades, The Interview and Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol - where Vancouver itself played India, Seattle and Eastern Europe – so versatile!
For instance, check out the scenes where Tom Cruise is running through the market in India and you realise, yep it’s actually Vancouver and – oh yes – there’s the Convention Centre.
With Ryan Reynolds true local royalty, Vancouver was also where he filmed Deadpool and Deadpool 2 – and my tour takes in spots where the mutant truck appears in the movie, as well as locations where Ryan himself filmed many scenes. For example, much of the movie’s action centres around Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa and you can see the exterior of her apartment at 529 Gore Avenue, in Chinatown.
Gastown, the oh-so-goodlooking and oldest area of the city, is often used in movies because of its cobbled streets – and Deadpool is no exception. Pay a visit to one of the city’s most famous backstreets, “Arch Alley” (between Abbot and West Hastings streets), off Victory Square – this was the site of Vanessa’s kidnapping by Francis’s henchmen.
A fan of Smallville? You can check out the Daily Planet HQ – or where it was filmed at least. Onscreen, the Marine Building’s timeless glamour has been the setting for both the paper’s HQ and New York’s Baxter Building in the Fantastic Four movies. Check in out at the corner of Burrard and Hastings streets.
If 50 Shades got you hot under the collar, head to the oh-so-glam Fairmont Vancouver – this prestige palace doubled up as the Heathman Hotel in the movies and the property’s British Columbia Ballroom also hosted Christian’s photo shoot for Ana’s college magazine. They actually have a “Mr. Grey Package”, which means you can stay in the wood-panelled Lieutenant Governor’s Suite featured in the movie. Saucy!
For more 50 Shades magic, head to Stanley Park, the city’s gorgeous green belt, which is home to Beaver Lake, the Seawall and the rowing club, all featured in the franchise. And one more famous Vancouver icon, the Gastown steamclock – which, trivia buffs, was set to 7.30 while they filmed nearby – features when the pair are dining at the Water St. Cafe.
Which reminds us, if you want to tour and eat at the same time, then Vancouver also delivers. If you’re a fan of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, then you will want to head to The quirky Corner Café in North Vancouver to pose for selfies and order milkshakes. Fans of Riverdale will want to head a little further afield to Mission – an hour east of the city -- where you can grab a bite at Rocko’s Family Diner (aka Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe).
Or you can simply wander the city spotting locations as you go – try Robson Square where local Seth Rogan filmed scenes for The Interview, the art gallery which has been in many films including X Men The Last Stand, or the streets of West Vancouver, where the Cullen house was situated in Twilight.
Want to find out where your fave show is filming? Check out hollywoodnorth.buzz for a list of what is happening and when. Vancouver is ready for its close up!
Where to stay: The Fairmont Waterfront hotel is the perfect location for some star spotting in Vancouver. Close to the convention centre (hello Tom!) as well as Stanley Park, The Marine Building and Gastown, it’s great if you’re looking to stumble across a film set.
They also organise Talking Trees tours through Stanley Park, where you can immerse yourself in the First Nations relationship to the city and the land and spot other film locations along the way.
For details visit, fairmont.com.