Winnipeg is Canada’s best-kept tourism secret. From museums and markets, Manitoba’s capital has something for everyone to enjoy, even budget-conscious travelers. But did you know Winnipeg is also home to many scenes in blockbuster movies — all places you can visit without spending a dime? Below are some of the most notable Hollywood movies that use Winnipeg as a backdrop.
Exchange District — ‘The Assassination of Jesse James’
Brad Pitt goes guns blazing as infamous outlaw Jesse James in Andrew Dominik’s 2007 Western-era masterpiece, “The Assassination of Jesse James.” Many scenes from this film utilize Winnipeg’s 20th-century historic warehouses and financial buildings. As you’re exploring, you may notice this movie isn’t the only one to borrow shots from the Exchange District. In “The Lookout,” the film’s protagonist, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, lives in an apartment that’s located in the district as well. With over 20 city blocks, the district is pretty huge, but it’s well worth exploring. So set up shop at an affordable hotel in Winnipeg’s Exchange District to centralize your excursions around the city.
Manitoba Legislative Building — ‘Capote’
As you might guess, the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg is the hub of Manitoba politics. But even if politics isn’t your thing, the neoclassical architecture is reason enough to stop by. Even better, the building was featured in one of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s flagship roles as Truman Capote. Aptly named “Capote,” the 2005 biopic focuses on Capote’s life as a writer. The film specifically hones in on Capote’s investigative work about a multiple murder in Kansas, which would later be published in his famous true-crime novel “In Cold Blood.”
The University of Manitoba — ‘Shall We Dance?’
In the 2004 rom-com “Shall We Dance?”, a burned-out lawyer (Richard Gere) spots an intriguing dance instructor (Jennifer Lopez) and decides to take ballroom-dancing lessons to shake things up and win her over. To catch a glimpse of where some of the dances were filmed, make sure you step out of your comfort zone and step on over to The University of Manitoba in downtown Winnipeg. You can spot the exact location at the university’s Taché Hall. And while you’re there, it’s worth it to tour the campus of Western Canada’s first university.
Manitoba Hydro Place — ‘The Italian Job’
“The Italian Job” is every action-movie lover’s dream — heists, double-crossings, beautiful landscapes, and a lineup few action movies can match. Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, and others unite to cement F. Gary Gray’s legacy as one of the most thrilling action-movie directors. Though the plot is set mainly in Los Angeles and Venice, much of the movie is shot and edited with Winnipeg special effects. The movie also features one of downtown Winnipeg’s most notable buildings, Manitoba Hydro Place. Contrasted by the surrounding 20th-century architecture, the building towers into focus. Also, it’s one of the most energy-efficient office towers in the world.
Is Winnipeg the new Hollywood? Probably not, but it is an up-and-coming city that rewards exploration and won’t drain your bank account. You’ll also get the added benefit of being able to flex your movie knowledge during your next visit.
This article is published in collaboration with Hotel Planner. All words supplied; photos via Flickr and Pixabay.