Glasgow played host to many Hollywood stars and film productions in 2016, with Glenn Close, Christian Slater, Tim Roth, the cast of Outlander and many more filming throughout the city. So what is it about Glasgow that continues to attract a range of productions from Hollywood to Bollywood and everything in-between?
Glasgow is unique in its combination of historic and contemporary architecture, meaning it can provide the setting for films set throughout the ages and way into the future. Not only can the city masquerade as different eras but its unique grid system allows for it to easily double as the streets of famous US cities.
Set jetting is on the rise. And since the best way to get selfies at your fave film locations is by foot, we've created a city centre film trail, which takes in some of the most popular filming locations in the city, as well as a few unusual ones too (see our handy map at the bottom of the page).
Featured in: Death Watch, Restless Natives, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself
The Necropolis is a 37-acre Victorian cemetery with wonderful architecture, sculptures and breath-taking views overlooking the city. 1980’s film, Death Watch, starring Harvey Keitel, included many scenes shot here and at the neighbouring Royal Infirmary. The film’s director, Bertrand Tavernier, fought for the film to be shot in Glasgow, arguing that there was no need for create a futuristic set as the city’s Victorian buildings would still be standing in decades to come. Other notable films shot in the Necropolis include two Scottish productions: Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself – where the death obsessed titular character visits the graveyard, and Restless Natives – where two friends visit for frequent catch ups.
Featured in: Outlander
The medieval Cathedral, built between the 13th & 15th centuries, has played host to various productions over the years, including, most recently, the hugely popular US TV show, Outlander. The Cathedral was transformed into L'Hôpital des Anges for Season 2 of the show, with Executive Producer and Writer, Toni Graphia, naming it as his favourite filming location so far.
The arthouse alien film Under the Skin is set in Scotland with large sections shot in Glasgow. In an effective filming technique, Director Jonathan Glazer used hidden cameras to capture unsuspecting Glaswegians’ reactions to the main character’s (Scarlett Johansson) actions, including attempts to persuade people to get into a transit van (Celtic Football Park), walking through a busy shopping centre (Buchanan Galleries) and stumbling to the ground (Trongate).
Featured in: Sunshine on Leith, Perfect Sense, Doomsday
The opulence of the city’s trading heyday of the 18th Century is on full display in the streets of the Merchant City. It is therefore no wonder that such striking buildings have provided the backdrop for a multitude of filming eras and scenarios. From all singing and dancing Sunshine on Leith (Candleriggs) to the indie sci-fi romance of Ewan McGregor* film Perfect Sense (Wilson Street/Brunswick Street) to the CGI’ed crumbling decay of a future virus ridden society in Doomsday (Ingram Street and looking down towards Gallery of Modern Art).
*Did you know - Ewan McGregor prepared for his role as a chef in Perfect Sense by working at Guy’s Restaurant in Candleriggs.
In 2011, a number of Glasgow’s steep streets on the grid system were utilised by the Wachowski Brother’s whilst filming Cloud Atlas to replicate 1970s San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge superimposed in the background for authenticity. It’s at this location that Halle Berry’s character attempts to evade capture from an enemy targeting her in this thrilling time traveling tale. Other locations utilised include, Douglas Street (between St Vincent Street and Bothwell Street), Anchor Lane and the University of Glasgow.
2011 was a blockbuster year for Glasgow on film and none was bigger than World War Z. The Brad Pitt zombie apocalypse movie quite literally landed in the centre of Glasgow, as the city doubled for Philadelphia. Street signs were changed, yellow cabs imported and hundreds of locals employed to play zombie extras for one of the film’s most exciting set pieces – the outbreak of the virus.
George Square & City Chambers
Featured in: World War Z, An English Man Abroad, Death Watch, Heavenly Pursuits, The House of Mirth, Yeh Hai Jalwa, Outlander, Young Adam, The Secret Agent, Rillington Place
The Victorian architecture and magnificent beauty of George Square’s buildings – most notably the City Chambers – has resulted in this becoming the city’s most filmed location. George Square has not only doubled as Philadelphia, but also as London’s Trafalgar Square for a spectacular Bollywood song and dance routine in Yeh Hai Jalwa. Meanwhile the City Chambers has doubled as not one but two world renowned buildings – the Kremlin for the tense BBC spy drama An Englishman Abroad and the Vatican in Scottish comedy Heavenly Pursuits, starring Helen Mirren and Tom Conti. More recently was the filming of BBC productions, The Secret Agent and Rillington Place, which both aired in 2016.
House of Frasers
Featured in: Comfort and Joy
Established in 1849, the UK’s original House of Frasers is a premium department store set over five floors. This is where the lead character Dickie (Bill Paterson) does his Christmas shopping in Bill Forsyth’s comedy, Comfort and Joy. The Glaswegian director, known for capturing the city’s unique sense of humour also shot his debut film, That Sinking Feeling, in Glasgow (Dennistoun and Kelvingrove Park). Made for less than £5,000 and starring members of the Glasgow Youth Theatre, it put Forsyth’s name on the map, with him going on to make Scottish classics Gregory’s Girl (filmed in Cumbernauld) and Local Hero (Aberdeenshire and the west coast).
Featured in: The Angels' Share
Another director with a close relationship to Glasgow is Ken Loach, who often collaborates with Scottish screen writer, Paul Laverty. They have achieved great critical and commercial success through their Glasgow set dramas, which combine social realism with dark comedy – Carla’s Song, My Name is Joe, Ae Fond Kiss and The Angels’ Share. It is in Mitchell Lane that one of the key scenes takes place towards the end of the whisky heist caper, The Angels’ Share.
Not only is Glasgow Central Station the second busiest UK railway station outside of London, but it is also a category A Listed building and home to one of the largest glass roofs in the world. The busy yet beautiful station has seen Charlie Sheen sprinting through it, as a cop investigating a serial killer in Postmortem, and the hilariously grumpy Ron Swanson from US hit TV show, Parks and Rec, arriving contentedly on holiday in Scotland.
Featured in: Fast and Furious 6
Glasgow's finanical district with its long streets on a grid system and modern buildings was the location of filming for high octane car chases for the sixth installment of the hugely popular Fast and Furious franchise.