From Hollywood films to hit TV shows, Glasgow has played host to major screen productions in the past few years. Much of the popularity of filming in the city is due to the incredible range of architecture and unique grid street system, which allows the city to masquerade as different eras and cities.
2019 has seen the cinematic release of Wild Rose and Beats, both set and extensively filmed in Glasgow. And there is much more to come with Balance, Not Symmetry, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw and the second series of the hit HBO drama Succession all out this August. Meanwhile, the Oscar touted Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes WW1 film, 1917 hits cinemas in the UK on January 2020.
Check out just some of Glasgow's top filming locations below to find the perfect spot for a photo op to replicate one of your on-screen favourite scenes.
The Fast & Furious series first filmed in Glasgow in 2012 for the sixth instalment of their hugely popular franchise, with the city's financial district and Broomielaw area used as the location of filming for a number of high octane car chases. The movie franchise returned last year for the spin-off Hobbs & Shaw (UK release date: August 1, 2019), bringing superstar Idris Elba to the city. This time, the cars and motorbikes zoomed through the streets of the city centre and Merchant City, as Glasgow doubled as London.
Set to be one of the biggest film releases of the year, the Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes project, 1917, is due to hit cinemas in the US on Christmas Day 2019 and in the UK on January 10, 2020. The city's former Govan Graving Docks at the River Clyde was used as a backdrop for the filming of the WW1 epic, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and home-grown talent Richard Madden.
The hugely popular TV show, Outlander, has made stars of its cast members, as well as of Scotland’s scenery and castles. And Glasgow has provided the backdrop for many of the fantasy-romance show’s memorable scenes. In series 2, the medieval Glasgow Cathedral doubled as a 1740s Parisian, ecclesiastical hospital - L'Hôpital des Anges. Other city locations used include Kelvingrove Park, which doubled for Boston Park, the University of Glasgow, which doubled for Harvard University, and John Street at the City Chambers, where Claire and Frank got engaged.
“My favorite location was Glasgow Cathedral, where we shot scenes for ‘Faith.’ I admired it every time we drove past it in season one, and was thrilled when we finally were able to have it as a location. Gary Steele did a beautiful job of turning the church into our Hôpital des Anges, and you can really feel the ghosts in that building, which was built in the 12th century. Glasgow is a stunning city and the people there were so kind to us. I felt a real magic in those streets.”Toni Graphia – Executive Producer & Writer
Outlaw King, starring Hollywood’s Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, used a number of Glasgow locations for the filming of this epic 14th Century tale. The iconic Cloisters at the University of Glasgow, which dates back to 1451, were transformed into a grand banquet hall for a medieval feast for the 2018 Netflix original.
This is not the first time that the gothic-revival architecture of the university has influenced popular culture - it was said to be the inspiration behind Hogwarts, and was used for filming for Outlander and Cloud Atlas.
Outlaw King also filmed at Glasgow Cathedral, which doubled as Greyfriars Church and at a purpose-built set in Mugdock Country Park, which is in the north of the city.
The Wife brought Hollywood royalty to Glasgow, as Glenn Close, in an Oscar nominated role (2019), was joined by Christian Slater, as they filmed at various spots. One of the main sites was at Hutchesons' Hall, an elegant building on the fashionable Ingram Street.
Built in the early 19th Century, the former hospital and now trendy Hutchesons City Grill doubled as both a Stockholm restaurant and a grand hotel lobby.
The film, which sees Glenn Close’s character explore her relationship and past, also filmed at the Barrowland Ballroom, Malmaison, Bothwell Street, Pollok House, Flemington House and The Royal Faculty of Procurators. Also, the stars were spotted city sightseeing, with Christian Slater taking in the Riverside Museum and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which he shared with his Instagram fans!
Sky Atlantic and HBO have both recently filmed in Glasgow city centre for hit shows set in New York.
Much lauded British actor Benedict Cumberbatch was seen running down a number of Glasgow city centre streets, whilst filming Sky Atlantic drama, Patrick Melrose, which aired in 2018. Film crews took advantage of Glasgow’s grid system and well preserved Victorian architecture at the likes of Cochrane Street, Bothwell Street and St Vincent Street to replicate New York City in the 1980s. In one scene, the Sherlock star dines alone in Glasgow’s oldest restaurant, Rogano, which is instantly recognisable from its distinct art deco style, which was modelled on the Queen Mary Liner being built on the Clyde at the same time. Also featured in the series is the famous Barras Market, which doubled for New York’s meat-packing district.
The second series of HBO show Succession (airing in August 2019) follows the life of a complicated New York family, headed up by Scots actor, Brian Cox. Scenes for season 2 of the acclaimed dark comedy were filmed in George Square, Cochrane Street and Montrose Street, with the city this time doubling as current day New York.
2013 was a blockbuster year for film releases featuring Glasgow 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 as Philadelphia. Street signs were changed and yellow cabs were imported as one of the film’s most exciting set pieces – the outbreak of the virus – took place on George Square and Cochrane Street.
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. 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. Two BBC productions, which both aired in 2016 - The Secret Agent, starring Toby Jones, and Rillington Place, starring Tim Roth - both took advantage of the magnificent architecture of the City Chambers and its marble staircase, which is the largest in Western Europe.
The gripping BBC drama, which aired in autumn 2018, was filmed on both sides of the globe in two cultural cities, Glasgow and Melbourne. The thriller, starring Jenna Coleman, as a new mother whose baby goes missing, included filming locations Argyle Street, Gallery of Modern Art, Pollok Country Park and Kelvinside Terrace West. A true Glasgow hidden gem featured was the Sixty Steps - a sweeping stone staircase, which connects two exclusive streets in the city's west and which was designed by one of the great Glaswegian architects, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson.
“There’s a youthfulness about it – there’s a great atmosphere and a lot happening culturally. It’s a fantastic city. If you haven’t visited, you should.”Producer Brian Kaczynski
Two BBC dramas have recently taken advantage of the architecture of the Merchant City.
The Replacement, which was filmed exclusively in the city, followed an architect (Morven Christie) going on maternity leave, who fears with increasingly justified paranoia, that her supply cover (Vicky McClure) is taking over her life. The BBC drama, which aired in 2017, based their fictional architectural firm in Commonwealth House on Albion Street. Many of the main characters' homes showcased the incredible range of architectural styles and residences within the city – from the modernly restored quirky The Mews, in Partickhill, to the traditional Victorian mansion in Dennistoun, to a vast private home in Pollokshields, which took centre-stage as the modern library that the architects in the show were working on.
BBC drama Guilt transformed a building at the corner of Bell Street and Albion Street into a record store, Leith Beats. The four-part thriller, starring Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives, is currently being aired (Oct 2019) on the new BBC Scotland channel and will appear on BBC 2 at a later date.
In 2011, a number of Glasgow’s steep streets were utilised by The Wachowskis whilst filming Cloud Atlas to replicate 1970s San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge superimposed in the background for authenticity. It’s at the junction of George Street at Montrose Street that Halle Berry’s character attempts to evade capture from an enemy targeting her in this thrilling time traveling tale. Other locations used include Douglas Street (between St Vincent Street and Bothwell Street), Anchor Lane, a private residence in Pollokshields and the University of Glasgow.
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 Club), walking through a busy shopping centre (Buchanan Galleries) and stumbling to the ground (Trongate).
Article last updated: July, 2019