Every Toronto location that shows up in Run This Town
Run This Town, more commonly known as “The Rob Ford Movie,” is more about ambitious millennials than, well, Rob Ford. While Homeland star Damien Lewis’s prosthetic jowls leave a lasting impression, Ford’s presence in the film is fleeting—as intended. The movie focuses much of its attention on Ford’s special assistant Kamal Arafa, played by Aladdin star Mena Massoud, and the quasi–Robyn Doolittle character Bram Shriver (Ben Platt), though in this case, Doolittle is a male listicle writer at a fictional Toronto paper who—spoiler alert—fails to break the 2013 Ford crack-smoking story. His boorish editors are partly to blame, but he also lacks the gall to get the job done before he’s scooped by other reporters. Perhaps the biggest star of the film is Toronto itself. Here’s a super spoilery breakdown of some familiar (and not so familiar) locations that pop up.
City hall council chambers
The movie opens with the aides of various Toronto councillors debating whether to cut or boost office expenses at city hall. Among the young aides is Kamal, who defends the mayor’s “stop the gravy train” position. The scene was shot inside the real council chambers.
Old Quebecor Photoengravers plant
Newly graduated and on the hunt for a job in journalism, Bram heads to a fictional Toronto newspaper called the Record for an interview. These scenes were shot inside the old offices of the Quebecor Photoengravers in Etobicoke.
The interviewing editor David (played by Felicity’s Scott Speedman) gives him a quick tour of the premises, including a look at the printing press, which lights up Bram’s eyes. He gets the gig.
Omaw on Ossington
Bram reluctantly embarks on his new beat: writing listicles. One of his first assignments is testing hot dogs at a local restaurant. This scene was shot at the former Omaw snack bar on Ossington Avenue (now Bar Koukla).
City Place bridge
While Kamal briefs new city hall staffer Ashley (Nina Dobrev) on how to help Ford avoid nagging press inquiries, they walk across the yellow bridge over the train tracks near City Place. Designed by Chilean artist Francisco Gazitua, it’s called “Puente De Luz,” or “bridge of light.”
Wildflower, the Thompson Hotel
The pair continue their conversation at a club, where Kamal explains how he turns a cringey mayoral moment back around on the press: “The media is always out to embarrass our mayor—note the use of ‘our’ instead of ‘the’ mayor,” he begins in a long list of manipulations. The lesson happens at the former Wildflower below the Thompson Hotel. In January, the club shut its doors after five years. The Thompson will be renovated into the city’s first 1 Hotel this summer.
Nathan Phillips Square
Despite Bram’s efforts to get better assignments, his editor assures him that people read lists, so he accepts another assignment ranking brunch spots. Then, throwing him a bone, Bram’s editor sends him out to ask the public about the latest Ford controversy in which he was accused of groping his former mayoral rival Sarah Thomson (based on a real allegation). Bram gets a few good answers but is repeatedly rejected and insulted by passersby (including director Ricky Tollman, who makes a cameo as an old high school classmate of Bram’s). The humiliation happens next to the skating rink at Nathan Phillips Square.
Former Junction police station
Toronto cops become aware that someone is shopping around an incriminating video of the mayor. As they try to make sense of who knows what at city hall, they walk the halls of the former 11 Division police station at 209 Mavety Street in the Junction. Fun fact: the same building was used as a Boston police station for the filming of Spotlight in 2014.
United Bakers Dairy Restaurant
Bram’s caring but disappointed parents encourage him to ask for a raise at the Record and push for better stories. He’s got one, he tells them while they wait for their food at United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, a popular Jewish diner near Bathurst and Lawrence.
After taking a call from a man claiming to have a story, Bram meets him at a laundromat where he’s told about the incriminating video. The laundromat is Coin Laundry near Bathurst and Lawrence.
The streets of Toronto
Mayor Ford was often lauded by supporters for returning phone calls to his constituents. There are more than a dozen sequences in the film of Ford driving around the city with audio of various messages left by constituents, which he responds to. One scene follows his black SUV as he makes his way down Queen’s Park Crescent West near U of T.
Ford’s supporters also applauded his insistence on continuing to coach the Don Bosco senior football team while conducting mayoral duties. Kamal joins him at a practice in one scene, which was shot next to Baycrest Arena near Yorkdale Shopping Centre.
City Hall rotunda
Though most of the interior city hall scenes were shot on a set, the opening sequence and this one were shot on location. In this scene, filmed in the building’s grand lobby, a supporter approaches Ford and makes a racist joke about his assistant Kamal. Ford defends his assistant saying, “He’s good” and “That’s not right,” but walks away without saying anything to Kamal.