Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and 5 other times Liverpool doubled as New York

In the Harry Potter spin-off, Liverpool's historic buildings stood in for Manhattan - and it's not the first time


Last October, Liverpudlians might have spied a scruffy-looking Eddie Redmayne strolling their streets.


The actor was filming scenes for the Harry Potter spin-off prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which finally arrives in UK cinemas tomorrow. Redmayne plays the eccentric wizard Newt Scamander, an employee at the British Ministry of Magic and the future author of one of Harry’s textbooks.

The film is set in 1920s New York, but key scenes were filmed in Liverpool. Look out for the Cunard Building at Pier Head and St George’s Hall on Lime Street, which can be spied in the trailer.

Eddie Redmayne Fantastic Beasts 2
Eddie Redmayne Fantastic Beasts 2 (Warner Bros Pictures, SD)

Fantastic Beasts is directed by David Yates, who helmed the last four Harry Potter films and was born in the Merseyside town of St Helens.

In the past year, 230 films and television programmes have been filmed in Liverpool, bringing in £20 million a year. The skyline of the Albert Docks is the big draw for movie-makers in search of New York.

Here are five other times it’s played New York on the big screen…

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1. Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)

Meryl Streep starred in this movie about a real-life New York heiress who loves to put on musical concerts, blithely oblivious to the fact that she can’t sing for toffee. Hugh Grant played the devoted husband, who eagerly applauds his wife’s talentless screeching.

The film conjures up 1940s New York: Florence’s chintzy flat, streets hectic with taxi cabs, the grandeur of Carnegie Hall – and yet it was all filmed in the UK and all the street scenes were shot in Liverpool. “It often doubles for New York because it’s got very similar grey granite buildings and you can turn them quite easily into New York streets with the help of a little CGI,” explained locations manager Adam Richards.

2. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

This was the first time Marvel had filmed outside the US. Set dressers spent a month turning Stanley Dock into 1940s New York before 500 cast and crew descended on the city.

3. Alfie (2004)

In the remake of the 1966 classic, Jude Law starred as the womanising Englishman let loose in Manhattan. Two key scenes were actually shot in Liverpool. When Alfie takes a walk on the beach, he’s strolling along Formby Beach in Merseyside. And when Alfie buys flowers, the shop is on Brunswick Street (it’s now a restaurant called The Restaurant Bar & Grill).

4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Chris Pine, Kenneth Branagh and Keira Knightley chased each other around the Pier Head for the reboot of the American spy thriller. In the trailer, Chris Pine can be seen dashing past The Three Graces.

5. Genius (2016)

Jude Law (who also happens to be a Reds fan) returned to shoot Genius, a film about literary editor Max Perkins which co-starred Colin Firth. Look out for the old Martins bank building on the corner of Water Street.

Check out Liverpool Film Office’s gallery of those New York locations:


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