Clint Eastwood, an enduring icon of American cinema, made his reentry into acting with ‘Gran Torino,’ his first starring role since 2004’s ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ Set in Detroit, ‘Gran Torino’ tells the tale of a retired, cranky, auto-worker, Walt. Walt’s fateful altercation with a local gang leads to unexpected friendships, severe grudges, and bittersweet partings. Apart from Eastwood, the film stars Bee Vang, Ahney Her, and Christopher Carley. One of the highlights of ‘Gran Torino’ is its dynamic depiction of life in Detroit. How and where did Eastwood bring Gran Torino’s Detroit to cinematic life? We delve deep below!
Gran Torino (2008) Filming Locations
Filming for ‘Gran Torino’ took place on-location in Detroit, Michigan. The choice of location was a fitting one. Detroit was known as the hub of the American auto industry and endearingly referred to as the Motor City. Once the automotive capital of America, Detroit (and its empire) came crumbling down since the dawn of the 1980s. A combination of automation, offshoring, and political and economic mismanagement brought forth the decline of the Detroit empire. But the city is well on its way to building back better and is fast establishing itself as a prime filming location.
The state of Michigan has begun to offer lucrative tax incentives for filming. ‘Gran Torino’ made optimum use of these incentives when they were first put into practice and became the first movie to capitalize on them. On the use of Detroit as the setting for ‘Gran Torino,’ NYT’s Bruce Headlam said “(Filming in Detroit) helped make it easy for Warner Bros. to sign off on bankrolling the movie, something that hasn’t always been a given in the studio’s relationship with the director.” Over the course of its 33-day shoot in the city of Detroit, the makers of ‘Gran Torino’ spent a whopping $10 million.
Various scenic locales around Detroit served as shooting locations for ‘Gran Torino.’ The exteriors and interiors of Walt’s house were shot at Rhode Island Street, Highland Park, Detroit. Film segments involving a church – one at the beginning of the film and another at the end – were filmed at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 15020 Hampton Road in Grosse Pointe Park, east of Highland Park. The scenes wherein Walt kicks back with his pals were filmed at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Richard Menge Post No. 6756, 25500 Sherwood Avenue, Center Line District.
Filming for a confrontational scene between Walt and three thugs took place at 13140 Charlevoix Street, at Drexel Street. Walt’s purchase of a tailor-made suit was shot at Artona Custom Tailoring, 17834 Mack Avenue. The top-notch suburb of Ballantyne Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, Detroit served as the filming location for Walt’s son Mitch’s house. The final showdown between Walt and the Hmong gang was filmed at Pilgrim Street, Highland Park, Detroit.
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