With prolific French auteur Luc Besson at the director’s chair, ‘Léon: The Professional’ is a classic 1994 action-thriller venture that lends a compelling look at the stone-cold hitman stereotype often portrayed in cinema. The story follows grumpy but good-hearted “cleaner” Léon, who takes a 12-year-old girl Mathilda in his custody after her family is killed in an ambush by a bunch of corrupt DEA agents.
After the unbearable loss Mathilda suffers, she wants Léon to train her in his vocation so she can take revenge against those who murdered her family. Apart from Jean Reno and Gary Oldman leading the acting department, an adolescent Natalie Portman sways in her debut feature performance. Most of the story unfolds in the urban backdrop of New York City, and you may wonder if the movie was filmed on location. In that case, let us share with you everything we know!
Léon: The Professional Filming Locations
‘Léon: The Professional’ was filmed in different locations in the USA and France. Principal photography reportedly commenced on June 1, 1993, and was wrapped up by October 7, 1993. Now, let us take you through the specific locations where the film was shot!
New York City, New York
The majority of the movie was filmed in locations across New York City. A vast urban metropolis situated within the eponymous state, the City That Never Sleeps is also a coveted production location frequented by directors and filming crews. The early establishing sequences in the film take us through the streets of NYC. These were filmed at 7th Avenue and West 54th Street, East Broadway and Market Street, and Mulberry Street and Grand Street.
Léon works for Tony, who owns a restaurant in Little Italy. These sequences were actually filmed at Guido’s Supreme Macaroni Restaurant, a bustling Italian diner once located at 511 9th Avenue. According to sources, the venue was destroyed sometime around 2007.
Léon takes groceries from a store located at the intersection of East 97th Street and Park Avenue and makes his way to his apartment. The exterior shots of his apartment building were filmed at 71 East 97th Street and Park Avenue.
In a hotel, a young Mathilda loses her family in an ambush by the DEA agents. The hotel scenes were filmed in numerous locations, which were later edited together. The exterior shots were filmed outside a property on 71 97th Street, in the Upper East Side of the Manhattan district. The hotel corridors and stairwell were captured in the premises of the landmark Chelsea Hotel. The charming old city hotel is situated at 222 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.
Filming was carried out extensively in other parts of the Manhattan district as well. This included East Harlem, Spanish Harlem, El Barrio, Wall Street, Chinatown, Times Square, and the neighborhood of Upper East Side. In one scene, the viewers may also recognize the Pine Bank Arch Bridge in Central Park.
Some outdoor scenes were filmed at Hotel National on 7th Avenue and West 42nd Street, Manhattan. The Manhattan Municipal Building, an administrative block located at 1 Centre Street, stands in for the DEA office in the movie.
The crew also shot some sequences in other parts of Manhattan, such as the crossing of Delancey Street and Allen Street and 7th Avenue between West 55th and 56th Streets. A few scenes were shot at 3812 Broadway and West 159th Street in Harlem. The movie also showcases the Roosevelt Island Tramway, which connects the island with Manhattan.
Hoboken, New Jersey
Significant scenes were also filmed in the town of Hoboken in Hudson County, New Jersey. The final sequence was filmed in Stevens Institute of Technology, a private university located at 1 Castle Point Terrace in Hoboken. Home to music icon Frank Sinatra, the city of Hoboken is imbued with an exuberant cultural spirit.
The old industrial port in Hoboken has been converted into a series of parks with a view of the Manhattan skyline. Therefore, it is not surprising that Hoboken stands in for New York in several movies, including Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ and the classic coming-of-age drama ‘The Basketball Diaries.’ A few scenes were also filmed in the town of West New York in Hudson County.
A majority of the interior sequences were filmed in a studio located in Paris. Due to Besson’s French background, the director found it easier to carry out a significant part of the production in a studio facility of the gorgeous city. The interiors of Léon’s apartment were constructed from scratch.
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