London is a cosmopolitan city, that’s a well known fact. But it’s rarely been as multicultural as it was required to be in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. As location manager Jamie Lengyel explains, “There was a very keen ambition to take The Avengers global, so it’s a globetrotting story, but if you’re moving a crew of 400 around the world and your production base is in Shepperton in Surrey, as we were, you look to do as much of what you can in the UK.”
So while the production went to Johannesburg, Korea, Bangladesh and Italy (the Aosta Valley stood in for Sokovia) to film key scenes, London and the surrounding counties often doubled for those locations, as well as pretending to be the USA for a couple of scenes too. For example, that shot of Sokovia above was actually shot in the UK but you’ll have to read on to find out where.
Here’s Jamie’s quick guide to Avengers: Age Of Ultron locations in and around London. Images marked with an (*) are from Jamie’s own collection showing some behind-the-scenes shooting going on and are © to him. And we’ve also given you links to Google Maps to show you where the places are in case you fancy visiting them.
Those opening fight scenes were shot not in the woods of Sokovia but in Hawley Woods in Hampshire and nearby Bourne Wood in Surrey. Bourne Wood was also used in Thor: The Dark World and Gladiator and Lengyel says they spent a few weeks there with lots of tanks and wire work. Hawley, meanwhile, saw a lot of Hulk and Hawkeye action. “That’s an MOD training area in Hawley Wood,” says Lengyel, but there’s no need to worry about getting blown up. “It’s open to the public.”
“The inside of the Fort, the Hydra HQ, where you see Strucker and there’s a little bit of a shoot out and you see Iron Man going down some stairs and through some tunnels and things,” says Lengyel, “all that was filmed at Dover Castle in Kent.”
“Hawkeye’s family home was an entire exterior build,” reveals Lengyel. “We built that on that Stratfield Saye estate in Berkshire, the Duke of Wellington’s estate. We found a valley that felt sort of American and built the whole facade of the farm. It looked very realistic. A very impressive build.”
The ballroom in Captain America’s Scarlet Witch-induced vision was the Rivoli Ballroom in South London.
Meanwhile Thor didn’t really have a vision of Asgard – it was actually St Bartholomew’s Church in Smithfield.
At least Black Widow’s flashback was to a ballet school, but it wasn’t one in St Petersburg and as far as we know it doesn’t train assassins. It was actually Tring Park School For Performing Arts in Tring.
“We used Brent Civic Centre in Wembley for Johannesburg where we see Hulk and Iron Man inside a building and a lift being thrown around,” says Lengyel. “All the plate work and all the wire work we did over a weekend in Brent Civic Centre. We owned the main atrium there. It worked incredibly well as Johannesburg. It’s a very light, glassy building.”
Sadly, this one you won’t be able to visit, though it probably wouldn’t look like much if you did. “The main London location, though it’s inaccessible to the public, is Hendon Metropolitan Police Training College,” says Lengyel. “They have a whole section of buildings which are currently redundant, and we turned them into a section of the Sokovian town. We created the square with the church and the bridge and all the tower blocks, for the scenes where the Avengers are evacuating the people during the big battle scene against Ultron. That was a huge set build in a backlot we created at there at Hendon.”
Many of the Sokovian locations were shot in Italy (sorry if it comes as a shock, but Sokovia ain’t real) in the Aosta Valley. The Hydra Fort was actually Fort Bard. “Inside it’s a museum and exhibition space, ” reveals Lengyel. “It’s surrounded by mountains and had some quite tired-looking towns around it which didn’t feel quite Italian and had that Eastern European feel. So we were able to use this as well as the fort and make really good use of the region.
“And they’re all tied together by the fact that they’re all surrounded by the same mountains. So with the Sokovia scenes we filmed in London we’ve put those mountains in the background too, and it hems everything together.”
The Hendon shoot took three months, whereas a lot of the other locations in this list were visited for just one or two days (it’s okay, we move onto to pastures new on the next page but we found these shots of Hendon-as-Eastern-Europe fascinating so we thought we’d share a few with you).
“Also in East London there’s an old pharmaceutical company called Sonofi that had empty laboratories… they’ve moved out,” says Lengye. “That’s down in Dagengham. They’re trying to turn it into a scientific or creative hub now. That we used for the interiors of Doctor Cho’s lab in Korea.”
“So you see these ships on what’s supposed to be on the African coast and they were actually plates shot in Chittagong down in Bangladesh,” says Lengyel. “They were standing in for a ship breaking yard on the African coast. For the interiors of that ship we used the old Daily Mail print works in Southwark, with an awful lot of set dressing. Lots of munitions and stuff. I think they’re being used by Secret Cinema now.”
“Then at the end of the film you’ve got the New Avengers training room which could be anywhere in the world. The implication is it’s somewhere in America, and that was actually the University of East Anglia’s Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts. So that was in Norwich.”
“We did the interiors for the training facility in the Excel Centre in London. The scenes where you see the Black Widow standing on her own staring at the wall and Fury comes up to her, and that big open area that looks like it’s in the interior of the training centre – we filmed those in London at the Excel Centre.”