April 22nd, 2024

15 years later, Winstead recalls ‘Scott Pilgrim’ shoot: ‘Toronto was our playground’

By Alex Nino Gheciu, The Canadian Press on March 30, 2024.

"Scott Pilgrim" star Mary Elizabeth Winstead says she still feels a special connection to Toronto, 15 years after shooting the film in the city. Winstead poses in front of a marquee for the Paramount Plus series "A Gentleman in Moscow," at the Paradise Theatre, in Toronto in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Paramount Plus, George Pimentel Photography, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

TORONTO, Ohio – Just like the evil movie exes who can’t get over her “Scott Pilgrim” alter ego Ramona Flowers, Mary Elizabeth Winstead can’t get over Toronto.

It’s been 15 years since the North Carolina-born actor shot cult film “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” in the city, and she still holds it close to her heart.

“Just hanging out with that whole cast and having this posse in Toronto for all those months we were here shooting, it was just great,” Winstead says during a recent stop in the city to promote her Paramount Plus series “A Gentleman in Moscow.”

“Being here and just looking out the window as we’re driving around, I’m like, “˜Oh my God.’ Being on Bloor (Street) and being in all these spots, like the Paradise Theatre, all these little memories come back of just hanging out here. We were all very young and free, and Toronto was our little playground for a while.”

Winstead was at the Paradise earlier this week for a screening of her new series, rocking a head-to-toe hot pink outfit and mingling with locals afterwards. The actor says two of her closest friends, who she met while filming “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” live in the city.

“I definitely have a strong Canadian bent in my life.”

Shot in 2009 and released a year later, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” follows a Toronto-based slacker played by Michael Cera as he tries to woo the enigmatic new girl in town, Winstead’s Ramona Flowers. To win her heart, Scott must defeat her seven evil exes in a series of epic duels exploding with video game-style effects.

Directed by Edgar Wright and based on Toronto author Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic book series, the film featured early career actors who would go on to big roles, including Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Schwartzman and Kieran Culkin. It underperformed at the box office but developed a cult following after its release.

The franchise was revived last year with “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” an animated Netflix series voiced by the movie’s cast that drastically reimagines the original story.

Even Winstead’s husband Ewan McGregor is a fan.

“I was aware of “˜Scott Pilgrim’ once I’d met Mary. I watched it and I really loved it, and I loved her in it,” McGregor says in a separate video call to promote his starring role in “A Gentleman in Moscow.”

“The new animation is so cool and Ramona Flowers is the lead of it, so it has another life now, which is also very cool. But she was amazing in that movie.”

Winstead says the animated series helped her realize that she still carries a bit of Flowers with her to this day.

“It was great to go back and find her again and find that she’s still in there somewhere,” she says.

“I think you grow a bit through every character that you play.”

Winstead says McGregor occasionally dons a “Scott Pilgrim”-inspired piece of clothing to amuse her.

“He has a shirt that has a picture of me from the film in it, and I think it says, “˜I’m in lesbians with her.’ It’s very, very cute. He likes to surprise me with it sometimes.”

In the 2010 film, Pilgrim is advised to break out the “L-word” to Flowers, but mistakenly thinks it’s “lesbians.” Later in the movie, he tells her, “I’m in lesbians with you.”

At the time, the film was a rare U.S. production to shoot in Toronto and not disguise it as another city. As in the O’Malley books, characters wore CBC shirts, worked at Second Cup, ate at Pizza Pizza and saw shows at iconic music venue Lee’s Palace.

Winstead spent an extended amount of time in Toronto – after “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” wrapped, she remained in the city to shoot 2011 horror film “˜The Thing.”

“I was just remembering my go-to spots when I was staying here, which was Fresh for salad and juice, and I would go to this little bistro called Jules Bistro, which was on the corner where my apartment was,” she says.

She adds that shopping for vintage clothes was her “main weekend pastime” and that she wishes she could spend more time here.

“For a little while, Toronto was my spot. Unfortunately, I just haven’t found another project here since then. But I’m hoping to. It would be great.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2024.

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