UP Express plays supporting role in The Handmaid’s Tale

Showing up in the fictional dystopia of Gilead may not sound all that exciting at first. Supporting the award-winning drama series The Handmaid’s Tale and having scenes shot on the UP Express, though, is certainly worth celebrating.

Portions of the most recent episode in Season 2, titled Baggage, were produced on board the express train from Union Station to Pearson International Airport and at Bloor Station in 2017. The television adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel is largely filmed in Toronto.

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Ann Dowd and Elizabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale / Photo Credit: Bell Media Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

In order to accommodate shooting the scenes on the UP Express, a number of considerations had to be made. Filming was required during the day – while trains were in operation – so production had to be managed safely and with little impact on customers.

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Safety briefing for the cast and crew of The Handmaid’s Tale at Union Station

Filming on the UP Express train ended up taking over an entire coach between the hours of 10:00am and 2:00pm in November, when there are fewer customers.

Aside from the Handmaids, there were the actors playing armed guards – something that could be disturbing to anyone who saw it – if unaware there was a film shoot taking place on board.

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The Handmaid’s Tale production team being given safety instructions at the UP Express Bloor Station

As it happened, production at the UP Express Bloor Station was on a very cold day in June. A very large crew had to bundle up, along with a cast of extras, in red blankets similar to the costumes sometimes worn by the main characters on the show.

The Handmaid's Tale

Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale / Photo Credit: Bell Media Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Fans of the series were able to see the result of Metrolinx’s support of the Canadian film industry last Sunday.

The Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning drama series The Handmaid’s Tale airs Sunday nights on Bravo in Canada.