The Vast Majority of 'The Handmaid's Tale' Wasn't Actually Filmed in the U.S.

Where is 'The Handmaid's Tale' filmed? In the movie, the story takes place in Gilead, which used to be the United States. Was it filmed in the U.S.?

Michelle Stein - Author

May 12 2021, Published 12:07 p.m. ET

June in 'The Handmaid's Tale'
Source: Hulu

Fans of The Handmaid's Tale have watched, horrified, as June, Moira, Emily, Janine, and all the other enslaved Handmaids and Marthas have coped with (and escaped from) life in what used to be the United States. Except now, it's called the Republic of Gilead. The totalitarian and theocratic state has replaced the U.S after a coup advocating for "traditional values" overthrew the government and installed a new social order in response to a fertility crisis.

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The idea that something so horrific could happen in the U.S. is a major part of why the Hulu series is so compelling. But where, exactly, was The Handmaid's Tale filmed? Let's take a closer look at some of the main filming locations.

where was the handmaids tale filmed
Source: Hulu
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Where is 'The Handmaid's Tale' filmed?

As fans of the series already know, Canada is the land of freedom in The Handmaid's Tale. It's where a number of main characters, including June's husband Luke, her friend Moira, and even June herself ended up throughout the seasons. It's a safe haven of sorts for Gilead refugees. Interestingly, Canada is also where the bulk of filming for The Handmaid's Tale takes place.

The majority of the series was actually shot in Toronto, with studio work done at Cinespace Film Studios.

A prominent outside location is Toronto City Hall — and you'll probably remember it as the building that was blown up by the Handmaids. (Which is shown in the photo above.) Toronto City Hall has also been used in scenes showing brutal executions.

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Another landmark in Toronto that's used in The Handmaid's Tale is the Church of St. Aidan, which serves as The Red Centre, where handmaid's are trained.

Furthermore, a banquet scene in Season 1 (where children of Gilead were put on display) was filmed in the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. A handful of scenes have also been shot at Fort York National Historic Site, which serves as a detention center in The Handmaid's Tale.

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Cambridge, Ontario, is one other city that's featured in The Handmaid's Tale. A number of scenes have been filmed near Main Street bridge and the Presbyterian church.

handmaids tale filming locations
Source: Hulu
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Another specific location is The Grand Cafe, which is located at 18 Queens Square in Cambridge. A Season 1 episode of The Handmaid's Tale shows June and Moira hiding from troops entering the cafe.

Yet another filming location is Hamilton, Ontario; the house where June was stationed with Commander Waterford and his wife Serena Joy was located there.

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filming location handmaids tale
Source: Hulu

Of course, there were certain scenes that were shot in the U.S. The cast was actually in Washington, D.C. to shoot that emotional Lincoln Memorial scene in Season 3, for example.

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Season 5 of The Handmaid's Tale, which premiered on Sept. 14, 2022, was also filmed in the Great White North. “It’s an honor to be showing it here in Toronto, where we shot the show,” Elisabeth Moss (June Osborn/Offred), said in a Q&A in June, per Deadline.

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It's interesting, though, that the bulk of The Handmaid's Tale wasn't actually filmed in the U.S. Knowing that now makes the idea of Gilead slightly less scary, right? (OK, maybe not.) We can't wait to see what unfolds in Season 5!

The first four seasons of The Handmaid's Tale (and some of Season 5) are now streaming on Hulu.

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