LÉon – The Professional | 1994
- Locations |
- New York;
- New Jersey;
- Paris, France
- DIRECTOR |
- Luc Besson
Luc Besson’s stylish thriller is set in New York, though most interiors were filmed in the studio in Paris, as hitman Léon (Jean Reno) versus rampantly OTT crooked cop Stansfield (Gary Oldman).
Real New York locations include Spanish Harlem, Chinatown and Wall Street; along with Hoboken and West New York, New Jersey.
‘Tony’s’, Danny Aiello’s restaurant, supposedly in ‘Little Italy’, was Guido’s, which stood at 511 9th Avenue at West 38th Street, south of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. It was a wonderfully down-to-earth Italian restaurant in a room behind the Supreme Macaroni Co store but, as you can see, it's no more. Some time around 2007 it was demolished.
The hotel of precocious Mathilda (Natalie Portman), where she loses her family in a savage attack, 71 97th Street at Park Avenue on the Upper East Side, or so it seems.
The stairwells look just a little too expansive for the modest 97th Street building. That’s because the stairwell and corridors are those of the famous, and unbelievably closed, Hotel Chelsea, 222 West 23rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The Chelsea has far too much history to list here: Arthur C Clarke wrote 2001 while staying here, Andy Warhol filmed The Chelsea Girls, Bob Dylan wrote Sad Eyed lady of the Lowlands... and on.
More recently, the Chelsea supplied the hotel room in which Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson) discovers that he's not as totally heterosexual as he’d believed during an encounter with Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard) in Bill Condon's Kinsey.
The hotel is now probably best remembered in pop culture as the hotel in which Nancy Spungen died and Sid Vicious was arrested – Alex Cox's Sid And Nancy, filmed within the hotel. It also anonymously supplied a hotel interior for Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery.
It wasn’t a five-star haven of luxury, in fact, it could be a little ramshackle, but that was the charm of the Chelsea – and there really is nowhere quite like it. The hotel was closed in 2011, after being sold, so that renovations could be carried out. We’re waiting...