Starring prolific French author Luc Besson in the director’s chair, ‘Léon: The Professional’ is a classic 1994 action thriller that takes a gripping look at the stereotype of the hitman often portrayed in cinema. The story follows Leon, a cranky but kind-hearted “cleaner” who takes a 12-year-old girl Mathilda into his custody after her family is ambushed by a group of corrupt DEA agents.
After the unbearable loss that Mathilda suffers, she wants Leon to train her for her vocation so that she can take revenge on those who murdered her family. Besides Jean Reno and Gary Oldman at the head of the acting department, a teenager Natalie Portman is swinging in her first feature film. Most of the story takes place in the urban context of New York City, and you may wonder if the movie was shot there. Then let us share everything we know with you!
Léon: professional filming locations
‘Léon: The Professional’ was shot in various locations in the United States and France. Main shooting would have started on June 1, 1993 and ended on October 7, 1993. Now let us guide you through the specific locations where the film was shot!
New York, New York
The majority of the film was shot in locations across New York City. A vast urban metropolis located within the eponymous state, the City that Never Sleeps is also a coveted production location frequented by directors and film crews. The film’s first set-up sequences take us through the streets of New York. These were filmed at 7th Avenue and West 54th Street, East Broadway and Market Street, and Mulberry Street and Grand Street.
Leon works for Tony, who owns a restaurant in Little Italy. This footage was actually filmed at Guido’s Supreme Macaroni Restaurant, a bustling Italian restaurant once located at 511 9th Avenue. According to sources, the place was destroyed around 2007.
Leon does his shopping at a store at the intersection of East 97th Street and Park Avenue and heads for his apartment. Exterior shots of his building were filmed at 71 East 97th Street and Park Avenue.
In a hotel, a young Mathilda loses her family in an ambush set up by DEA agents. The hotel scenes were shot in many locations, which were then edited together. The exterior shots were shot outside a property at 71 97th Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The hallways and stairwell of the hotel were captured on the premises of the famous Chelsea hotel. This charming Old Town hotel is located at 222 West 23rd Street in Manhattan.
Filming was also made in other parts of the Manhattan neighborhood. This included East Harlem, Spanish Harlem, El Barrio, Wall Street, Chinatown, Times Square and the Upper East Side neighborhood. In one scene, viewers can also recognize the Pine Bank Arch Bridge in Central Park.
Some outdoor scenes were shot at the National Hotel on 7th Avenue and West 42nd Street in Manhattan. The Manhattan Municipal Building, an administrative block located at 1 Center Street, replaces the DEA office in the film.
The team also shot some footage in other parts of Manhattan, such as the intersection of Delancey Street and Allen Street and 7th Avenue between West 55th and 56th Street. A few scenes were shot at 3812 Broadway and West 159th Street in Harlem. The film also features the Roosevelt Island Streetcar, which connects the island to Manhattan.
Hoboken, New Jersey
Important scenes were also filmed in the town of Hoboken in Hudson County, New Jersey. The final footage was filmed at Stevens Institute of Technology, a private university located at 1 Castle Point Terrace in Hoboken. Home to music icon Frank Sinatra, the town of Hoboken is imbued with an exuberant cultural spirit.
The former industrial port of Hoboken has been transformed into a series of parks overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Therefore, it is not surprising that Hoboken replaces New York in several films, including “Once Upon a Time in America” by Sergio Leone and the classic drama “The Basketball Diaries”. A few scenes were also shot in West New York City in Hudson County.
The majority of the interior sequences were shot in a studio located in Paris. Due to Besson’s French origin, the director found it easier to do a significant portion of the production in a studio in the beautiful city. The interiors of Leon’s apartment were built from the ground up.
Read more: Movies like Leon: the professional