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Kiefer Sutherland filming White House set in Toronto

Designated SurvivorKiefer Sutherland’s new political TV drama Designated Survivor built a set of the White House in a Toronto studio facility.

Sutherland stars as a low-profile US politician who suddenly becomes president when the entire senior government is killed in a terror attack.

The production team built a White House set in Toronto for the shoot, using design input from the likes of the FBI and the Secret Service.

Producers also got a private tour of the real White House offices – the building’s West Wing – according to a report in Architectural Digest.

“To tell a fictitious story like this in completely real surroundings is a challenge,” said Cabot McMullen, the show’s production designer, in comments to the specialist outlet. 

“We referenced a lot of past presidents. The drapery in the office was an idea from FDR's administration. All the flags in the room are modelled after Nixon's Oval Office. The colour palette and a lot of the textures came from Reagan. 

“The idea to put a pattern on the wall came from Obama with Michael Smith's stripes, which had never been done in the White House before.”    

Designated Survivor is scheduled to wrap its first season in Toronto at the end of this month.

In recent years Montreal has also proven a popular double for Washington, DC. Bryan Singer’s superhero follow-up X-Men: Days of Future Past built the White House lawn on the back lot of studio facility Mel’s Cité du Cinema for the movie’s finale. 

The previous year Roland Emmerich’s thriller White House Down also recreated the famous seat of government at the same facility.  

The Designated Survivor team filmed limited exterior shots in Washington, DC, but security precautions and the presence of multiple municipal authorities mean the city is not known as a film-friendly part of the US.

For more on filming in Toronto see our production guide.

Image: John Medland/ABC