turning red toronto

Turning Red stars rave about Toronto and their favourite food in the city

The first-ever full-length animated Disney movie set in Toronto — Turning Red — premiered at the TIFF Bell Lightbox last night and the film's stars raved about the city.

Toronto features heavily in the animated film with shots of the skyline, Chinatown and TTC streetcars. Toronto even celebrated the premiere by turning the city sign red at Nathan Phillips Square.

The story, from Sheridan grad and Oscar-winning filmmaker Domee Shi (of Bao fame), revolves around a spunky 13-year-old girl named Mei, who turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets a bit too excited.

The film is inspired by Shi's life growing up in Toronto and she still has favourite spots in the city. She loves dumplings, and told blogTO she recalls enjoying them in Chinatown and in Kensington Market.

Sandra Oh, who plays Ming, is originally from Nepean, near Ottawa, and was excited to be back in Canada and Toronto.

"I went to Yonge and Dundas Square…there are these three giant billboards (promoting the film), it's so exciting," Oh told blogTO. “It’s such a moment, I hope, that fellow Canadians can be excited and proud to see the things that they know."

She said she spent her early 20s in Toronto and recalls her formative years in the city.

Oh remembered "buying food with Canadian Tire money in Kensington Market, and trying to make Pizza Pizza last two meals."

Toronto is where she came into her own.

"For me Toronto is all about…starting that identity so it’s a very, very dear place in my heart," she said.

Rosalie Chiang who stars as Mei told blogTO it was her first time in Toronto and saw the city for the first time after looking at images on the computer to prepare for the film.

"It's an incredible county and city," she said.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who plays Priya (and Devi Vishwakumar in the Netflix teen comedy series Never Have I Ever), is from Mississauga.

She told blogTO Mississauga is basically a giant suburb of Toronto.

"I will do the Mississauga slander because I can," she joked.

But joking aside, she has fond memories of the city she grew up in and recalled delicious food at K-Pocha, a Korean fried chicken spot. Ramakrishnan was also happy to be in a movie based in Toronto.

"The feeling that I get from seeing my home just being represented in a Pixar movie [is] that feeling of wow – this is where I live," she said.

It was producer Lindsey Collins's first time in Toronto and she took a ride on a streetcar, she said.

"I love your city – it was magic," she said.

Turning Red streams on Disney+ beginning March 11.

Lead photo by

Kris Pangilinan

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