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Hollywood stars descend on B.C. castle for 'Fate' film

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A British Columbia castle is hosting Hollywood royalty this week as filming gets underway on a supernatural love story spanning seven decades.

Actors Harvey Keitel, Faye Dunaway and Andrew McCarthy star in Fate, which is currently shooting at Hatley Castle, near Victoria, under the supervision of director Jonathan Baker.

The story centres on a firefighter who makes contact with a supernatural visitor while rehabilitating from a rescue mission gone wrong.

Rounding out the cast are Mena Suvari, Cheech Marin and Brandon Routh.

The Vancouver Island castle plays the part of a fictional hotel called 'The Vista,' sharing the duty with the very real Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver. But the director hadn't planned to do any filming in Canada, initially.

"I was in Newport, Rhode Island," Baker said in an on-set interview with CTV News after five years of development work to get the project film-ready.

The original location was to be Newport's historic Rosecliff mansion, but when a friend invited Baker to B.C., the director "fell in love" with what he saw.

"This castle had a beautiful platform on the outside," Baker said from inside one of the sprawling castle's many rooms, decorated with era-correct artwork, furniture and fixtures.

"I had to start piecemealing it all together," Baker said. "I'm blending all of the places in Canada into one epic location for an epic love story."

'Fate' director Jonathan Baker. (Brindi Tremblay)

Baker's ambition is that the love story rivals those of Titanic, The Notebook or similar blockbuster dramas, he says.

The director had originally hoped to showcase another Canadian icon in the film.

"One of the most interesting twists of this movie is Donald Sutherland was supposed to be in the film but he hurt himself a couple of weeks before we were filming," Baker said of the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor.

"He's Canadian and I really wanted to celebrate him and the fact that I'm making it in Canada."

As fate would have it, the director was left scrambling before he got his script to Keitel, whom he had met at a restaurant during the earliest development phase of the film."He told me then: 'If it's meant to be, I'll see you again," Baker recalled.

The director's phone rang within hours of sending over the script. "So I get a call from Harvey, who says, 'I'm coming. I told you if it's meant to be, I'll see you again.'"

Fate is filming in B.C. until June 3. The Highland Film Group will seek to sell the film this week at the Cannes Film Festival.

Meanwhile, another Vancouver Island city is home to a major television production this week as civil disorder appears to have claimed a stretch of downtown Nanaimo for the filming of the post-apocalyptic HBO series The Last of Us.

The Vancouver Island Film Commission says the film and television industry is once again booming in the region following the back-to-back setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Hollywood strikes.

"We're almost daily getting requests for information, location packages, that sort of thing," said the commission's Brandon Lepine on Tuesday. "Film is looking good."

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