On the beautiful Northwest island of Victoria, across the bay from Vancouver, sits the awesome late-19th-century stone Hatley Castle, which became Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the blockbuster movie X2: X-Men United.
Welcome to Hatley Castle, the spectacular home from X2: X-Men United, where Patrick Stewart's character runs Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. It's the training ground and the world's only safe haven for super-powered mutants until an attempted assassination on the President triggers a war on mutant-kind. When the castle comes under attack, the X-Men fight back with Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman, leading the pack. To shoot the sequel's spectacular action sequences, the location had to not only match the original one in Toronto, it had to outdo it in size and scope.
As beautiful as the location is, changes had to be made to transform Hatley Castle into mutant central. With a $125 million budget, the production designers had the power to do almost anything. The previous groundskeeper was given two hours' notice and a budget of about $8,000 to get shrubs and flowers to make the exterior more colorful for the film shoot. The interior of the castle also had to be altered in order to have each room serve as a specific location at Xavier's, so many rooms changed their original function to accommodate each scene.
Having the castle under siege by 200 Hollywood storm troopers leaping out of helicopters, rappelling down walls and firing automatic weapons was a scary sight, but that's not all that was frightening for the crew. At the time they were filming, there were 12 to 15 peacocks onsite and they can become quite noisy (especially when they hear loud noises or shouting). Whenever someone yelled "We're rolling," the peacocks would start squawking. Eventually the gardeners had to herd the birds into the greenhouse until the scene was done.
Hatley Castle has a long history of filmmaking dating back to the 1930s. With such a diverse location used so masterfully in this blockbuster hit, there's little doubt that the tradition of filmmaking will continue at this spectacular home.