Loki season 2 director Dan DeLeeuw has revealed how a disused Indian restaurant was converted into a McDonald’s for the hit Marvel TV series.
Speaking exclusively to TechRadar, DeLeeuw explained that Marvel was unable to retrofit an in-use McDonald’s restaurant for Loki season 2. As a workaround, the Disney subsidiary went hunting for an abandoned building in London – the Disney Plus show’s sophomore season was filmed in and around the UK capital – to turn into a 1980s-style McDonald’s.
Fortunately, Marvel’s location scouts stumbled upon an empty curry house just outside London, and it didn’t take long for the crew of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) TV show to agree it was the right location.
“It had been empty for a while,” DeLeeuw revealed. “But what [production designer] Kasra Farahani keyed into was that the front of it had windows with rounded metal frames, which was very indicative of the McDonald’s sign from the 80s, and they aren’t easy to find.”
Farahani and his team spent weeks converting the unused building into a McDonald’s set for Loki‘s second season, and their painstaking work paid off handsomely. The repurposed restaurant was revealed in all its glory in the post-credits scene of Loki season 2 episode 1, which showed Sylvie rocking up at the eatery to grab some fast food to go.
As Loki season 2’s official trailer revealed, and viewers have now seen from its second episode, though, Sylvie sticks around at the venue. She even gets hired there as she settles into a quieter life away from the multiversal shenanigans she got wrapped up in during Loki season 1. Unfortunately for Sylvie, Loki and Mobius track her down in the Marvel Phase 5 series to enlist her help in finding a cure for the multiverse’s collapse.
Actors working on Marvel projects have become used to shooting in front of blue and green screens throughout the MCU’s lifespan. However, DeLeeuw, an MCU visual effects (VFX) veteran who made his official directing debut on Loki season 2 episode 2, was delighted to not only have a physical location to film in but also that it was a McDonald’s packed with nostalgia.
“The great part of shooting on location is that you could stage everything in the parking lot,” he said. “We had the field across the street and you could shoot out of the McDonald’s onto the parking lot, so it worked fantastically.
“To outfit the restaurant, Kasra worked with the folks at McDonald’s to give it that nostalgic look. They went into their archives and pulled out all kinds of artwork. Kasra was also able to recreate the actual wallpaper, the chairs, the fabric of the cushions, and all the other iconography. We even found a mold for the Hamburglar, so Kasra could make our own one to put in the restaurant. I don’t know where it went after we were done filming – it’s probably in storage or someone’s house! – but it was a really great experience to recreate all of that.”
For more coverage from our exclusive chat with DeLeeuw, read his thoughts on Marvel’s overworked VFX artists and why he thinks the issue is so “systemic” within the wider entertainment industry. And be sure to check back in with TechRadar in the coming weeks for other exclusives from Loki season 2 executive producer Kevin R. Wright and Farahani himself.