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Why Marvel and Netflix can’t get enough of this London uni campus

‘You’s Penn Badgley is bringing Hollywood to Royal Holloway

Phil de Semlyen
Written by
Phil de Semlyen

If the allure of higher education amid 135 acres of glorious parkland doesn’t grab prospective students, Royal Holloway now has an additional lure for anyone filing in their UCAS forms: the chance to bump into a few Hollywood types swanning around on its Surrey campus.

Penn Badgley is the latest star to be spotted filming amid its quadrangles and colonnades, The Gossip Girl star is shooting scenes as You’s slippery Joe Goldberg for season four of the hit Netflix thriller and is now starring on TikTok, thanks to a small army of students at the uni.

With its grand Victorian Founder’s Building, two quadrangles and endless corridors, the uni has proved handy for playing made-up seats of learning (‘King Edward University’ in Jack Ryan), or a convenient spot for academic geniuses with crucial plot information to hang out, as in Avengers: Age of Ultron when Thor solicits some guidance from Stellan Skarsgård’s Dr Erik Selvig, the campus has become a Hollywood fixture.

It’s a short drive from Longcross film studios, a production hub for everything from Marvel movies to Bond to Fast & Furious flicks.

Royal Holloway isn’t a newcomer to the world of Hollywood productions. Its ornate picture gallery popped up in Downton Abbey’s 2013 Christmas special, it served as a nursing home in 1992’s EM Forster adaptation Howards End, and, much less Oscar-worthily, it stood in for a psychiatric hospital in 2006’s Basic Instinct 2. That one probably doesn’t get shouted about quite as much.

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