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Where Does The Irrational Starring Jesse L. Martin Take Place, and Where Did it Film?
The characters aren’t the only ones dressed up for The Irrational: A Canadian city plays the part of Virginia for the show, according to production designer Eric Fraser.
The Irrational focuses on Alec Mercer (Jessie L. Martin), a professor of behavioral science, who uses his skillset to quickly assess human behavior and psychology to work cases.
Now, NBC Insider is diving into the behind-the-scenes details fans can look out for if they watch along closely.
Where Does NBC’s The Irrational Take Place and Where Did it Film?
The show is set in Virginia and the Washington D.C. area, but films on location in Vancouver, Canada.
The Irrational's production designer Eric Fraser worked closely with the show’s executive producer and pilot director, Academy Award-winner David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Inventing Anna) and the show’s director of photography, Todd A. Dos Reis, ASC (Entourage, Suburgatory).
“The three of us collaborated on location choices and approach and the palette of each segment,” Fraser said.
Eagle-eyed audiences might catch Virginia license plates or a prop naming a local paper on the show, but to make the Canadian city pass as D.C. and Virginia, Fraser used a lot of other industry tricks.
“There’s a lot of manipulation that has to be done to each location,” Fraser told NBC Insider. "There were a lot of times when, particularly, if a location had to have passage of time within it and it was only going to be a one-day shoot, you had the plan really carefully.”
Limited shoot time in some spaces posed a challenge, according to Fraser. For example, “We went for one day only to a large University in Vancouver,” Fraser said.
The cast and crew filmed interior scenes depicted at the University at a different location, which they had more access to.
“Merging them into one feeling, of one university was really quite interesting and quite tricky,” Fraser said. “There’s a lot that goes into making it feel like D.C. and making it feel like it respects the writing."
Designing the living and working spaces to reflect the characters' personalities was another part of Fraser's process.
“Alec — because he didn’t have a home — his personality was expressed primarily through his office,” Fraser said.
The pilot episode gives viewers their first glimpses of Mercer’s clean and well-ordered office. One of the walls features a black bookcase with pops of red and bright green, highlighting its honeycomb-like structure.
"Our most used sets were Alec's office, Maahra's house, those were all built on stages in Vancouver," Dos Reis told NBC Insider. "We were out I think four and four, so four days on set and four days out in Vancouver proper for Virginia ... shooting for Virginia."
Getting to see actors interact with the carefully designed sets is rewarding for Fraser.
“There’s nothing I like better than watching an actor walk into a set that they've never seen and if there's delight in their eyes,” Fraser said. "You know that, oh thank goodness, we got it right."
Watch The Irrational Mondays at 10/9c on NBC and the next day on Peacock. The first episode is available now.