Shot in Newfoundland and set in Nova Scotia, a new film depicting the life of legendary painter Maud Lewis premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday.

Maudie, starring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins, focuses on the romance between Lewis and her husband, Everett. The film was written by Sherry White, originally from Stephenville, N.L., and was shot in St. John's in the fall of 2015.

Hawke said he is a lover of Lewis' work, and getting to star along side Hawkins was "a match made in cinema heaven."

'I was just so attracted to her passion for her work and her passion for life and beauty.' - Aisling Walsh, Maudie director

But it was the location that was the main attraction for him. 

"A large part of what drew me to this role was Nova Scotia, I have a place up there and I've loved it up there for years," Hawke said.

"To read a script that starts with, 'Nova Scotia. Day,' made me pretty excited."

'Attracted to her passion'

However, the film was shot in the Goulds neighbourhood of St. John's, and Hawke said the place won him over.

"Part of what drew me to it was thinking I was going to get to shoot in Nova Scotia, but now I'm a Newfoundland fan too."

Ethan Hawke TIFF

Ethan Hawke says Nova Scotia drew him to his role in Maudie, but after filming, says he's now a Newfoundland fan as well. (CBC)

Director Aisling Walsh shared Hawke's admiration of Lewis' art, and was drawn to the love between the husband and wife.

"I was just so attracted to her passion for her work and her passion for life and beauty," she said.

One of the challenges of Maudie was recreating Lewis' tiny house on screen, but Walsh said it was a key part of the film.

'A great place to be'

"It was really important to me to get it as near as I could to the original," she said.

"Of course, we had to extend the size of it because a crew couldn't work in [a house that is] 12 foot by 12 foot, but we also had to be very careful that we didn't overstep that footprint."

Aisling Walsh TIFF

Maudie director Aisling Walsh says she loved the six months she spent in Newfoundland working on the film. (CBC)

Walsh said it made sense to shoot the film in Newfoundland, with its writer and one of its producers hailing from the province, and credited the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation for funding and support.

All in all, Walsh spent six months working on the film in Newfoundland and said she "loved it" there.

"It's like Ireland, where I'm from, you can feel the Irish in the soil and in the earth. It's bigger, big skies, big landscape," Walsh said.

"There's so much Irish in that community … it was a great place to be." 

With files from Shana Cohen