Howard decided upon Toronto as his prime location because, he said, he can more easily re-create a 1930s New York City there, the Toronto Sun reported Thursday.
"We found that for what we need, we were going to have an easier time re-creating New York here than we would in New York," Howard said at a University of Toronto program in his honor. "I live in New York, and that's where I'd rather be. But creatively I couldn't even make an argument for staying there."
Howard said Crowe currently is in Australia preparing for the role.
"Ali's trainer, Angelo Dundee, is with him in Australia as we speak," Howard said of his film's star, "and he's hitting him hard with the workouts."