Nonetheless, as a result of my constant battle with being star-struck, I know how exciting real life movie star encounters are. So, I’ve decided, instead of the standard movie reviews and festival recap I’m going to take you inside the doors of a TIFF press conference instead, specifically the press conference for, the Clooney directed, The Ides of March. The film stars Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymor, Hoffman and Clooney himself.I have been lucky enough to attend the Toronto International Film Festival for two years now as an accredited media member and when I see George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and Marisa Tomei stand about three feet to my left, it still takes everything in me not to ask each one of them to pose with me in a picture and sign autographs for 25 of my closest friends. That would probably fall in the category of unprofessional.
One thing that I’ve discovered about celebrities: No sense of time. The press conference was set to start at 3 p.m., but as 3:15 passed and 3:25 rolled on by, everyone was getting pretty restless. When the line finally started moving at 3:30, I discovered that we weren’t even on the correct floor and we would be ushered up to the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s 6th floor, via elevator, one tiny group of us at a time.
Still photographers would have 90 seconds for flash photography as the stars made their way out on stage. “No sweat,” I thought. But as I walked into the room where the press conference was set to take place and saw a measly 12 ft. long stage raised about a foot off the ground alongside about 40 photographers, all standing well over 6 ft. tall, huddled air tight around that stage, it became clear that this press conference would be all about survival of the fittest. It was also about this time that I started to understand why stars like Justin Timberlake and Sean Penn go all UFC on the media.
By the time I squeezed in, I barely had time to hear the mediator introduce the cast, make a couple George Clooney jokes – a pretty good indication George is as laid back as he seems – and tell us to ask questions only pertaining to the film. Then, one by one, out comes the cast from behind a black curtain. The magic of television seems to find a way of making even this flimsy black sheet look much more dramatic and mysterious than it actually is. At my angle I could see Ryan Gosling eating his Granny Smith apple – he had two throughout the press conference – and Evan Rachel Wood getting ready to walk out on stage.
In the 20 minutes of media questions and celebrity answers that followed, I learned three main things:
1) No matter how many years of experience one has, nerves persist.
One woman, who will remain nameless, was so nervous she asked this doozie of a question: “George, tell me, George Clooney as the director, film director.”
“Tell you what? [audience laughs] Pretty much – and I don’t want to blow anyone’s mind – but [he’s] pretty much the same guy as George Clooney the actor. Basically the same height, same hair. Pretty much the same. I’m not really sure what you want me to say about it. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a great bunch of actors who sort of elevate the project, so that’s the secret to directing ... How’s that for a political answer?”
2) Media do not listen. Celebs do.
Remember when I told you that the very first thing we were told was to only ask questions pertaining to the movie? Well one person didn’t listen when he asked George, “I wanted to ask you what’s harder, directing or dating in the spotlight?”
Big mistake. Mr. Clooney responded with, “Well you know it’s funny, I knew someone would do it. I’m a little disappointed it’s you. I mean everyone here is a little ashamed of you right now. I mean honestly. What’s your name?”
“Everybody remember that name. Hard hitting interview by Paul Chi. Ugh, I think it’s tremendous that you asked the question. Go back and tell your editor that you asked the question ok? Good for you,” concluded Clooney.
3) George Clooney is pretty awesome.
Ryan Gosling sums up Clooney pretty well when asked what it was like working with George Clooney, the director:
“It was really fun to work with George, right? Right guys? [George slips him money] It was more than fun, it was life altering. [George slips him more money] Watching him work was like watching a unicorn being born everyday … He always wanted to do his talk about the film and break it down. And he would talk you through the scenes and then he would even hum what he thought the music might be like, he would talk you through the movie in real time. He was very clear and he would give you this incredible direction and just so focused, we’d be ready to do the scene and then he’d walk away and you’d realize he was spraying an Evian bottle on your crotch. [Clooney takes away the money] And then he’d make you do your big scene with Phil Hoffman or Paul Giamatti with wet pants. So that’s pretty much what is was like.”
Chill’s TIFF Picks
Moneyball – For date night
Goon – If you’re a sports fan
Pearl Jam 20 – If you can’t decide between the movie and the concert
Dynamic duos can make or break a movie. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill? Believe it or not, it was this totally unexpected duo that put this film above and beyond others we saw at TIFF. Not only can these two act, but they were absolutely hilarious. Not in a slapstick, Will Ferrell type of way, but in an honest look at tensions and struggles in relationships kind of way.
“You’re not here to play hockey, you’re here to fight,” is a line from Kim Coates’ (Entourage, Sons of Anarchy) character that sums this movie up. And what better time to put an issue like this on film, with the deaths of three hockey enforcers this past summer. Although it’s a somewhat uncomfortable issue for hockey-loving Canadians to face head on, violence in hockey is a very real concern, that director Jay Baruchel tackles honestly, but with a bit of comic flare. We are Canadian, after all.
“If we could make a movie that lets you feel the way a Pearl Jam concert or record makes you feel, then we’re in good shape,” says director Cameron Crowe. Some words that come to mind: emotional, humbled, considerate, powerful etc. Crowe manages to accomplish this daunting task and the audience does in fact walk away feeling closer to a band typically known to be private. “The holy grail [of the film] really was the piece of footage of Kurt Cobain and Eddie slow dancing at the VMA’s … And it’s so powerful. I was watching it again tonight It’s just such a human moment. And it is what happens outside the spotlight,” explains Crowe.