Toronto 2011: Day 4 Recap

Rehashing the day's interviews, screenings, and parties.

This morning, I attended a screening of Dee Rees's Pariah, a gritty look at the life of a young black girl trying to come to terms with her sexuality. I found the film, which premiered at Sundance in January, to be excellent, largely because of the central performance of Adepero Oduye (who also starred in a short version of the film that went to the Utah film festival in 2006).

I then headed over to the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, where I was to interview actress Keira Knightley about her film-stealing performance in A Dangerous Method, figuring that I would arrive early and review my notes. On my way to the room where the interview was to be held, though, I heard a bit of noise coming from a conference room, opened a slightly ajar door, and saw Knightley sitting on a dais fielding questions from journalists. I assumed that I had stumbled upon the press conference for the film, to which I had previously received an invitation, so I quietly sat down at the back of the room. It was only after Knightley started fielding some pretty strange questions -- stuff like whether she has seen more than one man at a time, like her character ("That sounds very tiring"); whether she has ever been to a psychologist in her own life ("For some reason I don't feel comfortable answering that question"); and whether it's possible to have both penis envy and vagina envy at the same time ("You know, I don't know!") -- that I realized that it was not the general press conference for the film, but one held specifically for members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. (Before long, I was spotted and hustled out of the room.)

When Knightley wrapped up with the press conference, she joined me in another room for a 15-minute interview. I found her to be lovely and smart as a whip. (Video of our conversation will post on the blog shortly.)

I then hustled across town to the Park Hyatt, where I had back-to-back interviews with the aforementioned Rees and Oduye about Pariah. Rees -- who studied under Spike Lee at NYU, wrote her semi-autobiographical film while interning on the set of his film Inside Man (2006), and ultimately convinced him to executive produce it -- is going to be a force to be recknoned with for many years to come. Oduye, meanwhile, turns out to be as different as possible from the character the she played -- bubbly and outgoing, she still can't believe how far this project has taken her. (Video of our conversations will post on the blog shortly.)

Finally, I attended a dinner for Albert Nobbs, the cross-dressing period drama that I saw at the Telluride Film Festival two weeks ago. Co-writer/star Glenn Close, whom I interviewed in Telluride, held court at the main table. I was happy to hang with my fellow Oscar bloggers on the side, where I also had a chance to visit briefly with Close's co-star Janet McTeer and director Rodrigo Garcia.

I mentioned to McTeer that I had enjoyed her immensely in Tumbleweeds (1999), for which she received a best actress Oscar nomination 12 years ago. She said that film had also played at Telluride, and that she had accompanied it there when it did (developing altitude sickness in the process), but that she was unable to accompany Nobbs this year primarily because she had to attend the wedding of a family friend. It worked out well, because distributor Roadside Attractions felt that it would be better to let audiences unexpectedly stumble upon her character anyway -- when you see the film, you'll get why. I wouldn't question Roadside's wisdom in such a situation -- as you may recall, only last year they guided another little film, Winter's Bone (2010), to Oscar nods for best picture, best actress, and best adapted screenplay!

Meanwhile, I told Garcia that he has earned my lifelong affection for the instrumental role he played in bringing the HBO show In Treatment to fruition. He was the show-runner during the show's first season, during which Mia Wasikowska gave her breakthrough performance. Garcia said that he emailed Wasikowska about a part in Nobbs when Amanda Seyfried was forced to drop out of the project just days before shooting was to begin. As Wasikowska told me last Thursday, she didn't even read beyond the subject line of the email before saying "yes" to the chance to work with the director again.

When asked about Close, whom he had directed twice before Nobbs, Garcia noted that she is one of only a small handful of actresses over the age of 60 who can basically get a film made, the others being Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, and perhaps Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon. As they say, getting older ain't fun... even -- or perhaps especially -- in Hollywood.

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