TORONTO — There are plenty of bold-face names scheduled to attend this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) but it’s the names that do not appear on the official guest list that have people buzzing.
Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney and Brad Pitt both have films at the fest — Gravity and 12 Years a Slave respectively — but neither are confirmed to attend.
And while the 2013 edition of TIFF, which runs Sept. 5 to 15, has an impressive roster of leading men — Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, James Franco and Matthew McConaughey among them — the festival really belongs to the women.
Meryl Streep, Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Keira Knigthley, Marion Cotillard, Glenn Close and Jessica Chastain are just a few of the stars scheduled to add a touch of glamour to TIFF’s decidedly casual red carpets.
From Quinton Aaron to Waleed F. Zuaiter, here’s a look at some of the people hanging out in Toronto over the next 10 days:
Will Colin Firth (The Railway Man, Devil’s Knot) run into his ex Meg Tilly (at TIFF for the 30th anniversary of The Big Chill)? Their son William turns 23 this month. Will Susan Sarandon (The Last of Robin Hood) cross paths with her ex Tim Robbins (Life of Crime)? Will Reese Witherspoon (Devil’s Knot) bump into ex beau Jake Gyllenhaal (Enemy)? And if Pitt shows up for 12 Years a Slave, will he pass Aniston in a hotel lobby?
Smelling salts on standby
No one will be surprised if a few female fans faint in the aisles of the Princess of Wales Theatre during the special presentation of Dallas Buyers Club. At the 2001 edition of TIFF, McConaughey (inexplicably wearing what appeared to be an area rug) came to the rescue of Janice Flisfeder after she fainted at a festival screening of Thirteen Conversations About One Thing. “I felt a man stroking my hair and kissing my forehead saying ‘it’s okay, sweetheart,’ and I realized it wasn’t my husband,” she recalled.
Typically, TIFF invites American actor — and unabashed Habs fan — Viggo Mortensen to wave the flag for the Montreal Canadiens. Literally. But with no movie to promote this year, Mortensen isn’t likely to show up, leaving the task of rooting for the Canadiens to Montreal’s Jay Baruchel (The Art of the Steal). In Leafs Nation, that’s a dangerous job.
They’re not on the official TIFF guest list but stars like Ben Affleck and Warren Beatty could show up on the red carpets. Affleck, who showcased Argo at the festival last year, could accompany wife Jennifer Garner at the special presentation of Dallas Buyers Club. Beatty, who hasn’t made a feature film since 2001’s Town & Country, might join wife Annette Bening on the Face of Love red carpet. (Beatty was Bening’s arm candy for her movie Being Julia at TIFF in 2004). Also expect to see co-stars Mia Wasikowska and Jesse Eisenberg together at the screening of The Double — they took their romance public in Toronto this summer while she was in the city filming Maps to the Stars — and at Wasikowska’s other TIFF entries, Only Lovers Left Alive and Tracks. And will Mila Kunis bring beau Ashton Kutcher to her flicks Blood Ties and Third Person?
Live from Toronto…
Since Saturday Night Live is executive-produced by Toronto native Lorne Michaels, it’s only fitting that a number of SNL stars will be at TIFF. Kristen Wiig is at the festival to promote Hateship Loveship, a family drama based on a short story by Canadian author Alice Munro. Amy Poehler, who split from Toronto actor Will Arnett last year, will show up to the screening of You Are Here. Another SNL vet, Will Forte, is expected to attend TIFF for the gala presentation of Life of Crime. And Mike Myers is at TIFF as director of the documentary Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon. Fans might also see Jason Sudeikis at the fest if he joins girlfriend Olivia Wilde (Rush, Third Person) on the red carpet.
And sometimes, y
If the stars expected at this year’s TIFF were Wheel of Fortune puzzles, we’d need to buy a lot of vowels. The Double co-stars Mia Wasikowska and Jesse Eisenberg have 12 vowels between them. Zach Galifianakis, Keanu Reeves and Jake Gyllenhaal have nearly as many vowels as consonants in their names, and Adele Exarchopoulos has an equal number of both. From Hiroyuki Sanada to Kawennahere Devery Jacobs, this year’s TIFF is packed with vowels.
A Hogwarts reunion
Voldemort, Snape, Mad-Eye and Draco…oh my! TIFF plays host to Harry Potter stars Ralph Fiennes (The Invisible Woman), Alan Rickman (A Promise), Brendan Gleeson (The Grand Seduction) and Tom Felton (Belle, Therese) — as well as the artist formerly known as Potter, Daniel Radcliffe. He’s got three flicks at TIFF, including Toronto-shot The F Word, made-in-Vancouver Horns and the Beat Generation pic Kill Your Darlings.
For the love of Dexter
Speaking of reunions, Michael C. Hall, who plays the titular serial killer on Dexter, is expected at TIFF to promote Kill Your Darlings. Fans of the series are no doubt hoping he invites his former on-screen wife Julie Benz (Rita) and on-screen lover Jaime Murray (Lila) to join him on the red carpet. Both are in Toronto working on the Showcase series Defiance.
There is an unwritten rule that if you star on the crime series The Bridge you must attend TIFF with a Canadian at your side — and preferably one with whom you are sleeping. At last year’s festival, The Bridge star Diane Kruger accompanied her Canadian beau Joshua Jackson to a screening of Inescapable. This year, Kruger’s co-star Demián Bichir is likely to arrive at the screening of Dom Hemingway with his gal pal, Canadian model Stefanie Sherk.
Let the music play
TIFF always attracts stars with musical talent so it’s no surprise this year’s guest list offers a chance to create a fantasy ensemble. We propose a sing-a-long with Scarlett Johansson, Adam Levine and Paul Potts (plus a solo tribute to June Carter Cash by Reese Witherspoon) while Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield jam. Zac Efron and Jennifer Beals would be back-up dancers, of course, and Gordon Pinsent on tambourine would satisfy Canadian content regulations.
While you’re here…
If JoBeth Williams, who’s at TIFF to mark the 30th anniversary of The Big Chill, wants to really keep it retro she could drop by the Toronto set of the Poltergeist remake. Mark Wahlberg, who will attend a party during TIFF to mark the arrival of Wahlburgers in Canada, should also drop by Jason Reitman’s live reading of Boogie Nights.
No directions required
A number of stars on the TIFF guest list have been to Toronto before, including many who made films in the city. These include Adrien Brody (2006’s Hollywoodland), Zac Efron (2007’s Hairspray), Jude Law (2010’s Repo Men; 1999’s eXistenZ), Nicole Kidman (1995’s To Die For), Clive Owen (2007’s Shoot ‘Em Up), Liam Neeson (2009’s Chloe) and Terrence Howard (the upcoming The Best Man Holiday; 2005’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and Four Brothers; 2001’s Glitter). Some stars will be at TIFF promoting movies they shot in Toronto, including Daniel Radcliffe (The F Word) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Enemy). And others — like Keanu Reeves and Mike Myers — grew up in the city.
While at TIFF promoting their films, the stars will be bombarded with inane questions from so-called journalists and wide-eyed bloggers. The most common question is the insecure query about the star’s impressions of Toronto or the festival itself. Note to journalists: a) Most of the stars go from the airport to the hotels to the theatres and back again so don’t put them on the spot. b) Do you really expect a visiting celebrity to say something negative about the city or the festival? c) Who cares what celebrities think of Toronto or its film festival? Please also avoid “What was it like working with (insert name here)?” Don’t ask Liam Neeson about his memories of working in Toronto (his wife died in a Montreal hospital while Neeson was making Chloe in Toronto) and please try to come up with respectful ways of honouring the late Cory Monteith and James Gandolfini, who both appear in TIFF films.
Follow @GlobalJRK for TIFF tidbits from Sept. 5-15.