Red carpets are a funny thing. TIFF attracts a mix of media, some attending to cover the films, and others to exclusively cover celebrity appearances and who’s wearing what. The on-camera people are dolled up to the nines, while the folks who write for print and online media tend to be dressed like they just rolled out of the nearest pub. At least that’s how I would describe my red carpet look.
Most stars are really generous with their time, despite their PR reps dragging them along (literally). While others seem unsure of where they are without someone reminding them. Poor things, jet lag I’m sure. Either way, it’s always interesting to hear the backstories of how a film came to be or how things played out on set.
My first carpet of the fest was for the North American premiere of The Lobster by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly. Winner of the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes, it’s the story of David (Farrell) whose wife has just left him. According to the rules of the dystopian society in which he lives, adults who are without a partner must find one in 45 days or be transformed into animals and sent into the wild.
I asked Rachel Weisz if she thought this was a metaphor for real life.
“It’s a story of forbidden love and it’s a dystopian universe where you would be severely punished if you step out of line,” she explained.
What I really wanted to ask her, before she launched into the romantic themes of the story, was what she thought the single people of the world might think of this film. Couldn’t the story be perceived as a metaphor for finding true love in mid life, a time where many people feel they’re forced to choose between settling or being alone forever? Or, in the case of The Lobster, being transformed into a beastly woodland creature and cast into the hinterlands for eternity. Same same.
In case you’re wondering what the F a dystopian universe is, it’s Greek terminology for an imaginary community or society that is undesirable or frightening. An anti-utopia, if you like.
Like many of the media on the carpet (the women among us anyway), I wondered if Colin Farrell, who stars alongside Weisz in the film, might make a surprise appearance despite not being listed as a confirmed guest. Hey, The Cloon showed up unannounced yesterday, so anything can happen. Sadly, the notorious bad boy didn’t appear in all his rough-and-tumble splendour. Instead, his co-star played coy when asked if she was holding down the fort for Colin.
“Yes, I don’t know, where is he?” said Weisz from her perfect pout.
Onto Roy Thomson Hall for the world premiere of The Martian, with a star-studded cast headed up by rock star director Ridley Scott. Based on the novel by Andy Weir, it’s the story of Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who becomes stranded on Mars during a manned mission to the red planet.
Screenwriter Drew Goddard described the film as “a love letter to great scientists.” Goddard was able to convince film producers to green light the project once Damon had agreed to play the lead.
“If I can get Matt Damon to say yes, will you make it, and they said yes. If we hadn’t got Matt, we would have been screwed.”
How does one secure Damon as the lead in their film?
“I sent him the script and said please read this,” Goddard said.
“This whole thing has been a dream come true, with this cast and with Ridley. It’s just extraordinary.”
Originally published in The Province.