TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, DAY FOUR
TORONTO – It’s alarming to see how emaciated Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto look as AIDS patients in the “Dallas Buyers Club.” In person, it was even worse.
“Jared wasn’t on a diet. Jared wasn’t eating,” Jennifer Garner told a half-dozen reporters at a hotel today where she was doing interviews. “Of course I was concerned.”
“It’s one thing to see them with the remove of a screen. To see them in real life, just evolution in your brain tells you, feed that person, that person is ill, that person is not going to make it.”
Toward the end of the 27-day shoot, Leto “was a little bit weave-y” between takes, which was worrisome since his character is a transsexual usually dressed as a woman. “He’d be in these high heels going down the steps of the trailer and I would say, ‘Does somebody have him? Stand in front of him, make sure he’s OK.’ ”
She plays a physician who treats McConaughey’s character, a womanizing electrician and sometime rodeo cowboy, and who once went to school with Rayon (Leto).
“I was more than concerned. I hated it, and I hated seeing Matthew look like that.” The best he looks in the movie is when he has plumpers in his cheeks or some padding in his jeans, hiding the nearly 50-pound weight loss.
He and Leto preceded Garner into the interview room, as did director Jean-Marc Vallee, and they looked healthy, fit and happy.
They both deliver powerful performances – McConaughey’s character is filled with rage over contracting AIDS and battling the FDA over affordable, alternative treatments to AZT (then only in clinical trials and being delivered in sometimes toxic doses) while Leto lends humor, beauty and tragic delicacy to his role as Rayon.
A year ago, Garner’s husband was here with “Argo,” which went on to win the best picture Oscar. This year, he’s been named the next Batman and it seemed silly to not ask her about it.
She said she kept the secret of his casting for months – “months and months.”
As for the Web frenzy over his selection for the role (I think he’s a great choice and said so), “Of course he’s a great choice. You can’t expect anything else. He’s a grown-up. It’s this and then it’s something else and then it’s VMAs,” she said, as if reciting a litany of issues that flare up like a backdraft at a fire.
“He’s going to be fantastic.”
Unexpected celebrity sighting of the day: Chris Hemsworth, carrying his own suit through a hotel lobby. Also saw Paul Haggis who is here for “Third Person,” blending three cities and three stories with a cast featuring Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody and James Franco.
Elsewhere, I hear the lines for the press and industry screening for “Gravity” were epic, stretching down or near the steps at the Scotiabank Theatre, a commercial venue which has turned over most or all of its auditoriums to the festival. It’s one of a number of locations showing movies and I was lucky enough to see “Gravity” elsewhere and avoid that queue.
I ran smack into another, though, for “Philomena” today and landed in the front row for the Judi Dench movie.
My day started with “Dallas Buyers Club” at one hotel, took the subway to a second to talk with Alfre Woodard for “12 Years a Slave,” did roundtable interviews for “Enough Said” with stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Toni Collette and Catherine Keener plus director Nicole Holofcener (a rare round with only women) and then headed to the third hotel of the day to speak to the young actor in “Labor Day” who plays Kate Winslet’s son. I will have full fledged stories on all of these down the road, once I lay in a several weeks’ worth of energy drinks.
That put me at the back of the line for “Philomena” which filled every one of the 557 seats. Dench plays the title character, a retired nurse who gave birth to a child out of wedlock in 1952 and lost him when the Catholic nuns later placed him for adoption.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg in the movie directed by Stephen Frears and pairing her with Steve Coogan.
In other developments, the Weinstein Co. bought the U.S. rights to “Can a Song Save Your Life?” starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Catherine Keener.
Here’s the description:
Seduced by dreams of making it in the big city, Gretta (Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend (Levine) move to New York to pursue their passion for music. She’s heartbroken when he dumps her for the fame and fortune of a big solo contract, leaving her all on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when a down-on-his-luck record producer (Ruffalo) stumbles upon her singing during an open mic night and is immediately captivated by her raw talent and inspiring authenticity -- they may be each other’s last chance to turn their lives around.
Red carpet photo: WireImage Getty for TIFF.