23rd Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day Two
Day Two — Friday Sept. 11th
Okay, this was a big day. Would HE be here. Would HE be at the press conference? What would HE do at the gala?
Of course, HE was Tom Cruise. To answer the above questions: Yes, yes, and a lot. Good things come to those who wait so let’s lead up to Cruise’s appearance.
My day began at 9:30 with a showing of Sam Raimi’s A Simple Plan. Two brothers and a friend stumble on a few million dollars in a downed plane. They concoct a simple plan: if nobody comes looking for the money by spring, they’ll split it and move on. Simple enough, but the plan’s execution is doomed to become more complicated from the start. Bill Paxton shows good depth as a man starting to be troubled by what he’s capable of. Billy Bob Thornton not only hands in a solid performance, but also proves he’ll get ugly for his art. We’ll also have coverage from its press conference and gala on day three.
That was followed by a press conference for the Festival’s opening gala film, The Red Violin. The film’s producer, Nic Fichman, explained that raising the $14 million budget was almost as creative as the film itself. They carefully constructed pre-sale deals with several overseas distributors and pre-sold the music rights to Sony Music.
The press conference for Without Limits was held at the Four Season’s Hotel. The room was packed with journalists from around the world and camera crews lined the walls.
After a twenty-minute delay, the panel was finally introduced. It consisted of director Robert Towne, co-producer Paula Wagner, co-producer Tom Cruise, and the film’s stars, Donald Sutherland, Billy Crudup, and Monica Potter.
The initial questions centered on Tom Cruise’s role as producer. He said that he loved the creative aspect of the job and helping to make the decisions necessary to get the film to the screen. Cruise made it clear throughout the conference that he loved movies and loved the process of making them.
When asked if Cruise had considered playing the role of Steve Prefontaine, Robert Towne answered that he kept commenting how young he looked after Mission: Impossible but that Cruise himself said he was feeling old. He also thought the role would be better served by someone with a newer face so there’d be less of a “Look, it’s Tom Cruise running” reaction.
When asked why the writer of Chinatown had become a director, Towne responded that he felt the screenplay was only a blueprint to the writer’s vision and after a while it realized it was irresponsible to hand that blueprint over. He felt that directing enabled him to get closer to the story in his head.
Before Donald Sutherland answered his first question, Tom Cruise made a little speech about always admiring Sutherland’s work. He also went on to acknowledge the great work done by Billy Crudup and Monica Potter.
Sutherland said it is difficult to create a fiction when the fact is still living. He met with the real Bill Bowerman and it was Bill’s wife, after Sutherland fixed their clothesline, who said, “You’ll do.”
Another reporter asked how comfortable Tom Cruise felt about using his power. Cruise said that power in this business was fleeting so he felt that a creative person should maximize their time and energy and channel it into making good films. When asked what good was, Cruise struggled with an answer then offered that a good film was one that he wanted to see. If he felt good with it then he was comfortable making it.
As you may know, Tom Cruise has just come off an exhaustively long shoot for Eyes Wide Open by Stanley Kubrick. When it was pointed out that during the time he spent making that and producing Without Limits he could have starred in three $20 million roles, Cruise again stressed that he was in this for the love of acting. “People happen to pay me well for doing it, but the money is not the driving force.”