40th Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day Two
Friday, September 11th, 2015 by Ian Evans
It’s the second day of TIFF and the DigitalHit team found ourselves at both Ryerson University and Roy Thomson Hall covering the films I Saw the Light, Len and Company and The Martian.
It was off to the Ryerson Theatre first for the premiere of I Saw the Light, which is screening here as part of TIFF’s Special Presentations programme.
The film, directed by Marc Abraham, follows the turmoil and heartbreak that was the life of Hank Williams, the country music legend that died at age twenty-nine. That last fact was a bit of a shock to me. Seeing photos of him over the years, I thought he was much older at his death, but that only goes to show what a life of hard-living, drinking and drug abuse can do to a person. Williams is portrayed by actor Tom Hiddleston, while Elizabeth Olsen plays Williams’ first wife, Audrey Sheppard.
Olsen said it was interesting exploring the relationship between two people who came from nothing and how their lives change when one has this extraordinary rocket to fame. She also loved the dialogue in the script, which was penned by director Abraham and based on the book Hank Williams: The Biography by Colin Escott, George Merritt, and William MacEwen. Olsen told reporters on the carpet that she thought Hiddleston really transformed himself into the character, right down to Williams’ smile and facial expressions.
Director Marc Abraham found it interesting that despite the love and respect Williams has in the country music world, the details of his life are still a mystery and surprise for many. Abraham said he was captivated by Hiddleston as an actor and thought he was up to the task of portraying a man who had charisma to spare but also a very dark side.
Hiddleston, asked about the transformation into Williams, said that as an actor “it’s my duty to live in the shoes of other people and that’s the part of it I really enjoy.”
We stayed at Ryerson for our next carpet, Len and Company, the story of a reclusive music producer (Rhys Ifans), who has his attempts at seclusion disturbed by his aspiring musician son (Jack Kilmer) and a troubled superstar (Juno Temple).
Then it was off to Roy Thomson Hall for the Gala premiere of The Martian, which tracks the efforts of a stranded astronaut (Matt Damon) to survive alone on Mars while his team races to rescue him. Damon’s co-stars Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Peña, Kata Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan and Jeff Daniels joined him and director Ridley Scott on the red carpet.
Damon said he talked to the writer, who described the film as “a love letter to science”, and the actor found it to be an “optimistic, uplifting story.” He found his character a pretty easy guy to like and loved the combination of smarts and humour in the astronaut he played. He also jumped at the chance to work with Ridley Scott, who he hailed as a “master filmmaker.”
Jessica Chastain said the production of The Martian was almost like making three movies as there were the NASA personnel scenes which were shot separately from the Hermes spaceship crew, and then the scenes of Damon alone on Mars. Chastain told the press that she really enjoyed her preparation for the role, getting to meet with the rover engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and going to NASA’s facilities in Houston.