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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 16, 2009 at 10:45 AM

At TIFF: Colin Firth, Clive Owen and other encounters …

Last thing I remember, I was alone in a hotel room with Clive Owen, and . . . .
Well, that much is true. But, despite the dizzying effects of five days, fifteen or sixteen movies, six interviews, lots of blog entries, and way the hell too much caffeine, I do remember everything that happened at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Got home last night, right on time; thanks, Air Canada.) Yesterday, before I left town, I spent a little time at the best movie-star-spotting place in town: the Inter-Continental Hotel, where lots of interviews take place and where I immediately spotted Colin Firth in the lobby (pretty sure it was him, cleverly exiting through the gift shop to avoid the crowd outside), Patricia Clarkson chatting in a hallway upstairs (looking absolutely smashing in a black sundress), and one of those oh-I-know-who-that-is young British actresses who I believe was Miranda Otto.
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I was there, of course, to talk to Clive Owen, who was in Toronto with the really quite touching father-and-son drama “The Boys Are Back,” and the whole experience gave me occasion to ponder yet again that movie-star interviews bear certain similarity to another kind of interaction: They take place in hotel rooms, arranged by mysterious intermediaries, and strict time limits are involved. After checking in with an army of publicists, I was put in a room (quite literally: “I’m going to put Moira in the room,” was what one black-suited person said to another) devoid of furniture save for one nice armchair and one not-so-nice dining-room-type chair. Hmm, I wonder which one is for me? In between the chairs was a large poster featuring Owen’s larger-than-life head, and I wondered if I should just interview it as I sat waiting, in the not-so-nice chair. (I wish I could have taken the armchair, but I wasn’t brought up that way.)
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Eventually the man himself arrived, looking every inch the movie star in a navy suit and bright white shirt, and immediately endeared himself by saying “Let’s just get rid of this,” and banishing the poster off to a corner. He was charming and answered my questions thoughtfully and all went just fine for my allotted time, and then he shook my hand and was off, like a handsome ship passing in the night, for some other overscheduled encounter. (What did he say? You’ll have to read my upcoming story for that, on Sept. 27.) How very strange it must be to be a movie star.
Speaking of Colin Firth, his movie “A Single Man” (directed by fashion-designer-turned-director Tom Ford) is the first big buy at Toronto, with the Weinsteins picking it up yesterday for a reported seven-figure deal. I didn’t see it, but sounds like we’ll all get a chance to see it in Seattle before too long.
That’s it for me from Toronto; we will now return to our regularly scheduled Seattle-based blogging. And I still haven’t watched this week’s “Mad Men” yet. Don’t tell me what happened!
(Photos: Colin Firth, top, and Clive Owen. AP Photo/Carlo Allegri)

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