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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

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

August 24, 2012 at 9:52 AM

As P&P takes a break . . . some favorite interviews

I’m about to take some time off until Tuesday the 4th — a little pre-Toronto Film Festival vacation, as it were. (I leave for Toronto on the 5th.) This will be my tenth year of covering the ever-star-studded TIFF for the Seattle Times, and in honor of the occasion I thought it might be fun to list my ten favorite interviews there, in no particular order . . .
Jon Hamm (2010). Hmm, I have no idea why this one is first; maybe because Hamm was quite possibly the nicest, most down-to-earth-and-not-full-of-himself actor I’ve ever interviewed. And the guy’s not bad-looking either. We talked about “The Town” (the film he came to Toronto with), as well as, of course, “Mad Men.”
Nick Hornby, 2009. What fun to interview not only a screenwriter of a movie I loved (“An Education”), but a novelist whose work I’ve read and enjoyed for years. Lovely chat.
Colin Firth, 2010. Firth and I both raced from the premiere of “The King’s Speech” at TIFF to this interview just minutes later. (In separate cars; I suspect his was nicer than my taxi.) He’s quite reserved yet very thoughtful, and offered many tidbits that indicate the careful preparation he underwent for his role.
Jane Campion, 2009. Most TIFF interviews take place in glamorous hotel suites; this one, for reasons I will never know, took place at an empty table in a very, very large conference room. We sat and discussed Keats (for Campion’s movie “Bright Star,” about the poet’s life); for this former English-lit major, it was a joy.
Christopher Hampton, 2007. I’m always fascinated by the process of how you translate a brilliant novel (in this case, Ian McEwan’s “Atonement”) into a brilliant movie. Could have talked to Hampton, a veteran screenwriter (“Dangerous Liaisons”), playwright and all-around learned fellow, all day.
Patricia Clarkson, 2003. If Hamm is the nicest actor I’ve met at TIFF, the warm and funny Clarkson is probably the nicest actress — she couldn’t have been sweeter. (And she had a lasting impact on me: At our interview, which was in a restaurant and during which we discussed “The Station Agent” and a flurry of other recent roles, she ordered a mixture of half orange juice and half cranberry juice — something that had never occurred to me, and which I now drink every morning with my breakfast. Delicious!)
Colin Farrell, 2002. Definitely the most off-the-wall of my Toronto interviews, and certainly one of the most fun. Farrell, then in his bad-boy phase (I think he’s toned things down a bit since then) and at the festival for “Phone Booth,” cheerfully admitted to having been up most of the night drinking — and, in a refreshing change from all those actors you read about who complain about the awful chore of having to talk to the press, said he likes doing interviews. “I’ve never met you, you’ve never met me, it’s golden. It’s brilliant. If I’m not going to enjoy it, give (the job) to somebody else,” he said. Utterly charming.
Ang Lee, 2007. Lee, fresh off winning the Venice Film Festival top prize for “Lust, Caution,” was exactly as you’d expect: soft-spoken, deliberate, fascinating. He spoke of his youthful love of acting, and how that translated into directing. “I’m still zealous about performing art, except that I don’t do it with my own body,” he said. “I have to tear actors apart so they do it for me.”
Gabourey Sidibe, 2009. It’s fun to catch someone at the very, very beginning of fame, when they’re still dazzled and excited by it all; Sidibe, in Toronto with “Precious” (for which she would be nominated for an Academy Award), was poised and charming but still giggly, clearly very much enjoying the ride.
Kazuo Ishiguro, 2010. Did you know that “The Remains of the Day” was made into a musical in London? Just one of many things I learned in a long (the publicist forgot about us, so I got lots of time), and far-ranging chat about writing and movies, with the novelist in Toronto for “Never Let Me Go.”
And there was also Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Penelope Cruz in a VERY low-cut dress . . . but those are stories for another day. Talk amongst yourselves next week; I’ll be back on the 5th, and we’ll talk Toronto.

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