Take a step behind the scenes as we spotlight some memorable moments from the Ottawa Citizen’s storied previous. Jay Stone was a print journalist for 46 years, masking every thing from police to metropolis corridor. For twenty years, till he retired in 2014, he was film critic for the Citizen and later for the CanWest and Postmedia teams.
I used to be a film critic for 20 years, so I went to a variety of movies: At a mean of 5 per week, it provides as much as greater than 5,000. That’s much more than you watched on Netflix final month.
Sometimes I went to early morning press screenings, the place I might typically sit alone in a 400-seat cinema and watch, say, a violent thriller tinged with uncomfortable intercourse, then emerge blinking into the mid-day solar, like a perverse mole. Sometimes I used to be at night previews sponsored by radio stations, the place a crowd of enthusiastic followers, many consuming pungent snack-bar nachos, would have a look at their brightly lit cellphones throughout the movie in case any of their mates had posted a cute of a canine. These previews had been typically launched by native disc jockeys who would recite the plot of the movie we had been about to see — certainly, if they’d shut up we might see it proper then — whereas I squirmed with impatience, reminding myself that this was a neater strategy to make a residing than mining coal, though perhaps not if Adam Sandler was concerned.
The better part was that I generally obtained to satisfy film stars. This was all the time thrilling, particularly the half once you stroll into stars’ resort rooms and notice that, in individual, they give the impression of being precisely like they do on-screen. This may be an unnerving expertise, and I’ve heard film writers inform well-known actors, “It’s you,” as if there have been some doubt. I by no means did this, however as soon as, once I obtained to an interview room and was confronted by Charlize Theron in a clingy gown, I truly needed to take a step again to regain my steadiness.
I preferred to speak to the stars about performing, and generally they’d give me casual ideas. Michael Caine mentioned the strategy to painting a drunk was to not stagger round and slur your phrases, however relatively to attempt to seem sober, as a result of that’s what actual drunk individuals do. “There’s a little acting lesson for you,” Caine mentioned, and I used to be very grateful for the recommendation, regardless that I’ve by no means discovered a use for it besides proper now.
I interviewed Anthony Hopkins in the outside courtyard café behind the Intercontinental Hotel on Bloor Street in Toronto. He was a really gracious man, and he defined how a easy change in physique language might remodel an actor. Then he narrowed his eyes, leaned ahead, and mentioned, in the quiet hiss of Hannibal Lecter, “You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well-scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste.” The hair on the again of my neck stood up. “How did you do that?” I requested, and he relaxed again into Anthony Hopkins and smiled.
Loads of my interactions with Hollywood individuals had one thing to do with meals, for some purpose. I as soon as interviewed Faye Dunaway, one among the stars of a horrible film referred to as Albino Alligator (1996). I arrived at the resort room at the designated time — they all the time need you not less than 5 minutes early so the star received’t ever have to attend — and heard this dialog by means of the open door.
Movie star: “Okay. Are we having lunch now?”
Functionary: “No. We have one more before lunch.”
Movie star: “What? You said we were eating at 12. Who is it?”
Functionary: “A Canadian reporter. It’ll only take 15 minutes.”
Movie star: “I was told we were having lunch at 12.”
Functionary: “We’ll make it fast. It’s the last one before lunch.”
Movie star: “I really have to eat something.”
Then somebody got here into the corridor and informed me, “Come on in. Miss Dunaway is waiting for you.”
I started to race by means of an interview and we had been all set to wrap up in document time when the newspaper’s photographer arrived. Suddenly Miss Dunaway had all the time in the world. “What’s that lens?” she requested, and “Why are you putting the light there? Where’s the shadow?” Like most actors, Dunaway knew nearly every thing there’s to learn about how she may very well be made to look and tips on how to defend that. Not that I blame her: In Hollywood, what you seem like, particularly for a lady, isn’t an idle preoccupation. It’s life and dying.
When we completed she leapt to her ft, mentioned thanks, and walked out the door, turning out the gentle as she left. That left me sitting in the darkish, looking blindly for my pocket book and tape recorder. A number of seconds later she reappeared. “Sorry,” she mentioned and turned on the gentle. The ethical: Always carry snacks at a movie pageant. Snacks and, if potential, a flashlight.
But I preferred interviewing stars from an earlier period. When I met Lauren Bacall, who was in a film referred to as The Walker (2007), she had a tiny lap canine whose disposition once you walked into the room gave the impression to be vital to the approach Miss Bacall would view you as properly. Before we talked, she despatched her assistant out for a field of Timbits, which she preferred to eat when she got here to Canada, though they need to make it onerous to pucker your lips and blow.
In 1998, I went to dinner with a bunch of individuals related to the re-release of Touch of Evil, the Orson Welles basic that had some scenes restored. I sat throughout from Janet Leigh, in her 70s and nonetheless lovely, however didn’t get an opportunity to speak to her. However, after dinner she went round the desk to say goodbye to everybody and I — the sufferer, I ought to add, of the limitless glasses of complimentary wine which are poured at these occasions — knowledgeable her, “You’re so beautiful. You should be in every movie.” She smiled and massaged my shoulders, which is as shut as I’ve ever come to sleeping my strategy to the high in Hollywood. The different factor that occurred that evening is that her daughter, Kelly Curtis, additionally an actress (Trading Places), who accompanied her to the dinner, leaned throughout the desk and mentioned, very kindly, “I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk.” “That’s okay, “ I replied merrily. “I have nothing to say.” “Neither do I!” exclaimed Kelly with what appeared like real delight.
Another old-timer I obtained to satisfy was Jerry Lewis, who got here to the Cannes movie pageant in 2009 to advertise a sentimental household drama referred to as Max Rose. It was an irresistible alternative — the love of Jerry Lewis is one among the nice eccentricities of French tradition, and nearly defines Cannes.
Lewis was without delay beneficiant and barely oily in an old school show-business approach. His son, Christopher, who was serving to his father along with his French tour, was the world’s foremost authority on Jerry Lewis motion pictures and stood at the again of the room sometimes spicing up the dialog with details about what number of film tickets Lewis had bought in the 1950s or the field workplace returns of his largest hits.
At one stage Christopher mentioned that Lewis was significantly fashionable in the Palestinian Territories, and actually many residents there had realized to talk English by watching Jerry Lewis motion pictures.
“That’s why so many people in the Palestinian Territories say, ‘Hey lady,’ ” I mentioned — actually, generally I simply can’t assist myself — and Lewis took a sip from his bottle of water and mentioned, “That’s why they say that.” He was type of half-smiling, so it was potential that I had amused the legendary clown. These moments, once you suppose you may have entered the consciousness of a film star in some lasting approach, change into the forex of film writers once they commerce conflict tales.
One of my worst experiences got here once I was granted one among six Canadian interviews with Sean Penn, the famously prickly star of The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004). Penn is notoriously grouchy and appears to get indignant simply (different well-known grumps: Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. I used to be at a TIFF social gathering as soon as with Jian Ghomeshi, talking of names it may be harmful to drop, and he mentioned that his most tough interview wasn’t his well-known on-air bout with Billy Bob Thornton, however relatively with the taciturn, one-word-answer Ford). To be truthful, the Toronto journalist Bruce Kirkland was an awesome pal of Penn’s and he used to inform how the actor would do magic tips to amuse his companions at TIFF dinners.
None of that for me, nonetheless. The Assassination of Richard Nixon, if you happen to’ve by no means seen it, is predicated on the true story of a loner who needs to kill the president and who, at one stage, talks to himself in a mirror. This type of jogged my memory of Taxi Driver, so once I was ushered into The Presence for my 15 minutes (by the clock), my first query to Penn was if he thought there have been echoes of that iconic film.
“Anyone who says that is against this film, and against independent film, and I would never talk to them again,” Penn replied. I now had 14½ minutes to get well or, failing that, to race round the room and hope he couldn’t catch me. But I girded my loins and ultimately obtained some type of story out of him. And that is it.