The Red Carpet was rolled out at Isabel Bader Theatre earlier this week. In-town were multiple Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain, Director John Madden and Canadian stars including Al Mukadam, Grace Lynn Kung and Raoul Bhaneja from upcoming Political Drama MISS SLOANE. The ensemble presented the Film together for the first time ever at its Toronto Premiere, hot on the heels of it being award second runner-up for the Audience Award at the Whistler Film Festival. The likes of acclaimed Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin also were spotted in the audience and we hear a much in-the-news Meghan Markle also was to attend. Made in Toronto here earlier this year, the Film centers on ambitious lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) as she goes up against her most powerful opponent yet in the name of gun control. Her credibility goes under great scrutiny and she just might lose everything she has worked so hard to build.
Our David Baldwin and Siobhán Rich attended the Red Carpet for a chat with the Cast and Director on their experience making what will be known as one of the most thought-provoking Films to hit theatres this year.
JESSICA CHASTAIN (plays Elizabeth Sloane)
We ask Chastain, beautiful in a burgudy Givenchy gown, about her attraction to roles which balance a no-nonsense sensibility and a bit of vulnerability.
“I like playing characters which challenge the status quo. Elizabeth Sloane does just that. She is an over-prepared perfectionist, who is very flawed and still we root for her. How many times have we seen George Clooney play characters like this?”.
With recent changes on the political front in the United States, we ask Chastain what she wants Miss Sloane‘s audience to take away from the Film.
“There are so many issues in world today including the issue of Wage Gap. We used to think of it as ‘Why aren’t men paying us fairly?’. Research however has shown it is more that women don’t ask for more. Men are outgoing and for some reason women just aren’t doing the same.”. She adds, “I hope women can see from this that a woman can be ambitious, over-prepared and that it’s okay. Elizabeth is not a ‘B-word’, she is just successful.”.
This certainly wasn’t Chastain‘s first time in the City, having made four Films here. She currently is in-town filming Aaron Sorkin‘s directorial debut, a high-stakes Poker Drama, MOLLY’S GAME. We ask her about her love affair with Toronto.
“I just saw today a video from the Mayor of Toronto declaring me an honourary Torontonian!”, she rejoices. “I love Toronto crews. They are wonderful people who are wonderful at their jobs.”
JOHN MADDEN (Director)
Having worked together on 2010’s THE DEBT, MISS SLOANE reunites Director John Madden (THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) and Chastain together once again. We ask Madden about the experience collaborating together once again.
“We have been trying to do it for almost ten years! I have watched Jessica‘s career unfold as I always imagined it would. She would send me scripts she was interested in and often I just wasn’t around. There has to be an exact alignment and when I read this script, I wrote back to her immediately. I told her ‘This is the one!'”.
We ask Madden about how MISS SLOANE might be perceived after the recent U.S. election.
“I don’t feel any different about the Film. I am startled by the reflections it’s throwing off. Gun Regulation is a very divisive and passionately-fought issue and I would stress this Film not about this issue. It more is a vehicle about political process and also the issue of Gender Politics.”. Madden says “Film collides with time, and environment defines and shapes an audience’s reaction in a different way.”. “We float free of exact circumstance here, Miss Sloane is a work of imagination, a fantasy. If a Film is going to be interesting, it should be contentious and I hope people go out talking about it and are engaged by it.”.
AL MUKADAM (plays Ross)
We ask the Canadian actor about what drew him most to MISS SLOANE.
“The script was a perfect document, it was an incredibly-smart page-turner. By the end of it, I asked ‘What kind of Movie is this?’. It felt like a Thriller I had to get to the end of.”.
RAOUL BHANEJA (plays R.M. Dutton)
We ask the veteran actor about his experience working with his A-List Co-Stars like John Lithgow, Sam Waterston, Michael Stuhlbarg, in addition to Chastain.
“I have to pinch myself every time. I also enjoyed working with the Toronto actors too! It’s amazing when you get to watch these actors you admire up-close. I’ve been doing this 20 years. You can still learn.”.
We ask Bhaneja what drew him most to MISS SLOANE.
“After reading the script, I hoped so bad to be in it. It is outstanding first page to end.”. On working with Madden, he says “John gave us a lot of opportunities to do something on-screen. I love his Film MRS. BROWN. He is an incredible director and a leader and he believe it or not, used to teach acting at Yale. The way he sees the world made a lot of sense to me. You could say he is an Actor’s Director.”.
GRACE LYNN KUNG (plays Lauren)
We ask the Canadian actress seen recently on CBC Series InSecurity, stunning in Narces, how she prepared for her role in the highly-buzzed project.
“Lots of research. Being Canadian, I digged a lot into the American political system, the senate and the art of lobbying. It’s actually very ‘cloak and dagger’. People don’t realize that’s how things get done in Washington.”. On the auditioning process, Kung reveals “We didn’t get a full script, as it was kept under-wraps. We got a breakdown of the characters and actually all read the same set of sides. We weren’t sure which role we were reading for.”.
Kung has nothing but the highest praise for Chastain and her artistry. “Jessica picks roles with a meticulous eye. I would always watch her and ask ‘What is she doing? How is she doing it? What can I learn from it?’. She was there every day driving dialogue on every single page.”.
On Madden, she confesses, “I will work on anything John wants. My first audition he was there conducting. There is a beautiful chemistry among the cast and this comes from John‘s piecing together of everything.”.
VVS Films x Mr. Will want to take Readers in Toronto to the Canadian Premiere of MISS SLOANEMonday, December 5, 2016 with Jessica Chastain! That’s right! She will be here right where it all began! We’ve seen it and we were floored.
Synopsis: MISS SLOANE is the story a ruthless lobbyist (Jessica Chastain) who is notorious for her unparalleled talent and her desire to win at all costs, even when it puts her own career at risk. The thriller pulls back the curtain on how Capitol Hill games are played and won as Sloane faces off against the most influential powers in D.C.
Although we really, really wanted this to be ready in time for TIFF ’16, we do at least get a first look for Toronto-filmed MISS SLOANE, starring Jessica Chastain.
The Drama couldn’t be timed any more perfectly, and centers on Elizabeth Sloane (Chastain) who finds herself in a struggle to help push gun-control measures. Directed by John Madden, it also stars Mark Strong, Jake Lacy, John Lithgow, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg and Sam Waterston.
VVS Films release MISS SLOANEFriday, December 9, 2016.
Although his Co-Star Jessica Chastain already has wrapped production on MISS SLOANE, Golden Globe nominee Michael Stuhlbarg continues to be hard at work on the gun control drama filming in Toronto for another week. After gaining wide acclaim from Critics in Dark Comedy A Serious Man, Stuhlbarg‘s star has been on the rise with prominent roles on HBO‘s Boardwalk Empire and last season’s Oscar contenders Trumbo and Steve Jobs.
The Juilliard graduate (where Chastain studied also), will be seen in Marvel’s Doctor Strange, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch.
We weren’t sure it was him when we saw him earlier today, but after he noticed us trying to keep up, he stopped and v. kind to do a Snap!
Washington native Noah Robbins has been in Toronto for the past month working on gun control drama MISS SLOANE. He has garnered acclaim for his work on Broadway in productions like Bright Beach Memoirs, Arcadia and an off-Broadway production of Secrets of the Trade.
Robbins since has appeared on popular series like Masters of Sex, The Good Wife, Orange is the New Black and Gotham. His career very much is headed the right direction with the Oscar bait of a project he’s filming here in the City in which he stars as the slightly-geeky junior, Franklin Walsh. More recently he was on the ratings hit, GREASE LIVE! as Eugene, which now is in stores!
We by chance spotted Robbins out today with a friend and recall seeing him in passing when visiting the set of MISS SLOANE earlier this week, when we met Mark Strong! Great guy and we’re excited to follow his bright career ahead!
English Thespian Mark Strong was a late addition to drama Miss Sloane, but a welcome one indeed! We last caught up with the star in 2011 when he visited for the Green Lantern Press Tour. He just last year was voted one of GQ‘s Best Dressed Men of 2015, crediting the late David Bowie as his own style icon. We were thrilled to see him just as gracious as we remember him!
Miss Sloane began filming in Toronto last month and continues to do so through April. Starring Jessica Chastain, the John Madden (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Shakespeare in Love) Film centers on an ambitious lobbyist up against a powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass gun control legislation. Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jake Lacy (!!) also star.
A busy man indeed, Strong was just in Los Angeles promoting new Comedy The Brothers Grimsby in which he stars alongside Sacha Baron Cohen and immediately returned to work this week. The crew and cast have been busy working late into the night in Financial District filming interior and exterior scenes.
Strong’s résumé continues to wow with roles in important recent releases like Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Imitation Game and Zero Dark Thirty, the latter reuniting him with Chastain. The two appear to be colleagues at the same firm here as per what we saw. But we’ll know perhaps Awards Season?
A photo posted by Mr. Will Wong ⛄ (@mrwillwong) on
See a quick clip of Chastain sporting a new bob at work:
We just caught up with Chastain in Los Angeles a couple weeks back at the Independent Spirit Awards. Tired after a long week of filming, she lit it up for the Fans who queued at Santa Monica Pier for a chance to see her. And she didn’t disappoint!
Since Suicide Squad and TIFF, Toronto hasn’t caught much of a break in terms of starpower. That is about to change soon. While a slew of TV Series and Pilots continue to film in the City, we will be plenty excited to know that A-List names like Reese Witherspoon, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, Neil Patrick Harris and Samuel L. Jackson are making their way north over the next few months. That’s right! Kicking-off 2016 proper!
DOWNSIZING, to be released via Paramount Pictures, is the latest endeavour for Oscar-nominated Director Alexander Payne who rocked our world with Sideways (2000) and The Descendants (2004).Matt Damon will star as an Omaha man who joins the many others who opt to undergo a procedure which reduces them to a fraction of their size. They then are moved-off to communities with many others like themselves. Reese Witherspoon who worked with Payne in Election, Jason Sudeikis and Neil Patrick Harris also star. Expect a late 2017 release, which means you guessed it… OSCARS and what could be a debut at TIFF ’17! Filming runs April through July.
For those who like a bit more of a punch, the latest installment in the XXX franchise, THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE begins production in February through May and once again stars megastar Vin Diesel in the titular role. Samuel L. Jackson returns and appearing also is MMA star Conor McGregor. After Xander Cage (Diesel) is left for dead, he miraculously finds his way back and is sent on a new assignment by hander Augustus Gibbons (Jackson).
Production is to be based out of Pinewood Studios in Toronto for both Films.
After selling to Europacorp during TIFF in September for a cool $17 million, gun control drama Miss Sloane, starring future Oscar winner Jessica Chastain also is pegged for a late winter start date. Chastain stars as a lobbyist who goes up against Washington to pass through gun legislation. The Hollywood Reporter reports a March start date, while the Directors Guild of Canada report filming could start as early as February.