#EDITORSNOTE: MR. WILL RESPONDS TO READERS
It’s been a while since I’ve had a good Chat with my Readers and Followers, so I reached-out to everyone on Facebook and Twitter for their most burning questions and replied with as much insight as possible. Enjoy and thank you for your continued loyalty and support, Wongsters!
@Cindyandtheboys asks, “What was your motivation to get you started on what you do?”.
Hey Cindy! I’ve been a Stargazer for many years and my love for Film and Pop Music is unparalleled. I used to be the Kid who rushed to MuchMusic after class waiting by the window for Gwen Stefani to come out and sign an Autograph and I have been attending TIFF as long as my Bank Account permitted.
By 2009, I had amassed so many Photos of my Celebrity Adventures that I created my Blog as an Outlet to combine my passions for Photography, Film, Music and Writing together in one and kicked it off around TIFF. It would’ve been a severe waste having them sit dormant on my Computer or just on Facebook. From there, I developed a passion getting Photos with my personal Heroes and Heroines because it gives me something to immortalize the experience by and well, it’s fun!
Word-of-mouth spread locally fairly quickly about my Blog. Some loved the idea, calling it one of the few true Celebrity Blogs to come out of Canada and some thought it nothing special. Before I knew it, I was booking time off work to interview Bradley Cooper and Channing Tatum, and was on TV talking about Stars and even profiled on the National Post. Last year, CBC listed me as one of the three most key People in the City to follow during TIFF. So that’s that. I love what I do as tiring as it is juggling three or four things on-the-go constantly and have no plans to stop because most of the time it doesn’t feel like work.
@MRDISCO3 asks, “What do you top your burgers with?”.
Hey Paresh! Good question. I’ve been off meat for three months now. Pitching-in my part to reduce my own Carbon Footprint as a Citizen of the Earth. Meatless Mondays, People. Google it and do it!
But to answer your question, if I could create my own Veggie Burger it would have: Jalapeños, Lettuce, Tomato, Sriracha Hot Sauce, Honey Mustard, Avocado/Guacamole, Sautéed Mushrooms and some crumbled Blue Cheese. It would be like a foot tall, really. Maybe I’d throw a fried Egg on for added Protein too. Is that too decadent? Is it?!? I also recently accidentally discovered Salsa on Fries and it is incredible!
@CTRice asks, “What was the first screening you ever saw?”.
Hi Tristan (Scene Creek, everybody!!!), I could never forget my first Screening. It was back in April 1996, Jane Eyre at Alliance-Atlantis Cumberland 4. My Cousin Nancy had won passes and we were going to trek Downtown from Scarborough for a Movie and some amazing Ice Cream at Mövenpick (Richtree Markets) after.
I remember getting into a huge misunderstanding with my Dad that day right in front of my Cousin who came over for Dinner about something terribly mundane. My Dad offered to wash dishes so I could hurry to the Movie and I asked, “Really!?” maybe perhaps a little too excited, which he interpreted as sarcasm but really it wasn’t! I basically got a lashing verbally for no reason and remember sobbing all the way to the theatre because I was embarrassed and two, I was looking forward to my first Screening for days and felt my night was ruined. By the time I got home, things were fine again.
It wasn’t a v. exciting Adaptation of Jane Eyre to be honest and obviously I’ve been to many more enjoyable Screenings ever since. It’s a miracle I wasn’t scarred from wanting to go to the Movies ever again!
@Typo_eh and Kathi on Facebook ask, “Who was your worst Celebrity experience?”.
Hi Siobhán!! Hi Kathi!! Are you guys psychically-linked or something?! Well, other than being shouted at by Ashley Judd after asking her nice and civil for a Photo, which then spilled over into a debacle on Twitter, I’d say the worst experience ever was Lady Gaga. A couple years ago I was being harassed daily by someone over E-mail and on my Blog. I had Tracking Reports pulled and he would view the same page over and over 20-30 times some nights in the wee hours of the morning. This Reader thought he’d do himself a favour and entertain himself by emailing Lady Gaga‘s Management a slanderous E-mail with my Photo, claiming that I was violent and dangerous, essentially getting me blacklisted when she visited Toronto.
Not realizing this, being the huge Fan I was, I asked her for a Photo upon exiting her Hotel amidst the hoards of Fans and Autograph Seekers. I cannot say that I enjoyed being shoved against a Topiary by her Security Guard Ed and once I recovered, he forcefully shoved me a second time as several eye witnesses watched. Of course, nobody genuinely cared as they were there to see Lady Gaga, admiring their Photos with her and their Autographs. It was particularly heart-breaking because I love her Music so much and at that point I had gone to every single Toronto Show she ever had, owning all her Singles and CDs. I had T-Shirts and Posters. I was gaga for Gaga.
This Jerk who has been chasing Celebrities for years, tried the same tactic multiple times, including a Jessica & Ashlee Simpson appearance at The Bay, which I actually was invited to in order to snap Photos in the Pit for my Blog. I was escorted out by Security once they matched a sent Photo with my face. Of course, another Blogger who absolutely despises me, caught wind of this and went to town, spreading word quickly that I was ejected from the Venue. Hmm.
I knew this was really getting serious when the Head of Security at a major American Network in New York City called me to clue me onto an E-mail he received from him regarding two Actors from the Network who were filming a TV Movie in Toronto. Of course, he knew right away that this Person’s intentions were malicious from the E-mail and just wanted to give me a heads-up out of the goodness of his heart. Multiple Publicists also reached out to me around that time regarding similar type E-mails, which thankfully they knew better than to believe.
Eventually, I got one step ahead of the game when a certain British Boy Band came to town. Their Security Guard noticed me, pulling me aside to show me one of these slanderous E-mails on his Phone. Low and behold, the Jerk showed-up also, hoping to get a Photo and like an episode of Cheaters, I outed him in front of everybody including the Band, who chimed-in, giving me hi-fives and encouragement. He was a mess and left in tears.
The messed-up thing is that after that occurrence, I’d receive messages from this Jerk threatening to inflict harm on himself because of my actions and he’d gone about posting my Home Address on Twitter. Essentially, I was being stalked and didn’t even know it. I and others know well that this Person is not mentally stable, so I feel bad even writing about this and bringing it up, but at this point I really don’t care anymore. And such a Drama needs to be heard because I get so many Tweets and messages from others who wish they were me because apparently my life is so perfect!
He’s left me alone ever since, but the damage has been done and I’m sure someone who didn’t know me better might have a skewed perception of me from what they’ve heard. Looking back though, I don’t know why I didn’t do more about it. I’ve moved on and hopefully he has found some sense of balance.
@CTRice asks, “Has a Celebrity ever denied to take a photo with you?”.
Impossible! LOL Just kidding, of course! I’ve been turned down before and it’s inevitable it will happen and I respect that, but I’d say one of the harsher Declines came from Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Once I was one-on-one with him and he chuckled at me and walked off after I asked nicely for a Photo. Hence, when I hear stories from those who have had positive experiences with him and what a great Guy he is, my eyes just roll.
Or how about running into Claire Danes at the Grocery Store only for her to react as if I had SARS or something when asking her for a Snap? She quite literally jumped three feet back. I saw her in the neighbourhood a few times after that and didn’t bother her again. That was fun. Some are nice when the Cameras are on, some value their Privacy more than others.
Of course, it’s the few who got away that I remember most when in reality a vast majority of Celebrities I’ve met have been more than nice and accommodating. Once, Nicole Kidman came over to take a Snap with me during TIFF and then some super-annoying Girl got in the way, getting her Photo and then Nicole was pulled away by her Handler. That hurt. And do you believe the Girl eventually found my Blog and had the audacity to ask me to remove the Photo I snapped of her and Nicole? Go away.
Last year Penélope Cruz said “yes” to the Photo but then suddenly changed her mind when her Publicist said she had to go. That hurt equally bad on a Nicolean level. I also met Julia Roberts once candidly and although she said “no” to the Photo she was still nice to chat and be kind, offering to sign an Autograph instead which still was gracious. She wrote “TO WILL, PEACE, JULIA“. That was “pretty” epic.
@apluswagvantage asks, “You despised the Celebrity’s Album/Movie/TV Show/Persona. How are you gracious when interviewing him/her?”.
Hi Charles! I generally don’t approach a Celebrity for a Photo unless I have some admiration for their Work, so that takes care of the forced graciousness thing, I guess! Autographs are something I used to love collecting, but now I do it more for my Readers and help them experience a part of the magic when they can’t physically be there with me. The Photo-with means much more to me.
I have however been a part of Press Tours where the Talent promoting the Film literally are in the Movie for like one scene and it’s like pulling teeth to concoct something profound and throught-provoking to ask. That horrific feeling that you’re going to say something foolish… your palms get sweaty and your throat gets dry. At that point, you just have to take the reins and broaden the scope and somehow find something to connect and relate to about the Film. That’s happened more than a couple times!
Sari on Facebook asks, “Who was the nicest Celeb that you have met?”.
So many, Sari! Adele, Katy Perry, Linda Hamilton, Hugh Jackman, Jessica Chastain, Nia Vardalos, Colin Farrell, Colin Firth, Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper, Channing Tatum, Michael Bublé, Abbie Cornish all go beyond and above the Call of Duty and consistently do it time and again! I even brought a tear to Adele’s eye letting her know how much her Music meant to me once. So personable!
I understand that the scale of Celebrity “niceness” often depends on how their day’s going, but these named individuals consistently wow me every time and I’m sure there are several more I’m neglecting.
Terri on Facebook asks, ”Seems to me that in recent months you have achieved some of your childhood dreams….What dreams of Celebs or Events have still eluded you and what bigger dreams Mr. Will are you hoping to reach for?”.
Hey Terri! There is so much to accomplish still. The end goal is to continue building a groundbreaking Fan-centric Website and go-to source for Celebrities and Entertainment in Toronto. I am continually trying to expand my scope further and build new Partnerships for my Readers, getting them a taste of all that good stuff first! I aspire to do this full-time and slowly am getting there. One day we’ll perhaps have a more national presence even!
I’d love to attend the Oscars and Grammys one day as basically I live for those two, and I am kinda obsessed with the Golden Globes too! I’ve still never visited L.A. One day. My dream Interviews would be Natalie Portman, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway or Kate Winslet. I’ve met Mariah Carey before, but would really want to reflect on her Career with her over some Champagne. That would be perfect.
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#TIFF12: MR. WILL & THE STARS OF TIFF 2012
TIFF 2012 was another great Festival. The fact that Toronto plays Host to such a prestigious and glamorous event is a true testament to the level of respect the Film Industry has for our City. I am so proud to be a Torontonian and proud of my fellow Torontonians who made it all happen, from the Hot Dog Vendors who fed those of us with no time for a sit-down meal, to the Celebrity Drivers and Security Guards for keeping everyone out of harm’s way.
This year I met many Stars and my only regret is not being able to be at two places at once with the opening weekend crammed with Stars. Although this is nothing new for the Festival, let’s just say I never want to be faced with having to decide between Johnny Depp versus Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence versus Emma Watson, Tom Hanks versus Jackie Chan versus Will Smith ever again! Whomever schedules the times and locations of these Premieres certainly wasn’t a Star Spotter, that much I can say. Nightmare.
Ask Hanks, who called-out the Festival Organizers at the Press Conference for Cloud Atlas, asking: “Why do you run your celebrities through a pin like we’re bulls on the way to slaughter? It’s the narrowest kind of like entrance to a theater I’ve ever had.”. So believe me, it’s not just the Fans who are complaining – the Celebrities also have thoughts on the matter.
Thank you for being there along the way with me, tuning-in on CP24 and CTV News and reading my Posts as I dozed off on my keyboard fighting to finish that one more Blog Post at 5:00 AM. I can now look forward to catching-up on sleep once again, spotting Stars in the City at a far more reasonable pace and being Billy‘s Dad again. Oh, how I’ve missed that little Guy. And oh, how I know come January (when the Stars are sparse in the City) that I’ll be wishing it was September again!
Until next year…
List of Celebrities: Vanessa Hudgens, John Krasinski, Flava Flav, Ashley Benson, Kevin Zegers, Karl Urban, Alice Englert, Derek Cianfrance, Stephen Fung, Ben Mendelsohn, Dane DeHaan, Lana Wachowski, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Glen Powell, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Liana Liberato, Jessica Mauboy, June Diane Raphael, Trudie Styler, Mickey Sumner, Kristen Wiig, Sam Taylor-Wood, Aaron Johnson, Eva Mendes, Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Kevin James, Adam Sandler, Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Tate Donovan, Ben Affleck, Coco, Ice-T, Amy Adams, Gina Torres, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Frank Grillo, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Shannon, Viggo Mortensen, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jason Bateman, Paula Patton, Marisa Tomei, Julie Benz, Lorenza Izzo, Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood, Patrick J. Adams & Tatyana Ali, Gregory Smith, Penelope Mitchell, Abbie Cornish, Logan Lerman, Toby Irvine, Jeremy Irvine, Emile Hirsch, Chris O’Dowd, Lee Daniels, Kiowa Gordon, Alessandro Nivola, Zac Efron, Octavia Spencer and Shannon Leto.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
#TIFF12: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FESTIVAL BY MR. WILL
1. Bruce Willis actually signing an Autograph for once – Press Conference for Looper. Believe me, he rarely does it! His younger Co-Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt certainly could learn a lesson or two from that, getting booed after turning-down Fans yet again.
2. Vanessa Hudgens & Austin Butler arriving in Toronto together for Spring Breakers.
3. Kristen Stewart at the On the Road Premiere. Smiling! A great regret of mine for not bothering to queue toe Red Carpet for her as she was extremely generous with Fans that day.
4. Garrett Hedlund is a star on the rise; he is seen here at On the Road Premiere.
5. Karl Urban at the Premiere for Dredd 3-D. Is he perhaps Action Cinema’s most underrated Actor?
6. Joss Whedon walking to TIFF Bell Lightbox for some Photos. Several Fanboys and Fangirls got their biggest wish come true meeting the Director as he walked to and from Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
7. Lana Wachowski debuts herself as a Woman at the Cloud Atlas Press Conference. Yes, you know who she is. Think: The Matrix.
8. Jennifer Lawrence at the Press Conference for Silver Linings Playbook. Easily the Festival’s biggest “It Girl”. Few got their Photos with her, but The Hunger Games Star did her best to sign every Autograph she could.
9. Tom Hanks at Cloud Atlas Press Conference. That is all.
10. Halle Berry being gracious to Fans working her way into ever corner of the queue, signing Autographs at Cloud Atlas Press Conference. I am floored by her beauty and kindness.
11. John Hawkes at the Premiere for The Sessions, for which he is gaining a tremendous amount of Oscar buzz with. He declined me a Photo but still was nice about it, as he was rushed off into his vehicle.
12. Patrick Schwarzenegger at the Premiere for his first Film, The Writers. Yes, I met a Schwarzenegger!! Was Arnold even this handsome at his age?
13. Lily Collins at the Premiere for The Writers. Love her Balmain Dress; favourite Dress at TIFF 2012 – no doubt.
14. Pierce Brosnan at the Premiere for Love Is All You Need. As classy and kind as you’d imagine.
15. Kristen Wiig at the Premiere for Imogene. Incredibly gracious on the Carpet, but don’t bug her when she’s not working. My #1 Person to Meet at TIFF 2012 and it happened! And it was epic! Hilarious seeing myself shouting for her on the Carpet later that day on the news!!
16. Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling together in one Photo. How can one .jpg contain that much hotness? Photo taken at Party for The Place Beyond the Pines where Gosling was spotted bringing his Mom, Donna. Aww!
17. Eva Mendes at the Party for The Place Beyond the Pines. Whatever Ryan Gosling has done to her, she needs to keep doing as she was in great spirits that night. Mendes was incredibly friendly to Fans this year and she has never looked more glamorous doing it. I want to squeal every time I look at my Photo with her.
18. Elle Fanning at the Premiere for Ginger & Rosa. Stunning and sweet young Lady who happens to be the little Sister of Dakota. She is said to have been v. emotional after seeing Film for the first time and apparently cried on-stage during the Q&A.
19. Christina Hendricks at the Premiere for Ginger & Rosa. Stunning. Just absolutely stunning. The Mad Men Star declined Photos that night, but after a bit of persistence she did it and I will never forget! Thanks to Friend and Reader Laura for snapping this!
20. Adam Sandler at the Press Conference for Hotel Transylvania being awesome with Fans surprisingly. You just can never tell with Comedians. He’s always been a favourite of mine and I’d never have guessed I’d have gotten a Photo with him!
21. Selena Gomez at the Press Conference for Hotel Transylvania. I have never heard so much shrieking. Ever.
22. Ben Affleck at the Press Conference for Argo, which although got mixed reviews at Venice Film Festival, was loved by many in Toronto. A great Guy who is equally talented as a Director as he is an Actor and wonderful to his Fans. He definitely is one of my greatest highlights of TIFF 2012.
23. Bryan Cranston at the Press Conference for Argo. A true Gentleman who hopefully will come back to film in Toronto again and be welcomed with open arms as he’s just an amazing Guy!
24. Darren Criss at a Photo Call for Imogene. Some Glee Fans had great experiences with him, some not so much especially after arriving so late to the Premiere for the Film that he had little time for Fans.
25. Paul Thomas Anderson at the Press Conference for The Master – the one Film which already is being touted as a clear favourite to win Best Picture this year.
26. Amy Adams at the Press Conference for The Master. They don’t come much nicer than her. One of my fondest memories of TIFF 2012 was meeting her. One of America’s greatest Actresses and believe me, I’ve waited year after year for her to come.
27. Ziyi Zhang at the Roy Thomson Hall Premiere for Dangerous Liaisons. Absolute perfection.
28. Michael Shannon at the Press Conference for The Iceman; a bona fide Actor’s Actor on the verge of an Oscar whether it be this year or another year. Incredibly humble and generous with Fans, taking the time to fulfill every request thrown his way that day.
29. Kristin Scott Thomas leaving her Hotel after promoting No. Brilliant Actress, who is every bit as classy and kind as you’d imagine. Will she ever age?!
30. Marisa Tomei at Red Carpet for Inescapable at Roy Thomson Hall. Tomei was in great spirits at the Carpet, signing many Autographs and believe it or not, doing some Photos with Fans. I even got one (minus the fact that she moved quickly after posing!). A rarity for the Oscar-winning Actress!
31. Octavia Spencer at Red Carpet for Smashed. Charismatic Actress who although vocal with Fans and generous with Autographs at Ryerson Theatre, was photo-shy, declining Photos with Fans leaving them disappointed as she entered the venue.
32. Aaron Johnson at Premiere for Anna Karenina. Unquestionably talented Actor who is on the verge of becoming Hollywood’s next It Boy. Currently in Toronto filming Kick-Ass 2; lovely meeting his Wife, Sam Taylor-Wood who was a bit taken a back when I asked her for a Snap.
33. Paula Patton leaving her Hotel for Premiere of Disconnect. She was one of the sweetest Celebrities to have graced the City this Festival; extremely giving, friendly and just beautiful to the eye.
34. Chris Evans aka Captain America, at Press Conference for The Iceman. The Hunk has catapulted to the top after much persistence and dedication. Although he typically doesn’t sign Autographs, Fans were delighted by his generosity that day.
35. Penelope Cruz at Press Conference for Twice Born. Always a thrill to see this brilliant Spanish Actress, who has left her mark in Hollywood with a string of Oscar-worthy performances.
36. Chris O’Dowd at Premiere for The Sapphires. The lovable Funnyman spent a good amount of time with Fans as his Premiere with cigarette in-mouth, while earlier Harvey Weinstein milled about in the background, going in and out of VISA Screening Room checking audience reactions. One of the few Films which I saw an Audience give a standing ovation to outside the Theatre.
37. Zoe Kazan at the InStyle Magazine Party. You’ve definitely seen her before but just didn’t know her name. This humble and sweet Actress was spotted with her equally amazing Partner Paul Dano, taking Photos with several Fans. Currently in-town filming The F Word opposite Daniel Radcliffe, it’s quite possible we’ll be seeing her on the Red Carpet herself at TIFF 2013! While most Actresses opted for fluffy frocks and slinky dresses, she kept it cool and casual.
38. Johnny Depp at Premiere for West of Memphis. Although I physically wasn’t at this event, I did see Depp earlier in the day at the Press Conference for the Documentary, failing to fire a proper Snap of him as he hopped straight into his vehicle. He apparently was generous with Autographs upon arrival, although few who were persistent enough managed a Snap together with him. Thanks to my loyal Reader and Friend Sheetal for sending this in!
39. Gwyneth Paltrow at Premiere for Thanks for Sharing. Fans who lined the Carpet at Ryerson Theatre were in awe how kind this Oscar-winning Actress was with Fans. It definitely was one of my biggest regrets of the Festival, just missing her both arriving and leaving, but thanks again to Sheetal, I have a beautiful Snap to show you. Paltrow was in a great hurry to fly-out after walking the Red Carpet quickly.
40. Jeremy Irvine at the InStyle Magazine Party. I adore this Irish-born Actor v. much after having seen him in War Horse – the one single Movie which made me cry so hard my face hurt, last year. I’ll be the first to admit he’s a bit more reserved and quiet than I’d have imagined but still a great Guy. I also got to meet his younger Brother Toby, who is just breaking into Cinema appearing in Dickens Adaptation Great Expectations together. Thanks to my amazing Reader and Friend Nicole who generously sent this Snap over after my Camera failed to fire!
41. Zac Efron at Afterparty for The Paperboy. One of the Films I am most excited to see this year is this latest effort from Precious Director, Lee Daniels. The number one question I received on Twitter this Festival definitely was “Do you have any idea where Zac is staying?”. Everywhere he went there was chaos as that was the case at his Afterparty at Bloke and Forth, with Fans crowding to meet him, resulting in him having to be escorted-in prematurely.
42. Logan Lerman at The Writers Premiere. One of the biggest breakout Stars of TIFF 2012 is this Star of Percy Jackson. Praise has been universal for his other Film at the Festival, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, with Critics and Sir Paul McCartney singing the praises of the Novel Adaptation. He’s definitely an Oddball, but a good Guy.
It’s been an absolute blast making it through another TIFF together. Thank you all for your encouragement, Re-Tweets and kind words. Can’t wait till next year already! *bow*
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong | Additional Photos: Sheetal Nanda/Nicole Divitcoff/Laura Cordero)
#TIFF12: PENÉLOPE CRUZ IN TORONTO FOR “TWICE BORN”
Academy Award-winning Actress Penélope Cruz is every bit as charming in-person as she is on the big screen. Although, rushed upon arrival of her new Romantic Drama Twice Born, she did promise to come out and sign some Autographs afterward. Unfortunately though, she first agreed to taking a Photo before her Handler advised there was no time left and then she later told me she had to go. Heartbreak!
Cruz‘s Husband Javier Bardem also currently is in-town doing promotion for his Documentary, Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)