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.”.