Legendary movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sat down for a lively, career-spanning discussion at the Toronto Film Festival hosted by Credit Suisse and The Daily Beast. From the tumultuous history of ‘Gangs of New York’ to Meryl Streep’s unique preparation methods for ‘August: Osage County,’ here are the best bits.
A modish mélange of A-list stars, film executives, and journalists gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto on Tuesday night to honor the man, the myth, the legend: Harvey Weinstein. Nicknamed “The Punisher” by none other than Meryl Streep, the bullish movie mogul’s name has become synonymous with Oscar—he has racked up 321 nominations and 78 wins, including two out of the last three Academy Award winners for Best Picture.
Weinstein, former head of Miramax and now The Weinstein Co., carried a whopping seven films into this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, including Stephen Frears’s Philomena, the Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, the ensemble dramedy August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, and more. And Weinstein is no stranger to TIFF, having used it as an awards launching pad for several of his Oscar-winning hits, including The King’s Speech.
On making August: Osage County:
The process of August: Osage County is an interesting one. About five or six years ago, a young guy who works for me named Ben Famiglietti walked into my office and said, “I just read an amazing play.” I said, “Let me read it.” And he dropped off a 190-page script, and I said, “This is crazy.” And then I started reading it and it was the most incredible dialogue I’d read in a long time, up there with Tennessee Williams. These people were desperate for money, and I think it was $500,000 or something… I wrote the check [for the rights]. The play went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and was a financial success at the box office, and they kept their word and Jean [Doumanian] sold us the rights to make it a movie. George Clooney was our biggest competitor, so I thought it was only fair that George produce the movie with Jean.
On working with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts on August: Osage County:
Off-set, the cast loved each other. Meryl’s process is one of the most interesting ones. In order to do this role correctly, she was at Costco at two o’clock in the morning shopping like a homeless person. She becomes the role. She lives it. She is it. This is my sixth movie with her, and we’re about to do a seventh, and an eighth. And [Julia Roberts] loved it. It’s her favorite role, and she’s spectacularly good in the film. I’ve known her 20 years, and she was actually giddy last night. She and Taylor Swift went into the SoHo House and they went to the photo booth and they were just hugging all night with each other, with their tongues sticking out. Taylor Swift, I think, was shocked that Julia Roberts knew who she was, and Julia Roberts had the same reaction.
Tweet – @WeinsteinFilms
In some cosmic switcheroo, Taylor Swift may just have been the perfect megawatt replacement for Meryl Streep last night at Grey Goose Soho House. Streep had been the most anticipated guest of TIFF 2013 in connection with her latest sure-to-be Oscar nominated leading role in August: Osage County, but bowed out at the last minute due to illness. There were tears for many, especially one pint sized fan who wore a “Meryl in training” T-shirt to the film’s screening at Roy Thompson Hall earlier that evening. Not for the film’s cast and Gucci and Holt Renfrew’s hosted after-party guests however—they all seemed thrilled by the surprise appearance by Swift, who showed up in a wowza Calvin Klein Collection number after walking the red carpet of One Chance. Flanked by Harvey Weinstein and a dapper Brenton Thwaites who I’m sure will be the talk of the blogs all day long (he’s about to be a Disney prince!), Swift held court on the second floor for most of the night, that is, while she wasn’t busy hanging with the film’s star studded cast, aka. the fixtures of the rip-roarious festivities.
Julia Roberts, breathtaking in raspberry Dolce & Gabbana, chatted animatedly with co-stars Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Julianne Nicholson and Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding 2.0!) for most of the evening. Her million dollar smile and signature cackle were as omnipresent as you’d, or say a little gal watching Pretty Woman on repeat a million times, imagine. Everyone was hugging. Everyone was so huggy! Nearby, Chris Cooper, whose performance instigated applause multiple times throughout the screening, ate dinner with wife Marianne Leone.
The cast seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, spending hours in and around the club. I even found Roberts, McGregor, Mulroney and Swift making use of Soho House’s photo-booth, conveniently located beside the women’s bathroom. “It’s a good look, you should keep it,” said Mulroney to Swift as I meekly shuffled by. (I had to touch her back. It was soft. And awkward.)
Later that night, the party got even wilder as more celebs packed in. Juliette Lewis, who swapped into a white off-the-shoulder cocktail dress after the premiere, toasted with friends on the newly opened rooftop as the familial-y blessed Jack Huston and the familial-y famous Jason Bateman hung out at tables nearby. Back on the club floor, we were thrilled to see that IRL, Mad Men’s Lane Pryce aka. Jared Harris, was very much alive. Felicity Jones was there too, cause why the heck not.
And because that wasn’t all, I witnessed Ralph Fiennes showing off his moves to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” as an impromptu dance party broke out on the main floor. Devil may care? More like wizard can dance, am I right?
The Weinstein Company on Thursday shifted the release date of one of its main awards hopefuls, “August: Osage County”, to Christmas Day. It had been scheduled to debut on November 8.
Christmas is getting crowded. Also set to debut on that day are Universal’s Keanu Reeves action drama “47 Ronin,” Paramount’s Chris Pine-Keira Knightley action thriller “Jack Ryan” and the Fox comedy “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
The studio also shifted “Grace of Monaco,” a biopic starring Nicole Kidman as Hollywood star-turned-princess Grace Kelly, from December 27 to November 27, the day before Thanksgiving.
“August: Osage County” is directed by John Wells and produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. The cast includes Meryl Streep playing a pill-popping mother and Julia Roberts as her bitter daughter. Also featured are Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin and Juliette Lewis.
The Tracy Letts play that inspired the film snagged just about every major theatrical prize including the Pulitzer when it debuted on Broadway in 2007.
The Weinstein Company unveiled its slate for the year at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, giving a glimpse of their game plan for Oscar season, which includes an intriguing documentary-style feature about the elusive writer J.D. Salinger, a biopic on Nelson Mandela and a southern vehicle for A-list Actresses, “August: Osage County“.
The presentation included a small parade of stars, including Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Michael B. Jordan and a host of other actors and directors joined by co-chairman Harvey Weinstein at the event. Weinstein joked that he would have invited George Clooney, a coproducer on “August“, but he was still sore over losing the Best Picture Oscar to him this year with “Argo.”
That doesn’t mean TWC will be absent at the Oscars this year (they never are).
The most obvious Oscar bait – at least in the acting category – was a first look at “August: Osage County,” based on the play, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor and Juliette Lewis. It also includes Abigail Breslin and my how Little Miss Sunshine has grown!
The film delves into the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, starting with Streep, in a frowsy black wig (Weinstein told TheWrap this week that Streep went wandering through Wal-Marts late at night to prepare for the role), Roberts as her daughter returning during a family crisis and Lewis as her sister.
Looks like Streep gets in lots of zingers and embodies the tagline for the movie: “Misery loves family.”
Weinstein, wearing a tux, said he was going back to the office after the presentation to keep selling his movies to international partners. So goes Cannes.
Sean…I was at the ‘screening’ in the city the other night… I belong to Nielsen and get comped screenings of certain films..I was placed in a “will call” section of the theater to make sure there was room…. and i got in… I’ve never seen a film so early before release date before…it was kind of weird..knowing this Oscar season just ended…. anyway I saw what i saw… some of it good, some of it not so good, some of it great… I saw the play with Deanna Dunegin within the first month of its initial opening on Broadway…. and I found the play moving and thrilling… but I did worry about the transferring to screen.. and with john wells signing on.. I was even more worried… but all the parts are acted by what seems like perfect actors… except Julia Roberts’ part… she is the weak link for me… I don’t like her much as an actress… the men are fine… especially Cumberbatch and cooper…. Martindale is fine as Mattie Fae…but as i knew it would be..this is a tour de force for Meryl…..and the kind of performance I think you usually don’t like…but IMO..she is at the peak of her skills as an actress..and this might be undeniably a nomination in the least.. I suspect that the film will undergo some more editing.. scoring.. and maybe even a scene or two cut completely… the audience responded with a thundering ovation… Harvey was there…schmoozing with the audience which consisted of a few studio big wigs, and industry people.. and mostly just a laymen audience…this film might get a couple more of these advance screenings to tweak audience excitement… and with Clooney, Heslov and Harvey as producers.. this film will get the royal Oscar treatment… but in the end.. the work must speak for itself….
Again, we still know next to nothing.
A small vid with Meryl at some parts:
An article by Observer for C2C Gala with Meryl:
Is it a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, it’s Meryl Streep!
After dinner we headed over to have a chat with masochistic magician David Blaine. When we got nearer we realized that he was eating glass to the audience of Meryl Streep and Harvey Weinstein. The night was slowly loosing it’s grip on reality. After Ms. Streep ran away in disgust we asked him how he came to be involved in the organization.
His response: “Want to see a trick?”
Please no, not the glass. Mercifully he pulled out a pack of cards and proceeded to perform a whirlwind of card tricks. “You can’t tell anyone about these tricks because they are going to go in my new show,” he said as he pulled a folded four of spades from underneath my watch. Just as we actually got talking Ms. Streep was at the podium to present an award to Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano the directors of the French box office hit The Intouchables. Ms. Streep almost gave the dagger shaped award to the producer Mr. Weinstein.
“Do I give to you now…between the eyes?”
And that’s her reaction to him!