Each year at TIFF, it is so easy to get caught up in all of the red carpet glitz. I’m definitely guilty. And while the red carpet is one of my favourite things about the film festival, I also love that we all get to celebrate the creative process for ten days. That’s what made last night’s special event, the American Beauty live read, so awesome. It was the ultimate celebration of filmmaking. Led by Jason Reitman, an all-star cast took the stage at Ryerson Theatre to perform a live reading of American Beauty. Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Adam Driver, Mae Whitman, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer, Sarah Gadon, and George Stroumboulopoulos performed the script without any kind of previous rehearsal.
Jason Reitman (the Canadian-born director of Thanks for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air) came up with the idea to do live reads of classic film scripts with modern actors. When Reitman was introducing tonight’s event, he explained it as “a real celebration of the words.” And amen to that, because every great movie begins with a great script.
In interviews I always hear actors talk about reading a script for the first time and being completely taken by it. That idea is, of course, pretty foreign to us commoners, and something I’ve personally wondered about. What makes one of these amazing scripts that actors are compelled to say yes to? Well, after tonight, I now know. It isn’t just an ear for dialogue, it is also an immense attention to detail. Even before the actors take hold of them, the characters are multi-dimensional. It is the creation of a fully formed world.
My favourite part of tonight was watching the actors really begin to get into character. As Reitman pointed out, tonight was the “true first shot at reading this together,” just like what would happen with a newly written script. At the beginning, everyone was trying to figure out their characters, and sort of just reading as themselves. As the pages turned, though, the actors began to transform into their own versions of the familiar American Beauty characters. Their body language changed, chemistry quickly developed, and the script was brought to life in a whole new way. All right before our very own eyes.
I have to say, I feel very lucky to have seen this tonight. I had the pleasure of watching a group of people doing what they love to do, and doing it really well. This wasn’t a publicity stunt, or for wads of cash. It was simply for the love of movies. Film buffs rejoice, this one was for you.
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