Thursday, April 28, 2011


Jodie Foster at Toronto Premiere of The Beaver
In an absolute surprise, it was announced last week that two-time Academy Award Winner Jodie Foster would arrive in Toronto to do Press for long-delayed Comedy/Drama, The Beaver.  Also included on her itinerary was an appearance at the Canadian Premiere for the Film at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this evening, treating an intimate audience of Fans and Media to a rare Q&A session.

Foster helms and acts in The Beaver which centers around Walter (Mel Gibson), a Toy Company Executive, Husband and Father of two, who suffers from Depression.  His illness strains his relationship with  Wife Meredith (Foster) and two Sons Porter (Anton Yelchin) and Henry (Riley Thomas Stewart).  Oddly, he gets a second wind in life, finding inspiration in a Beaver Puppet he stumbles upon one day by chance.  The Puppet gives him the strength, self-confidence and the courage to save his Company from Bankruptcy and also drive him to reconnect with his estranged Family.  Things become problematic though when we realize that Walter is unable to act out of his own Free Will with the Beaver deciding his every move.

Yes, The Beaver sounds absolutely ridiculous on paper but Foster makes it a heartfelt and tender experience.  Most of all, Gibson puts in a tour-de-force performance as troubled Walter, really giving it his all, drawing from that deep emotional well which has been accumulating under public scrutiny.  Supporting performances from Foster herself, Yelchin and Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence are insightful and authentic. Thanks to Kyle Killen's thoughtful Screenplay, we are entrenched deeply in the mind of a Man who wants to get better, while at once genuinely not knowing how to get better.

Foster answered questions from TIFF's Head of Film Programmes Jesse Wente and also audience members.  She explained what a struggle it was to get this Film off the ground and the fact that it is being released already in itself is a victory for her.  Believe me, those of us in Toronto have been waiting patiently.  With rumours of a TIFF 2010 Premiere never amounting to anything, Film Buffs have been united by their collective eagerness to see what the commotion is all about.

Wente & Foster
She then touched upon the casting process for The Beaver, explaining that she had a few Actors in mind (namely Jim Carrey and Steve Carell) for the role of Walter, although in the end she is pleased with her choice of Gibson for the role.  She mentioned having known up-and-comer Yelchin prior but Lawrence, who plays Yelchin's love interest Norah, was cast after reviewing her Audition Tape and watching snippets of the acclaimed Winter's Bone; there was no better choice.

Perhaps the biggest Star of the Film, the Beaver Puppet, we learned was treated from the get-go as a Prop only and not a Character, meaning that it was up to Gibson to bring it to life and he does so via a British accent.  One audience member asked, "Is Mel Gibson's accent in the Film British or Australian?" to which Foster replied, "He (Walter) is an American Man who only knows British accents from what he sees on TV.  It doesn't necessarily have to be authentic.".  She points out also that The Beaver is shot with a v. European look, herself being a huge Fan of European Films, but in the end it is America that she is fascinated with most.

Following the Screening, I had the great honour of meeting Foster briefly and she was absolutely sweet to have personalized an 8x10 for me, saying "I appreciate you putting your name on a Sticky Note. It makes it easier for me.".  Asking if I could get a Photo with her, she made an attempt to make it past one of her Handlers who blocked her off. Alas she gave way saying, "I'd love to but they (Handlers) aren't going to let me".  Her Handler then interjected, "If we start doing it, it's going to cause a Domino Effect and we have to get out".  Foster then apologized, "I'm sorry, I know...." before getting whisked away.  I was literally shaking.

eOne Films releases The Beaver in Canada on Friday, May 6, 2011.  Watch its Trailer in full here.

Thank you eOne Films for making a dream come true for me.

(Photo credit: Mr. Will-W.)

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