Exclusive! See the Biggest Stars of #TIFF15 Through the Eyes of InStyle’s Photographer Jens Langkjaer
Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, and Michael Shannon of Freeheld
Moore and Page bonded on the set of their film, in which they play a couple that finds themselves at the forefront of the gay rights movement when Moore’s character is diagnosed with cancer and wants her benefits transferred to her partner, played by Page. “I think you see the intimacy, the closeness, and the vulnerability that they have—which was easy with Ellen,” said Moore, adding, "I love a love story."
Natalie Portman of A Tale of Love and Darkness
When shooting the first film that she wrote and directed—in Hebrew, no less—Portman tapped into a role that she knew well. “I felt like sort of a party host on set,” she said. “You’re trying to make sure that everyone knows what the party’s about, is dancing to the same beat, and that everyone is happy and well-taken care of.”
Sandra Bullock, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan, director David Gordon Green, and producer Grant Heslov of Our Brand is Crisis
Bullock stars as a manipulative political consultant working for an unlikable Bolivian presidential candidate in the George Clooney-produced drama. “She is incredibly brilliant at what she does, and she's able to do it without her conscience stepping in up to a certain point," Bullock said of her character. “I think she really reflects human beings—we're complicated, we have baggage, we have a past."
Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore of Miss You Already
Barrymore and Collette became close while filming the movie about the bond between their characters, two best friends going through major life changes. "The film captures something so real and true about female psychology and our connection to each other," said Collette. Added Barrymore, "Toni and I have been the most happy when someone tells us they ran out after the film and called their best friend."
Kate Winslet of The Dressmaker
Winslet was far from an experienced seamstress before taking on the role of a couturier in the adaptation of Rosalie Ham's novel of the same title. "I could sew name labels on to my kids' clothes for school and hem things, but I couldn't sew anything particularly fancy," she said. By the end of filming though, Winslet had adopted her character's skill set in real life. "Now, I could make curtains."
Liam Hemsworth of The Dressmaker
Hemsworth, who portrays a small town's star football player in the film, knows the value of wearing an outfit that fits right. "I would say that tailoring is the most important part of a suit—no matter what brand it is, it needs to be tailored right," he said. "I always have to get my suits tailored because I don’t fit in off-the-rack sizes."
Naomi Watts and Elle Fanning of About Ray
To play the role of a transgender teen named Ray, Fanning had to get into the mindset of her recently-transitioned character—and that involved getting his wardrobe just right. “I had to wear a binder, which is what a lot of transgender guys wear to strap themselves down," she said. "I also wore guys’ boxers and a lot of layers, because Ray wears a lot of layers to hide his unwanted curves."
Emily Blunt of Sicario
Blunt wore two costumes while playing a badass FBI agent tasked with catching a Mexican drug lord. “It was the most unglamorous role,” she said. And filming over three months took its toll on her small onscreen wardrobe. “I get to wear two blue t-shirts, and the same pair of pants and boots. Don’t worry, I washed the t-shirt—it needed to be washed, because it was so hot out."
Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Benicio Del Toro of Sicario
Blunt’s co-stars were impressed with her sense of humor. “She brings the majority of the fun to the set,” said Brolin. While she may have kept things light while shooting the drama, sometimes her antics proved to be a bit too entertaining. “When [her husband] John [Krasinski] was on the set, the two of them were just going back and forth,” said Brolin. Joked Del Toro, “It was very distracting.”
Sebastian Stan, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Pena of The Martian
After wrapping her blockbuster Interstellar, Chastain took on another film about space—but she won't be heading there anytime soon. “There’s no part of me that is talented or capable enough to do what these people do," she said. "But I do hope that we start to see more women in these roles. Nothing would make me happier than a seven-year-old girl in the audience saying, ‘I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.’”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Sean Bean and Mackenzie Davis of The Martian
Unlike her co-star Chastain, Davis is game for leaving the planet—but she wouldn't stray too far from home. “I have always wanted to go to outer space, but just so far as I can see Earth,” she said. “Apart from that, I don’t want to go to any other planets—I’d rather go to the bottom of the ocean. I feel like you’d definitely run into aliens there."
Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander of The Danish Girl
Redmayne faced some wardrobe challenges when portraying a transgender woman in 1920s Copenhagen. "Even though the clothes of that time were quite boyish, I was trying to find ways to create curves in things which was difficult," he said, adding that "the idea of androgyny happening in women's fashion in the '20s was very interesting."
Kiernan Shipka of February
Playing the role of a boarding school student who becomes possessed by an evil spirit was exciting for Shipka. "I certainly have never played a character like this before," she said. "There's a lot of emotion and a lot of intensity." Another first for the star? Performing music on-camera while in character. "I've never sung or played the piano in a film before now," she said.
Lucy Boynton of February
"I scare really easily, so I wasn't a huge fan of horror movies before reading this script," said Boynton, who plays an older schoolmate of Shipka's character in the movie. "But in preparation for this film, [director] Oz [Perkins] sent us a list of classic horror films to watch. They had so much more to them than just the typical horror slasher drenched in blood, so now I'm a fan."
Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton of February
The duo's characters don't have much to do with one another at first. "In the beginning of the film when our characters first start interacting, my character, Rose, is very much in her own world and concerned with her own problems," said Boynton. "In a way, [Shipka's character] Kat doesn’t even exist to her, and you can kind of empathize with that element—until she’s forced to acknowledge her."
Oz Perkins of February
The thriller's director knew exactly what kind of horror film he wanted to create. "The movie is a very poised and quiet thing," he said. "It’s not a frantic, shrill movie—it was never meant to be." There was an easy way to make sure things stayed calm. "One of the rules was that the camera was never handheld," said Perkins. "It's not a shaky kind of horror movie that follows you around desperately screaming."
Tom Hiddleston of I Saw the Light
To portray late country singer Hank Williams, Hiddleston had to get his sound just right. "It was a rhythmic thing," the English actor said of learning to sing in an American accent. "I had to listen to a lot of the blues." His inspiration? "The sound of the American diner," said Hiddleston. "When you come to the states and you go into a diner to order a burger and fries, you hear those songs on the jukebox."
Elizabeth Olsen of I Saw the Light
Olsen's was impressed by Hiddleston's impersonation of Hank Williams. "It was really incredible to watch his transition," she said. "By the end of filming, he was so confident in his version of Hank that they went back and rerecorded a lot of the songs. There was so much growth just by being comfortable with the character, that it ended up transforming the singing."
Topher Grace of Truth
Grace stars as a researcher in the political thriller that follows Dan Rather's last days at CBS amid controversy in 2006. "He is a conspiracy theorist, and I think like most conspiracy theorists, some percentage of what he’s saying is correct," Grace said of his character. "But it’s up to the audience to decide if that’s 99% or if that’s 2%."
Elisabeth Moss of Truth
"I think that in our society, when anyone can put stuff on the internet, you search something and it will come up as fact when it’s not," said Moss, who plays a journalism professor in the film. "It's interesting to realize the power that we have over the information that’s out there—and that power is important to respect."
Alia Shawkat of Green Room
When filming the thriller, Shawkat had to get into the mindset of her character, the guitarist in a punk band that's fighting to survive after performing for a group of white supremacists. "Maintaining the mood on set was exhausting but fun," she said. "We were jumping up and down to get our adrenaline going. You have to hyperventilate all day, every day, for three weeks."
Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, and Imogen Poots of Green Room
A musician in real life, Yelchin was eager to prep for the role. "I went through all of my old music that I hadn’t listened to in awhile, like Japanese punk that I was really into," he said. "It brought back a lot of good memories of making mixes with my band, The Hammerheads.'" Added Yelchin, "I did not name the band, I simply conceded to the horrible name."
Patrick Stewart of Green Room
Stewart isn't quick to judge his character, the club owner tormenting the band. "I find it restricting to think in terms of, ‘Oh he’s a bad guy,’" he said. "I mean, maybe he’s got a dog who loves him!" That way of thinking goes for all of his films. "I don’t think about the roles that I play as being categorized in a particular way—but given the right circumstances, we all have a demon inside us somewhere."
Connor Jessup of The Closet Monster
Starring as a teen keeping his homosexuality a secret in the coming-of-age drama, Jessup's character is comforted by his talking pet hamster, voiced by Isabella Rossellini. "In the script, the voice is described as almost digital and Siri-like," he said. "Once Isabella came on board, she added an entirely different feeling and element to the film."
Géza Röhrig of Son of Saul
To portay a worker in a Holocaust concentration camp, Röhrig had to change his entire demeanor. "I had to keep myself in a state of mind, so I didn't feel like chit-chatting between the scenes," he said. That wasn't all he avoided. "I have a very sweet tooth, but I didn’t feel like eating dessert during filming. It was a different way of life just to make sure that I didn't lose focus."
Odessa Young of The Daughter
Young plays a local teen in the family drama revolving around a rural New South Wales community. "I feel like were quite similar in terms of having more primitive first responses to things," Young said of her character. "How she immediately feels about certain things correlates to how I immediately tuned in to feeling about it—but I got pretty good at separating her emotions from my own on set."
Geoffrey Rush, Odessa Young, Paul Schneider, and director Simon Stone of The Daughter
Rush, who stars as the owner of the small town's mill in the film, had a different career path than his co-star, Young. "When I was 16, I was in high school plays," he said. "She’s done two films, and they both went Venice Film Festival." Joked Rush, "I find that really annoying."
Davis Guggenheim of He Named Me Malala
Guggenheim was inspired when filming the documentary about Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old who was shot for speaking out about girls' education in Pakistan in 2012. "At its core, this is a father-daughter story," said the director. "You think it’s just about her, but actually her father, Zia, plays a very big role in this. And as a father of two daughters, I wonder what he did to create this powerful voice in this little girl."
Idris Elba of Beasts of No Nation
Elba wanted to add a bit of softness to his character, the commander of a rebel military faction in Africa. "He’s a bad guy, but I wanted to humanize him," said Elba. "I didn't want people to like him, but I wanted them to be able to see his dilemma and that he was a real human being. Even though I couldn’t relate to him, I wanted bring him alive on camera and make him redeemable."
Agyness Deyn of Sunset Song
Deyn takes on the role of a Scottish teenager who longs to leave her farm town behind in the film adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 1932 novel. "It was fun to play someone who feels real and has flaws," she said. "Even the period costumes weren't perfect—the clothes had holes in them and were hand-stitched."
Daniel Brühl and Michael Nyqvist of Colonia
Brühl stars as an artist who is kidnapped and consequently becomes part of a commune in 1970s Chile, but his co-star Emma Watson is the movie's ultimate hero. "Emma plays my girlfriend, who is desperate to get me out of this cult," he said. "She's this strong young woman who does everything to save me. At first, she looks so feminine and fragile—but then she becomes stronger throughout the film."
Brie Larson of Room
Larson had to physically transform herself to portray a woman who is kidnapped and kept in a room for years with the son she bears in captivity. "There's no sunlight in the room, so I stayed out of the sun for four months prior to filming to get really pale," said Larson. "My character has no means to take care of herself, so I didn’t wash my face and I had to grow out all of my body hair."
Clemence Poesy of The Ones Below
Poesy plays the role of an expectant mother in the psychological drama about a wealthy London couple's relationship with their new neighbors. "I’ve had other parts where I've played mothers, but this was my first time exploring maternity and what it meant really," she said. "It's a very deep look into the relationships between mothers and daughters when your relationship with your mother is a bit tricky."
Bryan Cranston of Trumbo
Cranston portrays screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was jailed and blacklisted from Hollywood after being interrogated by the government for his alleged communist ties. "The film highlights the cautionary tale that any time civil liberties are in jeopardy, people should take notice and be concerned," said Cranston. "It reminds us that men went to jail just because the government was dissatisfied with their answers."
John Goodman of Trumbo
Goodman, who portrays Dalton Trumbo's producer onscreen, believes that the story's theme still resonates with audiences today when it comes to villainizing others. "I think social media seems to be doing a dandy job at that," said Goodman. "You’re instantly tried, judged and tried. People are listening to their emotions, instead of their reasons.
David Oyelowo of Five Nights in Maine
After his wife passes away, Oyelowo's character travels to meet her estranged mother (Dianne West) for the first time. "I just loved the fact that you have an African American man and an older white woman who are thrown together and couldn’t have less in common, and yet they have everything in common in this one moment," he said.
Saoirse Ronan and Domhall Gleeson of Brooklyn
"There's no clear-cut happily ever after," said Ronan of her character's romantic fate in the film. "She’s very much in control of this relationship that she’s in, and she doesn’t move too fast with it."
Domhall Gleeson of Brooklyn
Gleeson found the relationships within the film to be fascinating, especially when it comes to Saoirse Ronan's character. "I think she is legitimately and truly in love with two people at the same time, which is unusual," he said. "But she’s a good person—it's not like she's evil. She just finds herself in this situation, and it's really heartbreaking."
Jason Bateman of The Family Fang
Bateman directed the film based on Kevin Wilson's novel of the same name, and he stars as a journalist who ends up at his parents' house after sustaining an injury. His sister (Nicole Kidman) comes to save him from their eccentric family, but then their parents disappear--and it's unclear whether or not that was by choice.
Emily Browning of Legend
"Compared to a lot of gangster movies, I feel like these characters are a little bit cartoonish—they’re just sort of straight villains," said Browning of the film about the leaders of organized crime in 1960s Britain. "I like the fact that we’re not trying to apologize for any of the things that they did, but I think you get to see another side of them—the good parts—as well. That makes it more realistic."
Joan Allen of Room
Allen was moved by her role as the mother of Brie Larson's character in the film. "She has this deep abiding love for her daughter, and I think it's really fascinating how much people will relate to her as the grandmother," she said. After Larson's character and her son escape their captor, "The trauma, the loss, the damage to the family is astronomical—but they’re trying so hard to figure it out and to get through to the other side."
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan, and David Thewlis of Anomalisa
The stop-motion animated film centers on a motivational speaker who doesn't take much interest in anything or anyone around him, until he meets Leigh's character. "It's about loneliness and the hope of love," said Leigh. "But there’s also the real-time aspect of the banality and mundaneness of checking into a hotel and having forced intimacy with cab drivers—experiences we've all had that feel like they'll never end.
Julianne Nicholson of Black Mass
Nicholson's co-star Johnny Depp looked nothing like himself when he got to the set of the film, in which he plays infamous South Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger. "He was completely unrecognizable even from a foot away," said Nicholson. "He really disappears into his character. He's so scary, but still charming and sexy.
Joel Edgerton, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, and director Scott Cooper of Black Mass
"This is our telling of this story, so there's no way that we'll get it perfectly right," Johnson said about the big-screen take on the criminal life of James "Whitey" Bulger. "There’s so much information available, but at the same time that comes with the responsibility to be as accurate as possible.
Jeremy Irons of The Man Who Knew Infinity
Irons and co-star Dev Patel play mathematicians in the historical drama, but "you don’t have to understand math to get it," said Irons. "It's really about the two mathematicians rather than mathematics. But the proof of mathematics and the joy and zest of discovery goes throughout the movie—that’s its engine
Gael Garcia Bernal of Desierto
Bernal felt passionately about the thriller's main subjects: migration and human survival. "Migration is an integral part of life, just like breathing and happiness," he said. "We are all migrants—humanity started in the south of Africa, and we started to migrate to different places. It's a universal issue."
Kal Penn, Claudia Lee, Miranda Rae Mayo, and Luke Baines of The Girl in the Photographs
In the slasher film, Penn plays an egotistical celebrity photographer who leaves Hollywood to investigate murders in his hometown. "I don’t play your standard fashion photographer," said Penn. "The character is not particularly likable, but there's a certain complexity to who he is.
Brian d'Arcy James of Spotlight
In the drama, James portrays Matt Carroll, the journalist in the Boston Globe's investigative unit who helped expose sexual abuse within Massachusetts' Catholic Church in 2001. "At the end of the day, this is about people who are truly passionate about what they do and are telling stories that need to be told," said James. "I think it has great potential to do a great deal of good."
John Slattery of Spotlight
Slattery wanted to do his role justice when portraying Boston Globe reporter Ben Bradlee Jr. onscreen. "It was important to play Ben with the dignity that he has as a person," he said. "You don't want to come off as sort of lightweight or silly when you're playing a guy like that.
Liev Schreiber of Spotlight
Before filming, Schreiber met with Marty Baron, the Boston Globe editor he plays onscreen. "I went down to Washington and he was kind enough to give me a few hours of his time," said Schreiber. "I realized what a delicate balancing act it is to be an editor, let alone the new editor at a Catholic newspaper when you’re a Jew from Miami who comes from The Times."
Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult, and Drake Doremus of Equals
Stewart and Hoult play coworkers who become infected with a disease that heightens emotions in their futuristic society. "It’s against all odds, like a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story," said Stewart. "But it's also about awakening, and the ebb and flow of relating to someone.
Jonny Beauchamp of Stonewall
To prep for his role in the film about the gay liberation movement's riots in 1969 New York City, Beauchamp reacquainted himself with Greenwich Village. "I walked around Christopher Street, where my friends and I used to do bad things when I was a kid," he said. "It's more gentrified than it was 10 years ago, but there are still a lot of amazing personalities and lively people there.
Sarah Silverman of I Smile Back
Silverman plays a depressed housewife who turns to drugs in the film, but she thinks women will relate to more subtle themes, like "surviving your childhood, the dangers of letting your past totally inform your future, and the anxiety of thinking you'll ruin your kids," she said. "They're all normal fears, but if you let them take over, you're doomed to be a self-fulfilled prophecy.
Salma Hayek of Septembers of Shiraz
Hayek stars as a woman who's trying to keep her family safe when her husband is imprisoned during the Iranian Revolution. "I wanted to portray this woman very faithfully," she said, adding that "it’s a completely different kind of role for me."
Shohreh Aghdashloo of Septembers of Shiraz
Before landing the part of Salma Hayek's character's right-hand woman, "I had been wanting to play a maid for almost two decades," Aghdashloo said. "The maid knows everything, and her loyalty is to her mistress. Their relationship is one of a kind."
Salma Hayek, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Alon Aboutboul, and director Wayne Blair of Septembers of Shiraz
"This is a very character driven story—the revolution is just a background for it," said Shohreh Aghdashloo. "You subliminally learn a lot about female relationships, and that when we trust one another, we love one another."
Surveen Chawla of Parched
Chawla plays one of four Indian women discussing every aspect of their lives, sex included. "In Indian villages, women wanting sex or talking about sex is a big taboo," she said. "We fear coming out and asking why that is, and that's a global issue that sums up the film."
Rachel Weisz of Youth
"It asks these big existential philosophical questions about human existence, but it’s told in a really lighthearted, warm, funny, and colorful way," said Weisz. "In one scene, my character has a nightmare that's like a sexy music video. A pop star has stolen her husband and they're having wild sex in a sports car."
Harvey Keitel of Youth
Keitel's filmmaker character looks back on his life with his longtime friend, played by Michael Caine, in the movie. "I can only speak for myself that the story of the movie is a summons for reflection," said Keitel, adding, "When I was seventeen, I was an extraordinary artist in every which way the art of cinema calls for.
Michael Caine of Youth
After seeing the film, Caine thinks that people will be less afraid of getting older. "Basically, anyone who’s young would say, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as we thought it was going to be,’ he said. "And the old people will say, ‘I could live with that’. Because you have no choice—you either live with it or you don’t."
Rossif Sutherland of Hyena Road
Filming the war movie about the Canadian military's presence in the Middle East "was like no other place I had been," said Sutherland. "We could hear gunshots from time to time, but we were in the safe confines of Jordan. We were very fortunate that everybody got home safe."