“Down-acting” shuffles up the TIFF red carpet

Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO—The Toronto International Film Festival returns September 5th with a slate of 366 films scheduled over 11 days.  Cinema has always been a trend-setter and this year’s line-up is no exception.  Mooseclean’s sat down with TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey to talk about what’s hot this season.

MOOSECLEAN’S: Every year, TIFF introduces us to some of the best new films around.  What can we expect to see this fall?

BAILEY: There seems to be a trend toward what the industry is calling “down-acting”.  The idea is to make the audience uncomfortable via fallacious acting so that everything seems more authentic.

MOOSECLEAN’S: Is this something being embraced only by budding actors?

BAILEY: Oh, no.  Not at all!  Everyone from Brad Pitt to Meryl Streep has taken a turn with this new form of method acting.  They become the character by being their most base forms of self.

MOOSECLEAN’S: Can you give our readers an example?

BAILEY: Yes.  We’ll be premiering a film called “Oily Olly” that stars ubiquitous actor, Benedict Cumberbatch.  He plays a Texas man who works on an offshore oil rig.  To make the most of his lead’s down-acting, director Steven Soderbergh used some ground-breaking methods.  He’d make Cumberbatch sleep in a cot on set and wake him in the middle of the night to perform unrehearsed scenes.  In some places, you can hear Cumberbatch’s accent change from Texan to British and back again.  It’s just so real and so moving.

MOOSECLEAN’S: How are audiences reacting to this new type of acting?

BAILEY: Well, the critics love it!  I read an article in Entertainment Weekly that called this trend “naked, stripped down acting with no sacred cows”Film goers will see Nicole Kidman without a stitch of make-up and John Goodman from his worst angles.  Of course, it will take the average viewer time to adjust.  But I think that in the end, everyone will appreciate the rawness imbued in the performances.

MOOSECLEAN’S: You aren’t worried that the glamour of Hollywood is being sacrificed with this new model?

BAILEY: Unaffected, unfettered representation will become the new glamour. You can already see the impact it’s having outside the film industry.  Musicians don’t tune instruments, but instead leave them in their natural state for concerts.  Models are wearing acid wash in a non-ironic way. I even saw clean living guru Gwyneth Paltrow buying a pint of coffee ice cream in 7-11!

MOOSECLEAN’S: But if the people revered for having certain talents are shunning what makes them unlike the rest of us, doesn’t that mean I could star in the next blockbuster?

BAILEY: Don’t be silly!  It’s just as hard to hide your light as it is to make it shine.  This method takes real skill and dedication.  Just imagine Oprah Winfrey speaking in a whisper about someone other than herself.  Magnificent!

Molly Donovan

Molly Donovan

I grew up in the USA, but don't hold that against me because I'm also Canadian. Just think of me as the mole.

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