I’m craving vegetables like you wouldn’t believe. My diet today? Breakfast: Pain au chocolat and coffee. Lunch: Pain au chocolat and coffee. Dinner: Pasta and a glass of wine. But despite the carboriffic calorie intake, I usually lose weight when I come here, because of all the running from one side of the Festival festivities to the other. This diet is terrible, not healthy at all, but when it gets busy, quick, nutritious options are limited. And today was a particularly busy one - my last day of interviews.
I started things with an early morning screening of Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Behind The Candelabra’. This is what I’m calling Soderbergh’s ‘The Boyfriend Experience’ – it’s a biopic of the flamboyant entertainer Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his turbulent, private relationship with a young man named Scott (Matt Damon). In the US, this film is released this weekend on HBO cable, showing as a telemovie. Here in Cannes, it’s part of the official competition selection. I expected the story to be touching and emotional, but I didn’t predict it to be quite so funny. It’s very enjoyable to watch, and Michael and Matt do a remarkable job in roles that could have easily strayed into parody-ville. It’s hard to pull off ‘huffy’ while wearing a bejeweled swimsuit, but somehow Matt Damon manages to do it. And Rob Lowe is an absolute scene-stealer, showing up with a ridiculously tight face to play a plastic surgeon. Really funny. ‘Behind The Candelabra’ has all the hallmarks of a Soderbergh movie, including the beautiful cinematography, and makes me sad that this is supposedly his last movie for a while. Boo.
Straight after the film I rushed over to interview James Franco about his movie ‘As I Lay Dying’. You never quite know what you’ll get when you talk to James, but as this is his baby (he wrote and directed in it, as well as starring), he was so excited to talk about it. James spoke to me about how excited he was to have the film play here at Cannes, and how last night at the premiere the whole team walked together from their hotel to the red carpet, arm-in-arm, instead of being chauffeured. I can’t imagine how big a mob of fans must’ve formed around him!
I was waiting inside the screening last night, where Franco entered to rapturous applause… apparently they were all Franco-philes. He explained to the crowd that this was an “unusual movie”, and he wasn’t wrong. The film is fairly experimental, using split screens and dream- like sound design, and at times it’s hard to figure out what is happening. The cast speak in thick Southern accents, so I was grateful for the French subtitles to kinda sorta figure out what they were saying. There were a few walkouts, and some not so great reviews, but James told me that he doesn’t read them; because though he respects criticism and how important it can be, he said he gets reviewed for everything he says, does and wears these days, so he just stays away from it all. After ten minutes I was given the signal to wrap and decided to chuck in one of my trademark hugs, which he graciously returned, holding for a while and saying an enthusiastic “Down Under!” to the camera. Hug count: 1 for today.
With James’ schedule running late I missed out on talking to Clive Owen about ‘Blood Ties’, and had to run fast in my sparkly flats to make the shuttle bus to the glamorous Hotel Du Cap in Antibes (about 30 mins away from Cannes) for ‘Behind The Candelabra’ interviews.
Press shuttle buses can be a nightmare if you’re saddled with journalists who do not stop complaining. Surprisingly, some do still find something to complain about when they’re flown overseas and are getting paid to talk to movie stars. It’s beyond me. Luckily I was with a particularly excellent group of international journalists, and we entertained each other with a game of celebrity head while waiting for our chats with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.
Walking into the cabana for Michael Douglas, I was struck first with how familiar he seemed and second, how nice he was, coming over to shake my hand and telling me how much he loves Australia. My five minutes with him flew by, he was so engaging and honest; speaking about how this project means the most to him because it came after he recovered from his battle with cancer. He laughed when I told him how he is now the envy of all women, including me, for kissing Matt Damon - he looked down the camera to say, “He is good! He’s very good!” At the end I asked for a hug, he said “Of course!” then told me to hug Matt, and if somehow he said no, I should tell him “Michael said you have to.” Bless. Hug count: 2 for today.
Our journalist bunch were keenly peering over the fence to watch my interview with Matt Damon, mostly, I think, to perve on Damon. Matt is also warm, lovely, everything he seems on TV and everything you would imagine him to be. He joked off camera about the last time he was in Cannes, for “that great indie Cannes film ‘Ocean’s 13’”. He said how George Clooney had said at the time, “If I can’t get a movie which is the second sequel to a remake into competition at Cannes, I don’t know what’s wrong with the world!!”
On ‘Behind The Candelabra’, Matt said it was special to him as well, being his seventh and possibly last film with Soderbergh. He got along with Michael tremendously, and when I asked whether the love scenes with Michael were just as good as they were in his dreams, he laughed and said, “No, in my dreams they were much more intense!” He also told me how he was quite scared about seeing his naked butt on the big screen tonight, adding, “But then, Liberace said too much of a good thing is wonderful, so…” “And too much of your butt? Impossible!” I said, because I’m shameless.
And then we hugged, and I heard the sound of faint applause coming from over the fence. After my interview he was done with TV, and ran off to Steven Soderbergh who was waiting to talk to him. As I walked past them, I heard him recounting my interview, saying “She said the funniest thing!” And I crumbled into a pile of love. Hug count: 3 for today.
As we were driving back to Cannes, the stereo pumped Daft Punk, and my journalist friends were cracking jokes and laughing their heads off. I looked over at the scenery and couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.
“You guys!” I burst out, suddenly feeling overwhelmingly happy. “Look where we are. This is our life! Our job today was to see a film, come to an incredible hotel in the French Rivera, and talk to Michael Douglas and Matt Damon… Who are we?? This is incredible!” “So amazing…” they agreed, and each said in their own words, “Hard work to get here and keep it going… sometimes we are broke or it gets tough… but this is like a dream… we love it.”
Whenever people say to me “Oh you are so lucky!” I wholeheartedly agree, especially on a day like today. But really, it doesn’t have much to do with luck. It’s about making it happen, and simply not letting failure even be an option. There have been times when I have had 25 cents to my name for three weeks, but I would much rather money stress than the dread of working in a job I don’t like. That idea is much much scarier to me.
And I would eat a million more pain au chocolats for just a second of feeling so happy in this moment. It really is incredible.