LEO, SCARJO AND CLOONEY: A-listers who have made a splash at TIFF

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When it comes to the Toronto International Film Festival, we’ve been celebrity-deprived as the COVID-19 pandemic has made world travel hard if not impossible to navigate for the last 18 months.

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Usually TIFF is wall-to-wall celebrities as Hollywood stars arrive by the boatload to hawk movies and make a splash at the festival known to launch Oscar campaigns. This year’s fest has a handful of big names scheduled to attend including Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield and Kiera Knightley.

Here’s a look back at 10 of the biggest film stars who have attended in the past.

Leonardo DiCaprio director of Before the Flood walks down King St W. at the Princess of Wales during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 9, 2016. Michael Peake/Toronto Sun
Leonardo DiCaprio director of Before the Flood walks down King St W. at the Princess of Wales during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 9, 2016. Michael Peake/Toronto Sun

LOVE YOU LEO: Leonardo DiCaprio made his TIFF debut in 2016 showing up at the Before the Flood climate change documentary red carpet and introducing the screening at the Princess of Wales Theatre. “The origins of wanting to do a movie like this was to give the scientific community a voice,” DiCaprio said. Sure, sure, Leo, but who are you dating?

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Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, and Antonio Banderas attend “The Laundromat” premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 9, 2019 in Toronto. Amy Sussman/Getty Images
Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, and Antonio Banderas attend “The Laundromat” premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 9, 2019 in Toronto. Amy Sussman/Getty Images Photo by Amy Sussman /Getty Images

STREEP’S CHOICE: When accepting her TIFF Tribute acting award in 2019, Meryl Streep said the festival was leading the way when it came to promoting women in film. “(It’s) put its money where its mouth is about women, women’s stories, women filmmakers. You just got to open the door fellas, it’s happier when we’re all in there.”

Robert Downey Jr. at red carpet for The Judge during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 4, 2014. Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun
Robert Downey Jr. at red carpet for The Judge during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 4, 2014. Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun

GETTING DOWN(EY): Back in 2014, Robert Downey Jr. opened TIFF with the rather dour The Judge, co-starring Robert Duvall, but he was all jokes with the Sun about the city’s well-known roadwork issues as he arrived late for the interview. “This has to do with the infrastructure of your city,” Downey said. “I’m going to set up a zip-line system!”

Scarlett Johansson arrives at the world premiere of “Jojo Rabbit” at the Toronto International Film Festivalin Toronto, Sept. 8, 2019. MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS
Scarlett Johansson arrives at the world premiere of “Jojo Rabbit” at the Toronto International Film Festivalin Toronto, Sept. 8, 2019. MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS Photo by MARIO ANZUONI /REUTERS

SCARJO SCORES: To say TIFF 2019 was a good one for Scarlett Johansson is a bit of an understatement. Her two latest movies that year, Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story, finished one-two in voting for the festival’s annual Grolsch People’s Choice Award. Many People’s Choice winners have gone on to earn Best Picture Oscar nods and in this case both of these made the cut in 2020 but lost to Parasite.

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Johnny Depp with his wife Amber Heard on the red carpet for movie “Black Mass” during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 11, 2015. Dave Abel/Toronto Sun
Johnny Depp with his wife Amber Heard on the red carpet for movie “Black Mass” during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 11, 2015. Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

HOW DEPP IS YOUR LOVE: When he and the missus (Amber Heard) were still getting along — as in pre-libel lawsuit, nasty divorce, etc — Johnny Depp had her on his arm for the 2015 TIFF screening of Black Mass in which he played ‘70s American gangster Jimmy Bulger. He also showed up earlier in the week to support Heard for her film The Danish Girl. Oh, to be young(er) and in love again!

George Clooney smiles at photographers at the premiere of ‘Suburbicon’ at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 9, 2017. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)
George Clooney smiles at photographers at the premiere of ‘Suburbicon’ at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 9, 2017. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

CLOONEY SETS THE STANDARD: I covered red carpets for 2011’s The Ides of March and 2017’s Suburbicon where George Clooney shook hands with every media outlet and answered a question. That’s the exception not the rule when it comes to red carpets, where many A-listers often just speak to the first two or three large TV outlets at the front of the carpet and then literally run by the rest of us. Not our Georgie.

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Tom Hanks arrives for the gala presentation of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” at the Toronto International Film Festivalin Toronto on Sept. 7, 2019. MARK BLINCH/REUTERS
Tom Hanks arrives for the gala presentation of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” at the Toronto International Film Festivalin Toronto on Sept. 7, 2019. MARK BLINCH/REUTERS Photo by MARK BLINCH /REUTERS

HANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Hollywood nice guy Tom Hanks joked on the TIFF red carpet in 2019 about how typecasting led him to play Mr. Rogers in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. “I think it was because I was such a caring executioner in The Green Mile,” he said. Hanks later visited a local coffee shop, Grinder, after the owner launched a 10-day, $100 campaign to get the actor to show up. When Hanks pulled in for some java she wasn’t there but he called her on the phone.

Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney, walk the red carpet before attending the movie “Homecoming” during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 7, 2018. Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun
Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney, walk the red carpet before attending the movie “Homecoming” during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 7, 2018. Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun

ROBERTS RULES: Julia Roberts wowed on the TIFF 2018 red carpet for her first ever major TV role in Amazon’s Homecoming. “What the (showrunners-creators) put together is such a fascinating rabbit hole of craziness and I was intrigued from the beginning,” said Roberts. She also starred opposite her twice previous co-star Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding, August: Osage County).

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Actor/producer Brad Pitt arrives at the “12 Years A Slave” Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Actor/producer Brad Pitt arrives at the “12 Years A Slave” Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 6, 2013 in Toronto. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

PITT SLAVES AWAY: Brad Pitt showed up at TIFF 2013 for a screening of 12 Years A Slave which his Plan B company produced and he appeared in a small role. “It was not what the studios were looking for,” Pitt said. “For them, it’s all about tent poles.” Still, Pitt knew quality and acknowledged 12 Years a Slave — which would go on to win the best picture Oscar — could be hard to top. “If I never get to participate in a film again … this is it for me.”

Jennifer Lawrence at the premier of Mother! during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 11, 2017. Stan Behal/Toronto Sun
Jennifer Lawrence at the premier of Mother! during the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 11, 2017. Stan Behal/Toronto Sun

JLAW RECONCILES FAME: Jennifer Lawrence was flanked by two bodyguards on the TIFF 2017 red carpet when she showed up in support of her leading role in ex-boyfriend Darren Aronofsky’s film Mother! She told reporters she’d finally figured out how to deal with her success. “I have a very healthy and pleasant separation with fame. I understand that everybody’s not really talking about me. That everything that’s dear to me is safe, and everything else is up to be ripped apart.”

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