In less than two months, the Toronto International Film Festival opens. TIFF for short, will always hold a special place in my heart, being the first film festival I ever attended back in 2005. It was also where I met Gerry Butler after seeing the world premiere of his film Beowulf & Grendel at Elgin Theater. I must’ve told this story to practically everyone I know, but it’s still fun to reminisce about it.
I never thought I’d actually met Gerry. I mean, he was listed as being one of the guests to attend the premiere, but I didn’t even have a ticket to get into the premiere, so meeting the guy didn’t seem to be in the realm of possibility. But hey, if I could just get in to see the film, my trip would’ve been worthwhile.
I was told that there are usually extra tickets available to buy right at the door, so along with about 200 people, we patiently waited in line in front of the theater. After 3.5 hours waiting in the chilly, rainy night, a huge ruckus erupted as the limos started arriving. Sure enough, GB got out of the limo and into a throng of frenzied girls all screaming his name. I was way in the back of the line, way too far and too short to see what was going on. I found this photo on the left of GB with his co-star in the Viking’s warrior tale, Sarah Polley, taken from that night (see the crowd that gathered behind them? I was somewhere in there).
I ended up getting the ticket and actually got a pretty good seat — only 3rd row from the front. Unbeknown to me at the time, GB and the director and cast were actually watching in the same theater with the rest of us (just a few rows behind me!), but the craziest part was, when the end credit rolled, GB was standing near the right side entrance still greeting a few fans. I couldn’t believe my luck! Instinctively I made my way towards him, but he was getting antsy as more fans asked to have a picture taken with him, and his ‘people’ were ready to escort him. So I had probably seconds to get his attention. Suddenly, it was as if my hand had a mind on its own, literally grabbing his hand in one frantic moment. The look on Gerry’s face was a mix of utter bewilderment and annoyance but at least he didn’t pull his hand away from me or yelled at me (as I imagined Sean Penn would’ve done). Seconds later, my brain must’ve caught up with what’s going on and I heard myself say, “Gerry, may I shake your hand?” to which he replied, “You’re doing it right now!” I was mortified! The rest was sort of a blur, but I recall saying “You’re amazing” in utter giddiness, before I released his hand. I think he said ‘thank you’ or something, I can’t exactly remember. A middle-aged woman next to me said, “you’re not going to wash that hand, are you?”
My encounter didn’t stop there. A few minutes later, I went out through the main door and found him being mobbed again. This time, the B&G director Sturla Gunnarsson was with him. I suddenly thought I didn’t have any proof of my meeting with him, so I took out the mounted picture I had made just for the occassion and braced myself through a horde of fans. Guess what, he must’ve remembered me as the second he saw me in the crowd, he took the photo out of my hand and signed it! I imagined he could be thinking, “Oh there’s that crazy girl again, I better get her what she wanted or who knows what she’ll do!” In any case, now I have something to remember him by, as I’ll probably never see him again.
Besides Beowulf & Grendel, I also got to see a couple of excellent, albeit quirky flicks, Romance & Cigarettes (a bawdy musical with a great ensemble cast that include James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken, Susan Sarandon & Kate Winslet) and Everything Is Illuminated (starring Elijah Woods and directed by thespian Liev Schreiber about a Jewish-American man’s journey to find the woman who saved his grandfather in a Ukraine village during WWII).
The rest of my experience at TIFF was fantastic. I got to walk around downtown Toronto, up and down Yonge and Dundas street a few times, and I must’ve visited Eaton Center 20 times in my 3-day there! The best parts were the simplest things, chatting with festival-goers whilst waiting in line, sitting by the cafe writing in my journal and people watching! Thanks to my dear friends Alfons & Christina, who let me stay with them, I also ate the best Korean food I’ve ever had in my life! I hope one day I get to visit TIFF again. Who knows who I’ll run into next time?
So that’s my crazy encounter with my crush. Have you had a similar experience?