Director Jason Reitman (yes, son of Ivan), brought an incredible cast to TIFF and the Ryerson Theatre in Toronto last night - the very same place he debuted his first film, Thank You For Smoking. It's the first time he's taken his now infamous Live Read performances away from Los Angeles or New York, where he and a cast of talented actors breathe new life into classic screenplays.
Past reads have included stars like Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, Jennifer Garner and Paul Rudd. And as for the films reimagined? The Princess Bride, Reservoir Dogs, The Apartment, The Big Lebowski... now, you can add Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, our own George Stroumboulopoulos and American Beauty to those lists.
From there, it was inside for the incredible cast and the hoards of TIFF revellers that managed to snag tickets. Despite it only being announced mere days ago, the performance was an absolute sell-out, with two separate line-ups snaking around two blocks.
Cameron Bailey - TIFF's Artistic Director - introduced the Oscar nominated director Reitman at the "once in a lifetime" experience. The first thing he said? Well, "mother****ing Ryerson!" Jason seemed happy to be home. He introduced his cast, starting with Strombo as Jim, followed by Paul Scheer as Buddy, Nick Kroll as Fitts, Sarah Gadon as Angela, Adam Driver as Ricky, Mae Whitman as Jane, Christina Hendricks as Carolyn and Bryan Cranston as Lester Burnham. Even more (excited) expletives welcomed the multi-Emmy Award winner.
After a technical glitch (taken in stride), things got underway. As predicted by Reitman, it was a slow start with the actors getting into their roles. But, boy, did they get into them. With absolutely no reservation, it was remarkable to watch nine people sitting in a row together bring Alan Ball's amazing script to life in a totally new and very human - there were mistakes - way. (Almost) all of the cast, George included, gave a new take on their given characters, but as it turns out Nick Kroll does a fantastic Chris Cooper (as Colonel Frank Fitts) impression, somewhat missing the point of the whole event. Even so, the mesmerising performance of Cranston, Christina Hendricks' - ah-hem - fake orgasm and the supporting performances (in particular Sarah Gadon and Mae Whitman) meant the grin never left this man's face.