[Editors’ Note: last week, noted author Dale Carnegie came to TIFF to promote his book: How to Win Friends and Influence People (1933) which was a publishing sensation before the internet. It was adapted to the big screen in the 1968 film It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, which was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, without ever even being nominated for Best Actor. The film also won in three of the five other key categories (Best Writing, Editing and Cinematography) and in the other category ‘Best Original Screenplay’ – which is not to be confused with ‘Best Picture’ – for the Billy Crystal role.]
MONTREAL – In 1988, Tim Allen was the talk of TIFF. I spent an afternoon as the notebook boy for USA Weekend magazine writing his stories.
The movie star shared his affection for this sleepy little Canadian city, where he had come to the big screen two years earlier in the action-packed and very silly U.S. hit film that would launch his career – John Wick.
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Allen had come to TIFF with a plane full of his fans in tow, but he showed no twinge of disappointment at being away from the bushels of roses and palms that are sure to be at his every turn here.
Keanu Reeves who was the project’s action hero was also feeling pretty boisterous this week too, and it was because of his heavy duty cold during the shoot for his latest film, Detective Pikachu. I sat with him and he and I exchanged stories.
I asked him if it was weird seeing a character who he played become such a star. He laughed and told me that he had acted in every film that he had made, aside from a small part in one little French movie.
“This movie in particular was something totally different for me. I can hardly watch it. The thing that was most funny to me is that we didn’t really know at the time what Pikachu was,” Reeves said.
I asked him if he had any particular memories of filming here in 1978 in the small yet super cool making of The Last Starfighter – which was the the movie that opened the first studio to produce it back in 1981.
I thought about the movie in just the past week and realized that it was this summer when it was 1984 that our hero went from being an American kid in TIFF in 1988 to two years later a fanboy here in this Canadian village.
Many of the actors and directors who to some degree came here with their projects are now in their eighties or even their nineties.
They all brought their children or grandchildren. It was the first time we’d met and at one point, our families had run into each other. I congratulated Reeves on how well things turned out for him in an adventure. I felt like an old friend.
“I’ve played almost every role you could play,” he said – citing Bette Davis, W.C. Fields, Jimmy Stewart, and Gregory Peck, which is a really tall order.
He also mentioned a number of their stars that are now gone – Peter Finch, Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch, Gregory Peck’s co-star in the White Van Man, and more recently James Gandolfini, Heath Ledger, and his on-screen mom Bonnie Bedelia.
“I’m scared of getting older,” he said sadly. “I’m not scared of being fat. At 45, I looked like I was 71…you see what happens if you go too long without working.”
He said he has gotten back into shape and is in good shape physically, but he is just about to have the worst year of his life financially because of a tax credit that was going to cost him $1.2 million and by the end of this year, he will not be able to collect a dime.