Just over a month ago, I was sitting at my desk, knee-deep in back-to-school content when I heard a voice say, “Doesn’t anybody around here like Glee?” In typical giddy schoolgirl pick me, pick me fashion, I shot my hand straight up. “Do you want to interview Cory Monteith?” he asked.
I assumed the question was rhetorical.
I knew that Cory was going to be in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival. And I knew he was in Carl Bessai’s new movie, Sisters & Brothers. I had actually just started getting sad that I wasn’t going to be covering the TIFF the same way I had last year—seeing tons of movies and doing some red carpet chatting, interestingly, with people like Cory Monteith’s Sisters & Brothers co-star Dustin Milligan, who I met last year at the Repeaters premiere—I even tweeted about not having enough TIFF in my life.
And that’s when I found myself on a crisp September morning sitting in the Hazelton Hotel restaurant, looking at Leighton Meester and Allison Janney while I drank my overpriced latte.
There was TIFF in my life again.
Minutes before I was called in to chat with Carl Bessai, Cory Monteith and Dustin Milligan from the new film Sisters & Brothers, I sat outside chatting mindlessly about coffee and the first season of The Wire. I noticed that I was basically sitting on top of the person behind me. I quickly apologized as I realized that I had been sitting on top of Dustin Milligan.
I guess it broke the interview ice quite nicely, as Dustin requested that I sit anywhere but beside him. “See what I did there?” he says. “I brought what was happening outside into here!”
Cory Monteith and Dustin Milligan are old friends; I didn’t even need their explanation of how they met and how they lived together in Vancouver to get a sense of history and familiarity between the two, and even some possible facial-hair envy.
When I mentioned that I dug the beard that Dustin’s character Rory sported in the film, he was quick to turn the discussion to THE BEARD. “Let’s talk about that for a while,” he says, “You know, it was a real beard. That was no fake. I grew that! He continued to explain that he was given almost no prior notice and the night before they began their one-day shoot, he simply willed it to grow.
Cory interrupts. He is not pleased with all the beard talk, since, as he points to his baby face, he says, “I haven’t shaved in three weeks.” This, of course, leads us down a Glee path, where we talk about the almost-30 Cory Monteith playing a 17-year-old high school student. “I don’t know. Luke Perry did it.”
Dustin agrees. “Luke Perry did the crap out of that.”
Carl talks about Sisters & Brothers and how he and Dustin were talking one night and Dustin told him that he really wanted to do comedy. “I always thought that was kind of funny. I told him that he’s the good-looking dramatic actor.”
Dustin interrupts. “No! That is not what you said. What he actually said was—why?!”
Carl admits he was wrong. “He’s hilarious. I decided to do this improvised movie. There are four sibling stories in the movie, and these guys are one of these stories. I presented a concept to Dustin; I wanted a rivalry between two brothers who hadn’t seen each other in a while.” Dustin suggested Cory. He says he thought of him right away because “if there’s any actor that I could say I have any kind of familial relationship with, it would be Cory. There would be such an easy banter as far as improvising goes.”
Carl had his doubts. “I thought that was hilarious. There was no way that Cory Monteith was going to do an improvised, guerilla film with me. The next day he was on board. The three of us met and put the bones together, figured out how the narrative would be, discussed variables. But exactly how each scene was going to play out was a total unknown.”
When I asked about logistics of filming, Carl says that he texted Cory as he got off of a plane and basically just ambushed him at the airport and shot the scene right then and there. In the movie, Cory’s character Justin is a super successful actor working in LA (“I’m kind of a dick, I just hide it well,” says Cory) while Dustin’s character Rory is a not-so-super successful actor who has given it up for life in Africa and a somewhat shady children’s charity.
(Get it? Cory is Justin and Dustin is Rory. See? Comedy! “I still don’t know what their names are. I’m always confused,” says Carl.)
The scene at the airport involves paparazzi and screaming fans and drivers. When I ask if this is true to life for Cory, who has a pretty big fan-following due to his role of Finn on the highly successful show Glee, he says, “It’s sort of true. It’s kind of an idealized, what-you-might-expect version that has been amplified for cinematic purposes.” Dustin continues, “In a sense, we got to play caricatures of ourselves.”
After an argument about which Canadian coast is the best; there’s some nonsense about west coast rhyming with “best”and east rhyming with “least”, they all admit to loving Toronto.
“I love Toronto!” says Cory.
“Being in Toronto for the TIFF, to experience the city in a very alive time, it’s just beautiful,” Dustin agrees. Carl says that he enjoys visiting Toronto too. “I always stay in the Ossington area and I just love College Street and Bar Italia. And this is really the best time of year to be in this city.”
We discussed a little bit about Mayor Ford’s proposed $6 million dollar annual arts budget cuts. Unsurprisingly, no one at the table had anything nice to say about these cuts, Carl believes that “no matter what the mayor proposes, the good people in this city will rise up and put a stop to it. They want the arts and they want the TIFF.”
They most certainly do—if for nothing else than for a chance to completely embarrass themselves by unknowingly sitting on top of celebrities.
(See what I did there?)