The red carpet has been rolled up and the projectors are put away.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival is over. The 11-day event ended Monday – but the memories of meeting some of my all-time favorite actors is still fresh.
Weeks before the film festival fever even started, Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet had warned that this year – the 25th Anniversary of the event – would be the most star studded festival ever.
Not to disparage previous guests, but he was not joking.
Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Mathew McConaughey, Gary Oldman, Ewan McGregor, Colin Farrell, Idris Elba, Alfre Woodard and Amy Adams – were all there to walk the Jan. 4 awards gala red carpet and I got to interview almost all of them.
As a movie buff who makes it a point to watch every Oscar-nominated or critically acclaimed movie each year (I have a frequent buyers card at Cinemas Palme d’Or) I was in celebrity heaven as each one stopped to talk to me before heading into the Palm Springs Convention Center.
The key word there was “stopped.”
I was on the red carpet last year and did get to interview a slew of A-list celebrities but I pretty much had to shove my microphone in their face and yell their name so they would notice me among the pit of other reporters.
This year though, I had the “prime” Desert Sun spot along the first half of the red carpet. There was no pushing and fighting for interviews and no red velvet rope separating reporter and actor. As an example of how prime this location was, I had the handler for Hanks ask if I “wanted” an interview with him. Um, yes please! It was the same with almost all the other celebrities.
I asked all the questions you’re supposed to ask about their movie projects and desire to play certain characters or work with certain directors, but I also got a chance to ask some fun questions and have a good laugh with a few of them. I even got to interview Bono and The Edge from U2 – my alltime favorite band growing up – who were there to receive the Sonny Bono Visionary Award.
Here are some highlights from my interviews that didn’t make into print:
Hanks: I told Hanks I was a fan of Bosom Buddies (his 80s sitcom where he cross dressed to pretend he was a woman). “There’s no way we are that old,” he laughed.
Roberts and Bullock: In separate interviews both leading ladies commented on the very unflattering spotlight that what was shining up from under our feet. “This light is terrible… for both of us,” said Robert. As Bullock stood to talk to me she immediately noticed the same thing. “This is the horror film lighting. You should not be taking pictures of anybody in this lighting,” joked Bullock. As a woman who also cares about looking good in photos, I sympathized with them and we all had a good laugh about it.
Cooper: I had to ask him about his retro permed look for “American Hustle.” He said it wasn’t a perm but had his hair curled for at least 3 hours each day. “I always wanted to have curly hair as a kid … and dark eyes so I got a chance to knock one out of the two.”
McConaughey: I wanted to ask him about his infamous role in “Dazed and Confused” but just having seen the Dallas Buyer’s Club for which he won a Golden Globe for best leading actor, I was amazed at his physical transformation and weight loss to play an AIDS character and focused my questioning on how he did it. “I got very militant about my lifestyle. I basically became a hermit for 7 months. Stayed inside and got no sunshine. Didn’t go out to any restaurants. Had my controlled meals.”
Lupita Nyong’o: As I was in mid-interview, Elba interrupted us to tell Nyong’o how “beautiful” she looked. I’m pretty sure she was blushing. In his most charming British accent, he did apologize for the interruption though.
Elba: When I brought up “The Wire” he seemed surprised that people “out here” watched it. He also asked me how his bow tie looked, if it was straight. I told him it looked “beautiful” and that he looked “great.” “So do you guys,” he said back. I almost fainted.
Gary Oldman: He handed McConaughey his Desert Palm Achievement award so I asked him to tell me something about McConaughey most people may not know. He said McConaughey has a clever sense of humor. ”It come’s in under the radar, it slips in, you think about it for a second and then you laugh.”