Punch your ticket to Toronto

Festival notebook takes you behind the scenes

- Brian Truitt @briantruit­t USA TODAY

Julianne Moore says it’s always a good time to tell an important love story like the one in her new film, Freeheld. Right now, however, there may be more folks ready to listen.

With same-sex marriage and LGBT issues in the headlines, the lineup at this year’s Toronto Internatio­nal Film Festival has followed suit, debuting a number of related high-profile projects.

Freeheld (in theaters Oct. 2), which premiered Sunday, stars Moore as cop Laurel Hester, who’s fighting to make sure her girlfriend, Stacie Andree (Ellen Page), gets her pension after Hester is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The couple legally entered a domestic partnershi­p, but a loophole in the New Jersey law left benefit allocation­s up to county officials.

“It was a really, really ridiculous kind of thing,” Moore says. “It’s nice to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. It’s a human rights issue.”

But Page, who is gay, adds that there’s a long way to go. “Hopefully when you tell these deeply personal stories, they can help those who don’t fully understand potentiall­y move a bit.”

GETTING ‘THE GAZE’: After starring as Stephen Hawking in 2014’s The Theory of Everything — and winning a best-actor Oscar — Eddie Redmayne takes on another real-life icon in The Danish Girl (Nov. 27) as transgende­r woman Lili Elbe, one of the first recipients of gender-reassignme­nt surgery.

When Redmayne walked on set for the first time as Lili, he admits he felt the judgment of “the male gaze.”

“It was nothing compared to what trans women and men deal with,” he told USA TODAY just before Saturday’s premiere. “But you did get a slight sense of the gaze, of being scrutinize­d.”

IN-TUNE PERFORMANC­E: Audrey Williams, first wife of legendary country singer Hank Williams, was a notoriousl­y bad singer. And the fact that everyone kind of knew it is a subplot in the new biopic I Saw the Light (Nov. 27), an early Toronto standout.

Elizabeth Olsen stars as Audrey in the film, which premiered Friday, so when she sings opposite Tom Hiddleston’s Hank, the actress made sure to be off-key: “We did try and make her sound more flat and harsh-sounding when she’s singing on the radio. But when she sings around the house, it’s just what it is, which is different than a performanc­e.”

A REAL ‘DEMOLITION’ MAN: Jake Gyllenhaal came out swinging sledgehamm­ers — literally and emotionall­y — at Thursday’s premiere of his movie Demolition (April 8). The film by director Jean-Marc Vallée ( Dallas Buyers Club) is heartbreak­ing and often humorous as Gyllenhaal’s character has trouble dealing with the death of his wife and finds a confidante in a customer-service rep (Naomi Watts) who receives his complaint about a faulty vending machine.

And his character really likes to destroy household items — the title isn’t just a coincidenc­e. In one scene, Gyllenhaal goes to town destroying a house that Vallée built for the shoot. “( Vallée) destroyed a couple things because he needed to after spending so much time preparing it,” Gyllenhaal says. “He probably looked forward to breaking windows.”

 ?? WARREN TODA, EPA ?? Jake Gyllenhaal crushes it.
WARREN TODA, EPA Jake Gyllenhaal crushes it.

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