Brad Pitt normally can't wait to get off the red carpet, especially the part of the carpet where he's expected to talk to the media instead of just pose for pictures. To expedite the red-carpet interview process, he's perfected the art of the Walk & Talk – he keeps moving during his answers so that he's never stuck answering more than one question.
It was a different Pitt Friday night, however, at the premiere of 12 Years a Slave at the Princess of Wales Theatre. This Pitt more resembled his friend George Clooney, who often arrives early to a premiere to spend time with fans and take his time with reporters. Pitt patiently stopped for almost all outlets, and not just the major American ones, ensuring that everyone with a recording device went home with a little piece of him to play back for their audiences. There were a lot of relieved and happy journalists in Toronto on Friday night, each of them leaving the screening with a personal blessing by Hollywood royalty, and, more importantly, warm feelings about the film, in which Pitt has a supporting role and a producing credit. 12 Years a Slave is receiving outstanding reviews, already generating early Oscar buzz. He's not one of the best brand ambassadors in entertainment for nothing.
Pitt did not stay for the screening. He exited the theatre through the back, signed a few autographs and took photos with a few savvy fans who'd anticipated he'd make a stealth departure, joining Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender and other cast members at an intimate ultra-exclusive post-premiere dinner at Hudson Kitchen, where word got out quickly around the neighbourhood that half of Brangelina was in their presence and a small crowd gathered outside. Unencumbered by his six children, Pitt stayed out later than he usually does, ending the evening with Fassbender on the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel, watched over by his faithful security team. Hilariously, it wasn't so much the women they had to protect him from as the men, as one aspiring dude after another tried to be cool enough to earn a bro-down moment with the biggest star of the festival so far.
Meanwhile, over at Live at the Hive, Nicole Kidman, impossibly perfect in an impeccably tailored Altuzarra suit, lounged in the VIP section at the after-party for The Railway Man. Kidman gracefully slipped off her shoes at one point and enjoyed a few late night hors d'oeuvres. She's even elegant when she chews. Kidman's co-star in the film, Colin Firth, arrived with wife Livia. He preferred to spend time on the patio, as dashing a figure as you'll ever see, a cigarette in one hand and a SodaStream cocktail in the other, and no sign of any electronics. In the 45 minutes that I was outside, sitting at a table next to him, not once did I see him pull out a smartphone or any kind of communication gadget, engaging enthusiastically with present company instead. Colin Firth kicks it old school at cocktail parties. It makes him even more attractive.
But no one is more attractive than Susan Sarandon. She was the first celebrity to arrive at the Park Hyatt Sky Yard for a pre-screening cocktail reception for The Last of Robin Hood, ahead of Kevin Kline and Dakota Fanning, who was expected but didn't bother to show up at all at a celebration for her own movie. Sarandon was accompanied by Jonathan Bricklin, her business partner and rumoured boyfriend, 30 years younger. At 66, Sarandon is a proper goddess, charming and approachable, easily with more class, sophistication and sex appeal than any junior co-stars.
Elaine Lui is the scribe of the celebrity gossip blog LaineyGossip.com, and is also a reporter for CTV's etalk, and a co-host of CTV's new daily talk show The Social.