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Lainey Lui: High-wattage stars kick off TIFF

On The Road’s Kirsten Dunst, left, Garrett Hedlund and Kristin Stewart at the gala for the movie during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 6, 2012.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press

It's only been one day, but I promise you: No one at TIFF will be able to out-man Bruce Willis. Willis's film Looper was the opening gala last night at Roy Thomson Hall and he spent the day on the press circuit. When I bumped into him at the Intercontinental in the afternoon as he was talking to Emily Blunt, I was reminded of a rumour I've been hearing that he is always, without exception, packing heat. (Unconfirmed. Though for what it's worth, he was wearing a thin sweater, not exactly ideal for concealing a firearm.) Armed or not, there's an energy about Willis - you can sense he will not have mercy on your business if you dare mess with his. Men addressed him deferentially, while women behaved as though they needed his protection, even though there was nothing particularly threatening lurking in the lobby. Willis's wingman on the TIFF night scene was his co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. They hit up Soho House first before heading over to the Looper afterparty sponsored by smartwater at Lot 580.

As for Blunt, this is her second TIFF in a row and she's here with two films, Looper and Arthur Newman with Colin Firth. Though she was on her own in the daytime, her husband, actor John Krasinski arrived on Thursday afternoon. (Krasinski has no promotional obligations at the festival. He's just here to support his wife. You see why he's everyone's Office crush?) The two made a brief appearance hand in hand at the official TIFF opening night party before meeting up with Willis and Gordon-Levitt at Soho House, where they spent much of the evening cuddling in a corner.

The most talked-about TIFF arrival so far has been that of Kristen Stewart, all because of her wardrobe and she'd yet to step foot on the red carpet. At the premiere of On The Road at the Ryerson last night, Stewart showed no sign of anxiety at her first public appearance since her cheating scandal, save for a trembling leg as she posed at the step and repeat and increasing redness on her neck as she walked the press line for interviews with a graciously protective Garrett Hedlund. But it was a much cooler Stewart who landed at Pearson on Wednesday night wearing a t-shirt that obsessive Twilight fans identified as having previously been worn by Robert Pattinson. The Twilight Nation has interpreted this to mean that all may not be lost between the two lovers. So the festival is off to an auspicious start. Just in time for all the parties.

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TIFF nightlife is always heavily stacked the first weekend, which is precisely why Soho House decided to open its Toronto chapter now. The members' club, in partnership with Grey Goose, is hosting cast members from Imogene, The Master and Anna Karenina on Friday and End of Watch, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and The Silver Linings Playbook  Saturday. Earlier on Saturday, Paul Haggis, Trudie Styler, Jude Law and George Stroumboulopoulos are throwing a luncheon at the University of Toronto President's Estate, featuring performances by Chantal Kreviazuk, Raine Maida, K'Naan and members of Arcade Fire in support of Artists for Peace and Justice. (A few tickets are still available at apjnow.org.) Also on Saturday night, ONEXONE presents "an intimate evening" with Lauryn Hill in support of initiatives to fund hunger relief in Canada. Hill is a brilliant and mercurial artist; the last time she was in Toronto she took the stage three hours late but jammed so ferociously, by the end no one was bothered. Is it wrong to say that I might be disappointed if she actually shows up on time?

TIFF's first weekend will conclude in appropriate Hollywood style on Sunday at what's anticipated to be the most well-attended event of the entire festival - the power players from Creative Artists Agency are hosting a party sponsored by smartwater with Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts expected and, since Shia LaBeouf's The Company You Keep is premiering that night, and he happens to be represented by the talent agency, it's a good bet he shows up there ... unless someone takes him to Sneaky Dees, or any number of dive bars in the city with the low glamour flavour that he's known to prefer.

And away from Canada's premiere film festival, one of Canada's most beloved comic actors, Will Arnett, announced yesterday that he and wife of nine years Amy Poehler are separating. I'm told they have been apart for some time but wanted to wait until after the first week of school before making a statement so as to minimize the impact on their two young sons.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Lainey Lui is a reporter for CTV's ETALK (weekdays, 7 p.m. ET) and gossip blogger for LaineyGossip.com

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