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The Portfolio

The Best-Dressed Men At The Toronto Film Festival

MR PORTER goes backstage to meet the most stylish names at the festival

The Oscars may not be awarded until February, but the campaigning starts in earnest in September, when the major international film festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto take place. By the time the latter rolls around, critics have a pretty good idea of which movies will be in the running. Blockbusters from the major studios tend to dominate, but film festivals are also about discovering future talent, or finding a surprising gem that is worthy of wider distribution.

During the Toronto International Film Festival, MR PORTER set up camp in Soho House, where the stars congregate before and, more raucously, after their screenings. Having commandeered one of the upper bars as a makeshift studio, we invited actors and directors to be styledphotographed and interviewed.

Read on to discover who has a recurring dream about murder, and whose career was brought back from the dead by a call from Mr Martin Scorsese.

Mr Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Mr Tom Ford’s second film Nocturnal Animals won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month and is tipped to win several more awards. It’s the story of an LA gallerist (Ms Amy Adams) who is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths after receiving a manuscript of her ex-husband’s (Mr Jake Gyllenhaal) novel about a deadly family holiday in Texas. Mr Aaron Taylor-Johnson, 26, plays the book’s deranged killer.

What was it like to hear that Mr Ford thought of you to play this horrible character?

It took me aback, I’ll be honest. I was like, “Wow, I’m flattered.” And then I read the script and I thought, I don’t know if I can do this. I’m happily married, I’ve got daughters. It wasn’t easy to digest or even relate to this character.

Would you be offended if we said you were convincing?

It was an intense, demanding role. This character smoked a lot, drank a lot of whisky. I wanted that look on my skin. I wanted that feel in the back of my throat.

How did you prepare for the role?

I spent three months researching serial killers and psychopaths such as Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer, and watching The Jinx [about Mr Robert Durst]. What’s interesting is that they were all very charismatic, and people kind of adored them. Reading things, watching documentaries, it was hard to accumulate that knowledge in my home, and I’d do it at funny hours of the day or through the night. Then I couldn’t sleep because I was having nightmares. It was a very dark energy. It took a real toll on my psychological state. For months afterwards, I had the actor’s equivalent of PTSD.

What was Mr Ford like as a director?

The best I’ve worked with. Hands-on and very decisive. He’s so elegant and able to convey what he wants very simplistically without being condescending. He thinks about every single detail. He found this book, then wrote the screenplay, which is extraordinary.

Mr Bill Nighy

Mr Bill Nighy, 66, one of the UK’s best-loved and best-dressed actors, was at Tiff to promote two period pieces. The Limehouse Golum is an unusual whodunit set in 1880s London, in which Mr Nighy plays a detective investigating a series of murders. “Lots of mist, lots of mystery,” he says. Their Finest is a film about making a film to boost morale during WWII. “They were looking for someone to play a chronically self-absorbed, pompous actor in his declining years… And they thought of me,” Mr Nighy quips.

You are something of a style icon. Who is/was yours?

Cary Grant and his North By Northwest suit. When I was growing up, I was always very attentive to what Paul McCartney might be wearing. Terry Stamp, more for the suited look. The Stones, obviously: Keith [Richards] and Mick [Jagger]. Charlie Watts was always dressed impeccably. He was what you might have called a top mod.

Were you a mod?

I was never much into parkas and scooters or the Quadrophenia look. But I am a long-time enthusiast of some of the iconic mod brands. I used to save up for John Smedley polo shirts when I was 16 and first at work. I used to put money in a jar until I had enough to buy one in the next colour. Now I have an unnecessary number of John Smedley polo shirts. I have been toying with the idea of wearing something that isn’t navy blue, grey or pale blue. I think that every year, and then nothing changes.

You’re known for always wearing a suit. Who makes the best suits?

The suit I’m wearing today was made by Martin Nicholls at Alfred Dunhill, who is someone who has made lovely things for me over the years.

And your signature glasses?

I get my glasses from Cutler and Gross, and always have done since I started squinting at things at the age of about 45.

What style advice would you give the man over 50?

Don’t go to Abercrombie & Fitch any more. Don’t roll your sleeves up. Don’t put your collar up, ever. Don’t wear your shirt outside your trousers. I suppose if I had any overarching advice, it’s keep it simple.

Mr Aaron Eckhart

Bleed For This is the true story of world champion boxer Mr Vincenzo Pazienza, aka Vinny Paz (played by Mr Miles Teller), who, after a near-fatal car crash that left him not knowing if he’d be able to walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks. Mr Aaron Eckhart, 48, plays Mr Paz’s troubled trainer, Mr Kevin Rooney, in a barely recognisable knockout performance that has some critics talking about a Best Supporting Actor nomination.

What was it like having to put on so much weight for this role?

This was my third time gaining 40lb-plus. It’s always difficult. This time, it’s stretched my skin as I’m getting older. That worried me a bit. It’s good for the character, it’s good for the acting, it shows my commitment, but I didn’t look in the mirror the entire time I was making this film.

Because you hated what you looked like?

I didn’t want to come to grips with it. I didn’t want to admit to myself. And try having a relationship. My girlfriend is a professional triathlete.

How did you do the receding hairline?

They shaved it every day.

What do you like wearing now you’re back in shape?

Zegna, Ralph Lauren. I love leather jackets and every year I buy myself one. If ever I have kids, I’ll hand them down. I also love leather shoes, especially Tricker’s because I feel like I can wear them for life.

Who’s your style icon?

Ralph. He’s just the guy. He’s country and city at the same time; he’s vintage motorcycles and tuxedos.

Mr Ben Younger

Bleed For This is a true comeback story – not least for the movie's writer/director Mr Ben Younger. Big things were expected of the 43-year-old after the success of his cult stockbroker movie Boiler Room in 2000, but for 10 years he couldn’t get any of his movie ideas off the ground. He became a chef in a beach restaurant in Costa Rica, trained as a pilot and kept writing scripts on the side. Then a phone call from Mr Martin Scorsese changed his life…

You said you weren’t a boxing fan before you made this movie.

I’m still not. It’s interesting how you can be a fan of boxing films and not a fan of boxing. I still don’t think this is a boxing movie, though. It’s a comeback movie.

How did Mr Scorsese get involved?

He was making The Wolf Of Wall Street and he used Boiler Room as reference material. He called to meet me. He asked me what I was working on, and I was trying to get Bleed For This financed and cast and could do neither. I pitched the story and he said, “This is the greatest story never told. Send me your script.” Two weeks later, I’m back working in the kitchen in Costa Rica and he calls. He says, “I’m going to help you make this movie.” And he did.

Why did you call it Bleed For This?

Vinny [Pazienza] had a massive gambling problem. He made $6m, but spent $8m. His father once said to him, “Vinny, you have to stop gambling. You bleed for this money.” I heard that, and that was it.

Do you have a recurring dream?

I just got rid of it, but it was a plane crash. I was in a jumbo jet that could not gain lift. We were skimming buildings in a cityscape. Then the wing tip would end up touching a building and the whole thing would go up in flames. I recently got my pilot’s licence and since then, I haven’t had the dream.

First thing you do when you get into a hotel room?

Call the front desk and ask for a bigger room.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Don’t pay too much attention to the praise that people give you because then you’ll have to pay attention to the criticism, too.”

What would you say to your 17-year-old self?

Be grateful.

Mr André Holland

A coming-of-age story set in inner-city Miami in the 1980s, Moonlight weaves together an intricate triptych charting the life of a young, gay black man searching for his place in the world. Mr André Holland (whom you may recognise from Mr Steven Soderbergh’s medical drama The Knick), 36, plays the boy’s best friend, who helps him discover who he is.

What would you say to your 17-year-old self?

To trust myself and listen to my own voice. There’s a line in Shakespeare: “Be the thing thou know’st thou art.” That’s what I’d tell myself.

What’s the best advice your mother or father gave you?

My father always used to say, “If you ever do manage to get off first base, make them throw you out.” Don’t get caught, you know what I mean? Don't get caught standing. Steal second if you can.

Describe your red-carpet style.

Clean, classic, tailored. I’d like to look back 30 or 40 years from now and be like, “Oh yeah, I looked pretty good.”

What’s the most unusual item in your wardrobe?

I bought a vintage Prada overcoat. It looks like an old curtain or that old couch in your grandma’s house that’s like brown and black and it looks a bit out there. Every time I put it on, people go, “Man, that’s a cool jacket.”

Mr Lucas Hedges

Mr Lucas Hedges made his acting debut at the age of 10 in Dan In Real Life, which was cowritten and directed by his Oscar-nominated father, Mr Peter Hedges. His mother, Ms Susan Bruce, is a poet. Now 20, Mr Hedges is generating serious Oscar buzz for his role in the emotionally devastating tearjerker Manchester By The Sea, in which he plays a boy who is raised by his damaged uncle after his father dies.

How has Tiff been for you this year?

Last time I came, I had to buy my own ticket to see my own movie. This time, I had an escort waiting for me, so I got to skip all the security. He’s also been Kanye West’s escort. This is how life should be.

Which app can’t you live without?

I’ve had a flip phone for a year, so I cannot live with any apps. I didn’t know how to have a non-dependent relationship with my iPhone. Everyone thinks I’m trying to make a statement. Maybe I am, but I just don’t want to have an iPhone.

What’s your breakfast of champions?

A vegan cheese and egg sandwich.

Name a place everyone should visit before they die.

Montauk.

Best advice your mother or father gave you?

Whenever I need advice, my mom writes me poems.

Whom do you most admire outside the acting world?

Eckhart Tolle or Byron Katie. They’re spiritual teachers who have had a great impact on my life in terms of how I can better live in the present.

Mr Baltasar Kormákur

The 50-year-old Icelandic director of Everest has stepped back in front of the camera for the first time in eight years to play the lead in dark drama The Oath, which he also wrote and directed. Mr Kormákur plays a father trying to save his daughter from a life of drugs and crime. One of the founding directors of Nordic noir (a movement that has spawned chilly TV thrillers such as The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen), Mr Kormákur is about to film a second series of his hit Trapped and remake the first series in English for the US.

Were you a bit rusty after not acting for so long?

I used to be a leading actor in Iceland before I moved to directing, but it’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget, especially if you’ve spent all that time on film sets.

You’ve described this movie as anti-Hollywood. What does that mean?

Because in Hollywood this film would be Liam Neeson shooting everyone up and then taking home a virgin. This is nothing like that. The consequences of all this violence to the story are very severe. This doesn’t end well for anyone.

Do you have a recurring dream?

I’ve killed somebody and I don’t know exactly who it is and how it happened, but they’re just about to catch me for it.

Who’s your style icon?

Tom Ford. I can’t wait to see Nocturnal Animals. I have a Tom Ford cocktail jacket. I have never found the right occasion to wear it yet, but I will.

What’s the best advice your mother or father gave you?

Finish what you start.

Casting by SHO + CO