Monday December 9th, 2019 5:00AM

Toronto Film Fest pays tribute to Streep, Phoenix

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TORONTO (AP) — In a gala dinner held Monday amid the Toronto International Film Festival's unspooling premieres, the festival paid tribute to Joaquin Phoenix, Meryl Streep, filmmaker Taika Waititi and cinematographer Roger Deakins.

With the city teaming with stars in town for the festival, TIFF this year added a star-studded fundraising dinner that coincided with some of its most anticipated premieres. Streep stopped by just as her financial industry satire "The Laundromat" was screening. Phoenix's "Joker" was simultaneously making its North American debut just blocks away.

Phoenix, who rushed up to the stage before Willem Dafoe had finished his introduction to the actor, said he had intended just to "make a bunch of tasteless jokes at my expense." But Phoenix said he was moved by the clip reel of his films that played before his speech.

"When I was 15 or 16 my brother River (Phoenix) came home from work and he had a VHS copy of a movie called 'Raging Bull' and he sat me down and made me watch it," said Phoenix of his brother who died in 1993. "And the next day he woke me up, and he made me watch it again. And he said, 'You're going to start acting again, this is what you're going to do.'"

"He didn't ask me, he told me. And I am indebted to him for that because acting has given me such an incredible life," said Phoenix.

"Joker" arrived in Toronto fresh off its Golden Lion win Saturday at the Venice Film Festival. Earlier in the day, Phoenix visited painted wall murals advocating for veganism at a Toronto subway station.

Later, after the film screened Monday evening at TIFF, Phoenix acknowledged deciding to take on the role of the Joker "wasn't an easy decision at first."

"But then there was something that was drawing me toward it," he said. "It just evolved as we worked together. It started becoming something more than I anticipated. It was one of the greatest experiences of my career."

At the tribute gala, Streep encouraged fellow performers to choose role with a social mindfulness.

"Every artist here has made a choice about the material they've done and they've decided to contribute — either by default or intention," said Streep. "Even though we didn't create the moment we find ourselves in, we can't cure it individually, we can't control it, but we sure can contribute to its toxicity."

Waititi, whose "Jojo Rabbit" premiered Sunday in Toronto, received the festival's Ebert Director Award, named after the late film critic Roger Ebert. Deakins, who photographed "The Goldfinch" (also a Sunday premiere at TIFF) was honored for his life's work. The French filmmaker Mati Diop ("Atlantics") was given the Mary Pickford Award for an emerging, groundbreaking female talent. Jeff Skoll and David Linde's production company Participant was celebrated with the festival's award for social impact.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Online Movies News, APOnline Celebrity News
© Copyright 2019
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Toronto Film Fest pays tribute to Streep, Phoenix
The Toronto International Film Festival is paying tribute to Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix and filmmaker Taika Waititi in gala Monday held amid the festival's unspooling premieres
8:18PM ( 12 minutes ago )
North Korea fires projectiles after offering talks with US
North Korea fires projectiles into sea after offering talks with US in late September
8:07PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Spirited Sargent, budding star, returns to St. Louis with US
Josh Sargent, budding soccer star, returns to St. Louis with US men's team
8:02PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Eddie Redmayne happy to reunite with Felicity Jones
As soon as Eddie Redmayne read the script for "The Aeronauts," he knew whom his co-star should be: His "Theory of Everything" co-star Felicity Jones
5:32PM ( 2 hours ago )
Pyer Moss celebrates black culture with fashion and music
Pyer Moss' New York Fashion Week production was far more than a fashion show
5:21PM ( 3 hours ago )
Afghans brace for fresh violence after US-Taliban talks halt
Afghans are bracing for a possible new wave of Taliban violence after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off nearly a year of talks with the insurgent group just when a deal to end America's longest war seemed to be at hand
4:13PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
In 'Dolemite Is My Name,' a return to form for Eddie Murphy
The Rudy Ray Moore tale 'Dolemite Is My Name' heralds a return-to-form for the suddenly busy Eddie Murphy
1:06PM ( 7 hours ago )
Turner Classic Movies hires its first African American host
Turner Classic Movies has hired its first African American host, naming film academic Jacqueline Stewart host of its silent movie program 'Silent Sunday Nights'
1:02PM ( 7 hours ago )
Ex-prison shows animated films made by incarcerated artists
An art exhibit at a former prison-turned-museum in Philadelphia is showcasing animated short films created by currently incarcerated inmate
10:41AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Movies News
Hilfiger joins with Zendaya for joyous '70s Harlem party
Tommy Hilfiger made his return to New York Fashion Week with a joyous Harlem street party at the famed Apollo Theater
11:54AM ( 8 hours ago )
Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart headline veterans' fundraiser
Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Hasan Minhaj and Ronny Chieng will headline this year's Stand Up for Heroes fundraiser, which benefits injured veterans and their families.
10:00AM ( 10 hours ago )
Tory Burch celebrates Princess Diana with fashion week show
Tory Burch looked to one of the most important fashion icons of the 20th century for inspiration at New York Fashion Week: Princess Diana
1:45AM ( 18 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
North Korea fires projectiles after offering talks with US
North Korea fires projectiles into sea after offering talks with US in late September
8:07PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Spirited Sargent, budding star, returns to St. Louis with US
Josh Sargent, budding soccer star, returns to St. Louis with US men's team
8:02PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Susan Kamil, longtime publisher and editor, dead at 69
Susan Kamil, the publisher of Salman Rushdie, Ta-Nehisi Coates and other prominent writers, has died at age 69
8:00PM ( 30 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump touts NC as 'big 2nd Amendment state'
President Donald Trump is touting North Carolina as a "very big 2nd Amendment state"
7:58PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Papi's Back: David Ortiz throws out 1st pitch at Fenway
Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz threw out the first pitch before Monday night's game against the New York Yankees
7:42PM ( 48 minutes ago )