Actors say working with new directors can be a wildcard - with a big payoff

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Actors say working with new directors can be a wildcard - with a big payoff

TORONTO - A lot of first-time directors nervously unveiled their cinematic creations over the last 10 days at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the actors who worked with them say that while taking a job with a rookie helmer can be a risk — it can also have a big payoff.

"Every director is different for sure, but there's a huge difference between first-time directors and directors that have done a lot of work," said Patrick Fugit, who stars in the sex addiction dramedy "Thanks For Sharing," the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated "The Kids Are All Right" scribe Stuart Blumberg.

While an inexperienced boss can concentrate on the wrong things or get lost in the filmmaking process, Fugit says they can also bring a refreshing perspective to a project.

"There's definitely something different," said the "Almost Famous" actor, who noted that Blumberg didn't fall into any first-time pitfalls with "Thanks for Sharing," which also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins.

"There's a hunger, and a passion."

"Bridesmaids" star Chris O'Dowd, who worked under first-time film director Wayne Blair on the Aussie crowd-pleaser "The Sapphires," was similarly enthused.

"I've done it a few times," the Irish actor said of delving into a project with a directing greenhorn.

"I really enjoy it (for the reason) that they're really going for it. It's so exciting and they don't have any fixed idea about exactly how they work. So they have ideas, and they know what they like but they're not caught up in their old ways."

Brandon Cronenberg, at the fest with his first feature "Antiviral," has faced a lot of questions from reporters about working in the shadow of his filmmaker father David.

"Antiviral" star Sarah Gadon — who has acted for both Cronenberg father and son — sees the benefits of both ends of the experience spectrum.

"I feel like Brandon has this kind of innocence about him, this exciting energy about starting, being at the very beginning of his career," she said.

"Whereas David sits in a very serene, calm and knowing place because he's already established himself."

Festival-goers, of course, are always on the hunt for the Next Big Thing. And that's perhaps the biggest payoff of working with an up-and-comer: the chance to say you were in on the early career of a future great.

After all, it was some 30 years ago that Robert Redford won an Academy Award for his directorial debut, "Ordinary People." The screen legend has gone on to a successful career behind the lens, and was at the fest this year with the well-received thriller, "The Company You Keep."

Says Gadon of working with the young Cronenberg: "What I love is that I was able to contribute to Brandon's first feature film and was able to be a part of his body of work, because I really believe that he will have a large body of work and I believe it's special when you're in someone's first film."

The Toronto International Film Festival wraps up Sunday.


With a file from Canadian Press reporter Michael Oliveira

Organizations: Aussie

Geographic location: TORONTO

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