Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
My life is completely and evenly split in two. There’s City Me who sees too many films, goes to film fests around the world, and socializes, and enjoys the company of fellow critics, journalists and PR people. Then there is Rural Me who loves kayaking, hiking, gardening, doing quiet things quietly. Rural Me is the dominant Me. This interview is with City Me.
What made you want to become a journalist and what was the first big interview you were assigned?
I’d always liked writing and jumped into my small town newspaper when I returned from a post-uni Grand Tour of Europe. Someone at CTV liked my writing and invited me for an interview. So I spent 20 years in my sideline, producing and reporting in entertainment for TV news. I learned skills that I use now interviewing and reviewing films for Studio 12 News (Corus/CBC TV), writing reviews for Metro News, some mags and a load of websites. I wish I could remember my first big interview, maybe Iron Maiden. I’ve done tens of thousands since, just about anyone you could name in film and for many years, music. Three Beatles, George Clooney, Anna Nicole Smith, Martha Stewart, Martin Scorsese, Daniel Day-Lewis, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, De Niro, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Frances Ford Coppola, Pacino, and multiple times. Lillian Gish was the eldest and Big Bird and Elmo the youngest. Also two apes on separate occasions.
What interviews were you the most excited/nervous for?
Argh! I was waiting in a hallway in LA to be summoned into Mick Jagger’s suite. Although I’d interviewed bigger stars, he’s intrigued me since childhood. I started to feel quite faint and collapsed into the chair. A lady from Warners shook me, sprayed and force fed me water then did a little visualization. Going into the suite, I literally crashed into him as he headed into the loo. It broke the spell and we had a fun, hilarious chat – what a charmer. And I got pix.
Who have been some of the most engaging stars you’ve ever met and why?
There have been incredible moments, like interviewing Dennis Miller. I was completely enthralled by his intelligence and understanding of the world. I came out of interviews with Maya Angelou and George Burns in tears because they spoke so movingly and intimately. Faye Dunaway scared the bejesus out of me as did Jane Fonda the first time. No one has scared me since. They put their pants on one leg at a time like the rest of us. Even Clooney. Clooney is the most delightful of the charming ones.
Who is still on your interview wish list?
Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Miley Cyrus, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hardy, and the new person coming down the pike right now. From the past it would be Cary Grant, George Stevens, Katharine Hepburn and Lucy and Desi. Jesse Eisenberg seems smart and odd and I like that; ditto Gillian Anderson.
What are some of your favourite films of all time and why?
Apocalypse Now is my all time favourite, the theatrical release not the director’s cut. It distilled everything the New Hollywood of the 70′s was about in one hallucinogenic blow out. Days of Heaven is next due to its glorious golden-toned mix of mysticism and magic realism. I love No Country for Old Men and rewatch it often for its language; those Coen Brothers really get to me. Perfectly spare films like Wendy and Lucy, Police, Adjective and Ballast don’t come around often enough. I have time for westerns, espionage thrillers and BBC TV dramas.
What are the biggest challenges and best rewards about what you do?
The challenge today is finding really good films. This isn’t a particularly strong time for film. TV is better. Finding those elusive great films is a reward but I’m not feeling it a lot lately. Interviewing is a joy because no two people are alike and you will always learn something and be moved by something. So it seems to come down to good conversation with interesting people.
Let’s get social for a moment. How can people stay up-to-date with your busy life?
I’m on Facebook, Twitter, somewhere in Pinterest (I like décor sites) and the blog. Also LinkedIn.