At Toronto festival, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman and others take us behind the scenes of their films

The 2016 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing, and among the competing movies building award season buzz at the event are star-powered pictures such as “La La Land,” “Jackie,” “Snowden,” and director Ana Lily Amirpour's “The Bad Batch.” Some of the films’ stars and filmmakers sat down with The Times to discuss some of the inspirations behind their roles.

Amirpour joined us to discuss her new film, her unexpected invitation to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scicnes, and the prospects of commercial success. She said the latter would be “cool,” but she’s in it more to just “make movies and to take people on a ride.”

See more coverage from the Toronto Film Festival »

“Snowden” star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, above, admits that working with director Oliver Stone was a big draw, but that he didn’t really know that much about the film’s infamous subject. 

Shailene Woodley, Gordon-Levitt’s co-star in “Snowden,” remembers how jokes about early smart phones being used as tools for espionage turned all-too-real several years later.

Meanwhile, “La La Land” star Ryan Gosling discusses an awkward audition that threw him for a loop when he was just starting out as an actor. 

He also praised the L.A.-set period film’s commitment to showing the “golden years of Los Angeles,” giving shout-outs to iconic landmarks such as Angels Flight, Grand Central Market and Watts Towers.

Singer-turned-actor John Legend, Gosling’s “La La Land” costar, explained how he connected with his character in the film, a musician negotiating the fine line between artistic success and commercial gain. 

Natalie Portman is looking to add another Oscar to her shelf for her performance as treasured First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the biopic “Jackie,” directed by Pablo Larraín. Below, she discusses why it was important to approach the well-known historical figure as a person, rather than as an icon.

Also at the fest, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins discovered what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera, when he answered questions about his acclaimed film and revealed how he was helped early in his career by people who believed in his creative vision.

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