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.”

How director Ana Lily Amirpour found out she was invited to the academy. 

See more coverage from the Toronto Film Festival »


Joseph Gordon-Levitt was warned that portraying Edward Snowden was risky. He took the role anyway.

“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.

Shailene Woodley used to joke about spying when the iPhone first came out. For her, those concerns now seem eerie — and validated.


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. 

Ryan Gosling channeled some of the pain from early auditions right onto the screen in “La La Land.”

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.

Ryan Gosling says “La La Land” was an opportunity to show an old but enduring Los Angeles, one that highlights local treasures like Grand Central Market, Angel’s Flight, 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. 

John Legend’s character in “La La Land” is conflicted by the fine line between art and commercial success. That’s a role Legend took to heart. 

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.

Most know Jackie Kennedy as an icon. Natalie Portman wanted to approach her first as a person.

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.

They believed in director Barry Jenkins when no one else would. He’s never forgotten.


Taraji P. Henson and the cast of ‘Hidden Figures’ make a case for feelgood seriousness

With ‘La La Land,’ Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle aim to show that original musicals aren’t all tapped out

At ‘Birth of a Nation’ forum, Nate Parker deflects questions about sex assault allegations

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