On the evening of Monday 7th February, I attended the Chateau Marmont in celebration of the Academy nomination for The King’s Speech. While it was clear that the Weinstein Company were the backbone of this event, the invitation told me a team of respected actors, directors and musicians were the real hosts. Their names included Quentin Tarantino, Amanda Seyfried, Renee Zellweger, Mick Jagger, Ridley Scott and Gerard Butler.
Like is the case with many industry events, I would hazard a guess that a good number of the guests had no idea why they were there. In their defense, the invitation was a little confusing, with a long list of hosts muddling the evening’s central theme. Admittedly, while I understood that we were celebrating The King’s Speech nominations, I knew that there had to be a more industrial purpose for such a soirée. Luckily, I had my trusty friend Quentin there to give me the lowdown on the true purpose to the party.
He kindly explained that events such as this are put on to garner enthusiasm for the nominated film and its cast and crew. Hopefully encouraging those with voting power in the Academy to vote for one film over another. The hosts are there to act as lobbyists, if you like, for the nominated film. Quentin explained how the Weinstein Company had kindly hosted similar events for his film, Inglorious Basterds, when it was up for nomination the year before, and so he enjoyed repaying the favor and being a host for their contender this year.
And what a wonderful host he was.
I am not simply being a loyal friend when I say that Quentin Tarantino was the perfect host. He makes working a room look like anything but work. Floating from one attendee to the next, he establishes smooth conversation, relevant to the person in front of him. Quentin has genuine appreciation for the Academy and the process by which a film garners interest. Needless to say, I couldn’t help but be impressed.
Gerard Butler, another host for the evening, is usually brilliant at commanding attention and entertaining the crowd. However at this event, he seemed rather serious, not the normal Jerry that I know. I noticed how he stayed in one place for much of the evening, which meant that a crowd formed around him, rather than him circulating the crowd.
The youngest host for the evening was Amanda Seyfreid who attended with her dashing beau, Ryan Phillippe. I noticed her only briefly as she was leaving. Jennifer Lopez, a usual favorite of mine for her graciousness and generosity, also kept a low profile.
Renee Zellweger, who is known for her fabulous sense of fashion, looked radiant in a beautifully fitted red dress. Sadly though, she was also a rather reclusive host. Sans Bradley Cooper, she took to sitting in one place, taking the full attention of her Bridget Jones Diary co-star Colin Firth. To make matters worse, once Colin left her side to talk to other attendees, she left the party for good. Perhaps, for some A-List stars, hosting for them is like Jury Service for the rest of us.
Colin Firth, who was the star of the film and of the evening, was his usual charming self. I have special admiration for him at the moment, as his life must be somewhat surreal during this particular Awards Season. Post Renee’s departure, his social agenda was mercilessly shepherded by a rather mission-orientated publicist. I was fortunate enough to catch a moment with him, where we re-kindled our conversation regarding his pocket-accoutrement. His parting words to me were, “If I’m wearing a tux, I carry a silk pocket square, but if the lady I’m with were to cry on a night such a this, then I can only offer her cotton.”
I also had a chance to speak with Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard, whom I found to be delightful. Like Colin he was relaxed and charming, making conversation effortless.
An encounter with similar positive energy was one with The King’s Speech director, Tom Hooper who attended with actor Timothy Spall. An incredible British thespian, Tim played the role of Winston Churchill in the film. I wondered if he was still holding onto part of his character as I looked down to notice that he was wearing the most wonderfully, eye-catching black and white matt brogues; precisely the kind of fabulous footwear that my former Prime Minister would have been proud to have worn.
I had a very enjoyable evening and was very appreciative to both Harvey Weinstein for being such a pleasant host, and to dear Quentin for explaining the point of an Academy Nomination Celebration, in such a clear and concise fashion. At the end of the night, after observing all the other hosts, I was slightly uncertain if they understood their role quite as clearly. Perhaps Quentin needs to have a talk with them too?