Big Shots

For a week each May, Hollywood descends upon the French Riviera for the ultraglam Cannes Film Festival. Here, your invitation-only access.

August 10, 2012 12:00 PM
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Sarah Gadon

For this year's belle du Cannes, Toronto's Sarah Gadon, the festival wasn't all flashbulbs, cocktail parties, and cruises on George Clooney's yacht. For the star of two of the buzziest films at the fest (David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, fronted by Robert Pattinson, and the smaller Antiviral, directed by Brandon Cronenberg, David's son), it was a lot of work and preparation. A film student at the University of Toronto, Gadon takes an academic approach to choosing parts. Her breakout role: the wife of Michael Fassbender's Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method. From the set of her next film, An Enemy, costarring Jake Gyllenhaal, the 25-year-old reflects on her big Côte d'Azur debut.

When you found out you were invited to Cannes, was your first thought, What am I going to wear?
My first thoughts were, Where am I going to stay? How will I get there? These festivals seem so glamorous from the outside looking in, but there are a lot of first-time directors and actors just trying to get exposed to the rest of the world. So those are the big questions.

OK, but then you thought about what to wear, right?
I was lucky to have been to the Venice Film Festival the year before. It was good practice for Cannes. I learned to look to people to help me get through the experience. Jason Wu was really wonderful. He made me a custom dress for the premiere of Cosmopolis. And Fendi took me under its wing and helped with looks and handbags. It's essential to look good.

Any starstruck moments?
Of course! I saw Robert De Niro, Terry Gilliam, and Oliver Stone. It's mostly directors whom I get starstruck around. You can have a bunch of great actors in a film, but if you don't have anyone telling a great story, it's a moot point.

Did you get to bring a date for the week?
My mom came with me. Cannes is so intense and crazy that at the end of the night, it's good to be able to locate your mom and say, "I can't believe this just happened!"

Cannes is: "[A film festival] on steroids. It's a festival for everything–the industry, the fans, the brands, the actors."

Glam moment: "I borrowed some Chanel–they were some of the most elegant dresses I've ever worn."