Friday night’s tribute to Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo went down in front of a capacity crowd gathered at the Arlington Theatre to celebrate the trio being honored with SBIFF’s American Riviera Award.
On the heels of winning the SAG award for best ensemble cast, Keaton, McAdams, and Ruffalo, who was unable to attend but sent a video taped message, spoke highly of working together as a group, not only with their fellow actors but also with the journalists who they were portraying. “Being a part of an ensemble with real chemistry is such an honor and rarity,” said Ruffalo from the screen. Adding that director Tom McCarthy made a great picture thanks to his “subtle restraint in filmmaking that made these pieces come together.”
Rachel McAdams was poised and thoughtful as she spoke of her role as Boston Globe journalist Sacha Pfeiffer, who was in attendance: “Sacha is a compassionate listener…and has an amazing ability to get people to open up. She was integral in getting these survivors to open up — men in their 50s and 60s who didn’t want to [revisit the pain]. I tried to emulate her.” McAdams is also nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. “I couldn’t stop laughing,” she said of learning she was nominated for an Academy Award. “I was not expecting this. I expected it for the film and the director, but I was so surprised I was nominated.”
In response to moderator Roger Durling’s question regarding working on an understated film McAdams said she “was grateful for that because there were so many stories to tell. We could have done a much longer movie than we did. Tom [McCarthy] is an amazing actors director….Telling the story through the journalists eyes the audience could see that there was so much more [to tell].”
Entertaining and engaging, Michael Keaton stole the show with his witty quips (“We look at you as Batman,” said Durling. “And how can you not,” said Keaton) and astute observations. When Durling asked “Did you wish you had someone else’s part in Spotlight Keaton’s answer had the audience in stitches: “I wanted Rachel’s part because I’d get to wear that dress tonight. I’d look so fucking good in that.”
Regarding portraying Globe’s Spotlight team editor, Walter “Robby” Robinson, Keaton explained, “I absorbed Robby because he’s not that different than me. Robby is the kind of guy you want to hang out with.” A self-proclaimed news junkie, Keaton said he has “a natural curiosity that journalists have” that helped him get into character.
The evening closed with Spotlight director Tom McCarthy presenting the award to the trio. “My favorite thing I do is working with actors,” he said. “And this film was as embarrassment of riches….Mark is all heart and soul. He was the vibration in our film. Rachel, she was our heart and very representative of Sacha Pfeiffer. One of my favorite things about Rachel’s performance is how she listens,” McCarthy explained. “She makes listening very active.” As for Keaton, the director said “I think we on Spotlight had a captain and that was Michael Keaton…He’s a consummate pro but also 100 percent unpredictable…Its so damn exciting.”