LOS ANGELES?Throw in the names of Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and 10-year-old Bailee Madison in the list of contenders for acting prizes in this awards season.
The four gave top-rate performances in the film ?Brothers,? Jim Sheridan?s remake of a 2004 Danish drama with the same title that was co-written and directed by Susanne Bier.
Tobey, a competent actor who has yet to earn major acting nominations, may finally turn things around with his portrayal of Sam Cahill, a straight-arrow brother and Marine captain whose helicopter is shot down in Afghanistan.
When Sam is presumed dead, his sibling, Tommy (Jake), the black sheep in the family, assumes newfound responsibility for himself, Sam?s wife, Grace (Natalie) and two daughters (Bailee and Taylor Geare, who is also good).
Grace and Tommy are drawn to each other but unbeknownst to them, Sam is alive and held captive by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and undergoes shattering experiences. When he is rescued, Sam comes home a different man, whose fits of rage and jealousy put the family (which includes Sam Shepard and Mare Winningham as the brothers? father and stepmom) on edge.
There is a very tense dining table scene that was consummately directed by Jim and acted by the main cast, with the character of Bailee, who was only 8 years old during the filming, as the catalyst.
Last weekend, Tobey, Jake, Jim and the two young girls attended a cocktail reception at The Garden in the Four Seasons Hotel New York. Mr. Spider-Man arrived with his daughter, Ruby Sweetheart, now 3 years old, swinging in his arm and that of his mom, Jennifer Meyer (the couple has a son, Otis Tobias, 6 months old). Appearing relaxed, Tobey smiled as he talked about how he had to lose 20 pounds in three weeks? time (under the guidance of a nutritionist) for his scenes as a captive.
It happened during the 2007 holidays. Tobey said, ?While everybody was enjoying their big meals and desserts, I was eating leaves, twigs and things and I was virtually working out all day. It was so intense that if I would stand up quickly, everything would start to go dark and I?d have to grab something to hold on to.?
Jake could only attend the early evening reception and not the premiere the following day because he had to go back to the set of a movie he is working on.
Natalie, on the other hand, missed the cocktails but was able to attend the premiere and then the party at Abe & Arthur?s.
At the press con, also in New York, Tobey admitted that his role affected his mood throughout the shoot. ?I was engrossed in the film, my character and the subject matter,? he said, laughing at first. ?My wife said I was pretty unpleasant to be around with for a few months. I owe her an apology for that.?
In preparation for his role, he said he talked to some Marines whose traumatic war experiences affected their personal and family lives when they came home.
?I am so grateful for life and my family, the great love I have with my children and my wife and some of the great friends I have,? he said. ?It helped me realize, as I was talking to these people and hearing their stories, how fragile life is. And how fortunate I am to get to live.
On his very young yet extremely talented co-stars, Tobey gushed: ?Bailee and Taylor are just so sweet and adorable. Taylor would come up with these great ideas. It was really interesting because they would be oftentimes beyond what you would think her knowledge of the story was. She would improvise on these things that help advance a scene. You?d be surprised.?
He continued: ?Bailee was just as amazing. I felt bad about how I had to treat both of them at times in some of our scenes. I had to be rough on them. They understood that we were acting. Bailee would break down. It was like I was breaking her heart. After the scene, through her tears, she?d start laughing, looking and smiling at me. I?d go over and give her a big hug. We had a really nice relationship. I really enjoy those little girls so much. They?re so talented.?
As for ?Spider-Man 4,? here?s the scoop from the man himself: ?We?re working on the script right now. As far as I know, we?ll start filming in late February or early March. I?m starting to train. After this (New York) trip, I?ll go back home (to LA) and be full steam-ahead with physical preparation mode and meetings in terms of development of the character and the story.? Since Tobey, a vegetarian, needs to bulk up this time around, we guess that means extra servings of leaves, twigs and things.
Guests at the cocktail party were Fil-Ams enjoying success in the Big Apple: Jerry Sibal, Edwin Josue and Carissa Villacorta. Jerry is a top event designer and floral artist who founded Design Fusion NYC (www.designfusionnyc.com) in 1995. Last October, Jerry launched his first book, ?An Event to Remember: Designing Spectacular Special Occasions? (Stewart, Tabori and Chang 2009) at the New York landmark, Cipriani Wall Street.
Jerry has handled prestigious events attended by personalities like former US President Bill Clinton, U2?s Bono and chef Mario Batali in venues in the States, Asia and Europe. Among his clients are Vanessa Williams, Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic and Caesar?s Palace.
Edwin is a successful real estate agent who is Jerry?s business partner at Design Fusion.
Carissa is the award-winning author of the book ?Surreality,? a collection of essays about life in New York from the perspective of a young Filipina. A multi-faceted woman who has donned many hats, including those of diplomat staff, inspirational speaker, teacher and columnist, Carissa is taking courses in public relations, marketing, media and publishing at Harvard. She organizes and promotes events in New York (www.carissavillacorta.com).
The three New Yorkers were impressed with the two male leads of ?Brothers.? Jerry said, ?I admire Jake and Tobey for being very deep actors.? Edwin exclaimed, ?We found Tobey and Jake to be very warm. We can?t wait to see ?Brothers? when it comes out next week.?
Carissa remarked: ?Jake and Tobey are living proof that you can be very successful while remaining warm and accessible. I wish both of them more success and happiness.?
Email the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blog, ?The Nepales Report,? on http://blogs.inquirer.net/nepalesreport.