Sara Polley arrives for the Festival's opening night gala. -- Michael Peake, SUN




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Friday, September 5, 1997

A sweet start

Sarah Polley

By NATASHA STOYNOFF
Toronto Sun

 ATOM'S TIMELY HEREAFTER: Festgoers got an early champagne buzz at a pre-gala fete yesterday at The Rosewater Supper Club.
 
 Most "energized" was Sweet Hereafter director Atom Egoyan, who was tickled he was about to be the opening night man. "It's a really long relationship I have with the festival," he said, "so it's exciting to finally be the opening film."
 
 Since Hereafter's first festival trip to Cannes in May, Egoyan says he's been overwhelmed by the critical raves. "I'm so encouraged people feel moved ... especially this week." The film, based on the novel by Russell Banks, stars Sarah Polley and Ian Holm.
 
 He is, of course, talking about Princess Diana's tragic death. The frenzy to dissect Di's accident eerily parallels the film (about schoolchildren who die in a bus accident), and it's theme of "the idea of blame and responsibility," says the director, "and how far anyone should go to pursue the truth."
 
 THE SWEET TOOTH AFTER: Actress Gabrielle Rose has a stubborn reminder of the making of The Sweet Hereafter -- the fifteen pounds Egoyan made her gain for her role.
 
 "Atom was worried I looked too slight," she says of her pivotal role as the doomed bus driver, "so I went on a Guinness 'n' cake diet and gained twelve pounds in two weeks -- it was easy," she laughs.
 
 But it wasn't over. Egoyan took her out for a few more "very delicious, expensive dinners" to pack on three more pounds, and even showed up at her home one day bearing fudge.
 
 Problem now is losing it.
 
 A year later, and Rose -- who's shed five of the fifteen -- is hoping Egoyan will show up at her door once again.
 
 "This time with a personal fitness trainer."
 
 LA FEMME ALBERTA: Looking glamorously svelte was Sweet Hereafter's Alberta Watson, who claimed last night's elegant bearing was "Just the high heels, dear..."
 
 A welcome change to the "unglamorous, rural" character she plays in the film, and in real life.
 
 The actress spent her three-month summer haitus from Nikita at her northern Ontario cottage "sitting on the dock, listening to loons," she says.
 
 Her rustic instincts kicked in, she says, while shooting Hereafter during freezing temperatures in icy Kamloops, B.C.
 
 "I wore lots of long underwear," she divulges. "It came to the point where I didn't care if I looked twenty pounds bigger -- I just wanted to stay warm!"
 
 Which, in hindsight, gives her a beef with Egoyan.
 
 "How come he never took me out for any dinners?!"








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