On the Town with Shinan: Is Stephen Hawking coming to TIFF?

By Shinan Govani

Move over, Reese Witherspoon. Stephen Hawking apparently wants his share of the Toronto limelight.

Word has it that the world-famous astrophysicist (and one of the smartest men alive) may, indeed, make it to TIFF for the premiere of that biopic about his life, The Theory of Everything, starring sprightly Eddie Redmayne as his alter-brain. “They’re trying to make it happen,” an insider told me.

Should he make it, let’s hope the University of Cambridge scientist who wrote A Brief History of Time – 10 million copies sold – will fill us in on the black holes experienced by journalists covering a festival with 393 films, and the Big Bang associated with an appearance by Bill Murray!

The Theory of Everything, which is one of fall’s most anticipated releases, tracks the life of the budding scholar who went on to become a pillar of the scientific community, all whilst contracting Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which leaves him in a wheelchair for decades, and speaking through a voice synthesizer. With shades of A Beautiful Mind, it’s also very much a “love story,“ as the film’s director, James Marsh has described, and based, as it is, on a memoir by the genius’ first wife, Jane Hawking.

Moreover, we understand, it has Stephen’s blessing! Not only did he visit the set of the flick, but he was so into it that he even offered the use of his voice for some key scenes. “The voice you hear in the latter part of the story is in fact Stephen’s actual electronic voice, as he used it,” Marsh recently said.

Indeed, it’s the very voice that’s also popped up in The SimpsonsStephen had always zinged well with pop culture – and one that even The Queen keeps tabs on. During a recent meeting with the British monarch, she reportedly paused to ask, “Have you still got that American voice?” – to which Stephen replied, “Yes, it is copyrighted actually.”

Oh, and also:

The game of save-the-dates and connect-the-party-dots is on for TIFF. With the world’s biggest film festival starting, as usual, after Labour Day, calendars are being filled – whether it’s, say, a charitable event with Goldie Hawn – she’ll be honoured in Toronto at the annual Best Buddies Gala – or a one-off party hosted by Armani on the highest floor in the city (hint, hint).

Getting a jump on things is a party that Hugo Boss is throwing before the Fest to celebrate the launch of the "Boss Pocket Square" in support of the TIFF Pocket Fund (an initiative that allows children in need to attend cultural programming associated with TIFF Kids). And taking an opportunity to model the handkerchief himself – before he gets ready to glad-handle with the likes of Julianne Moore and Juliette Binoche – is none than that TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey.

Also set to have a big presence, as per usual, is Grey Goose, which will be colonizing Soho House here once again and throwing parties for a medley of films. To set the mood, in fact, the carpe diem vodka company threw a pre-TIFF party of their own this summer, where they commandeered a few small planes and flew a slew of journalists from Toronto to Lake Joseph, in Muskoka – for dinner and some dock-side cocktails! And, then… right back to the city again. The event introduced Grey Goose VX, a premium vodka spirit with a hint of precious cognac. And it might be just that thing you spot in the hands of, oh, Benedict Cumberbatch come the fest.

Stay tuned for more TIFF twinklings at hellomagazine.ca/tiff, as we say hello to September.

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