No Pressure: Vancouver’s Seth Rogen and Gabriel LaBelle on working with Spielberg

Bringing Steven Spielberg’s personal story to life in “The Fabelmans” put a bit of pressure on two Canadian actors in key roles in the drama, but both praise the famed director for his vote of confidence and kindness on set.

Bringing Steven Spielberg’s personal story to life in “The Fabelmans” put a bit of pressure on two Canadian actors in key roles in the drama, but both praise the famed director for his vote of confidence and kindness on set.

“He wouldn’t cast me if he didn’t believe I could do this,” Vancouver’s Seth Rogen said in a question-and-answer session Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film premiered the night before.

“The Fabelmans” follows Spielberg’s childhood in New Jersey, Arizona and eventually California, examining his family dynamics and how they played a role in the development of his passion for film. Newcomer Gabriel LaBelle, who is also from Vancouver, plays a young Spielberg as Sammy Fabelman. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play his mother and his father, while Rogen is a character known as Uncle Benny, a beloved family friend but also a source of interpersonal drama.

Uncle Benny is extremely charming and funny, Rogen said, and is in a relationship with Sammy’s mother, Mitzi Fabelman.

“It was a lot of pressure to effortlessly seem like someone you could imagine why this woman would be in love with, and (that) the audience could accept that she was in love with him and understand that she was in love with him. Roger said.

“You fully understand the conflict at play, and there are many layers to it.”

On opening night, Rogen described the filming process as a very emotional experience for Spielberg.

“She was clearly discovering an emotional air that I don’t think she realized she was going to have until we were making the movie, because every scene is pretty much based on a real moment that happened in her life,” Rogen said in a carpet interview. red.

“And every time I think, ‘Did this happen? Did this happen? And every time the answer was ‘Yes,’ you could see that I was having a very emotional experience that really made me want to do a good job.”

Spielberg acknowledged that it was emotionally draining at times.

“Some of it was very difficult to understand,” Spielberg said in the post-screening chat moderated by TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey. “When the whole writing process was over, I breathed a sigh of relief,” Spielberg said.

TIFF did not allow the media to ask questions during the conference, instead requiring the press to submit inquiries in advance.

“The Fabelmans” was one of the most hyped projects at TIFF, and it is the first time that Spielberg, known for films like “Saving Private Ryan,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “Lincoln,” has submitted one of his films to the festival.

In casting the actor to play himself in his youth, Spielberg said he saw something special in LaBelle during casting sessions that took place mostly on Zoom during the pandemic.

“You know, I wanted to get someone really handsome and sexy, and from Canada,” Spielberg joked.

“None of this is really easy because we don’t usually see ourselves the way our friends and family see us. As a kid, I always had a lot of reasons why I was always in the corner… was not”. the center of the conversation,” Spielberg said.

“I needed someone who didn’t give Sammy too much self-awareness.”

LaBelle described the opportunity as a “wild” experience.

“He only had about a month before we started filming, so we did a lot of Zooming and I asked him a lot of questions about his life… to get a sense of who he was as a person,” LaBelle said.

“I was very delighted and glad that you were such a kind and good person,” LaBelle told Spielberg.

–With files from Jaclyn Tansil

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 11, 2022.

Melita Kuburas, The Canadian Press

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