With Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air and Young Adult, Jason Reitman has established himself as an astute chronicler of contemporary America. But his interests go much farther than that. The son of writer-director Ivan Reitman (Meatballs, Ghostbusters, No Strings Attached), Reitman grew up immersed in classic movies and it's clear from his own work that he appreciates the power of a well-structured script. So it was no surprise when, last year, he launched a "Live Read" series at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA).
In collaboration with film critic and programmer Elvis Mitchell, Reitman introduced today's audiences to much-loved films through the written blueprints that guided them: the original screenplays. Drawing from a local Los Angeles acting pool, he brought new life to contemporary classics like The Breakfast Club (with a cast that included Jennifer Garner and AaRon Paul), The Big Lebowski (Seth Rogen) and The Princess Bride (Paul Rudd). He reached further back to direct the screenplays of Billy Wilder's The Apartment (Steve Carell and Natalie Portman) and Hal Ashby's Shampoo (Bradley Cooper and Kate Hudson). Most notably, he also directed a version of Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs with an all-African American cast led by Laurence Fishburne and Terrence Howard. The process was the same each time: great script, great cast, no rehearsal, live reading.
In a unique special event created for Toronto International Film Festival audiences, Reitman directed a live stage reading of Alan Ball's screenplay for American Beauty, on September 6. Sam Mendes' film about a family man's resplendent mid-life crisis premiered in Toronto in 1999 and went on to win five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The one-night-only performance included Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Woody Harrelson, Adam Driver, Sarah Gadon, Nick Kroll, Mae Whitman and George Stroumboulopoulos.
Check out photos from the event below!
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