Styling with Stiles
New York filmmaker Patrick Stetner landed a feisty and formidable Broadway legend in Stockard Channing when he set out to cast the lead role of a high-powered businesswoman in his debut drama Business Of Strangers that played the Toronto film festival this weekend in the Contemporary World Cinema series.
So that set up his biggest challenge, finding a young female costar who could appear opposite her as the emotionally unbalanced assistant whose machinations would set off the story.
"It started with Stockard," Stettner said yesterday. "Once I got her, it was really a question of who could go toe-to-toe with her. That was my biggest fear (that no one could)."
At early casting sessions, he met young women "with this disaffected layer" that made them look like poseurs. "I would lean over to my casting director and go: 'Stockard is going to pick her teeth with this kid!' Then I met Julia Stiles."
Stiles is catapulting to Hollywood fame in films as different as Save The Last Dance, a hip-hop romance, and O, the current high school version of Shakespeare's Othello.
"The great thing about Julia is that she's got it," Stettner says of Stiles' demeanour. "She's from New York. She's got that street-tough thing. She has a real sense of don't f... me. She could get right in Stockard's face and hold her own."
Originally published in the September 9, 2001 issue of the Toronto Sun