There has been no shortage of Hollywood stars in town filming this year, from Sigourney Weaver to Gary Oldman. But the star-wattage went up notably in the past two weeks with the arrival of Oscar-winning British actor Michael Caine.
He is here to play the main role in the Canadian-U.K. co-production Best Sellers, starring alongside American actress Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation fame. Caine portrays an ill-tempered has-been author who is coaxed into writing another novel by a young publisher (Plaza) who hopes it will save her boutique publishing house. They go out on a wild book tour together.
Pierre Even, one of the Canadian producers of the film, said everyone is excited to be working with the legendary actor. Caine, who’s 86, has starred in a slew of high-profile films since his career took off in the 1960s, notably Alfie, The Italian Job, The Man Who Would Be King, A Bridge Too Far, Educating Rita, Hannah and Her Sisters, Inception and the Dark Knight trilogy of Batman films.
He has won two supporting-actor Oscars, for Hannah and Her Sisters and The Cider House Rules.
Best Sellers is directed by first-time feature filmmaker Lina Roessle, an actress whose credits include Lost Girl, Murdoch Mysteries and Supernatural. the film is written by Canadian screenwriter Anthony Grieco.
Michelle Pfeiffer is also in town. On the weekend, Pfeiffer posted a striking photo on her Instagram account showing the 61-year-old actress sitting by a window overlooking the giant mural of Leonard Cohen on the side of a Crescent St. apartment tower.
The Golden Globe-winning Pfeiffer is here working on the film French Exit. In the Canadian-Irish co-production, the star of Batman Returns and Murder on the Orient Express plays sixtysomething Manhattan socialite Frances Price, who has fallen on tough financial times. She moves to Paris to live in a modest apartment with her son Malcolm, who is played by Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea). The film is written by Canadian novelist Patrick DeWitt and is based on his bestselling 2018 novel of the same name.
Weaver was here in the spring to play the lead role in Montreal filmmaker Pierre Falardeau’s feature My Salinger Years. Oldman was in town earlier in the year working on the film Dreamland.
The second season of the 13-episode TV series Blood and Treasure is shooting now in Montreal. The CBS series stars Matt Barr and Sofia Pernas in a drama featuring an antiquities expert and an art thief.
Shooting recently wrapped on the Fox series A Moody Christmas, which stars former Montrealer Jay Baruchel and Elizabeth Perkins and is a remake of the Australian series of the same name. It is about a dysfunctional family that get together for the holidays in Chicago.
Back for a fourth season in town is the Universal Television production The Bold Type, which is inspired by the life of Joanna Coles, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. It stars Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy.
Chanelle Routhier, film commissioner at the Quebec Film and Television Council, said it’s been a good year for film and TV shoots in Montreal. But Routhier said the year-end tally for foreign productions will likely be a bit less than 2018’s final tally of $378 million. That’s mainly because there were no big expensive blockbusters in town this year. There were 18 films and seven TV projects.
But there will be a huge blockbuster here next year. Director Roland Emmerich said that his next movie, the pricey sci-fi project Moonfall, will shoot in Montreal in 2020. It has a budget of $150 million.
His latest film Midway, currently in cinemas, was shot in Montreal in 2018. Emmerich previously shot three other films in Montreal: The Day After Tomorrow, White House Down and Stonewall.
“He really likes Montreal,” said Christian Lemay, who is the business manager for the Montreal branch of the International Cinematographers Guild. “He likes the spirit of the city.”