TORONTO – Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger and a majority of The Big Chill's principal cast reunited yesterday at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their now classic work.
The film, about a group of Baby Boomer college friends brought together 15 years later after a friend commits suicide, won the People's Choice Award at TIFF when it had its world premiere at the University Theatre, now a Pottery Barn, in 1983. "The film outlived the theatre," quipped Wayne Clarkson, the original TIFF festival director, who returned to introduce the movie.
"One thing that's been amazing to me – this movie's been available in your living room for 30 years, and yet you all came out tonight. I really appreciate it," director Lawrence Kasdan said to laughter from the sold-out audience. "You'll have no trouble recognizing the cast – they haven't changed a bit," he added. Jeff Goldblum and William Hurt were not in attendance, nor was Don Galloway, who passed away in 2009.
When the credits rolled to "Joy To The World," the audience gave Chill a standing ovation, clapping along until the last note. During the screening, reaction was strong for familiar and anticipated moments. The first appearance of each cast member was met with loud cheers, as Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through The Grapevine" played prominently. Practically any appearance by Goldblum's lecherous character received laughs, as did the thumbs-up at the end of J. T. Lancer's show credits.
The soundtrack, curated by Kasdan's wife Meg, was loud and clear, and songs including "You Can't Always Get What You Want," "Good Lovin'," "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "Bad Moon Rising," "When A Man Loves A Woman," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" and "I Second That Emotion" were all well recieved. "It was a fun, easy job to go through the music that I loved and suggest songs for specific scenes," Meg told Rolling Stone during her red carpet arrival.
Kasdan told Rolling Stone that The Big Chill became a classic worthy of an anniversary celebration since, "The film had something to do with friendship. It's not a particularly rose-colored version of it; it's what really happens. People rub each other wrong, but the friendship survives and helps you deal with the world."
Following the screening, Variety's chief film critic, Scott Foundas, moderated a Q&A session with the cast, plus Kasdan's co-writer Barbara Benedek, executive producer Marcia Nasatir and producer Michael Shamberg. In addition to questioning each actor about their role, Foundas asked the producers how hard it was to get this film made. Kasdan had just written screenplays for 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1981's Raiders of the Lost Arc and just directed his first film, Body Heat, but those successes didn't make selling this unusual ensemble film any easier.
"Studios didn't understand," Kasdan explained. "They said, 'How can there be seven protagonists? It's impossible. The subject matter also wasn't exactly in their wheelhouse. In fact, the head of Columbia said to me, after the first test screening, 'I didn't know it was a comedy.' That was probably the problem."
But could The Big Chill be made now? "Not in Hollywood," Kasdan tells Rolling Stone. "It could be made the way all good independent films are made. But it would be a struggle – every decent movie is a struggle to get made."