Derek Luke and Tim Robbins in Catch a Fire

Hola! MoviefoneKevin here, filing my first report from the Toronto Film Festival. A quick intro: I enjoy Asiago cheese and Eva Mendes. But enough about me, I'm here to bring the drama -- literally. As if a flight from New York to Toronto on this fifth anniversary of 9/11 wasn't a sobering enough way to start the day, my colleague and I received some startling news from our taxi driver as we made our way into downtown Toronto. Early this morning, at the very hotel we were heading to, three people were murdered on the 19th floor. Unsurprisingly the Delta Chelsea was crawling with cops and reporters as we arrived. Guess who'll be chaining their door tonight?

From the Delta Chelsea I made my way to Moviefone's home base here at the fest, the Roots store on Bloor St., where I'd soon watch Tim Robbins and Derek Luke interview each other about their South-Africa-set terrorism drama, 'Catch a Fire.'

Robbins and Luke rolled in together with a couple handlers shortly after noon. Typically you hear people are surprised to discover just how vertically challenged certain celebrities appear in person. Not Robbins. The man is a skyscraper.

I have to admit, from the way these co-stars appeared as they sat ready to grill each other, while the Moviefone production team set up shop around them, I sensed they might not have the most dynamic rapport, or really much to talk about, actually. Why? Because they sat there silently. At one point -- I kid you not -- Robbins whistled to himself while Luke gazed at the ceiling. It almost felt like a really awkward episode of 'Blind Date.'

But once the cameras began to roll, it became evident they had indeed forged a camradarie while shooting abroad. Robbins jokingly introduced himself as "Derek Luke, here to interview Tim Robbins." They showered each other with compliments throughout a lengthy Q&A session: Luke said he thought Robbins was "phenomenal"; Robbins praised Luke as "the kindest, most polite guy" and admitted, "It was difficult to torture you" (Luke plays a South African falsely accused of terrorism; Robbins the arresting officer).

The conversation felt casual and genuine, even if Robbins did seem to exercise a bit of a hip-hop twang (he even used the expression "One love," though thankfully refrained from "fo shizzle"). They discussed preparing for their roles, interacting with the men whom their characters were based on, and the current climate of post-apartheid South Africa. Reflections got the deepest when Robbins asked Luke what it was like for him to visit Africa. Luke replied that he felt like Alex Haley.

The one topic the duo didn't touch on, interestingly, was terrorism. Robbins even nixed a planned question addressing the film's plot and its depiction of terror. Surprising, considering the liberal activist Robbins is reliably outspoken, and the film's portrayal of an unlawful government has clear relevance to today's War on Terror. I'll bet it had something to do with today's date.

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Tags:Catch a Fire, Derek Luke, Toronto Film Festival, Tim Robbins, South Africa,

categories Features, Cinematical