Actress Kristen Stewart steals limelight as Toronto film fest opens

Fri Sep 7, 2012 1:18am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto film festival opened on Thursday with action movie "Looper" starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but it was "Twilight" star Kristen Stewart who attracted the biggest buzz on the red carpet at the star-studded festival scattered with Oscar hopefuls.

Anticipation was high for one of the world's premier film festivals that coming off Venice helps mark the beginning of Hollywood's awards season. Filmmakers see it as crucial launching pad and Toronto has previously propelled such films as "The King's Speech" to go on to success at the Academy Awards.

Ben Affleck, Selena Gomez, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks and rapper-turned reggae wannabe Snoop Dogg, now known as Snoop Lion, are all among a lineup of top stars due to appear.

But it was Kristen Stewart who wowed the red carpet Thursday, signing autographs to streams of cheering fans in her first media appearance since issuing an unusual public apology for cheating on long-term boyfriend and "Twilight" co-star Robert Pattinson with British film director Rupert Sanders.

Without directly referring to the scandal, Stewart, 22, told Reuters she was thankful "to know that everyone is here" and the support she described as "amazing" before she walked into the premiere of "On The Road" based on Jack Kerouac's seminal book of the postwar Beat Generation.

At a nearby theater, "Looper," a futuristic action blockbuster featuring Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis about an assassin haunted by his time-traveling future self, officially kicked off the 11-day festival that will screen more than 280 films.

It was the first U.S.-China co-production to open the festival, but is not one of the films being keenly watched by Oscar observers. It was chosen as the opening film due to its perceived broad entertainment appeal in a slot once mostly reserved for Canadian productions or filmmakers.

Director Rian Johnson told reporters Thursday that following China's input into the production, a Paris location was switched to Shanghai and that even a joke was later inserted into the script - when Gordon-Levitt's character dreams of France he is warned by his future self of China's influence: "I'm from the future; you should go to China."   Continued...

Actress Kristen Stewart poses at the gala presentation for the film "On the Road" at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Cassese