Everything we know about Run This Town, the “Rob Ford movie”
The Rob Ford era spawned books, music and plenty of late-night TV gags. Now, a feature film called Run This Town is in the works, and Billions star Damian Lewis will be playing the late mayor. But is there more to this movie than a single big-name actor? Here’s what we know.
The film is being produced by a Bronfman
Jonathan Bronfman is the man behind JoBro Productions, one of companies producing Run This Town, and he confirmed by phone that his brother Andrew is also on board as supervising producer. The brothers are the sons of Paul Bronfman, a big-time player in Canadian film and the chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios. Jonathan says he was drawn to the project after working on Enfant Terrible, a short film by Run This Town’s writer-director, Ricky Tollman.
JoBro’s previous efforts include a horror film called Pyewacket, involving Chloe Rose (best known for her role on Degrassi) and Two Lovers and a Bear, with Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany.
This is about millennial struggle, not the Toronto Star
Ford-era superstar Robyn Doolittle greeted news of the film’s casting choices with a tweet wondering why the reporter character wasn’t a woman:
I'm glad they're rewriting the fact that it was a female reporter who investigated Rob Ford. Why have a woman be a lead character when a man could do it? Ammaright? https://t.co/Nx3holhuZW
— robyndoolittle (@robyndoolittle) April 10, 2018
Then Run This Town star Ben Platt explained that his character is actually a “low-level reporter” at a fictitious newspaper who fails to get in on the Ford scandal:
— Ben Platt (@BenSPLATT) April 10, 2018
“Rob is not one of the main characters or the protagonist,” Jonathan Bronfman tells Toronto Life. The film, he says, follows a struggling journalist looking for his big break, as well as a group of young mayoral staffers. The Globe reported that Ricky Tollman drew inspiration for the reporter character from his brother, a journalist who worked at 680 News and CityTV—neither known for their Ford exposés—before leaving the profession. So expect plenty about struggling millennials—not just the select few who ascend to the tops of their fields.
The film is getting some public funding
A Telefilm Canada spokesperson said in an email that the film will be getting $1.2 million for production and $15,000 for development—and there’s a possibility the project could secure more funding in the future. Telefilm is a crown corporation, meaning these are public funds, but Telefilm aims to recoup its investments in movies after they’re released. So Run This Town could pay taxpayers back if it sells well enough.
The Degrassi diaspora is in full effect
Canadian film and television productions are almost guaranteed to have some connection with Degrassi, which has become a kind of farm team for the domestic entertainment industry. Nina Dobrev, who was a Degrassi regular, has a major role in Run This Town. Fellow alums Justin Kelly and Lauren Collins are also credited on the film’s IMDB page. Kelly tweeted his excitement about the project last month:
Yesterday was my first day on a film called #RunThisTown and boy was it a good time. Thrilled to be among such a great cast!
— Justin Kelly (@IsJustKelly) April 5, 2018
And so did Collins:
‼️‼️‼️ Secret’s Out ‼️‼️‼️ https://t.co/KjsFQojbXh
— Lauren Collins (@Lauren_Collins) April 10, 2018
Damian Lewis will be getting some prosthetic jowls
Lewis tweeted out a glimpse of what it takes to become Rob Ford: a full-face prosthetic and an unsettling pair of scissors.
— Damian Lewis (@lewis_damian) April 26, 2018
And here he is in costume, which includes the Rob Ford standards: blue shirt, grey suit and a folder that’s probably stuffed with constituents’ phone numbers.
Damian Lewis as Rob Ford
The Boss Baby: All Growed Up? pic.twitter.com/nvxyDrFRLd
— Dan Casey (@DanCasey) April 24, 2018
They shot at city hall, and left some clues online
Details about the film and its plot are scarce, but there are some hints online, scattered about like fridge magnets in a parking lot.
This is Nina Dobrev, standing inside what appears to be city hall:
📽️| Nina Dobrev on set of the film "Run This Town" in Toronto. pic.twitter.com/QyCJsbfuWB
— DeIena Forever♔ (@jessykkg1) May 1, 2018
…which was apparently decorated with the requisite football paraphernalia for the occasion:
And this must be a blurry Damian Lewis:
Here, Dobrev does some reconnaissance with co-star Ben Platt:
The third shot here, from Ricky Tollman’s Instagram, was taken in Toronto’s city council chambers, where much of the real-life Ford drama unfolded:
They’re done filming
Jonathan Bronfman confirmed to Toronto Life that Run This Town finished filming last week. Here’s Dobrev, apparently moments after wrapping:
Bronfman says it’s too early to tell when and where the film might premiere, but don’t bet on a TIFF appearance—the 2018 festival is probably too soon, and the 2019 edition is probably too far off, he says.