TIFF PHOTO GALLERY: Paul Giamatti, Minnie Driver and Robert Lantos sit down to talk about Barney’s Version

TIFF PHOTO GALLERY: Paul Giamatti, Minnie Driver and Robert Lantos sit down to talk about Barney’s Version

The makers of Barney's Version at a press conference. From left to right: co-producer Ari Lantos, actor Scott Speedman, actor Minnie Driver, director Richard J. Lewis, actor Paul Giamatti, actor Rosamund Pike, producer Robert Lantos, actor Rachelle Lefevre, actor Bruce Greenwood (Image: Karon Liu)

After the dismal showing of Score: A Hockey Musical, Canadians should be happy that there’s more than one high-profile CanCon flick at this year’s TIFF. The movie adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s novel Barney’s Version premiered last night (see the red carpet photos here), but just beforehand, the stars, director and producer sat down with the press to discuss the production—including why it took nearly 12 years to get the story on the big screen.

Our pictures are below, and the interviews are after the jump.

“The real reason it took so long is that Mordecai started working on the script, became ill and then passed away and left me holding the bag,” said director Richard Lewis. “Not only is this the great magnum opus of a great writer, which carries with it the weight and obligation to preserve its integrity, I now have the double burden of honouring his memory… Every time I would look at a new version of the script, I would hear Mordecai’s voice saying, ‘Not good enough, not good enough.’ There was no way I would start making the film until that voice gave it the thumbs-up.”

The film chronicles the life of Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), a lowly hockey-loving TV producer from Montreal, and his three marriages. The first wife is played by Rosamund Pike, the second by Minnie Driver and the third by Montrealer and McGill University graduate Rachelle Lefevre.

“I’m the only Montrealer who didn’t get to film in Montreal. I made a list of places where Paul should eat,” said Lefevre. “I was just really proud that there was going to be these actors who aren’t from there and just embrace it for what it was.”

Just as Score had a revolving door of cameos by Canadian personalities, Barney’s Version also has brief appearances by Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg and Paul Gross, who plays an exaggerated version of Mountie Benton Fraser.

Another interesting bit of casting trivia: Dustin Hoffman, who plays Barney’s father, was gunning to play the title character, but Lewis told him, “If we made this film 35 years ago, I couldn’t think of anyone else. But now I think you should be his dad.”

The flick is already generating buzz for the upcoming awards season (it won the Golden Lion Club award at the Venice Film Festival), and it has already been picked up for distribution.