Molly’s Game starts shooting in Toronto2 years ago
Toronto may long have been a haven for underground poker games itself, but recently it has become the set for the much-vaunted and eagerly-anticipated movie Molly’s Game, the dramatised version of Molly Bloom book depicting huge stakes and even-huger celebrities.
Filming started a few weeks ago, lead actors Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba jetting in and out of the Canadian city, with a whole host of acting talent joining them in what the poker world hopes will be a fair and successful portrayal of the most infamous home game in history.
The memoirs of Molly Bloom, an Olympic skiing hopeful-turned waitress-turned high-powered underground poker hostess have had the magic Aaaron Sorkin touch, so much so that the screenwriter was persuaded to make his directorial debut with the movie version.
Bloom became ‘the Princess of Underground Poker’ in the US, from Los Angeles to New York, organizing private poker games in her home which attracted the likes of “Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire - as well as Russian and Italian mobsters and loan sharks.”
Bloom’s character will be played by Chastain, the actress of the hour who has received critical acclaim for a variety of roles, including the recently-released Miss Sloane which sees her take on another high-stakes role – this time in the corridors of political power as ‘the ‘most sought after and formidable lobbyist in D.C. known equally for her cunning and her track record of success’.
Joining Chastain in the Toronto filming was Idris Elba, the British-born actor shooting to prominence with his depiction of Nelson Mandela in A Long Walk to Freedom for which he received an Oscar nomination. His role in Molly’s Game is that of Bloom’s attorney – the man who eventually helped Bloom negotiate her way from a potentially life-destroying jail term to a small fine and one year’s probation back in 2014.
Kevin Costner has found his way into the movie as Bloom’s father, but the most interesting role seems to have been reserved for Michael Cena, the young Canadian actor famous for his eponymous hero role in Scott Pilgrim vs the World.
Cena’s character - Player X – was described by the Hollywood Reporter as ‘an elite celebrity player who develops a unique relationship with Bloom’ – which will hopefully allay fears that the movie won’t show any of the huge real-life celebrities in a poor light.
Bloom’s memoirs could easily have gone farther than they did in depicting the real-life personas of the Hollywood crowd who filled her games, but as Haley Hintze described it in her review of the book:
"Tobey Maguire, the one-time star of the original 'Spider-Man' movies, emerges from this tale as an unlikeable, backstabbing opportunist who manipulated the game and its participants for his own personal gain.”
"Anyone’s who’s ever had the displeasure of experience Maguire in person — as this writer has — can attest to the accuracy of Bloom’s character depiction - Maguire in real life is equal parts Hollyweird and pure, unadulterated pain-in-the-ass, and Bloom ultimately casts Maguire as the main reason why the lucrative LA games declined."
Hopefully Cena will provide just such a performance as player X.
Fellow founder of the nosebleed games which often saw high 6-figure-swings, Houston Curtis, seems set to be played by Jeremy Strong who starred in financial movie The Big Short. Real-life Curtis explained of the amazing poker home-game that:
"For a few brief hours, once, sometimes twice a week, high up in a beautiful 5-star hotel suite, a series of regular (yet anything but regular) players left everything else in their lives at the door, and had an experience that very few people in the world ever get to have.”
Also joining the star-studded cast are Tony Award Best Actor Chris O’Dowd in the role of ‘the New York player who introduces Bloom to the Russian mob’ while Bill Camp ‘will play a participant in the games that gets behind in what he owes the other players in the game’, according to Pokernewsdaily.com. Camp has ‘poker previous’ which would be the envy of millions as he starred as ‘Eisenberg’ in the seminal poker movie ‘Rounders’.
With veteran big-screen actor Graham Greene taking on the role of the judge in Bloom’s case, one thing is for sure - if Molly’s Game fails to make a massive hit when it is released later this year it will not be down to a lack of acting talent or a terrible storyline!
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