After a busy schedule of filming, Patricia Clarkson has three movies recently or about to open in theaters, and she is in New Orleans for a slate of events.
"I am taking a break in the fall," she says. "It's been exhausting."
Clarkson will attend a red carpet fundraising preview of Legendary at the Prytania Theatre Wednesday. Two days later, Cairo Time opens at the same venue. She'll headline a gala fundraiser for Le Petit Theater du Vieux Carre on Saturday with Bryan Batt. And she plays Olive's (Emma Stone) goofy mom in the comedy Easy A, which opens nationally next week.
Two other films, Friends With Benefits and One Day, recently finished shooting and will open next year. But what's had Clarkson busy is promoting Cairo Time.
"I am doing a lot with this film," she says. "I need to keep abreast of all the press and openings because this film rests on my shoulders: I am the lead. The writer/director sends me everything."
Cairo Time screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2009 and began a slow roll-out in U.S. cinemas in early August. Shot in Cairo in just seven weeks in 2008, the intimate film focuses almost exclusively on Clarkson and Alexander Siddiq. She plays Juliette, a fashion magazine writer visiting Cairo to rendezvous with her husband Mark, who oversees a refugee camp in Gaza for the U.N. When Mark is delayed, he sends a former co-worker, Tareq, to pick her up at the airport and help her acclimate to the city. As Mark's delay is extended by difficulties in Gaza, Tareq shows Juliette around Cairo, exploring its unique desert beauty, bustling bazaars, the Nile and the customs of Islamic and Egyptian culture. Ensconced in the exotic surroundings and enticed by some of the similarities bridging their cultural divide, their friendship seems like it will blossom into something more.
"It's an affair of the heart," Clarkson says. "It's about a woman in love with two men. It's an intoxicating adult film about love."
Clarkson and Siddiq turn in fine, nuanced performances as they slowly discover an oasis of calm amid the hectic streets of the metropolis, the tensions of the Middle East and the sweltering heat.
Shot in the unforgiving temperatures of a different latitude is Legendary. One of a suite of wrestling-focused projects being filmed in New Orleans by WWE Studios, it tells the story of a young man trying to reunite his family through ties to an older brother and deceased father's collegiate wrestling glory. The screening is a fundraiser benefiting both the Friends of the Fishermen and the Louisiana SPCA as they assist people affected by the BP oil disaster. A reception at the Elms Mansion follows the movie. — Will Coviello
Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania St., 891-2787; www.theprytania.com