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TIFF PHOTO GALLERY: Yeardley Smith’s hilariously frank explanation of what producers do at the What’s Wrong With Virginia press conference

The director and cast of What's Wrong With Virginia. Left to right: Yeardley Smith, Harrison Gilbertson, Amy Madigan, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Dustin Lance Black (Image: Karon Liu)

Movie press conferences, for the most part, are 40-minute long, self-congratulation sessions for the director and the cast as well as venues for reporters to ask asinine personal questions because they didn’t watch the movie being discussed (to wit: the Henry’s Crime presser). Yesterday’s conference for What’s Wrong With Virginia, the last one at this year’s TIFF, started in the usual manner. Writer-director Dustin Lance Black (Milk, Big Love) talked about growing up in a Mormon household; actor Jennifer Connelly talked about how she was drawn to her character’s strength. Then Yeardley Smith, the voice actor for Lisa Simpson and our new favourite straight-talking funny gal, was asked how she got involved with the project. Her intensely honest answer will forever change the way we think of TIFF press conferences.

She said:

The only way I could get into the film was to buy my way in. You think I’m kidding. I was so high on the food chain that people wouldn’t come to me with their day-to-day problems so I did a lot of knitting. I’m just standing around going, “Does anybody want to ask me anything?” And they’re like, “No, Yeardley, no.” So it was interesting to see how the sausage is made at this level and I found the job not actually entirely creative, the executive producing part, which was perhaps my own fault but in that way was a revelation. Nobody would come to me with any minutia and I was a really good minutia solver.

Awkward. But then Black continued:

The producers came to me and said, “We have this role of a social worker named Ms. Whitaker and we need to cast it. What do you think of this Yeardley Smith?” I didn’t know she was involved with the film at this point and thankfully I said yes because they then told me, “Good, because she’s also one of your financiers.” The movie may have never happened.

Yeardley brought it home for us: “I get a lot of knitting done, too. It’s awesome.”