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2012 May 15

Southern Comfort

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Dustin Lance Black, Jennifer Connelly Dustin Lance Black, Jennifer Connelly
Patrick McMullan
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(NEW YORK) "When I think of the south, I think of sitting on the porch in a rocking chair and drinking iced tea," said Jennifer Connelly at the premiere of her latest southern flick, Virginia, hosted by the Cinema Society, Shiseido, and Grey Goose at the Crosby Street Hotel. In this semi-autobiographical drame, Academy Award winning writer and director Dustin Lance Black of Big Love and Milk fame, skips the tradition of lackadaisical porch time and lemon-flavored Lipton in favor of down-home heists, illicit affairs, crooked cops, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and her son in a small Boardwalk town below the Mississippi.

To wit, Connelly plays a hopeful and psychologically unhinged single mother named Virginia, who struggles to raise her son Emmett (Harrison Gilbertson) while carrying on a longtime affair with a married Mormon sheriff (Ed Harris). Off-set, the actress spent her time researching the role with qualified psychs and dabbling in the costume trailer. "Our costume stylist Danny Glicker and I collaborated with Dustin on my character's clothes," she said on the red carpet. "We wanted everything that Virginia wore to be realistically within her means to buy, so most of the clothes were purchased at local thrift stores and the jewelry was bought at these big supermarkets in Michigan."

The movie takes a turn for the eventful when the local sheriff starts gunning it (literally) for a spot in the senate. "I'm nowhere near holding any public office," said Black on his own governmental aspirations. "I'm just enjoying being able to be a single-issue guy and focusing my attention on LGBT equality. You can't, nor should you, do that when you hold public office." Rising star Nina Dobrev of The Vampire Diaries wasn't keen on the whole public office gig either, but did admit to having a soft spot for her meridional stomping ground. "I feel like my life is sci-fi, but I live in Georgia, where we film the show, and eat a ton of grits." 

After the screening, a troupe of bold faced guests like Jane Lynch, Russell Simmons, Alexa Chung, Eve, Billy Bob Thornton, and Connelly's husband Paul Bettany, to name a few, gathered in an adjacent party room to tip back Grey Goose Cherry Noir cocktails in a very civilized, Southern-style sort of way. Chung perched pretty, Instagramming with actress Nora Zehetner and nibbled a light bite while Thornton, a self-professed "agoraphobic," conquered his fears and worked the room like a seasoned pro.

But it was Juliette Lewis, who showed up with Katy Perry's ex Travie McCoy, that caused the real ruckus of the evening. As the flame-haired starlet was slipping (almost) unnoticed out the back door, your Daily caught up with her for a quick tête-à-tête. "My whole life, people have thought I was southern. I have my own weird Juliette drawl, but I don't know where it came from," said Lewis, who wraps her television series The Firm in four days. What will Lewis do with all her newfound downtime? "Right now, I'm only dreaming about music, base lines, drum beats, and crazy lyrics. I'm writing a song called "Patti Smith" because, as one of my lyrics says, 'There's no Patti Smith for this generation.'" Shortly thereafter, Lewis was spotted entering the Thompson Hotel with the musical maestro...

Back at The Crosby, late-nighters kept the party hopping with ample amounts of champs and after hours discussions of all things down south. "My favorite Virginian has got to be Thomas Jefferson. Followed by Shirley MacLaine, who's a close second," said fellow southerner Lance Black at the soiree. But don't expect Judd Hirsch to give up his Yankee roots any time soon. "There's nothing southern about me," laughed Hirsch. "Are you kidding? If anyone said that, they'd be laughing from here to Alabama!"
MARIA DENARDO 




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