It’s been a while since we had a really good poker movie. Fingers crossed: The people behind Molly’s Game recently finished filming in and around the Toronto area, with the movie expected to hit North American screens sometime in 2017. They’ve brought out the big guns, too. Jessica Chastain will play the lead role, alongside the likes of Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, and Brampton’s own Michael Cera.
There’s been a fair amount of buzz around this project since Aaron Sorkin was named the director last January. This was Sorkin’s first crack at directing; he also wrote the screenplay, adapted from Molly Bloom’s memoir of the same name. Let’s hope things go well in post-production, because the story itself is amazing, and if Sorkin and company did it justice, the game of poker should see another rise in popularity.
If you’re not already familiar with Ms. Bloom, she’s the former US Olympic-hopeful skier who ended up hosting a weekly private game at the Viper Room in Hollywood (and later on in Manhattan), featuring some of the town’s biggest A-listers. According to her memoir, Leonardo DiCaprio would show up, as would Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire. In the upcoming movie, Cera takes on the role of “Player X.” It’s probably a composite character, and there will no doubt be some fictional elements added to the story, but let’s just pretend Cera is standing in for Maguire.
In the real world, Maguire is one of the biggest sharks in Hollywood. He’s earned a reputation as a very tough cookie – Bloom called Maguire “the best player and the worst tipper.” At one point in the memoir, Maguire tries to make Bloom bark like a seal for a $1,000 chip. She refuses. Bloom even said Maguire brought his own ShuffleMaster with him to make sure the cards were dealt fairly – and charged a rental fee for the device.
Spoiler alert: Bloom was effectively pushed out of hosting the game mere months after she partnered with poker pro Edwin Ting in 2010. Four years later, Bloom pleaded guilty to illegal gambling charges and was handed 12 months’ probation, along with 200 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine. Then came the memoir, and now the movie. Filming wrapped up on January 20, after a trip to the Beaver Valley Ski Club in Markdale, just southwest of Collingwood. It’s good work if you can get it.