At Chateau Marmont on July 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. At Chateau Marmont on July 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

If you don't happen to see actress Patricia Clarkson while she's in town for the Toronto International Film Festival, don't take it personally. The TIFF vet returns this year with two films, the dark thriller "October Gale" — re-teaming her with "Cairo Time" director Ruba Nadda — and the eight-years-in-the-making drama "Learning to Drive," co-starring Ben Kingsley. Clarkson has a packed schedule, but don't worry, she's taken her vitamins.

You've been trying to get "Learning to Drive" made for eight years. What finally helped it all come together?

Films have just a certain life, and this film just for many reasons was difficult. It was just a difficult journey to get it made because it stars me and we had to have an Indian co-star. It was finding the right director, making all the elements come together with financing. The Ruba Nadda movie was easier. (laughs)

Comparing the two, they must seem like much different experiences.

Very. They're radically different characters — very different women and very different life paths. It's also kind of magnificent to be returning to Toronto with two female directors, which is rare. There are so few women working in film, sadly, as directors. So for me to be at this festival with two female directors, I feel very honored.

The imbalance in representation is still rather startling.

Oh, it's staggering, it's staggering. People are always like, "How are you continuing to work in film?" You know, I'm 54 years old. I say you just have to keep plugging away. You have to just remember that there will be jobs. Somebody will make a movie starring a woman in her 50s. And they do — eventually. (laughs)

So with two big films at TIFF, no pressure on you, right?

No, I know. It's staggering. I mean, it's going to be a lot of people laughing or a lot of people really quiet on "Learning to Drive."


What does Toronto represent to you as a festival?

I have to say, I was over the moon — thrilled — when I found out these movies were going to both be in Toronto. What a gift! First of all, it has the best audiences you could ever hope for. It's just a town of cinephiles. It's people who really love cinema. They love going to the theater, they're incredibly appreciative, nobody's going to throw anything at you. (laughs) At Cannes, you never know.

Are you going to have any time to yourself while you're there?

No. (laughs) I just got my schedule, the itinerary. I get in Saturday and hit the pavement. I'm starting some kind of injection today. I need B12. (laughs) No, I'm just going to rest up and take very good cared of myself before I take off for Toronto and have lots of nice — really, hopefully — sexy dresses.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick

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