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Variety Studio at Holt Renfrew

Variety Studio at Holt Renfrew

Written by Toronto Style Blogger, Nelia Belkova

There aren’t many places in the city that offer the same level of access to the stars during TIFF as The Variety Studio at Holt Renfrew. Over the last few years, I was able to be a fly on the wall, observing, admiring, and sometimes straight-up fan-girling. This is the same lounge, where a couple of years ago, I had an “eye makeout”* with Jared Leto, where I watched pre-Oscar-win Eddie Redmayne hug it out with Benedict Cumberbatch, who he noted “smelled amazing!” (all thanks to Moroccanoil that Cumberbatch was seen testing out earlier), where I sat on the couch inches away from Keira Knightley in Chanel, too stunned by her beauty to make small talk, and also the same lounge, where I had a very serendipitous run-in with the lovely Mark Ruffalo…right outside of the bathroom…long story!

This year, I was lucky enough to see a lot of famous faces, including Kristen Stewart, Nicholas Hoult, Walter White (or was it Bryan Cranston?), Sandra Bullock, Idris Elba, Harvey Keitel, Michael Caine, and many more! Here are some of my celeb sightings this year:

Kristen Stewart is lovely. I was expecting a sullen and apprehensive movie star, but was pleasantly surprised when she made eye contact and mouthed hello from her seat. Made me feel a little guilty about snapchatting and tweeting all about her visit, but seemed like her fans definitely appreciated all and any KStew news. While waiting for her co-star Nicholas Hoult to arrive, Kristen seemed to be having a lighthearted conversation with a couple of friends, laughing often and playing pattycakes. Yup, pattycakes! When Hoult finally arrived, bursting into the lounge like the Kool Aid man, laughing loudly about the crazy time he had the night before. The two then hung out on the couch for a while before stepping into the interview room (Hoult once again could be heard shouting excitedly and loudly), and taking a few photos in front of the photo wall. Kristen’s friend grabbed a couple of Moroccanoil gift bags, so if you’re wondering what Kristen uses on her hair, it’s probably Moroccanoil!



One of the days at the lounge, Sandra Bullock was the biggest star on the itinerary, and we were all excited for her to arrive. When she did, she entered through the back door (not the front, where the fans were waiting), sat down for hair/makeup touch-ups, and went straight into her interviews, without ever reaching the main lounge area. She was always flanked by her entourage and didn’t make eye contact with anyone outside her immediate vicinity. Sandra also didn’t pose at the photo wall, before leaving through the same back entrance. A friend did mention that she had stormed out of some press thing earlier in the day because someone yelled out “hot pink” (she was wearing a hot pink jumpsuit), and the main consensus was that she may have heard “hot piece” instead, and got offended. Maybe it put her in a bad mood that day…or maybe she’s just not into hanging out with civilians…we’ll never know.


Idris Elba is just as hot as you think. Unlike Sandy, Idris walked into the room and immediately made eye contact with each and every person nearby, smiling warmly and saying hello. He definitely charmed us all…even making the straight guy next to me swoon. Idris was also wearing the hell out of his skinny jeans – they looked incredible on him! He did look pretty tired…I guess he may have been out late the night before, but it certainly didn’t dampen his mood. He was also more than happy to take photos with a few adoring fans. Such a class act!



Bryan Cranston is the coolest! I mean, we already knew that, because his Twitter is pure gold. But when my friend Sara and I approached the Breaking Bad star for a photo and a mini BB freak-out, he happily obliged having a quick conversation with us, while we tried (and failed) to maintain our composure.



Harvey Keitel and Chris O’Dowd are thoughtful husbands. Both made sure to pick up some Moroccanoil goodies for their spouses…now that’s love!

So next year, if you are wondering where all the celebs are, hanging out at Holt Renfrew is probably a good bet – chances are, you’ll see some A-listers popping into the Variety Studio and maybe even shopping. Happy TIFFing!

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