In brief opening remarks, Hermanus, who premiered Living at the Sundance Film Festival back in January, hitched the film’s genesis to a fateful dinner between producer Stephen Woolley, Ishiguro (who was also in attendance last night), and Nighy, who turned up slightly late because he “fell asleep on the couch at his house” (a detail the actor would later confirm). “And then they came to a very random South African, being me,” the Cape Town native added, “and asked if I wanted to make a Kurosawa film with them. And I obviously couldn’t say no.”
After the film’s credits ran—and the audience’s tearful sniffles subsided—Wintour introduced Nighy and Hugh Jackman to the stage, both of whom she described as “not only devoted fathers, but also exceptionally lovely people who are full of mutual admiration and respect for each other.” The deeply charming conversation that followed flitted from Nighy’s aversion to watching his own work (“I tried it once when I was younger and less complicated to look at”) to a story about bonding with Ishiguro, or “Ish,” over Gregg Allman’s cover of the Bob Dylan song “Going, Going, Gone.” It also touched upon Nighy’s early dreams of becoming a novelist; his current fondness for the work of Eleanor Catton; and his abject fear of live theater, despite his long list of credits. (“Every time I do a play, on the opening night, I stand in the wings and I make a passionate vow—and I mean it with all of my heart, sincerely—that this will never, ever, ever be allowed to happen again.”) Things took a more lighthearted turn when Nighy noted his go-to workout clothes (“a relaxed pair of training trousers and a selection of navy blue T-shirts”) and his daily practice of dancing after having his morning coffee.
Jackman concluded the chat with a sentiment that everyone in the room could agree on—especially after seeing Nighy’s wonderful performance in Living. “You are characteristically, not surprisingly, incredibly humble, so just don’t respond to this…I just want to say, as an actor who’s looked up to you for many, many years, your work is so inspiring. It is so truthful and honest. I think you’re an artist of the highest order. And if I could wish one thing for you, at some point in your life: Have nine gin and tonics and watch one of your movies. That’s all.”