How 'Penguin Bloom' Stars Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln Transformed Into 'Soulmates' for Film (Video)

Toronto Film Festival 2020: Glendyn Ivin directs the true story drama about the lives of Sam and Cameron Bloom

Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln in their new film “Penguin Bloom” are portraying the real life couple Sam Bloom and her husband Cameron, who had been together since they were kids but whose lives were changed overnight after Sam Bloom suffered an accident that left her paralyzed. And getting inside their bond required both Watts and Lincoln to become equally close.

Both Watts and Lincoln spent time with the Bloom family and their kids, they looked at family photos, they got to read Sam’s intimate journals about the darkness she experienced in her recovery from her accident and how through all the challenges both Sam and Cameron remain “soulmates.”

“It was a powerful connection that I had with her instantly,” Watts told TheWrap as part of TheWrap’s virtual studio at TIFF. “It was great that she was so generous, and another reason why this story does speak to the generosity of their relationship, of their children, and it was always the absolute center of what we wanted to do, treat it in the most caring, responsible way.”

“Overnight, his relationship, the love of his life, they’re soulmates these two, they met when they were kids, and he changed into principal carer, and I thought that was a magnificent story to tell that I hadn’t seen before on film,” Lincoln added. “And just to do justice to their relationship that they were soulmates was my job really, to support this wonderful leading lady and these rather wild kids.”

“Penguin Bloom” adapts Cameron Bloom’s biographical book about how Sam Bloom fell off a balcony and became paralyzed from below the chest. On her road to recovery and eventually becoming a champion kayaker and adaptive surfer, the Bloom family adopts a wild magpie named Penguin that proved to be a source of healing for the whole family.

Director Glendyn Ivin said he was moved by the magical qualities of the Bloom family story and hoped to authentically convey their loving relationship.

“It’s so simple, part photography book, part biography, part poem if you like. And regardless of age or who you are, it seems to have an affect on you,” Ivin told TheWrap. “What drew me was that this is a story about generosity, and through this magpie and through this magical creature, this wild bird, it shows the healing power of nature. It’s quite profound in the book, and it was an absolute pleasure bringing it to the screen.”

Watts had the challenging role of battling her body but also acting alongside a wild bird, which proved challenging in its own right. But in the end she felt Sam’s story feels even more poignant today.

“This creature, this incredibly magical creature that created such a beam of hope and light, and I felt like it was touching on many important things, very simple things that felt powerful and significant that made me want to explore it further,” Watts said. “And here we are today having gone through lots of isolation and lacking connectivity, and it feels like an even more perfect time to be sharing with audiences.”

And while Watts and Penguin the magpie are often the stars of the story, Lincoln has the challenging role of being a supportive husband and a full-time dad for their three boys. Lincoln learned a lot from the real Cameron Bloom in telling his story.

“I asked him lots of crazy questions that I thought would be insightful and try and get inside him. And one of the most revealing things was, he said, “I kept getting asked by people, when it happened, what did you say to the boys, and how did you emotionally deal with it? And I said, I was too busy. I was too busy being a dad and a principal carer.’ He’s an extraordinary man.”

Check out TheWrap’s interview with Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln and Glendyn Ivin above.

10 Buzziest Movies for Sale in Toronto, From Idris Elba's 'Concrete Cowboy' to Mark Wahlberg's 'Good Joe Bell' (Photos)

  • What the Cannes virtual marketplace proved earlier this year is that even without the in-person meetings, the red carpet galas and all the press hype, there’s still room for a lucrative sales market surrounding these virtual events. While that’s true of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the hybrid physical and virtual fest is operating on a slimmed-down lineup of movies. And with Oscar eligibility requirements pushed back to 2021, there isn’t the same need for all of these movies to make a splash. That said, we are looking forward to quite a bit at this year’s TIFF, and so are buyers.

  • “Bruised” 

    Halle Berry takes a beating as a washed-up MMA fighter looking to make her redemption fight in “Bruised,” which is also Berry’s directorial debut. The film is set in New Jersey and explores her fight to get back into shape and win back her child. It also stars Adan Canto and Sheila Atim.

    Romulus Entertainment/Thunder Road Pictures

  • “Concrete Cowboy” 

    Idris Elba and “Stranger Things'” Caleb McLaughlin play father and son in this family drama from Ricky Staub that draws on the history of Black cowboys in its adaptation of a novel by Greg Neri. McLaughlin is a troubled teen who is sent to live with his quiet, absentee father and is taught to work at his father’s stables. Jharrel Jerome, Byron Bowers, Lorraine Toussaint and Clifford “Method Man” Smith also co-star.

    Lee Daniels Entertainment/Tucker Tooley Entertainment

  • “Good Joe Bell” 

    Mark Wahlberg is getting early hype for his performance based on a true story of a father who takes a cross-country trip to honor his son and educate people about the dangers of bullying. The movie flashes back to show Wahlberg’s conflicted and grudging relationship with his son’s homosexuality and how he grows, even as it becomes too late. “Monsters and Men” director Reinaldo Marcus Green directs the film from the writers of “Brokeback Mountain.”

    Endeavor Content

  • “I Care a Lot” 

    Rosamund Pike, Eiza González, Dianne West and Peter Dinklage star in this thriller about two women who use loopholes in the legal system to defraud elderly retirees of their family fortunes, only for them to end up angering a crime lord with their latest mark. J Blakeson wrote and directed the film.

    Black Bear Pictures

  • “MLK/FBI” 

    This documentary from Oscar nominee Sam Pollard is based on recently unclassified FBI documents and examines the surveillance and harassment the FBI used against Martin Luther King Jr. over years, including how J. Edgar Hoover hoped to discredit him and break his spirit. The film includes a discussion of how filmmaking and historians should use official materials from the FBI and other sources and how those sources color history.

    Field of Vision

  • “New Order” 

    Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco’s film first played Venice and is a drama set amid a violent protest in Mexico City. The film draws on sociopolitical themes and the class divide to show how the wealthy unwittingly empower an encroaching military rule in their attempt to keep power.  

    The Match Factory

  • “Penguin Bloom” 

    Naomi Watts is said to give a stellar performance in this true story based on the life of Sam Bloom, a woman who suffered a traumatic accident who finds an inspiring road to recovery after befriending a magpie bird as her companion. Glendyn Ivin directs the film that also stars Andrew Lincoln, Jacki Weaver and Rachel House.

    Getty Images

  • “Pieces of a Woman” 

    Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó directs Shia LaBeouf and Vanessa Kirby in this film inspired by ’70s character dramas about a couple expecting a child who winds up grieving over a tragedy in two different ways. Kirby steals the show, but the film also includes a stand-out moment from Ellen Burstyn as Kirby’s mother.

    BRON Studios

  • “Shadow in the Cloud” 

    As part of the Midnight Madness section, Chloe Grace Moretz in “Shadow in the Cloud” is like “Alien” on a WWII bomber. Moretz is a fighter pilot on a mission to carry a piece of classified information and is sequestered from her sexist male counterparts but soon discovers a mysterious presence that threatens the safety of everyone aboard. Roseanne Liang directs the film.

    Four Knights Films

  • “The Water Man” 

    Another actor making their directorial debut, David Oyelowo’s “The Water Man” is a mythical family film with an homage to the family movies of the 1980s. It’s the story of a man who looks for a mystical creature with the secret to everlasting life in an effort to rescue his ailing mother. Oprah Winfrey executive produces the film that stars Oyelowo alongside Rosario Dawson, Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Alfred Molina and Maria Bello.

    Photo Credit Karen Ballard

  • There are still some other movies playing as part of the festival that already have homes, including Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” at Searchlight, Regina King’s “One Night in Miami” at Amazon, the Kate Winslet-Saoirse Ronan drama “Ammonite” (pictured) at Neon, and Dawn Porter’s documentary “The Way I See It” at Focus Features. Amazon Studios also recently acquired director Matthew Heineman’s “The Boy From Medellín” about musician J Balvin.

    Neon

TIFF 2020: “Pieces of a Woman,” “The Water Man,” “I Care A Lot” and more are getting attention from buyers

What the Cannes virtual marketplace proved earlier this year is that even without the in-person meetings, the red carpet galas and all the press hype, there’s still room for a lucrative sales market surrounding these virtual events. While that’s true of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the hybrid physical and virtual fest is operating on a slimmed-down lineup of movies. And with Oscar eligibility requirements pushed back to 2021, there isn’t the same need for all of these movies to make a splash. That said, we are looking forward to quite a bit at this year’s TIFF, and so are buyers.

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