I didn’t go to this morning’s STX Cinemacon preview presentation (sorry), but TheWrap‘s Sharon Waxman is reporting that footage from Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game was screened. “While star Jessica Chastain ably takes the lead, some notable stars were missing,” she writes. “Like the real-life men (like Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck) who were implicated in the true story of Molly Bloom — the arranger of high-stakes pokers games in Hollywood. Maguire was even fined $800,000 for his participation in the games. A rough trailer screened at CinemaCon did not specifically call out any of the famous people that were pegged to the illegal ring.”
A trailer’s one thing, but a movie’s another. Or a script is, at least. A year ago I snagged a 12.29.15 draft of Sorkin’s Molly Game script, and knew within 40 pages that Sorkin had at least created a stand-in for Maguire — a character called “PLAYER X”.
How do I know this? There’s a great story about Maguire that appears in Molly Bloom‘s “Molly’s Game,” which is the basis of the Sorkin script. Passed along by the New York Observer‘s Ken Kurson in a 5.22.14 post, the excerpt reads as follows:
“Maguire was in a big hand that had come down to himself and one other player. The other player wondered aloud if Maguire might be bluffing, but Maguire said, ‘I swear on my mother’s life I have you beat.’ [Which was] a way of saying, ‘I actually do have the nut hand in this deal.’ The other player folded. Then, instead of just throwing his cards into the middle face down and taking his winnings, Maguire showed his hand to the table to reveal that despite the maternal oath, he had indeed been bluffing and wanted the table to know it.”
A very close facsimile of this scene appears on page 40 and 41 of Sorkin’s script.
“James Joyce’s Ulysses“, posted on 8.26.15: Five or six days ago I was at M Cafe de Chaya, a very cool place that specializes in macrobiotic dishes, to meet a couple of ladies. It was just before 9 pm. I ordered something or other, went out to the patio and noticed this pretty blonde in her late 20s. (Maybe her early 30s.) She acknowledged my glance and smiled. We chatted a bit. She told me her name. I asked what she did and she eventually confided that she worked as a hostess at a high-stakes Beverly Hills card game.
Me: “You mean one of those games that guys like Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck attend?” She nodded. Me: “The money, the tips are pretty good, I imagine.” She: “If somebody wins big…”
In a 2014 interview with former “poker princess” Molly Bloom, who hosted one of the hottest high-stakes games in Los Angeles (and also one in New York) and who wrote a book about her experiences called “Molly’s Game“, Bloom is asked “about the models that hung around the games to provide eye candy.” Bloom: “The girls I chose weren’t stupid and they weren’t bimbos. I tried to mentor them and empower them. I told them, ‘Don’t sleep with these guys.’ They’d make $10,000 for doing nothing.”
The not-to-be-named blonde and I spoke a bit more and then my two friends showed up. I introduced them to poker lady, lah-dee-dah, greetings all around, chit-chat. And then five or six minutes later she finished her sandwich, got up, smiled and waved goodbye.
Three days later I spoke with Maguire at an after-reception for Pawn Sacrifice. After taking his photo with costar Michael Stuhlbarg, I asked Tobey if the name of the not-to-be-identified MCafe lady rang a bell. I prompted: “Pretty blonde, works as a hostess at a poker game…?” He beamed, a burst of laughter. “A pretty blonde…?” He knew her. I was just curious. You never know if people you run into are levelling or exaggerating or what.