Chicago used to have a very specific reputation in the mind of Idris Elba — at least until he shot a movie in the mountains of British Columbia.
“You would mention Chicago to me — and considering all of my visits to your city — the first word that would come to mind was, ‘cold,’ ” the English actor told me during an interview in Toronto. “Until I shot ‘The Mountain Between Us,’ Chicago took the prize for being the coldest place on earth, at least ones that I had visited. But not any longer.”
His co-star, Kate Winslet, agreed: “Chicago’s cold. Canada’s colder.”
Yet, reflecting on the city, the Oscar winner said she is still intrigued by a dinner she had at Grant Achatz’s Next restaurant a few years ago. “I went to that amazing molecular gastronomy restaurant in Chicago. I ate something — actually put down in front of me — that only could be described as a cigar, burning in an ashtray.
“Yet, the entire thing was edible. It was totally extraordinary, and to this day I cannot figure out how they did that!”
In “The Mountain Between Us” (opening Friday), Elba and Winslet’s culinary choices are far less exotic. “We play two total strangers who crash-land in a small plane on the top of a mountain in Canada — with no one knowing where we are,” said Winslet. “As you see in the film, it’s all about a few almonds and eventually a can of baked beans!”
Winslet pointed out that she “could absolutely believe that two strangers could meet in an extreme situation — and life for them could never go back to how it was beforehand — because it happened to me.
“I met my husband because of a house fire. My life was never the same after that, and hasn’t been from that point onward,” she said. Winslet and her children were guests of Sir Richard Branson at his private Caribbean property, Necker Island, when their villa was struck by lightning and caught on fire during Hurricane Irene in 2011. Winslet’s now-husband, Branson’s nephew Ned Rocknroll, rescued the actress and her kids. Sadly, Necker Island was more recently badly battered by Hurricane Irma last month.