A television movie about slaughtering livestock doesn’t seem like the most likely affair to draw a glitzy, A to Z-list crowd. But Tuesday night’s screening of HBO’s “Temple Grandin” brought more celebrities to the Time Warner Center than were in all of Sundance this week. Stars Claire Danes, Catherine O’Hara, Julia Ormond and David Strathairn were joined by Jessica Lange, Zoe Kazan, Blake Lively, Cynthia Nixon, Vanessa Williams, Debbie Harry, novelist Michael Cunningham, Kieran and Macauley Culkin, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Hayden Panettiere and Narciso Rodriguez. The spotlight, however, remained on the subject of the film, Grandin, a 62-year old autistic woman who revolutionized the farming industry by designing a system to keep cattle calm before their slaughter.
To play Grandin, Danes donned short hair, an awkward gait and a wardrobe of overalls. On Tuesday, the actress was back in movie star mode, dressed in a metallic trench, a Dolce & Gabbana strapless dress, towering heels and a shiny blond blowout. “This is a kind of costume, too,” Danes told Grandin, who was marveled by the transformation.
“A minute ago she was me, and now she’s Claire Danes,” she said. “The others actors were great too, but they looked like themselves.”
Grandin sported one of her signature rodeo-style shirts for the occasion, one she picked up in Thailand when she was there working with McDonald’s doing animal welfare auditing training. “I usually find my shirts in the Calgary airport,” she said.
Afterwards, everyone filed into A Voce for a multi-course Italian feast. Typically, a social situation chock-a-block with strangers and camera flashbulbs isn’t terribly comfortable for those with autism. But Grandin, who is a professor at Colorado State University and a frequent speaker on autism and animal husbandry, wasn’t shaken. “The only thing I hate about this party is there are no name tags,” she said. “There are usually name tags. I like to know where people are from.”