Stone, one of Hollywood’s most dedicated HIV/AIDS activists, whose work has long been inspired by late friend and icon Elizabeth Taylor, has been announced as the host for Friday’s amfAR Cannes Gala, the 27th edition of the event that typically coincides with the tail end of the Cannes Film Festival. The news is significant in that it will see the Oscar-nominated actress back on stage on behalf of amfAR following a long absence from the starry event and a break from her work as an amfAR Global Campaign Chair.
When it was announced last year that Stone was to receive the Legacy Award from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, she said in a statement that her ties to amfAR’s Cannes Gala stretched back more than two decades to when Taylor asked her to fill in as host. “That one night became a 22-year commitment of HIV/AIDS work, study and fundraising around the globe and a full understanding of what commitment itself means,” she said. Much of her commitment aligned with the work amfAR was doing and Stone appeared at countless events while helping the organization raise tens of millions of dollars. She even once helped the org raise $35 million in a single night.
But, for some reason, she stopped attending the amfAR Cannes Gala and has not been back since 2014. It appears as though her last amfAR event was the 2015 Inspiration Gala Los Angeles. While she never revealed a reason for the assumed rift with the organization, her absence raised eyebrows in part because she was such a beloved (and high profile) part of the amfAR family thanks to her passion and indefatigable work in getting global glitterati to open their wallets to support the cause.
When asked about Stone’s absence in Cannes in 2017, longtime amfAR insider Kenneth Cole told The Hollywood Reporter that Stone was always welcome back, and she “will come back someday, hopefully.”
That someday is almost here and on Friday’s program, Stone will be joined by headliner Alicia Keys, multiple yet-to-be-announced performers, a fashion show curated by Carine Roitfeld, jury president Spike Lee and chairs including Angela Bassett, Len Blavatnik, Rachel Brosnahan, Milla Jovovich, Nicole Kidman, Regina King, Heidi Klum, Catherine O’Hara, Aldis Hodge, Freida Pinto, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Yeoh, Youn Yuh-Jung, Global Fundraising Chairman Milutin Gatsby and amfAR co-chairs T. Ryan Greenawalt and Kevin McClatchy.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event will be held outdoors at Villa Eilenroc with capacity limited to 400, down from a typical 900-guest event. For Stone, the appearance comes on the heels of her speech at the West Hollywood groundbreaking for the city’s new AIDS monument, the release of her memoir The Beauty of Living Twice and her starring role in last year’s Netflix series Ratched.