Dialogue Polish

Just when I was counting down the hours remaining in my pointless temp job taking subscriptions at the Legendary Hollywood Trade Paper—thirteen, to be exact, less two lunch hours and three ten minute breaks—Bill Paxton called. "The actor?" I asked, so flustered I then added the following signature witticism: "Wow. Cool."

"That's right," he said, obviously flattered. "Who's this?"

"Julie. It's, yeah. Julie." This sparkling and pithy exchange of bons mots felt like some kind of failed audition for Annie Hall. "You gotta stop sending me all these magazines, Julie." Mysteriously ignoring the invitation to conversation implicit whenever a movie star addresses a girl by name, I told him the offending subscription might be a complimentary mailer from the Motion Picture Academy sent out during awards season. "Don't you need to know who to vote for?"

"I'm thinking I'll see the movies and figure it out. How do you like that approach?"

"Interesting." Interesting? Here's a guy zero degrees of separation from Jim Cameron—a big studio A-lister who's also worth a cool ten mil in foreign independent financing—and I'm somehow electing to keep things monosyllabic between us. Why didn't I just grunt a few times and show off my casual way with Cro Magnan?

I suppose everybody longs for a chance to re-write certain key scenes from their own life stories from time to time. As someone who spends so much time whiny-whining about her god-given, long overdue right to ascend to the rank of Big Hollywood Screenwriter, I propose a Fred McMurray/Barbara Stanwyck-worthy Double Indemnity dialogue polish.

Julie: Subscriptions, this is Julie.
Bill: Hi, Julie. This is Bill Paxton.
Julie: Bill Paxton. You don't say.
Bill: Listen, I need to cancel my subscription. I never even ordered the thing.
Julie: May I make a confession, Mr. Paxton? I've always confused you with Bill Pullman. Though you're clearly the hotter Bill, since you always get the girl, even if it's only in the B-plot.
Bill: I got two of them in Twister. Is there extra credit for that?
Julie: You get that for pulling off a treasure hunter named Brock Lovett in Titanic.
Bill: Most people only remember the name Jack Dawson.
Julie: I'm not most people.
Bill: You're not going to cancel my subscription, are you?
Julie: You've got to give Leo credit for that steamy handprint in the back window of the red Model T. Hottest love scene in movie history.
Bill: That belongs to Redford in Out of Africa. When he tells Meryl Streep to stop moving.
Julie: And she says she can't, but she does and then they're just lying there, breathing each other's breath.
Bill: You don't sound old enough to remember the details.
Julie: I sneaked into the theater on the arm of a helpful college boy.
Bill: You've got a real way with words, kid.
Julie: It happens I'm a writer.
Bill: In this town? Imagine that.
Julie: "Action hero" hardly smacks of originality.
Bill: It happens I'm in the market for something more meaningful.
Julie: It happens I have a Hilarious Little Funeral Comedy on hand.
Bill: Maybe we should talk.
Julie: We are talking.
Bill: Maybe we should do it in person.
Julie: What was all that nonsense about a magazine subscription?
Bill: I have no idea.
Julie: In that case I'll bring the screenplay. You bring the Coeur de la Mer.
Bill: That would be somewhere at the bottom of the ocean.
Julie: Then all you'll have to do is find it.
Bill: Something tells me you're not an easy girl.
Julie: Define easy.


  1. Great re-write! You've got style:)

  2. you surely know how to capture your reader. excellent!

  3. This blog just gets better and better. Great post.

  4. You brought your own key.

  5. That's funny, I have my own Do Over fantasy involving Bill Paxton on the set of Mighty Joe Young. I'm still completely baffled why he decided to talk to me, and eight years later I still don't have a witty thing to say to him. Nice guy, which is always unexpected in Hollywood.

    Sadly, I have a similar story about John Corbett. God, I'm a dumb-ass.

  6. Hey, you are GOOD! Way good.

  7. Nice. I didn't realize how much you looked like Helen Hunt though!

  8. I too have a John Corbett story! I was house managing a play and had saved an aisle seat for him after curtain. So we're fumbling through the dark together and I'm like, wow, Northern Exposure. He was like, yeah, can we talk later? At the after party he called one of the actresses a "sugar pussy" and she became highly indignant. But I always thought it was sweet.

  9. Fun Joel, I look more like you than I do Helen Hunt. Thanks for all the nice words from the new visitors. Keep reading!
    :-) JGTH

  10. Anonymous3:26 PM

    Don't forget, Paxton played "Chet" to Ilan Mitchell-Smith's "Wyatt" in "Weird Science."

    So apprently there is room to grow.

  11. people get to my blog through a Google search 'Helen Hunt naked'. I swear and I do not recall saying that

  12. Sheer brilliance my dear. The same could be applied to Oprah's appearance on Letterman the other night ... "I wonder if you know what I mean?"

    "I wonder if you wonder."

  13. Justin James looks like a film noir detective and has the perfect name for one, don't you think? Hello, Hollywood, casting directors, Paramount??!

  14. If that's even the real Justin James. He could be a little bald guy from Peoria with a stolen soap opera headshot and we'd never know...

  15. Paxton is a great actor, my favorite role is in "Aliens".