6.01.2007

Julie Kicks #*&!#!! and Names Names

Alright, enough with the initials, monikers and obtuse insider references. It was E. N. who saved my life. Yes, that E.N. The two-time Oscar nominee, the actor’s actor, the thinking woman’s matinee idol. After a decade of spectacular failure, Universal Pictures—yes, that Universal Pictures—hired me to develop a big budget motion picture for him to produce and maybe even star in. Believing that I’d finally managed to “break in” through the heroic intervention of an A-list movie star, friends began inquiring what the real E. was like. “E. is just awesome,” I’d reply, bravely bypassing first name basis to entertain something even cheekier, such as “E-Man,” “Norto” or “Eddy From The Block.” I gushed about how supportive the big guy had been, how close and dedicated a collaborator.

I probably wasn’t the best person to ask about any of this, since E. and I had never met. Apparently this isn’t done when one of you is something of a household name and the other a no-name recent film school graduate. Only after surviving my epic struggle to ink that first big deal did I discover that “uncredited screenwriter” ranks somewhere down near “celebrity stalker” on the slippery Tinseltown totem pole.

Because he’d previously been positioned as a character actor rather than a romantic lead, I didn’t initially comprehend just how big a star he was. Though I was vaguely aware that he’d played a pornographer’s lawyer, a Neo-Nazi skinhead, an underground poker player and a guy who beats up his buddies for sport, I had never caught any of the testosterone-driven flicks in which he did so. No, this was hardly the brand of overheated chick fare I’d have rushed out to the theaters to see three times on opening weekend alone like, oh say, Titanic. If E. were Leo, or even Brad—if he’d been Keanu Reeves, Russell Crowe, or anybody else I’d seen bare ass naked—I’d have lowered my expectations in the way of face time.

It was only by coincidence that E. and I were scheduled to cross paths at a Writer’s Guild screening he was hosting to generate support for a little art house film he produced. Since his partner B. was headed for New York that weekend, I said I’d go ahead and introduce myself. “Oh, I really can’t recommend that,” B. waffled uneasily. My first thought was that B. had secretly been arranging a poolside lunch introduction at E.'s remote, solar-powered canyon home, and here I’d gone and spoiled the surprise. My second thought was that E. had no idea whatsoever that I even existed! Had I never seen an episode of Entourage? When B. admitted to fending off people like me at these events, my big deal “producer” may as well have been Eric, Turtle or the ineffectual Johnny Drama. I stressed that this was an industry gathering, not some P.R. stunt at the Hoboken Galleria. “I am a writer,” I insisted. “I’m his writer.”

“We work with a lot of writers on a lot of projects,” B. responded in that bemused voice grown-ups use to correct adorable toddlers. He assured me that E. would slip out the back door and into a waiting Town Car before the lights came up. “Don’t take it personally,” he added. “Don’t you know celebrities are the new royalty?”

It wouldn’t have mattered a whit to me if E. were the old royalty, with a furry crown on his head and a bejeweled orb protruding from his person! He was also my champion, my white knight, my devoted benefactor, if only by silent proxy. The least I could offer him was a nod of gratitude with a meaningful squeeze of his hand. Part of me knew that B. only meant to shield me from the receiving end of some awkward movie star snub that makes Defamer the next morning beside a horribly unflattering photo. The other part didn’t care.

Determined to assume my hard-won place in E.’s spotlight, I marched into the screening to size him up for myself—albeit from a safe distance, third row, far left. After the film, a remarkably relaxed E. materialized at last, taking center stage to answer audience questions. He seemed jovial, open and warm—genuinely humbled by the writing community’s support of his passion project. Deeply moved by this exhibition of mutual respect, we all quietly pledged our bloc of Academy votes to him throughout the upcoming awards season.

As things wound down, I defied B. altogether to make a beeline for this clearly receptive, ordinary Joe—until a terrible thought stopped me cold. E.N. can make you believe whatever he wants you to believe. That's his thing. Hadn’t he first waltzed onto the big screen a total unknown and waltzed off with with Richard Gere’s career? He’d literally blown away the whole cast ten minutes into the movie with the boat races through Venice and the Mini Cooper races through wherever that was. You might call this man the original illusionist for God’s sake, and I couldn’t let him shatter the last of mine just when I’d finally arrived.

No, I hadn’t come this far to force myself on him like some sort of giddy fan. Anyway, he and I would become inseparable once our film got up and running, working as one to hone the nuances of another powerfully E. N.-esque vehicle. Oh, how the two of us would laugh about the night we almost met while campaigning together for our own round of awards.

Or maybe I’d somehow allowed him to stand as a metaphor for my entire Hollywood experience. Here I’d spent so much time looking for E. I didn’t know how to stop—even when he was standing right in front of me. I watched him disappear into the thinning crowd before I slinked off alone, making a quick visit to the ladies’ room. Exiting moments later, however, I nearly plowed into him. “Hi E.,” I considered sharing with a sly smile. “I’m Julie.”

“Oh yeah?” I imagined him firing back, looking me up and down. “Julie who?”

Instead, our eyes meeting for the briefest moment, I chose to look through Mr. Edward Norton and keep right on walking. Yeah, he might be the king. But we all know who the queen is.

17 comments:

  1. All hail the Queen lol. I had an embarassing moment with Martin Sheen, he spoke to me first so I had to reply. For some reason he thought I was talking to him when I said run or our limo will leave, I was actually talking to the girl next to him who was sharing our limo. Then he proceeded to ask me where I was from,what accent is that blah blah blah. All I could think is just great our car is going to leave without us HAHA. I just looked at him and said sorry I wasn't actually talking to you. My husband said afterwards way to diss someone way over you in the food chain.
    BTW The chocolate is great I just ate rather a lot of Cadburys. Off to the gym for me.

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  2. I hereby open the flood gates to all brushes with greatness. It's hard to beat the Martin Sheen is mysteriously in New Zealand angle but, damnit, I'd like you kids to try!

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  3. He wasn't I was at the Emmys LOL. There is a rule that if they speak to you first it is ok to give them the big brush off right ?

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  4. How many certified hypnotists were in the room, Julie? I bet a lot. Couldn't one of them help?

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  5. Oh, honey, I'm not sure I would know my own name under hypnosis.

    Wendy, the rule here is you give Charlie Sheen the brush off in the event he should speak to you. Martin you can go ahead and make out with.

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  6. You lost me at "bare assed naked"... just kidding, Jules, you know I dangle off every one of your participles...

    I have my own Martin Sheen brush with greatness. In the late 80s we went on a family trip to LA (big event for Candians)and on the return trip home we were standing around the luggage carousel in Toronto and Martin Sheen was there by himself. He was feeling the effects of first class champagne and while bumming a light off my dad proceeded to tell us about his The Believers movie and some cool anecdotes that I have long forgotten. We played it cool, didn't draw attention and he let us hang with him for a bit. Not one other person came up to him.

    BTW, this is not my only brush with greatness, just one whisker off it

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  7. Man. I love Edward Norton. I've seen everything he's done I think. I'd really hate to learn he turned out to be an asshole.

    I stood next to Paul Haggis, supposedly guarding him from fans at the Expo two years ago. But nobody tried to talk to him, including me.

    Later that same day I stood right next to Shane Black. I didn't talk to him either. He was all disguised, but people bothered him anyway.

    My ex met my hero, Joss Whedon, while walking a dog and neglected to even mention my existence. One of many reasons he's my Ex.

    I did meet and talk to Terry Rossio. So there's that.

    Wait - do writers even count?

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  8. For the record, he didn't turn out to be an asshole. By all outward appearances, he's cool as hell. It's only our close personal relationship that's been on the rocks.

    Shane Black. If writer's count, he'd be the dude. When I worked at the legendary Hollywood trade magazine, I once took Joe Esterhauz's subscription order over the phone and even that was a cheap thrill.

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  9. See, I would have screwed that right up. I would have jibber-jabbered incoherently. I would have lost my drink down his shirt. I would have ended up hauled out by security. You...? You walk right past. Soooooo coooool.

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  10. So do the knowledge,
    see if you can catch this
    You know what I mean,
    it's the Queen of Royal Badness

    (I'm very, very, very, sorry that I know those lyrics)

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  11. Mine was with Clint. Trying to get to him for PR on our film, I couldn't get to him at an industry thing here so I followed him to a golf tournament and ended up nearly standing on his ball when he hit out of bounds. He had to ask me to move. Do you think that's a good impression?

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  12. Hard to say. Did he impregnate you on the spot?

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  13. natasha9:38 PM

    This entry depressed me. I hate thinking that all celebrities really believe they are better than everyone else. I know you don't know if this is true of him, but it seems that your friend who knows him thinks it is.

    This must be the "I met Martin Sheen" comment section because I did too. I concur with everyone else here, he couldn't have been nicer.

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  14. If it's any comfort to you, I think I'm better than everybody else, and I'm a Hollywood nobody. Paris Hilton was absolutely certain she was better than everybody else, and that got her bony ass tossed in jail. All things being equal, I'd rather be sitting here eating pudding and hoping the pants I want to wear to a pointless studio meeting about nothing tomorrow still fit since the last time I wore them to a pointless studio meeting about nothing.

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  15. I once asked Richard Dreyfuss for advice on making it as an actor (I was actually shoved upon him by a mutual friend, who asked the question for me and left me standing there like an idiot). Without missing a beat, he said, "F--- your way to the top," and took off.

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  16. Hmm. How's that going for you?

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  17. Meg In Miami12:57 PM

    My "I live on the way other side of the country from Hollywood" brush goes like this:

    Working at an ad agency and had to dash next door to the swanky hotel that would carry a magazine at the newsstand which we needed at that very moment -- the "right now" of which is how all ad agency projects exist.

    I was running, which isn't something I generally do, but as I looked up to reach for the door handle (no doorman for running people in work clothes), I saw James Woods standing there, just standing there, and as I continued moving forward ("... they're waiting, they're waiting for the magazine...") I said, "I love your work!"

    And he produced the most amazing smile. And you know? He's quite a handsome fella when he does that. But why didn't he open the door for me? -- The End.

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