Saturday, January 9, 2010

Star Sightings

Every once in a while when I movie is being filmed in Chicago I happen upon the set. The first time this happened I was at the Field Museum and saw a scene from the 1988 Kevein Bacon/John Hughes film She's Having a Baby. Later, I actually met some movie stars, I shook hands with Robert Downey Jr. and was snubbed by Tommy Lee Jones on Irving Park Rd., during a break from a scene from the 1998 sequel to the Fugitive, U.S. Marshalls. I also saw David Duchovney and Minnie Driver slow dance over and over during the filming of a scene from the 1999 movie, Return to Me. Another time I saw the irrepressible actress, Helena Bonham Carter walking down Michigan Avenue, in town filming the dark Steve Martin comedy, Novacaine.
However, there is one star sighting that burns in my memory. It is my encounter with the most asinine and arrogant actor ever to grace the silver screen, if you think I'm speaking of local thespian Jeremy Piven you are wrong, you must meet Billy Zane.
The fateful night began at 11:45 during a summer night in the year, 1997. Daniel, my brother, and I were going to a midnight showing of the future Bruce Willis, Michael Clark Duncan blockbuster, Armageddon at the McClurg Court theater downtown. We sat down a little toward the back. From the corner of my eye, I notice a gentleman sporting a Donegal Irish Tweed hat covering a cleanly shorn head, a white collared shirt, two top buttons unbuttoned, white slacks,and white shoes, but I didn't pay much attention. Then some girls came running up to the gentleman, in the commotion the gentleman exclaims in a snarky voice, " Oh no, Armagedden outta here." My brother and I looked back, our contempt muscles flexing, at the lameness of his pun. Soon a Puerto Rican man came running up the aisles,yelling "Oh my God, its Billy, Billy Zane, I love your work on the Titanic." Soon a swarm of people began to surround Mr.Zane. He entertained the crowd with his half humble stories of working with Michael J. Fox on Back to the Future, Sam Elliot on Critters, and of his title role in the adaptation Sunday comic, The Phantom, co-starring Kristy Swanson, of the original Buffy the Vampire fame. His sordid tales were interrupted by the house lights dimming. Soon the crowd was ready to watch that summer's second and best cinematic turn at portraying an asteroid's potential to end all human existence. As the previews were about to begin, the motion picture began to become distorted, maybe some snafu with the projector, all of a sudden a bellow cracks from in back of us, "FocUS!". O' Billy Zane, with his method acting, trying to be the hero. The whole movie I felt this knot in my back, I couldn't shake the cringe that Mr. Zane elicited in me. To this day whenever I see Billy in print or on screen, I remember that fateful day I ran into a famous movie actor and realized that they are not just like us, sometimes they are just an ass.

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