Happy 2008, everybody.
I was thinking about when I was a kid in Canada and reading Dynamite magazine. I loved that magazine, and remember two articles in particular: the one about the plot of the still-upcoming Terminator sequel, because I found it so horrific that Sarah had been institutionalized, and another about the role of robots in the far-off future, said future being now, which was as unthinkable to me at the time as the age that I would be when future morphed into present. That night, I gabbled away excitedly to my parents about walls that would change color when you pressed a button and cars that would fly and robots that would do our housework for us.
These things have not come to pass.
We predicted The Jetsons. We got Myspace and iPhones. Who knew?
My last day in the Grenadines was pretty quiet — I genuinely love the people I was with, but missed the juice and action of St Barth. E (my husband) went out snorkeling with most of the group, who apparently saw very little — a flash of coral, a couple of fish — and got pounded by waves. I felt happily justified in my decision to hang out in the lounge drinking caipirinhas and reading Milan Kundera’s The Curtain , which I would have left behind in the resort’s little ‘library’ if I hadn’t loved it so much (I donated a paperback copy of Bret Easton Ellis’s Lunar Park * instead).
I will admit to hoping I might catch another glimpse of the floppy-hatted Leo D., but by that time I’d become much more familiar with the resort and knew that there was no way in hell he would be spending New Year’s Eve** here . I assumed he would be boating over to nearby Mustique, where it seemed like some famous wild types were gathering, but a blog reader has helpfully informed me that he ended up in Vegas instead.
We also caught rumors that apparently those “wild waves of hostility” my friend and I both sensed, and had assumed were aimed at us, might have had a lot more to do with some kind of inter-group conflict*** that had apparently put Leo and Bar on opposing sides. Which might have explained why Bar and another actor in the group — Lukas Haas**** — were wearing matching plaid flannel shirts at the casino that night. Or maybe they just hadn’t gotten their laundry back yet.
I was talking once to a television writer who had a bit of experience around Leo, and told me that the actor is profoundly insecure about his ability to be funny. He refuses to do comedies. He refuses to do Saturday Night Live. During the week leading up to a two-minute skit on an awards show he kept running things by people whose opinion he trusted: “Is this funny? Is this funny? Is it funny if I do it like this?” I found that an interesting example of someone’s awareness of his own limitations and how he works around them — I picture Leo going at these few moments of lighthearted dialogue with the ferocious intensity of a hardcore method actor.
Or maybe he underestimates himself. Maybe something traumatic happened to him on the set of that corny eighties sit-com he appeared on when he was a kid. Or maybe once he attempted a joke at school, and didn’t get the punchline right, and the kids laughed at him and the teacher said, not unkindly, Leonardo, my dear, you’re just not funny. But don’t despair. Go forth into the world, sweet Leo, and work with Martin Scorsese.
* Here’s a “small world” anecdote. Some time ago, when E was one of the producers of Thank You For Smoking and we were going to the premieres and related parties, Adam Brody, who appears in the movie’s best sequence, which culminates with Rob Lowe in a kimono, and I chatted a little bit about Lunar Park. I’d gotten the book in manuscript form from an ex-agent who knew Ellis and works for Room 9, the independent production company responsible for making Smoking — and doing great things for writer/director Jason Reitman’s career — before selling it to whomever they sold it to in what was, at least then, one of the biggest deals to ever come out of Sundance and controversial to boot (I blogged about some of it, so there’s more info back in these archives). Brody loved Ellis’s novel and wanted to play one of the characters, and Room 9 was trying to get the film rights to the book, partly because the same guy who got Smoking off the ground by rescuing the script from studio development hell, where it had been, and would continue to be, quagmired for years, believed that Brody could be a big star. (God knows enough teen girls were screaming at him behind the velvet ropes. I didn’t watch The OC and had to have this screaming explained to me.) I followed this with interest and months later heard that Room 9 couldn’t get the rights and had dropped the idea.
So in St Barth, I’m having a conversation with Octavius, the pseudonym-ed film producer we were sharing a villa with, and what do I learn? The “David Slade project” he had referred to a few weeks ago — Slade directed Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night — turns out to be, you guessed it, the film adaptation of Lunar Park. They’re still trying to cast the male lead. “Christian Bale,” I chirped immediately. He was their first choice too, and he’s already turned it down. Too busy.
** We went to the biggest thing going, some kind of gala dinner, and it was hideously overpriced and lame, albeit saved by the company I was keeping. You come to this island to hide and relax, but you go elsewhere to party.
*** Which might have explained why the group was so…eerily…silent. I had actually walked past that little lounging area to the restroom and back without even realizing that anyone was even there, let alone a group of that size, let alone a freaking entourage.
**** You remember him as that kid from Lukas and Witness? Who knew he would grow up to be hot, in that tall, soulful-eyed kind of way?
***** This is a completely unrelated film-festival anecdote and please excuse the shamelessly vainglorious nature of it. Toronto is a lovely town and every September a lot of LA people travel up there to mingle with the exact same people they see all the time in LA. People stay at the Four Seasons and curious Canadians cluster at the entrance and exits of the underground driveway, held back by security, hoping to see celebrities. When E and I were getting into the sleek town car that would take us to the Smoking screening, some anonymous dude walked past our window and yelled, “I love Elle Macpherson!” E and I looked at each other in a heartfelt WTF? kind of moment. As it turned out, I saw Elle herself in the flesh that night — at 40 or so, still easily one of the most beautiful women in the history of the universe, with that drop-dead charisma that even other supermodels turn out not to have in actual person but need the camera to bring out. The next day, The Toronto Star had a few pages dedicated to the Film Festival and there was a shot of Elle walking around the same downtown blocks we were all wandering around, and I suddenly realized: she’s my height, my slender-but-womanly body shape (except better), has hair about the same length and color as mine and was wearing a similar, casual-downtown-bohemian kind of outfit. That guy who’d walked past our car had been so eager to see a celebrity that he had mistaken the back of me for the back of her. Which still makes me so absurdly pleased. And to this day, he still thinks he declared his love for Elle right into the open window of her vehicle. Dream on, dude.