Someone just sent me this – Universal Studios posted this clip on their site – Death Becomes Her premiered thirty years ago this weekend. I read somewhere a couple of years ago that the movie is among ten or so others like Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias that continue to play in a loop on cable as it’s one of those that a lot of people have a hard turning away from when they land on it. Glad this is so as I still get a check every couple of months that I’ll always spend on something frivolous.
I’d been told by the second second that if I hadn’t heard from anyone by Thursday at five, then I wouldn’t be working Friday and Monday, I’d be working Tuesday and Wednesday. I never heard from anyone on Thursday, so that was that.
On Friday around noon, I’d just come in from a run when I received a phone call: “Where ARE you?? Bob Zemekis and Meryl Streep are waiting?!” The voice on the other end was tortured.
“WHAT??? But they said—”
Somebody dropped the ball.
With no time to even shower, I threw on something and ran out the door. I don’t have to go to sleep to experience The Actor’s Nightmare. That day – law – thirty years ago, I was living it the two hours it took me to finally get from Santa Monica to Universal Studios in the valley IN FRIDAY RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC. I think I promised God I’d stop drinking and cussing if he’d just make everything alright. I hope he forgave me, because he did make everything alright and I didn’t stop the drinking or the cussing.
When I got to the gate, a pinch-faced girl hissed into a walkie talkie as soon as she saw me: “I’ve got him.”
The next person she handed me off to paced next to a string of make-up trailers and said the same thing: “I’ve got him.” Like I was Clark Gable circe 1935 instead of a nobody with barely half a minute of screen time whose brand new Honda was still smoking from its traumatic trip over the hill.
When I was escorted onto the set, I’d never seen a more relaxed group of people in my life. I’d expected Meryl Streep to narrow her eyes and put her cigarette out on my face.
After my first take, Zemekis smiled and said, “Let’s do one more for posterity.” He winked at me. “Just because we’re supposed to.”
It was the most laid-back shooting experience of anything I’ve ever done.
When I saw Goldie Hawn a few years later, I was able to tell her I didn’t even mind when I attended the premiere and her voice came out of my mouth. “It’s Goldie,” I said. “Why should I care?” She laughed really hard and it was genuine.
Happy 30th, Death Becomes Her. I’ll never forget your crazy ass. And keep those checks coming.