Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seeing Stars

Reading about Angelina Jolie’s delivery of twins this past weekend caused me to reminisce about the movie actors and filmmakers I met while working as a critic in San Diego. Angelina was among the many stars who came to that beautiful city to promote their new films, probably because of San Diego’s proximity to Hollywood. Although I view having my picture taken with celebrities as unprofessional, Angelina and Jonny Lee Miller, co-stars of Hackers, insisted. I'm glad they did. My grandchildren ask to see that photo every time they come to visit. They are among Angelina Jolie's many fans now, so my status with the younger set seems secure -- for a while, at least.

Three other memorable highlights from those “good old days” in San Diego involve Guy Pearce, Ian McKellen and Matthew Broderick.

Visiting San Diego for a personal appearance in connection with L. A. Confidential, Guy Pearce looked nothing like the prim detective from that acclaimed film. With his spiked hair and leather jacket, the diminutive actor resembled a rock star instead. My husband, who always came along to take photos during the interviews, whispered to me, "I think they've brought in a ringer." But I disagreed. Why? Looking closer at the Australian-born Pearce, I spotted those penetrating blue eyes and high cheekbones that make him so photogenic in such movies as Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Rules of Engagement and Memento.

Instead of the elitist Shakespearean actor I expected, Sir Ian McKellen was very easy to talk with. He described growing up in an area of England where he attended live theater productions three times a week, which probably explains his great love for the theater over film. However, by serving not only as the lead actor but also as executive producer for Richard III, McKellen claimed he gained a new respect for making movies. Recognizing the need to include American film stars to make his movie a more bankable production, he supported casting Annette Bening and Robert Downey Jr. in the roles of Queen Elizabeth and her brother.

Although I didn't officially interview Matthew Broderick, I met the popular star of Ferris Bueller's Day Off at a holiday celebration in Horton Plaza. Broderick's musical comedy performance in the San Diego trial run of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying received unfair pans by local critics. While shaking his hand, I told him not to worry. "I saw your show and you were terrific," I exclaimed. I mentioned my background in musical comedy to make sure he understood my credentials. Broderick thanked me, smiled one of the widest grins I've ever seen, and wouldn't let go of my hand. Later, when he won the Tony for this same performance, he said nothing about my encouraging words. I was heartbroken. But I still never miss any of Matthew Broderick's movies.

(More of these “seeing stars” escapades are included in CONFESSIONS OF A MOVIE ADDICT, my humorous life story with everything but the movie stuff edited out.)

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