I WAS WAKENED one early morning by a call from my agent. In an aloof tone she said, "Be at St. Michael's Church at 10 a.m. wearing business clothes. Bring two changes. You'll be a lawyer today. The name of the movie is "Sea of Love" with Al Pacino, John Goodman and Ellen Barkin."
Experience taught me to have a pen and paper next to the phone because agents call you at the strangest times of the day or night. In my sleepy haze I was writing down the information not really paying much attention. As soon as I put the receiver down it hit me.
If you like a strong, dark, handsome specimen of a man, believe me you would love Mr. Al Pacino. That's exactly what he is like. When I watch his films, I have to stop myself from drooling like a love sick teenager. I love those smoldering, heavy lidded eyes which appear as if they could look right into your soul. The rugged, brooding face hinting at inner torment, which makes me want to sacrifice everything so he will live happily ever after, intrigues me. He appears to be deep but with a quiet sense of humor; intense but devilishly playful; tough but soft.
I just know he would be the one man who would say to me quietly, with a touch of mirth in his voice "now come on Lynn, you know you don't really mean that" in response to some childish exclamation I blurted out. I have always wanted a man to say that to me. I have had men say "what the hell do you mean by that?" or "are you for real?" or even "you've got to be kidding.". Never have I had a man say "now come on Lynn, you know you don't really mean that" You know the type I mean, strong and mature who always understands what you truly mean, no matter what drivel may come out of your mouth on occasion. That kind of man will always love you despite your inadequacies and sometimes immature behaviour because, well.......because that's the way he is.
There is no doubt in my mind that Al Pacino has all the qualities I spent the better part of my life searching for in a man and have never been able to find. Yes, Alfredo James Pacino, born April 25, 1940 is definitely my kind of man and this is the story of how I spent an
afternoon with him.
Having decided to get out of the corporate world, I planned on spending a little time doing exactly what I wanted to do in life and had never been able to accomplish. Raising a son on my own meant depending on that regular salary which the corporate world pays. Doing what I wanted to do, didn't pay much.
Eventually, Number One Son grew up and went out into the world on his own. Except for my cats I didn't have a responsibility in the world and you can bet I was going to take advantage of the position I found myself in.
Lounging around one afternoon, I watched a commercial which went
something like this: "Ladies, men, children of all ages wanted to do
extra work in movies. Call today for an appointment." So I called, made an appointment and went to register at an agency here in the city. I live in a metropolitan Canadian city which has become a haven for film people so the likelihood of getting work as an extra is pretty good.
For those of you who don't know what a movie extra does, let me
explain. When you watch a movie, keep your eyes open for the people in the background looking like Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average as they walk down the street, carry suitcases in airports, or sit around a restaurant while the star dazzles his co-star with scripted verse. Those are all extras. Rather an insulting term really. It means you are in the movie but you aren't really recognized. You just create the background for the stars of the show and help make the scene look complete and authentic. You never say a word, you never look directly in the camera. The camera seldom catches your face on the screen and you do as you are told. Often you can be on a movie set and never see the stars because the film crew shoots some scenes which don't require their presence. Not very glamorous, but then most things "extra" never are unless it is an extra helping of chocolate cake.
Let's get back to my morning phone call. On set an extra must follow
instructions. They walk, talk and dress as directed. All kinds of busy
little people run around the set to check out each of the instructions
and make sure you are doing precisely as you were told. At any rate, my agent said I was to dress as a lawyer which left me with a little
leeway as to how I could do my makeup. I've been on "shoots" where I was supposed to be a patient in a hospital. I not only didn't have any
makeup on, but they also they painted heavy dark circles under my eyes for effect. Show business, such a glamorous life.
I was sure the makeup person would want me to look my best for
Mr. Pacino. My hair was another thing. Trying to remember who I had seen photographed with Al Pacino and what she looked like, I fiddled with different styles. Except for Diane Keaton, who had sexy, loose hair most of the time and was the essence of class, my memory failed me. I could never look like Annie Hall. Although I knew there would be a busy little hairdresser to check, I tried to do my hair in the sexiest lawyer-like style I could and hoped no one wanted to change it. That really is an oxymoron, sexy-lawyer, but I was trying to kill two birds with one stone; fulfil my obligations for my agent to look like an authentic lawyer and at the same time appeal to the male instincts of a world renowned actor. All in all, not an easy feat. Although you are never allowed to approach a star on set, I desperately hoped he would be there so I would see him in person. I wanted to look my best just in case he decided to approach me. So I was fantasizing a little. That's what the film world is all about, isn't it?
I arrived at St. Michael's Church, along with about 50 others, and was
greeted by a busy little person who was calling out names and checking us in. We were then herded into a large basement auditorium which had been set up with tables and chairs to look like a banquet. At this point we are told the scene being shot is a promotion and retirement dinner for a bunch of policemen and that Al Pacino and John Goodman will be in the scene and arriving shortly.
Thank you God!!!!! I was going to see him in the flesh. Al Pacino I mean, not God.
There is a sorting-out process when they're doing a scene using a large number of people. You are placed in different spots in the room for different rehearsals to check overall look, sound, lighting, etc. After going through all of this, the final scene is composed and they tell you where they want you to stand or sit when they start to roll. Since I was one of only a few women in the scene and was a make believe lawyer, they told me to stand up on the stage for the make believe presentation of the make believe awards to the make believe policemen. Much of the time for an extra is spent standing and sitting around waiting, waiting and waiting.
Because of the numbers of people involved, I assumed this scene was going to take a lot of waiting and I stood there a little bored, wondering how I looked. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I could see this handsome man chatting to people at the edge of the stage about 20 feet away. You guessed it. It was AL PACINO himself. I was shocked out of my boredom real quick let me tell you.
We stood around for a couple of hours and then there was a break for lunch. Damn, I was hoping to get a closer look of him but all in all, I was pretty pleased with my luck. To see one's idol is a sobering experience. I had never been the type to fall all over famous people or ask for autographs. In truth, not many of them impressed me and few I would consider to be people I wanted to meet if I had the opportunity. Al Pacino however was an exception to my rule.
During our lunch, some of the extras sat around a lunchroom waiting for the break to end. Suddenly people in a small group started clapping as music rang through the room. There was John Goodman playing a harmonica. Now that was a treat. The stars of a movie aren't normally within speaking range of the extras, especially on a shoot with lots of people. To have one walk in and be a part of the group was unusual to say the least. He was exactly as you would think he is and then some. Warm, friendly, humorous, humble and down to earth. I added him to my list of people I would like to get to know better. I digress.
Lunch over, everyone took their places on the set to start rehearsals
again. I went back to take my place on the stage and waited for
There he was again, off to the side of the stage. Al Pacino.
I was furtively trying not to stare but I'm sure I failed. I wanted to keep that picture of him in my head for a long time. After all, what were the chances I would get the opportunity again?
We were allowed to smoke on the set then and taking my eyes off my idol for a minute, I took out a cigarette and lit it trying to keep my
excitement in check. I glanced around for an ashtray and when I turned back, Mr. Al Pacino was standing right next to me. I couldn't believe my eyes. Now you have to picture this. It wasn't as if there were people milling around us. It was just the two of us, alone in the middle of that stage. Al Pacino and me!!! Me and Al Pacino!!!! I know my mouth dropped open in disbelief. There was nothing make believe about this. Everything was moving in slow motion. You know how people, after being in some earth shattering experience, always tell you it was like watching a movie in slow motion. That's how I was feeling.
I raised my hand to cover my open mouth which had inexplicably dropped open.
It looked like he was about to speak.
Please don't let this be a dream.
Then he did speak and I knew without doubt, it was not a dream.
"Hi, can I get a cigarette from you?" he asked.
I don't believe it: Al Pacino was asking me for a cigarette!
Now if I could only get my vocal cords to work I would be fine. Here he was standing less than two feet away from me. I could say anything I wanted to him. I could ask him if he enjoyed making "Dog Day Afternoon" and if he ever got to meet the real bank robber. I could ask him if he liked brunettes since I was one and hoped he didn't like blondes or redheads. I could ask him if he likes cats. I could ask him if he has any pets of his own. I could ask him if he liked my hair. I could ask him if he would like to go for lunch and take a tour of the city. I could, I could, I could ........... barely speak. I remember vaguely making some reference to my Canadian cigarettes being better than American cigarettes as I handed him one and hearing him laugh at my comment.
"Thanks a lot" he said and smiled at me.
That smile lit up his whole face. He has one of the nicest, warmest
smiles I have ever seen. Then he turned and walked away.
I don't know how long I stood there unable to move or think straight.
Like a bolt of lightning, it struck me:
OHMIGOD I BLEW IT!!!
I had this golden opportunity and I blew it. The one and only time in my life I was at a loss for words. Why didn't my mouth work? Why was my throat so dry? What the hell did I just miss? Why is my head swimming? Why did I feel like a silly school girl?
I wanted to kill myself!
I know, sure as God made little green apples, if Al heard me he would
say "now come on Lynn, you know you don't really mean that."