CITY ISLAND COUNTDOWN: TFF-7!
Yeah, yeah, I took the weekend off again. You wouldn't think blogging required quite the amount of dedication and energy that it does--prior to this blogathon I normally posted only a few times a week but this daily grind is quite seriously enervating. (My friend Marc Myers--whose writes a superb blog called jazzwax--literally posts every day. And no exceptions. And none of these little tiny lazy posts that I sometimes take refuge behind--his posts are never less than elaborate and scholarly).
Anyway, we're seven days out from Tribeca and I'm trying to draw out the saga of how we got the film made. I believe I left off with the casting of the role of Joyce--Marcia Gay Harden had dropped out and we were going out to other actresses, our confidence high. The role is one that most actresses of a certain age--past, say, 35--loudly complain about rarely getting offered them: a smart, motherly, sexy, honest woman--not just another Cameron Diaz bauble...
So we went out first, I think, to Ellen Barkin. She and Andy had worked together before and we liked the idea of the two of them as Bronx parents.
She passed. Was making another indie at the time and wanted to take the summer off.
Next was Patricia Clarkson. She was shooting something in Austrailia as I recall. The time zones made our offer and her response a bit complicated (we needed to give each offer "hard out" as we were already in prep--three days, I think, was the longest we could wait for an answer.
She passed. Next, I believe, was Laura Dern. Not sure why we thought this was a good idea--she's a splendid actress of course, but not quite what I'd had in mind for the Bronx wife of a corrections officer. And I guess she agreed with me. Because--
She passed. I wouldn't say panic was setting in by now but certainly concern. We were now a few weeks away from shooting and to our surprise we'd collected a series of turndowns for a fine female role in a go movie starring Andy Garcia. Oh well. Keep trying. Next was Mary Louise Parker.
Surprise. She liked it. I talked with her on the phone. She wanted to do it. Until...
Custody issues came up with her husband. She couldn't leave for New York for the allotted time we needed her. She passed.
Things were getting embarrassing around the office. We had a full crew prepping a movie and I could tell from their averted eyes that the news had spread: were they all working on a movie that was going to fold like a cheap stack table due to lack of interest from an actress?
I don't remember who passed next but I do remember banging my fist on the table a lot and upping the xanax. (I had also, by this time, taken to adding a shot of Vodka to the morning orange juice and NOT THINKING THIS WAS WEIRD TO DO).
Somebody suggested Rebecca De Mornay. Fine actress. I had a problem, though, in imagining her as a mom since her signature role was, of course, as a hooker in "Risky Business". My producer Lauren Versel, when I said this, replied: "Oh it makes sense, Raymond. She went from whore to mother, like all of us do".
And then Andy suggested Julianna Margulies. Why had we not thought of her earlier? A fabulous actress, a name, and someone who Andy had worked with in the past ("Man From Elysian Fields"). One reason she hadn't occurred to us was that she was somewhat publicly "retired"--she'd had a baby and didn't seem interested in going back to work. Figuring that the worst she could do was laugh in our faces, we offered her the part. While waiting for her turndown, we started taping and interviewing a number of other "non-name" actresses, women who could have chewed the part up but who simply lack name value. At this point, it was looking like I might have to play the damn thing in a wig. Who the hell says there are no good roles for strong, middle-aged, sexy women? There are--the women just don't want the gigs.
And then we got a call saying Julianna Margulies wanted to meet with me...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 11:51 AM