HERE'S ONE FROM THE HEART
In 1982, I got my first Hollywood agent. He wasn't a top tier agent, far from it, but he was someone who could get me work. His office was in a rundown section of Hollywood. He walked around his sparsely decorated office with bare feet. A jug of wine sat under his desk. I heard that by the afternoon he was usually soused and abusive to everyone. He looked over my pictures and resume, and told me to bring in more so he could submit me for projects. Before I left his office, he told me in his gruff voice, "Go to Zoetrope and give them your picture and resume. They're looking for actors."
I took his advice and went to Zoetrope Studios. In the casting department, I met the casting director, a lovely lady. There were actors' pictures and resume everywhere. It didn't appear as though mine would ever surface to be called for an audition or work. After a short while, and to my surprise, they did call me and cast me in Francis Coppola's latest project, One from the Heart. It was an impressive production. Coppola based on his experiences with Apocalypse Now didn't want a repeat of his over budget, and production plagued problems due to bad weather, and other issues.
One from the Heart was set in Las Vegas, so he built the Vegas Strip in one of his studio's sound stages, complete with Vegas' bright neon lights. It was a musical that starred Nastassja Kinski; she was an up and coming starlet. Gene Kelly was the choreographer. What a thrill to see this legend up close. When he walked across the sound stage, he seemed to glide above the surface.
One of the other stars was Frederic Forrest, who made a name for himself as the New Orleans chef/soldier in Apocalypse… He was friendly and approachable; we had a nice conversation in-between takes during a Vegas bar scene.
I was a fan of Teri Garr, a very busy actress. We spent hours shooting a street scene in which we kept passing each other on the make-believe Vegas Strip. The scene was shot from many angles for hours. In one set up, I looked down and at curbside, the award-winning cinematographer, Vittorio Stararo, operated a camera that stood on blocks at our feet with the camera aiming up at us.
Coppola did most of his directing from a Silver Stream trailer parked outside the sound stage. In those days, they were just beginning to use video playback from a feed on the motion picture camera. Coppola took advantage of this new technology to review the scenes immediately. Previously, the film would have to be developed and the scenes reviewed a day or two later in a screening room, which was a small movie theatre, usually on a studio lot.
Occasionally, Mr. Coppola would come out on the set and talk to his actors and crew, sometimes he did it over the same loudspeaker that he called action and cut from.
Despite, the impressive cast and set, the movie bombed, but Coppola's touch was apparent in its look and feel. I must have wound up on the cutting room floor because I didn't see me in the final cut. Nevertheless, it was a thrill and a great experience. Unfortunately, the studio ran into financial difficulties and I never worked on another Coppola film.