The Patriot 3

FOOLS' PARADISE

THE MAKING OF "THE PATRIOT" (3)

The Making of "The Patriot"
(7 Thrilling Pages)

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At The Movies


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   The buckles on my shoes and my spotless red coat are coming in for some stick from the grubby soldiers. So is the wig. I am grateful for the fact that Valet Number 1 is much prettier than me. This takes some of the heat off. Then suddenly we are rescued from our discomfort by an Assistant Director, who informs us that at last, we have been summoned into the presence of the great man.
   Shirley, the casting director joins us as we climb up the steps to the mansion. She seems nervous. It seems that the valets have to make a good impression. She reveals to me that the director picked me from all those thousands of photographs, because he "loves my face." She seems confident about me. It's number 1 she's worried about. He got the job because he happened to be walking past the Production Office when they needed a valet.

   For the moment however, I am still coming to terms with the revelation that he "loved" my face. There are those of whom people say "His face is his fortune." Then there are others, whose faces are, judged by any objective aesthetic criteria, frankly more of a misfortune. Even those who love me would, if pressed, unhesitatingly place me in the latter category.  Shirley explains that I have an "eighteenth century face."  Hmmm.

An eighteenth century face.

Fools' Paradise Home

Books From Mainland Press

   That, it turns out, is it for the day. Two and a half hours drive to the wrong cow pasture, another hour finding my way to the right one, hair make-up, costume - it was all just to be sure the director still loved my face. Now, I'm driving back up route 321 to North Carolina at 9 o'clock at night, tired, hungry and with glue in my hair. This must be what they mean by suffering for your art.
   When I get home, my wife looks at me closely and wonders at the odds of two people loving a face like that in a lifetime.

Friday, September 30th, 1999
   There is a lot more goes into movies than you would ever think. This is becoming plain to me as I sit in the Hair Department trailer having my wig re-installed for Day 2. The nice lady smearing my head with sticky stuff is telling me about the dogs. The movie features two great danes, highly trained, professional animals, whose obedience to commands is vital to the shoot. A few days before, one of the beasts, in a display of artistic temperament, stopped cooperating. He was, in the words of the assistant director, "just not focused." An understudy was required. However, the understudy had white markings, while the unfocused dog was black all over. So the assistant director turned up with the two-tone version and a request to spray paint it black. The matter was eventually resolved

Director Roland Emmerich - Loved my face.

   Roland is a slender, bird-like man. His movements are languid. His gray hair clashes with a youthful face. He is sitting at a large table surrounded by equipment. People come and go, hand him things, exchange a few words. After a couple of minutes, the Assistant Director catches his eye. Our moment has arrived. He smiles at us, nods his head and turns away again. This, it will turn out, is the high point of my social interaction with director Roland Emmerich. I will spend much of my four days as a famous movie actor standing next to him, watching the tapes with him, loitering on the fringes of his conversations with the stars, but I will never exchange a word with him. Even in the apparently informal world of the movies, there is a hierarchy.

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