Friday, 12 October 2012

Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett

There are a few books that I come across that fall into the category of ‘too good not to share’. I was only partway into Everett’s first volume of memoirs when I found myself sending paragraphs by email to friends. It really is that good...


His account of making the film Hearts of Fire qualifies it for this blog as he seems to have spent the whole shoot permanently soused, although that could be said for quite a few other occasions. The finished film was a disaster, the full-on, no-survivors crash of my career, as he puts it. He hasn’t made The Next Best Thing with Madonna by this point...

Things don’t really get off to a good start with Hearts of Fire, despite Bob Dylan being cast. Everett really doesn’t gel with his leading lady, and when it comes for them to film a ‘bedroom’ scene, she runs screaming from the set. Help is at hand from his make up team, however:

Meinir sidled up to the bed, as the producer, the director and the lighting cameraman stood around my naked body, deciding what they could shoot instead. She winked as she opened her little Aladin’s cave of a kit. Inside gleamed a bottle of vodka. Well, if one couldn’t get legless after one’s leading lady had fled the lovemaking scene, when could one? I settled down on the floor in the corner of the set and drank the whole bottle with the help of hair and make-up; when the powers that be finally decided on the next scene, I could barely walk.

Meinir seems to be keeping the cast properly refreshed, including the star, Dylan, whose tipple is Jim Beam:

One day Meinir was walking across the lot at Shepperton when a bottle broke inside her kit and began to leak, leaving an incriminating and odorous trail in her wake. The producer was following behind. Pat and I were behind him. We watched in horror as he bent down and sniffed. “Meinir, what have you got in your kit?” he asked. Meinir gasped slightly as she observed the stream of whisky dripping from Aladdin’s cave. But this girl was quick on her feet. “I’m washing my brushes. It’s alcohol. Must have spilt! Oh dear, I’d better nip back to the truck, hadn’t I?” And she beat a retreat before our producer could move on to the next question.

The production moves to Toronto, where they are to film a live show in front of a crowd. Unfortunately, they have time to kill before the shooting starts, and make use of the minibar in Dylan’s trailer:

We all piled into his trailer before the show and got incredibly drunk. Bob strummed on his guitar. Assistants came and went. Richard dropped in. By the time we got to the wings we were in extremely high spirits, but Bob was too wobbly to make it up the very steep steps to the stage.

Somehow they keep it together long enough to film the gig. The shoot finally comes to the end with one last scene to do:

On the last day, we shot a scene in a limo... We played the scene over and over. We chatted between takes. We had drinks in the scene and they were constantly refilled – the real thing, needless to say. The props guys who were in charge of administering the drinks didn’t even ask. Apple juice was for babies. Bob dozed off, sinking into himself like a parrot. We must have been there for a couple of hours. When we finished the first assistant opened the car door. Bob climbed out. He looked around, squinting. “Where’s the hotel?” he said, apparently confused, thinking he had been driven home.

The end result wasn’t a hit, or, in Everett’s words:

The film brought my career to a standstill...

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