December 2, 2009

Floundering in the Face of Fame

The movie Roxanne (a modern twist on Cyrano deBergerac) was on tv the other night and a couple of us watched the last hour of it. I've seen this movie several times. I saw a lot of it filmed, too.
Steve Martin chose to film Roxanne in my pretty hometown in the mountains and that was quite a big thrill. I was sixteen when the crews rolled in during the summer of 1986. I was working at Triathlete World, (mainly selling kids' bikes and running shoes) which was downtown where most of the action took place. It seemed the sun shone all the time that summer. Most outdoor scenes were shot with a big crowd of onlookers watching; most of us had never witnessed a movie being made. It was truly fascinating.

Our town was inundated with camera crews, lighting experts, stunt doubles, makeup artists and of course, actors. Many of the movie people came into the store that summer. Most of them just wanted to buy running shoes - mainly red Reebok hightops - and rent mountain bikes. Steve Martin's stunt double came in to rent Steve a mountain bike, and the actor who played Darryl Hannah's less than brilliant love interest came in a few times and bugged me about ('aboot') my Canadian accent. He was really friendly, as most of them were. Another actor who I recognized as the janitor in The Breakfast Club, came in and I told him my friends and I often rented The Breakfast Club. He was appreciative and jovial - a nice guy! As the weeks wore on neither Steve Martin nor Darryl Hannah had made an appearance in our store. People said when he wasn't filming, Steve was hiding out in a rented house out on the lake. I never heard where Darryl Hannah was hiding.

One day when my boss, a coworker and I were taking a break at the back of the store I heard someone come in. I was seated around a corner by the shoes (I think I was eating) when I looked up to see Darryl Hannah herself looking at us. Did I exchange friendly banter with her? Did I tell her I thought she was great as a mermaid in Splash ? Did I say, "Welcome to our store, how can I help you?" No! I looked her straight in the eyes and said, "Hi Darryl Hannah!" Ugh. She was extremely quiet (and extremely skinny), gave me a disgusted look and said she wanted to rent a mountain bike. My boss thought it would be a thrill for me to show her how to use the gears so he sent me out with her and two bikes. I'd recovered my composure and started explaining the 18 speeds and how they worked. She gave me another look of disgust and said, "I think I can figure it out." Nice.

Of course reliving that Roxanne summer led to other memories of meeting famous people. When 'Le Chateau' was a great store full of funky clothing and quirky shoes (instead of the collection of cheap looking cocktail dresses and rhinestone encrusted stillettos it sells now) in Vancouver I did some shopping there on a trip with a friend. I was trying on clothes when I ran into the cute actor from a show I liked a lot at the time called Danger Bay, which was about two spunky kids whose dad was a crime-fighting marine biologist. The cute actor was wearing a pastel coloured Miami Vice suit and after I recognized him I said "Aren't you the guy from Danger Bay?" He said 'yes' looking awfully pleased with himself, so to teach him a lesson I retreated into the change room saying only "Oh" in a snotty voice. I guess I paid for my meanness when I met Darryl Hannah a year later.
Ah, Karma.

Note: if you do watch the movie Roxanne look for me as an extra in the crowd scene where the barn catches fire and Steve Martin's firecrew have to rescue the cow. I'm the one behind all the smoke. If you pause the DVD and look really hard...


  1. Haha.
    This is a charming story.
    At sixteen,you were quite lucky with that sort of opportunity.I really like Steve Martin movies a whole lot,especially 'Father of the Bride.' He is just a brilliant actor!

    I see that we have similar interests,not to mention styles of writing!Very cool to connect with another writer!

    Have a wonderful week!

  2. I've never really been a fan of Darryl Hannah, so I'm not surprised she was snooty and too skinny. But I had a good laugh at the karma of you being snooty to a fan-loving actor. Guess you can't win if you're an actor! It would be rather dreary, I think, to have people recognizing you all the time. Fun story. Too bad you didn't get to meet Steve Martin, though. I bet he'd be nice!

  3. What a funny story.

    I've heard that Darryl Hannah is EXTREMELY shy. In fact, 100 years ago when the cast of Steel Magnolias was on Oprah she did not come. She had so much anxiety about being in front of the live audience she could not leave her hotel room. So, in a way, I kinda feel for her, but maybe she should have chosen a different line of work.

    The only reason I remember this Oprah incident is because I watched it with my grandmother, and years later she would comment on how Julia Roberts was so ungrateful that she couldn't even do Oprah with the rest of the cast of Steel Magnolias. I tried to set Grandma straight, but she was having none of it. From that moment on she hated Julia Roberts with an unbecoming passion, and it was all caused by Darryl Hannah.

  4. These are such great memories to have. I remember Danger Bay - I watched it in reruns a couple of months ago and couldn't believe how horrible the acting actually was. As for Darryl Hannah - what's she doing know? See where karma got here...

    I met Paul Newman once - he was so charming and handsome. He actually brought Krispi Kreme donuts to our office.

  5. Ooops - I meant What's she doing "now"?

  6. Hi Melissa! Thanks for calling me 'another writer'. It made my day! My mom (who responds to all my posts by email) told me that Steve gave a huge collection of beautiful art books to the town because he was so grateful to have been left alone. He is a nice guy!

    Dreamfarm girl: I would not want to be famous in such a visual way like an actor. It seems such a crazy way to try and live.

    Tracey: Thanks for the Oprah story. It all makes sense to me now - they shy thing, I mean.

    Dive Girl: My mom used to roll her eyes at Danger Bay. It must have been the terrible acting! I remember reading about a guy who had been a big fan of 'V' and when it came out on DVD (something he had been looking forward to for years) he was shocked at how bad it was! LOL! I'll just let sleeping dogs lie.

  7. I love to tell everyone that they had to stop filming because Brent and my honking parade of wedding cars interrupted their filming around the cathedal...we ignored the waving arms of the traffic controller because you only get married once and as we found out there are numerous takes of a scene. Also Brent and I proudly respected Steve at the corner of Josephine and Baker with only a quite Hello Mr. Martin...

  8. That's great, Clare. I had no idea...or maybe I did and forgot. Quite possible!

  9. Just watched Roxanne, again, this time in the newly revived Civic Theatre, here in Nelson where the movie was filmed. :)

    The film is so charming, and the town looks so great in it which it was/is. However, a big part of me thinks it WAS more beautiful in those days... I don't think it really was, on the surface, but I think the whole world is not as nice, not as soft, not as slow and easy.

    We have so many more serious, huge, issues these days! The ecology, in particular, and, in general, I think folks are really concerned with their future... at least I am. It seems, to me, that the world is just not as gentle and forgiving as it used to be 25 to 30 years ago.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!