Psycomic - 1.05.01
Saturday Night With Duck-Shoot
Eliza Dushku is that rare breed of cat that most men spend their whole lives searching for: a Guy's Girl, AKA: One of the Boys. She's East Coast as all hell, which is refreshing, as I've been in L.A. for almost a week and can use a healthy dose of reality.
A week in L.A. - that's all this column has been thus far. All eleven of these puppies span only seven days that happened over two months ago. It's fucking appalling that I'm getting paid for this drivel. And at the rate I'm telling the story, I'll probably spend the better part of my semi-adult life relating the tale of 'Jay and Silent Bob.'
Then again, what else is new? That's all I've been doing for the last seven fucking years anyway.
So there's Eliza, ordering a beer and sitting in the outdoor bar of the Four Seasons Hotel with me and Mosier, waxing vulgar about Buffy, Ben (Affleck), and broads (she just kissed one in a movie she recently finished). Her voice has that kind of sexy, raspy quality guys don't mind taking orders from - unless those guys are married - like me - and answer only to one master's voice, particularly when that voice is bellowing "Get off that goddamned internet and fuck me, Stupid!" Like right now.
Three And A Half Minutes Later
My husbandly duties complete, I return to my story.
I christen Eliza 'Duck-Shoot', and we talk about her native country, Boston. She's friends with Casey Affleck, so she knows Ben - which enables us to swap Ben Affleck stories (my second favorite pastime to trading Jason Mewes stories). She tries to fill me in on Buffy lore and how she plays into the mythos, and it only further solidifies my previously-stated assessment that Buffy is a show I should've been into early on, as it's now too intricately told a tale for a late-comer like me to catch up with.
Duck-Shoot's a funny, earthy chick - wise beyond her nineteen years. The fact that she is nineteen causes a bit of alarm, as I've just bought this minor the beer she's quaffing. I suddenly feel like the old man heading into the liquor store who's asked by the carload of teens to buy them a case of Bud and some rolling papers. I insist that I will purchase for her no further brewskis. Twenty minutes later, she suckers Mosier into buying her another. (What can I say? Mosier's a sucker for the raspy voice.)
Right away I want to cast her, because she's funny, familiar, and very East Coast. This is a girl I would've hung out with in high school, back when I was getting dragged to keggers on Friday and Saturday nights. I can tell Mewes and Eliza are going to get along famously, as they both collect friends with weird nicknames. Mewes numbers amongst his comrades a 'Neeny-Balls', a 'Stink-Weed', a 'Mustard', and a 'Tic-Tooth Ruth'. Eliza regales us with tales of her own home-town chums who sport equally bizarre monikers. The fact that she spends two hours bullshitting with me and Mosier in her Bostonian "Wicked-super"-speak only intensifies my desire to get her into the flick.
When she can no longer tolerate the company of a pair of thirty year olds with nothing to do in Los Angeles on a Saturday night, she bids us adieu, leaving Mosier and me to get down to the nitty-gritty of figuring out whether or not we should shoot in L.A. or Austin. After comparing the budgets and discovering there's only a twenty thousand dollar difference between filming in either city, we opt for L.A., as it'll make it easier on most of the cast who live there to get to the set. Maybe it's the Catholic in me talking, but I don't want to make it hard on the cast to get to where we're filming this debacle, as I'm lucky most of them even agreed to sign on to our sinking ship in the first place.
Our last day of casting ends, suitably, with the long-awaited Amy Smart meet-and-greet. Amy's just flown in from Vegas where she's shooting a flick... and boy are her arm's tired (see - I can do more than just dick and fart jokes; I'm also gang-busters at the hackneyed material as well). I've only seen Amy in Road Trip and Varsity Blues (a true guilty pleasure featuring James Van der Beek uttering that utterly repeatable trailer line I accosted those around me with for months, "I... DON'T WANT... YOUR LIFE!"), but I dug her performances in both of those flicks, so I've been looking forward to this meeting.
Amy's the only actor or actress to show up with a gift: meditation beads. She's apparently into the yoga-type stuff. She's also apparently into Shakespeare, as she tells us she's just spent a few months in England, studying that hard, Bard style of acting. We talk about that, and how she's just done an indie flick with Bob Gale (he of Back to the Future screen writing fame). I give her the dope on his recent comics work as well, including his really good Batman "No Man's Land" issues and the storyline for his forthcoming Daredevil run that Joe Quesada filled me in on months ago. It's a fine meeting, but ultimately futile, as Bob (Weinstein) has already let us know that she (Amy) doesn't strike him (Bob) as the kind of person Jay (the character) would fall in love with. He still really wants Heather Graham for that part, and I'm starting to feel bad for wasting Amy's time (the Catholic in me once again rearing its ugly head).
That's the shitty aspect of this job: you can't cast everyone you want. Sometimes, they want nothing to do with you and your stink. Sometimes, the folks you held high hopes for just don't come across well in the meet-and-greet.
Sometimes, you have to listen to what those who hold the purse-strings have to say. And sometimes, it rains (a little Bull Durham humor for you sports-flicks aficionados out there).
The casting process will never be as easy as it was with Clerks. Back then, we cast who we felt was the best actor or actress for the job. But that flick was on my dime. When you're playing with someone else's money, you've entered into a collaborative relationship, and other folks get a say. If we weren't comfortable with that, we'd say, "Fuck it - keep your check," and drop to a budget level at which no one can tell us what to do, like we did on Chasing Amy, after the studio asked us to cast Drew Barrymore and David Schwimmer in the roles that were written for Joey Adams and Jason Lee. But this time around, the flick's a less personal beast, and not exactly the kind of picture we can make cheaply. So you give up just a smidgen of total autonomy and listen to what the money people have to say.
I can hear some of you Kev-Haters now: "I told you! Fatty's a sell-out!" Keep your two cents in your wallet until you're on this side of the table, bellyachers. This is not an evil, soul-selling, integrity-lacking proposition I've entered into with this flick; it's just the cost of doing business on this scale. And believe me, as far as money folks go, Bob and Harvey Weinstein allow for a lot more creative freedom than any other studio head in his or her right mind would afford us (shit, how else can you explain the fact that we're being given millions to make a movie in which I - non-acting-motherfucker me - am one of the lead characters?). But sometimes, art goes out the window (and with this flick, it never even made it into the room in the first place), and cold, simple economics take the floor. Which means that if actor X sells better in the foreign market than actor Y (and they're both equally as talented), you'd better believe actor X is going to be the studio fave.
Like Heather Graham. Bob's got it in his head that Heather means something at the box office. And maybe he's right. We'll never know, though, as when we get back to Jersey, the real casting process begins, and Heather presents us with a particularly thorny quandary.
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The Casting Aftermath - 1.12.00
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The Tenth Anniversary Column - 12.15.00