Well, The Rock has just opened in the movie Doom and the reviews are universally dreadful. Not only they are dreadful – but the time wasted watching the movie seems to be making the reviewers ANGRY. Example.
As long-time readers know, I had “a moment” with The Rock which was forced upon me by my dear friend and partner in crime Mitchell. I did not WANT to “have a moment” with The Rock … but I was FORCED to. Just want to make that clear.
Story below. It’s a re-post. It bears repeating.
A couple years ago, The Rock hosted Saturday Night Live. If I recall correctly, AC/DC was the musical guest.
I know a couple of the people in the cast of SNL in a rather peripheral way from Chicago. We all share very good friends, from the old days of improv comedy (ahem. Mainly M..) I used to watch Tina Fey (now the head writer) perform improv, years ago, in a teeny raucous club in Wrigleyville, with all of my friends.
Mitchell is very close to one of the cast members – and she got us tickets to the show.
Mitchell and I did not sit in the regular audience. We were ushered into the plush VIP room at the back of the theatre. This room has a glass window looking out on the stage, tons of TV screens, and a table of drinks for all. It’s like being in the important-people boxes in baseball stadiums. So Mitchell and I were crammed in back there, having some cocktails, hanging out with the other VIPs, having a great time.
The show was fun – and The Rock was actually quite good. Willing to laugh at himself, poke fun at his image, all that.
Afterwards, we met up with our friend in the cavernous backstage hallway, and she took us down the street to the cast party.
The SNL cast party is a rotating affair, held in a different venue every week. Fans somehow get wind of where the party will be, and line the block, waiting for the cast to arrive. It’s invitation-only, obviously. I had my first kind of red-carpet experience, as Mitchell and I walked through the gauntlet with our friend, throngs on either side, as she signed autographs, people yelled out to her, and frantically scanned OUR faces to see if we were important.
As you can imagine, it was a riot. We had a blast.
There was a huge dinner served. I can’t help it, but I have to name-drop. It’s not my fault. It’s just that they all were there.
I talked with Molly Shannon for a bit. I LOVED her. She was very sweet, very neurotic, concerned that I was having a good time and felt welcome. We also had a couple of friends in common. “Have you heard from so-and-so recently?” she asked me. Nice woman.
Colin Quinn’s manners were repulsive. Can’t stand that guy. I don’t care if he reads this.
I fell so in love with Will Ferrell that even though we also have friends in common and it would have been natural to say, “Hi … I am actually friends with Window Boy … yadda yadda …” I couldn’t say one word to him. He seemed so nice, so relaxed – chatting with Mitchell, laughing, normal – but I feared I would blurt out, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!”, like Holly Hunter in Raising Arizona, and make some huge embarrassing scene at the Saturday Night Live cast party.
Lorne Michaels and all the big-wigs sat over at the important table, wining and dining their guest of the evening The Rock.
I could not have cared LESS about The Rock.
I was too busy quivering in my stilettos about Will Ferrell. And taking Colin Quinn’s sleazy arm off my shoulders.
Mitchell and I were two peas in a pod. We star-watched, but we also just had a blast with each other. It was great.
Finally – Mitchell told me that he works with two 17-year-old kids, both of whom LOOOOOOOOOVE The Rock, and he had promised them that he would try to get The Rock’s autograph. However – in the scenario in which we now found ourselves – it was quite a daunting proposal. The Rock was sitting next to Lorne Freakin’ Michaels, eating shrimp, sipping a glass of wine … and it was clearly a crowd where everybody there (except for Mitchell and I) was famous. Asking for autographs was kind of not cool. No, not KIND OF “not cool” – but BLATANTLY un-cool. When you’re the only non-famous person at a party of celebrities – you really need to keep that autograph-seeker and celebrity-watcher energy in check. It’s just not cool.
But there was the FACT of the two 17 year olds. So Mitchell somehow roped me into going over to the VIP table and asking for The Rock’s autograph.
It took 20 minutes of convincing for me to agree to do this. I’m not a big autograph-hunter, anyway. I respect the privacy of the stars I see on the street, or that I encounter at the Actors Studio … I saw Gena Rowlands once on the street – I wouldn’t ask her for her autograph. It’s not my style. I don’t judge people who DO ask for autographs. Just saying it is not my style.
Mitchell was determined to get this man’s autograph, though, and he justified to me why I had to be the one to ask: “It won’t work if I do it! It’ll be weird – cause I’m a guy – and he’ll feel weird about it … Just go over there and be all girlie, and flirty and he’ll LOVE it – he won’t mind giving you an autograph at all!”
My natural temperament is the opposite of girlie and flirty. I am also (all evidence to the contrary) very shy. I resisted this with all my might.
“No! I don’t want to! I’m too embarrassed!”
(If it had been Ewan McGregor, I would have had no problem. I would have made for DAMN sure that I somehow “bumped into him” at the party. But – to debase myself for The Rock???)
Finally…. what the hell … Mitchell’s pleading got through. How could I disappoint those two 17 year old kids? How excited they would be!!!! I would be a hero!
I basically decided to just not act like myself at ALL, in order to get through the experience unscathed. I put on a completely different personality, in order to deflect my embarrassment. I could not go over there, and just be Sheila, because then I would ONLY be aware of my embarrassment, and my shyness, and my not wanting to intrude on his privacy. The man was having a nice dinner after a hard night’s work! And he was sitting next to Lorne Michaels! The only way I could survive would be to put on another personality, the kind of personality that doesn’t care about intruding on someone’s privacy, the kind of personality that is OBLIVIOUS to embarrassment.
It was a small acting exercise I gave myself: Do not, under any circumstances, be yourself in the next 5 minutes.
My personality-transformation occurred on my stroll over to The Rock’s table.
All intellect and cerebral worrying disappeared during that walk. All shyness and ANY capability of embarrassment dissolved. My walk changed. It became a sultry un-worried stalk through the tables. I didn’t care. I was carefree, nonchalant, unintimdated! I even adjusted my blouse so that the cleavage would be more apparent. This is a shameful admission. But it is true. The girl I became on the walk towards The Rock would not hide her assets. I secretly hoped that perhaps he might notice the cleavage and focus on that – as opposed to his annoyance that I was interrupting him at a VIP party.
I cannot defend myself. My behavior is indefensible. I know. But I’m just telling it to you like it happened: I whored myself for an autograph from The Rock. For two kids I had never met.
Stridently ignoring my own personality, I sultrily leaned down next to him, interrupting his chat with Mr. Michaels. What? Me interrupt someone? I would NEVER do that. Ahhhh …. but I was not ME, remember? But man. I so should not have been there. I cannot even tell you how much this was NOT the kind of party where you do stuff like this. But I remained oblivious. I gave him a flirty oblivious smile. He glanced at me blankly, like: “What the hell do you want?”
I said, in a whispery giggly voice completely not my own: “Oh God, I’m so excited to meet you … I’m friends with some one in the cast…” (I hoped that that would convince him that the cleavage leaning in on him actually BELONGED at this party.) I went on, needing to get it over with as quickly as possible: “You were SO GREAT tonight.” (I blush to report that I actually GUSHED. I GUSHED about The Rock’s performance.)
He nodded, calmly. Like a dignified Scorpion king. “Thank you very much.”
“My two young cousins promised me I would ask for your autograph. Would you mind???” (Yes, I spoke those exclamation marks. My voice remained breathy. I probably sounded asthmatic, but I was going for sexy)
Truth be told: He kind of didn’t want to give me the autograph – it made him uncomfortable in that setting. Lorne Michaels glanced up at me, with this blank look on his face, like: “Who are you? Are you supposed to be in here?”
But I remained oblivious (on the outside) to how much I was disturbing him – and it was that very oblivion which made him give in. My plan worked. If I had actually been acting like myself – well, first of all, I never would have gone over there at all. And second of all, if I had been acting like myself, and had seen the look of discomfort on his face, I would have immediately said, “Oh, I’m sorry to disturb you – Never mind!!” But because I put on this “I am oblivious” act, he had no choice but to sign an autograph for me, just to get rid of me.
Once he was done with me, I raced back to my table, completely abandoning my slow sultry walk. I basically SCURRIED back to Mitchell, and gave the autograph to him. Mitchell had been watching the entire thing from across the room, just HOWLING at my debasement. I sat back down and proceeded to writhe in embarrassment at the entire affair. I did an imitation of the blank expression on Lorne Michaels’ face. Mitchell made me “do” my voice, and my laugh, 20 times. “Do it again. Do it again!” We talked about it obsessively.
I kept saying: “Oh God, Lorne Michaels had NO idea who I was … And the guy SO did not want to give me the autograph!! … I re-arranged my CLEAVAGE to get an autograph from THE ROCK – HOW AWFUL!!”
Hopefully the autograph made those two kids happy for about 2.5 seconds.