Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Bill, honey"

Just a quick link to William Zinsser's charming essay on being chosen by Woody Allen to act in a couple of scenes in Stardust Memories. [BTW, Zinsser's On Writing Well is a fantastic book with great advice and practical tips. Highly recommended!].

The year was 1980, and I was sitting at my typewriter in New York, plying my writer’s trade. When the phone rang I had no great expectations; freelance writers answering the phone tend to be braced for negative news.

“Bill, honey?” said a young woman’s voice. “This is Sandra from Woody Allen’s office. Woody wondered if you’d like to be in his new movie.”

That was something new in phone calls. I had never done any acting or dreamed any theatrical dreams. But who didn’t want to be in a Woody Allen movie? I knew that he often cast ordinary people in small roles. What small plum did he have for me? I hesitated for a decently modest moment and then told Sandra I’d like to do it.

“Good,” she said. “Woody will be very pleased.” She said that someone else would be calling me with further details.

A half hour later the phone rang again. “Bill, honey,” a voice said, “this is Stephanie from Woody Allen’s office.” How wonderful, I thought, to be in a line of work where I was called “Bill, honey.” Stephanie said she was calling to get my measurements. Measurements! I caught a whiff of greasepaint over the telephone line. She needed my jacket size, my waist size, my trouser length, my inseam and my collar size, and I gave them to her gladly. I would have told her anything. I wanted to ask what role I was being measured for, but she was gone. I called my wife to tell her I was in show business.

And this, from the last paragraph:

... as I look back on my movie career I have a larger regret. I never got called “Bill, honey” again.