Yesterday, upon discovering Iron Man 2 had sucked in $133.6 million over the weekend, I stumbled to a brunch of six Bloody Marys. Only moments later I found myself conversing with George Cukor. Here is a snippet from our nearly four-hour exchange:
GC: Put down that butter knife! Put it –
SW: I’ll do it, I swear!
GC: Put it down!
SW: Try and stop me! Just try – ow! – let go of my neck!
GC: Give me the knife!
SW: [Suddenly crying] George…I just don’t…A hundred and thirty three –
GC: Shhhh…Sit down…
SW: [Crying harder] I just…I don’t…
GC: Sit down, Sammy.
SW: I – okay…
GC: Have another sip.
SW: Thank you.
GC: There, there. That’s a good lad.
SW: I know I shouldn’t be shocked, but somehow I am…every time…every single…I don’t know…
GC: Hey, did I ever tell you the story about Judy on Star is Born?
SW: No. This is my first hallucination.
GC: Ah. Well, toward the end of shooting we had to do a scene when she’s in a state of total depression after her husband’s suicide. Do you remember the scene?
GC: Keep drinking. Breathe through your nose.
SW: What –
GC: While we lined it up Judy just sat there, very preoccupied….Just before the take I said to her very quietly, “You know what this is about. You really know this.” She gave me a look, and I knew she was thinking, “He wants me to dig into myself because I know all about this in my own life.” That was all. We did a take. And she got up and screamed like someone out of control, maniacal and terrifying….She had no concern with what she looked like, she went much further than I’d expected, and I thought it was great…
SW: Did you –
GC: When it was over, I said to Judy, “You really scared the hell out of me.” She was very pleased, and she didn’t realize what an effect she’d made. And then — she was always funny, she had this great humor — she said, “Oh, that’s nothing. Come over to my house any afternoon. I do it every afternoon.”
SW: Wow. Tell me another one.
GC: [Chuckles] Some other time, perhaps.
SW: Please, George?
GC: I’m pretty tired and there are a lot of other filmgoers I have to get to before – put down the knife!
SW: I’m going to do it!
GC: Put it down!
SW: I swear, George! This time I’m serious!