I've been basically enjoying Galavant. It's a bit more thin than I'd prefer, but done with a lot of exuberance, and some of it is quite funny. The songs, while nothing memorable, have been generally witty and tuneful. And so it was with interesting on Sunday when they introduced the evil king's even more evil older brother. I looked at the screen and though, "Oh, yipes, that's Rutger Hauer."
You may recall the actor, who first became known in the U.S in the Dutch film, Soldier of Orange, and then got Hollywood attention in Blade Runner. I haven't seen seen him in films for a long while, which is actually okay, since we had worked together many years ago on The Hitcher and...well, let's just say we didn't get along. To be fair, it was more one-sided. I got along pretty well with the fellow, and quite liked him up until it became clear that he seemed to hate me and everything I did and stood for in life. At that point, I must admit my opinion changed.
I thought we'd gotten on fine. I was the unit publicist on the film, and Rutger played the demonic murderous title character. During the course of filming, I had became friendly with a couple of guys on the production, one was Rutger's stand-in, and the other his assistant (or videographer, keeping a recorded journal) he'd brought over from Holland. We'd do things on our days off, and occasionally Rutger would join us. It was a nice, fun group -- until it wasn't. (I did stay on very friendly terms with the other two.)
Without getting into too many details, the issue seemed to be that I liked joking around with people, and apparently Rutger didn't like to get joked around with all that much. Or didn't like my jokes. One day I definitely went too far with a silly quip -- and I realized it almost immediately after. and I went up to him the next day and apologized. I said my joke hadn't come across like it was intended, I had felt terrible about the hard day of filming he'd had, which is what I'd tried to get across, but said it all wrong, and I was sorry. (For readers of this site who've put up with my treatises on apologies, you can see that this is not just something I write about today, but believe in and have long lived by...) I thought that my apology was a thoughtful, nice thing to do. It turned out that an apology wasn't good enough, though. There was all the joking that had built up during the course of the film, and even though I explained that I joked with all the people in our group, not just him -- and did so specifically because I liked them all, and liked him, and only quipped irreverently with people I liked -- alas, that was no good. From that point on, I could do no right.
By the way, even at the time, I wracked my brain trying to figure out what on earth other jokes had been bothersome, since, as I said, I had liked him. But life is whimsical. So, from the passage of a few decades, I just can't help out there.
Happily, I seemed to get along well with everyone else on the crew. I wrote about my experiences on the movie a while back here, and though the film was too creepy for my taste, and though we filmed for two months out in the middle of godforsaken nowhere in the California desert, it remains one of my more enjoyable movie sets. The two months wandering the desert with loooong daily drives included several offbeat shopping excursions with Jennifer Jason Leigh; pleasant chats with the main star C. Thomas Howell and his friendly, talented acting coach who he'd brought along for moral support, Larry Moss, now one of the top coaches for the New York stage; a memorable day-off when a van of us went into Joshua Tree National Monument, and being given a great, floppy outback hat that our wonderful Oscar-winning Australian cinematographer John Seale gave me, simply because I'd said how much I liked it. (I still have it...)
Several months after the movie ended, I was hired to do the publicity on another film, a modern-day updated film version of a classic TV western, Wanted: Dead or Alive. They told me about the movie, the logistics and that it would star Rutger Hauer. I decided to be fair to these good people, and so I explained that it was quite possible that their star might not want to work with me. I could have kept my mouth shut, but since they'd been nice enough to offer me a job, I didn't want to be the cause of any friction on the set. They said they'd check into it. A few days later they called back to say I was right and were sorry but had to hire someone else instead.
His career as a leading Hollywood star didn't last long after our "parting" (cause-and-effect? It's not for me to say...), but he's had a very long and successful career in supporting roles that's continued over the next 30 years. And so, there he was in the four-part musical Galavant, making his introduction right before the end of episode 3, leading into next week's big finale, as the even-more evil brother of an evil king.
My second thought was, hey, he had a guitar on the set. I wonder if he'll sing?
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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