Friday, October 21, 2005

Do You Want To Play A Game? (Part II)

The StareIf you’ve ever seen Super Mario Bros., you’ll probably remember the scene where Mario & Luigi push Koopa into the devo chair and zap him back a few million years. Or maybe you’ve seen it and chose to block it out. At any rate, as everyone is pushing each other around, you’ll notice a large greenish brown splotch of ooze on the floor. You never get to see where it comes from. It’s just there.

That’s me. I’m the slime.

Now, several people have who have studied the film’s continuity have speculated on the origin of the goo on the floor. But here’s the real scoop -- The way the scene was supposed to have played out.

By this time, Koopa is making his point about the importance of cleanliness and sanitary conditions. (Too many personal hygiene films in school, I guess) While he’s explaining all this to the plumbers, I’m busily pushing buttons and pulling levers in the background. I suddenly let out a sneeze and Koopa turns on me in a flash saying “You’re sick!” I tell him it’s just the dust or something, and he tells me to “sit in the big chair and we’ll fix you right up.”

That there is some world class story building. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Koopa pushes me back into the devo chair and hits the button, metal straps pop around my wrists, and the chair starts moving backward toward the big flashy time transformer thingy. Meanwhile, Koopa is going on and on about how everything evolved from primordial slime and how this amazing invention can zap any living creature all the way back and anywhere in between.

So, to make a long story short, I come back from the big flashy thing as a large mess of gloop which oozes all over the floor, thereby providing our heroes with a method of knocking Koopa and his Goombas off balance, sending him to a time trip in the devo chair while making their escape to rescue the princess.

What a flippin' mess.

That’s the way the scene was supposed to go. I was really psyched about getting to do some dialogue with Dennis Hopper and made sure I had the lines down perfectly before our first run-through. You actors out there know that while memorizing your own lines, you inadvertently end up learning your scene partner’s lines as well. By the time we were ready to start setting up the shot, I could play out all parts of the entire scene in my head.

Now, after our brief run-in at the hair trailer, I had formulated the following impression of Dennis:
  • The man is a little scary
  • The man is a little lost
  • The man had a little too much fun in the 60s…and the 70s…and most likely the 80s.
Finally, it’s time to start shooting. We’d already blocked out the scene with scripts in hand and knew all the movements. Dennis and I are ready to make movie magic. Mr. AD yells “action” and we start.

Dennis does his line.

I do my line.

Dennis does his line.

I do my line.

What happens next takes me completely off guard. Dennis just freezes and hits me with the second in his arsenal of deadly stares. This one, however, is much different from the first. This one is a lost and confused stare. I’ve seen this stare in only two other situations before this moment. The first occasion was with an elderly relative who was struggling to figure out who the hell I was as she slipped rapidly into senility. The other was when a fellow actor had absolutely no idea what his next line was.

Since this seems to fall under the latter example, I’m faced with a bit of a dilemma. Should I wait for Dennis to remember the line? Or should I be bold and feed the guy his next line? Suddenly, my brain goes into “WTF” mode and I feed him the line. That snaps him out of his gaze and he continues as the AD cuts the scene.

This happens again and again as I feed him line after line. Finally, after over a dozen takes, he nails it. The AD quickly wraps that shot, eager to get it over with so he can beg his agent to get him out of this disaster of a project.

After the shoot, I get out of my Devo duds and rejoin my wife, who is receiving a demo of the operation of the Goomba head puppet.

“I’m done. Let’s go home,” I say.

We drive the five hours back to Norfolk and flop down on the couch, satisfied that the whole messy ordeal is finally behind us.

Or so we thought… (Cue spooky music)

Continue to Part III