It's not often I meet famous people. I mean, there was Lizo Mzimba, four fifths of Hear'say, Lloyd Grossman, Stingray from Neighbours, Jermaine Jackson at Harrods once...Warwick Davies twice. Like I said, it's not often I meet famous people.
A few Thursdays ago I had an encounter which was no exception, so please don't get excited. To set the scene, I was out with a friend at a club/bar. (N.B. I'm not a massively clubbing barring type, but occasionally I have found myself unexpectedly out of an evening, at a club and/or bar. I think the place in question is more of a club than a bar, but I'm not sure. If anyone knows the parameters/key differences, do fill me in - There's a comments section.)
Anyway, I was having an okay time, and felt like stirring up some conversation. Whilst in the little outside smoking area patio with a friend, we were introduced to an American named John. After exchanging brief pleasantries, he told my friend and I that he was a screen writer, although he didn't seem too forthcoming with the details of his work.
"Anything I might have seen?" is generally the 'go to' question for laymen such as myself when speaking to people in the movie business, and he responded by telling us about how he'd written a film called 'A Mighty Heart' that hadn't done too well at box office. It was clearly no 'Night at the Museum 2' as I had no recollection of the film, asking him if he was mistaken and had in fact meant 'Crazy Heart' or 'A Mighty Wind'. Probably not the best question to ask a Hollywood screen writer with cool glasses, but at least it got him to drop the bomb, revealing that he'd also written extensively for Steven Spielberg's 'Band of Brothers' AND had a CGI film about owls coming out (!).
Now that he'd cemented his legendary status in our minds as well as his own, conversation began flowing. We started to bounce around opinions about films and their stars, and when we got onto the subject of our favourite British actors, John beckoned a friend of his over to join us.
The friend in question seemed jovial, and as we were already on the subject of British actors, he asked me who I'd put in my top five. (un)Luckily for him, this is a topic that I often go over and over in my head, almost as if practicing for this very conversation, so I was immediately ready with a few names, that I think you'll agree more than earn a place at the table of champi(gn)ons.
In no particular order:
Tim Curry (1946 - now)
Greatest roles: The hotel manager in 'Home Alone 2', Wadsworth in 'Clue', Pennywise in 'It', Lord Greville Boynton in 'Agatha Christie's Poirot: Appointment with Death.'
John Hannah (1962 - now)
Greatest roles: Jonathan Carnahan in 'The Mummy', Jonathan Carnahan in 'The Mummy Returns', Jonathan Carnahan in 'The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor', Dr Gerard in 'Agatha Christie's Poirot: Appointment with Death.'
Christopher Eccleston (1964 - now)
Greatest roles: Stephen Baxter in The Second Coming, Seminar Leader in eXistenZ, Frank Carter in Agatha Christie's Poirot: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
David Suchet (1946 - now)
Greatest roles: A bigfoot hunter in Harry and the Hendersons, all 62 episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot.
But before I could think of number five (looking back, it would have had to be Sean Bean for the win), or get on to the finer points of Curry's performance in Muppet Treasure Island, I realised that I kind of recognised the guy we were talking to. Not John who we'd met first, but his friend who was also wearing cool glasses). It slowly dawned on me that I'd seen him in loads of films, but I couldn't quite put my finger on his name.
Identifying him was especially hard with the glasses he was wearing. I've included an artist's impression of what I saw that night:
As I'd only named four out of my five favourite British actors thus far, it dawned on me that if I managed to find out this guy's name, there might be a 7/10 punchline available to me a few minutes down the line in the conversation. So I waited for the duo to get distracted and then leaned over to my friend to whisper something along the lines of "I swear this guy's in Harry Potter and the 2006 Omen re-make, what's his name again?" ... I was pretty sure that the response I heard was "David Lewis" although looking back I'm not so sure.
But being the 'upset everyone, ask questions later' guy that I am, I went straight in for the grand finale, expecting high fives and roars of laughter all around me.
"My fifth favourite British actor is a guy you probably haven't heard of, but I think he's pretty special - he's called David Lewis".
After a few seconds, David Thewlis scratched his head and replied - "David Lewis?...does he play the dad in Billy Eliot?"
i've moved on.
6 years ago