Why I think "the force" is with us.
The Timing Of This Project is Heaven Sent
Now, some of you might be thinking, "That's just stupid. There's no such thing as the "the force" or God or any of that crap. She's just lucky." Okay, maybe you're right. None the less, I'm going to tell you about two incidents that are unexplainable.
A mutual friend had introduced Diane Keaton and I way back in the day when we were just starting out. I've always loved her work. Flash forward to two years ago. I had some investors over for dinner and the conversation turned to product placement. And I mentioned that Diane had given Ralph Lauren a boost by wearing some of his clothes for the poster of Annie Hall.
The next morning, I walked out of Starbucks and Diane was standing in front of me and she was wearing her wardrobe from the Annie Hall poster. What?! What are the chances??? Zero!! Less than zero! We chatted. I told her I'd been writing and producing and asked her if I could send her "Christmas Wishes". There was a star cameo role in that script that she is perfect for. She couldn't have been nicer. I sent it to her agent but didn't hear from her. Obviously, she had no interest in a star cameo role.
I decided to write a script especially for her. Something that came from the essence of who she is... Joy. I began writing "Finding Joy". I described her character as JOY RICHMAN an absolutely lovely woman, the nicest person you could ever meet. So what was her character flaw? I gave her my character flaw. She was just too nice. She'd do anything to avoid a fight.
When I thought of the perfect husband for her, Pierce Brosnan immediately came to mind. We knew each other briefly while we were in Red Devil Battery Sign at the Round House in London. A terrific actor. A great guy. An honest guy. I've always wanted to write a sensational role for him. I think I have.
So I started working away on the story. A deep, rich multifaceted character for his business partner emerges. I named him Dustin Gamble. Grant and Dustin own Gamble & Richman Pharmaceuticals. He has to be strong enough to go head to head with Grant and also have the wisdom and sensitivity to help Joy. All three of them are extremely intelligent and all three roles had to be perfectly balanced.
When I write, it's like I'm in the room with my characters. I know what everyone in the scene is saying, what they're not saying, and what they're thinking. And I see everything in the scene, especially their faces, but I couldn't see Dustin's. I could see Dustin from the back but not his face. Soooo frustrating. I got up and went to PF Chang's for lunch.
The hostess takes me all the way across the dining room to seat me. I could feel someone looking at me. I sat down, looked up, and saw a man staring at me. I thought, "I know that man. He's an actor. I've worked with him before. I smiled and nodded. He smiled and nodded. I looked down at my menu and started rifling back through the films I had been in -- but I couldn't place him.
Then it hit me. "Jill! You haven't worked with him! That's Anthony Hopkins and he's your Dustin!" My mind went blank. Totally blank. I thought, "Jill, this is a godsend. Don't mess this up!" I kept my eyes glued to the menu, trying to remember his name but I couldn't.
After what seemed like a year in limbo I thought, "Jill! Pull yourself together and go over to talk to him, now! So I walked all the way across that dining room not knowing his name or knowing what I was going to say.
When I got to his table, he looked up at me with eyes that look into your soul. Quietly I said, "May I have a moment of your time?" He said, "Of course, sit down!" and offered his hand. I took it. He said, "Oh, pardon me. I've got butter all over my hand. I've been eating Edamame." I said, "It's fine. It doesn't matter." I introduced myself and told him about Finding Joy and said, "There is an absolutely wonderful part in it for you. May I send it to you?
"Yes, I'd love to read it. Send it to Jeremy Barber at UTA." I said, "Thank you so much." "Remember! It's Jeremy Barber at UTA." "Yes, I'll remember. I don't want to interrupt your lunch any longer. Thank you, again." I went back to my table.
He finished his lunch and left. I finished my lunch and asked for the bill. The waitress came over and said, "Mr. Hopkins bought your lunch for you."
And that is why I think, the force is with us.