Usually at flashy red-carpet events, it’s the dashing young
actors that everyone wants to talk to. Not so at the premiere of Steven
Spielberg’s latest feature film, War Horse. While it proved easy to get in a
chat with the movie’s strapping British stars, like Jeremy Irvine and
Toby Kebbell, its mega-famous director was mighty difficult to catch.
My two fellow print
reporters and I tried as we could to grab him as he came down the press line,
but due to a combination of our neighbor, a time-squandering BBC News TV
reporter who seemed to like the sound of his voice, and an unhelpful aging
publicist who resembled a Gringotts goblin, our attempts at scoring a juicy
quote were fruitless.
topic that bore slightly more fruit was decidedly carnivorous—the fact that
Congress had just lifted a ban on horse meat, which of course was relevant
considering the main character in War Horse is a steed named Joey. I say
slightly more fruit because the spectrum of answers from the assembled cast
members and their famous friends ran from an instant “God no!” to “You’re
former came out of the young actress Celine Buckens’ mouth, the latter
from dashing Brit Tom HIddleston’s. I also asked Buckens, who makes her
debut in the movie playing a French girl named Emilie and had never visited New
York before, for the top five things she wanted to do in the city: “Oh! I’ve got to go to
Central Park, do a little shopping, got to go see – walk down 5th
Avenue. I’ve got to go to the Empire State Building. One last thing… go to
Dylan’s Candy Bar!”
congratulated her on omitting Times Square as a destination, like a real New
Yorker would, and moved onto Hiddleston, who said he’d been here many a time. He
seemed determined to give me the name of a restaurant he’d loved down in the
East Village, even as I wanted to make the most of our brief red-carpet
rendezvous and move on. “Aha!” he said, having found the relevant memory starter
in his Blackberry. “Lil Frankies.”
Unlike Hiddleston, guest of
honor Tony Danza did not seem to want to cooperate—or help—us reporters.
After a press buddy of mine asked whether it’s too hard for him to have animals
because he gets attached to them and then they die, he said: “It really is.
You’re going to make me start crying about Harry, and then Harry and George. We
humans get attached to them, and they become family members, and unfortunately
their life spans are even shorter than ours. I don’t even want to go there. It’s
on the other side of the e-ticket ride.”
was lost at this point, and I think my friend was too. “You’re not listening to
me,” the Boss accused my friend. She insisted she was. “This is like
Interviewing 101 right here,” he said, exasperated. Then she stumbled by asking
if Tony would ever go on Broadway, given that this is a movie adapted from a
B’way play… adapted from a book.
“Would I ever go on
Broadway?” Tony said, shaking his head. “That’s it. Fuhgeddaboutit.” She
backpedaled, telling him she knew he’d been on Broadway before but wanted to
know if he’ll “ever go in the future.”
“Too late,” he said,
addressing her by name. “You didn’t listen, and you did a bad question. I gave
you a shot too.” When it came time for him to give me a shot, I asked what it
was like to work with Lady Gaga in her Thanksgiving special.
“Zero for two!” he exclaimed
and walked off, and I instantly knew it was Tony Bennett who did the Special,
not Mr. Danza. So between my last name mix-up and my lady friend’s ill-phrased
question, we had struck out.
Tony Danza’s a tough crowd,
despite his soft exterior. He may have brought pink tissues to this premiere
knowing that Spielberg was going to make him cry, and he definitely has
a soft spot for animals, but it was us reporters who wanted to cry after he
wouldn’t excuse our garbled questions.