I have to tell you, there are those days when you have a random encounter with someone and it just makes your day so memorable. I had that while running into Joss Whedon the other day and Jack has just shared this fun encounter he ha running into Spock, Leonard Maltin, and more!
Random! I love it. I also love Melissa Leo who is simply one of the coolest people in Hollywood. She simply is awesome. I’ve met her a couple times and she has always taken time with fans.
Check out Jack’s full report after the jump!
Barry Zito, Spock and Leonard Maltin walk into a movie theater. This might sound farfetched, but this was my Wednesday night. A few weeks ago my friend and I attended a screening of Francine, an independent film starring Melissa Leo, who plays a recently released convict living in rural New York. Two days before its “official” opening weekend, Francine played at the NoHo Laemmle with a Q&A followed by Melissa Leo. Immediately I was excited as Leo is one of my favorite character actresses around and I love her bold choices in roles. Whether it’s her TV appearances (Louie, Veronica Mars or Treme) or gritty roles (21 Grams and Frozen River), Melissa Leo is no stranger to unique choices. This was sure to be an interesting night.
My friend is scolding me that he is missing the World Series with his Giants playing. Rest assured, throughout the night he continually reminds me about this. I arrive 20 minutes later than my friend, who has been waiting outside the movie theater watching the game on his phone. Zito has pitched magnificently up to this point and the Giants have a 6-0 lead in the top of the 6th.
“Jack, you better realize how awesome I am to be missing the Giants right now,” he said upon my arrival. We agreed to visit The Federal down the street to grab drinks and food afterwards to actually catch up.
Throughout the night, we both commented on the game as we constantly updated the game on our phones. When we walked into the theater about 30 minutes early, we joked with a couple about “not knowing where to sit” and decided to pick a nice aisle seat in the middle section. After buying sodas and popcorn for us, a few more people joined us (less than 10 total) after I walked in from the concessions. As people began trickling in, Jack McGee (The Fighter and Rescue Me), noteworthy film critic Leonard Maltin and even Zachary Quinto (freaking Spock from Star Trek) walked into the theater along with some minor comedians/actors (There are about 20 to 30 people now). Right before showtime, producer Joshua Blum (Executive Producer for Margin Call and Wendy and Lucy) introduced himself along with Melissa Leo (literally in front of us) thanking us for coming out. It was then revealed Leonard Maltin would be conducting the Q&A.
Melissa spoke first and appreciated all of us for supporting “this independent film.” Blum then joked about the intimate audience. Blum said, “I wouldn’t normally say this, but since we practically know almost all of you, everyone is more than welcome to join us at The Federal after the screening for drinks. For those that we don’t know personally, let’s get to know each other and please feel free to introduce yourselves. Until then, enjoy.”
Francine opens up with the titular character (Melissa Leo) being released from prison and her awkward assimilation back into the real world. Along the way, she struggles finding a job and connecting with people. Her best relationships tend to be with animals, especially cats and dogs, which most of her new friends struggle to comprehend. Despite being a loner, Francine feels content with her new “free” lifestyle, but slips back into bad habits. Francine is a film with minimal dialogue and possesses interesting cinematography, but is a film for only the truly independent filmgoer, who embraces unique and distinct films. The film is only 74 minutes and most of the audience had mixed feelings.
Afterwards, Melissa Leo and Leonard Maltin head down to the front row and sit down to conduct the Q&A. Only one person is remotely close to them while everyone else is sitting in the middle of the theater. During the Q&A we learned the following:
-Leo answered an internet posting and that’s how she discovered Francine
-She get’s recognized now more for her “Louie” appearance than “The Fighter.”
-The film was shot in the Hudson Valley (New York) a.k.a. her own backyard so that appealed to her
-She liked that the film possessed very little dialogue
-Almost everyone in the film had almost no acting experience
-There was no script, merely an outline, so everything was improvised
-She enjoyed playing a challenging role and didn’t have a problem with full frontal nudity
Once the screening was done, only one other person approached Melissa Leo for an autograph and asked her a question. When my chance came up, I asked about which animal was the most difficult to work with and it turned out to be the first cat seen in the movie. She then graciously signed my Fighter Blu-ray and my DVD of Frozen River.
While signing my copy of The Fighter, she suggested I get Jack McGee to sign my Blu-ray and got him to sign my slip case instead since Leo signed in a dark spot with a blue Sharpie (Don’t want to ruin an autograph).
Melissa Leo is easily one of the kindest people I have met all year and I totally regret not taking a picture with her. However, when there is hardly anyone around (and it’s primarily only celeb friends) I feel weird asking for a picture. While leaving, my friend and I passed Zachary Quinto and all the other minor celebs, but were too preoccupied with food to say anything. Sure enough, when we arrived at The Federal, the “Francine” group minus Melissa Leo and Jack McGee walked inside maybe 10 minutes later. Shortly thereafter, some friends joined us from the Brickyard and we had a fun night catching up. Overall, three autographs, saw an interesting film and had a wonderful time at The Federal…plus Barry Zito pitched a great game to lead the Giants for their first World Series win of the year and eventual World Series title. Until the next time, happy autograph hunting!
Share on Facebook