The Meeting Room
My Spacey Day (or, How I Almost Got Run Over By a Hollywood Actor on a Zappy and Lived to Tell About It)” by Meisje
If May 11th is any indication of how future Tribeca Film Festivals are going to be, count me in for infinity.
I arrived in Battery Park City around 11 a.m. to catch an early movie. When it ended at about 1 p.m. after a brief Q&A session with its director and actors, it was time for lunch and I needed a pick-me-up. I walked around the little park in front of the movie theater. I finally decided on the Pick-A-Bagel (apt name) and bought an onion bagel with cream cheese. Sitting on an empty stone bench against the fence I noshed on my lunch while I people-watched. It was a beautiful day and all these families with little kids were milling around.
Well, I finished up my bagel (and it was a darn good one), and crumpled the bag up and got up to throw it in the trash. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a motor coming from my left. Instinctively I stopped and stepped back to let a man on a motorized scooter whiz past through the narrow, curving lane between the benches. But as he passed by me, missing me by about a foot, I stared up at him. He was wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a beige suede jacket. And as I watched him deftly avoid some small children running down the lane by quick stops and turns of the scooter, I said under my breath, “Holy CRAP. That’s KEVIN.”
For a while I stood there watching him dash away. Then I had the urge to follow him. I was no match for the speed of his scooter, but I did manage to see him zoom away down the street — which, by the way, was under construction and filled with vehicles and pedestrians. He was very agile and didn’t hit a thing. Or didn’t get hit. It was such a funny sight to see him zip away across the street and down the opposite sidewalk towards Greenwich. I went back to the movie theater, laughing to myself, hysterical almost, completely amazed that I was almost run over by the one and only Kevin Spacey on his Zappy. I had finally joined the elite few.
I then met up with three other Spacey fans for a 3:00 screening of “Uncle Frank” (and I will forever be grateful to them for providing an extra ticket), a documentary which Kevin had helped to produce. We seated ourselves in the movie theater at about 2:30. There were two rows in the front of the center section that were reserved. We considered sitting behind those rows, but then we changed our minds and went down to the front section and sat in the last row. At about a quarter to three, the theater started filling up. We listened to conversations between various people: the director, some producers, other people involved in the film, etc. Even the documentary’s stars, the elderly gent Frank and his wife Tillie, were there. Finally, Kevin very quietly and unassumingly made his appearance.
We turned around in our seats. Indeed, he was there. Baseball cap and all. The man who had nearly run me over on his Zappy. I muttered, “Do you realize we are in the presence of genius?” And we were. We tried hard not to stare, but we could barely contain our excitement. But we did a good job of it. I must speak for myself that even though I regard Kevin with the utmost admiration worthy of a demi-god, seeing him like this made him real, and yes, NORMAL, to me. But of course, I thought his close-cropped haircut looked incredibly cute. I then wished we’d taken the middle seats so I could admire his bald spot.
The film itself was beyond words. Such a heartfelt, sweet, touching, moving testament to life and living it. The relationship between Frank and his wife and his commitment to helping those in nursing homes, even when his own health was at risk, was uplifting. The honest humor — and the comments from Tillie in the theater! — was hilarious!
After the movie, and after resounding applause, there was a Q&A session. The director, Matthew Ginsburg, introduced its producers. Last but not least was Kevin, and he joined them on the floor. Again, he did not seem the high-profile Hollywood actor, but just a normal everyday joe. Matthew then introduced Frank and Tillie, and they came down to the floor while the entire audience gave them a standing ovation. They were such a sweet old couple!
The Q&A session was lively and spirited. There was much laughter from everyone. At one point while Kevin had the microphone, thanking Frank and Tillie, he turned on the charm in the blink of an eye. He suavely took Tillie’s hand, she turned into a giggling schoolgirl, Frank mock-jealously wagged his finger at her, and the audience laughed and applauded. She then stood with her hand hooked around his arm. It was all so CUTE.
Then it was time for the meet and greet. Almost the entire crowd came down to talk to them. Like I always do for some reason, I held back, panicking over what exactly I should do and say. The fear of turning into a babbling Idiot Girl struck me cold.
I dug out my Sharpie and the “Uncle Frank” promo postcard. But I was torn over what I should say to Kevin. I looked over at other people getting their pictures taken. I then decided that I couldn’t do that. Not with what I felt I had to tell him. It would have been awkward. Either I was becoming more resolute and clear-headed, or the adrenaline was finally kicking in.
Suddenly I saw that Kevin was moving away from the crowd and other official-looking people were talking to him and pointing towards the exit. I freaked out, I was so scared, but I HAD TO DO THIS.
Functioning on auto-pilot, I came up sort of behind him and said to his shoulder, my voice cracking, “Sir? Mr. Spacey? Kevin??”
He then heard me and he turned to me.
“Yes?” he said. Almost cold and abrupt.
I died again.
His (gorgeous) hazel eyes stared straight into mine. I gaped wordlessly at him for a few seconds, having lost the power of speech. I’m pretty sure he saw the complete and utter shock and fear (and perhaps rigor mortis) on my face. I managed to spurt, “Can I just please shake your hand?”
His expression and tone softened. “Oh, sure, of course.”
And he held out his hand and I took it, and I nearly wanted to remove it and take it home with me. Maybe even with the rest of Kevin attached, too. But once he realized I had something to say to him, he continued to hold my hand and looked at me straight in the eye. This does not help me if I’m trying to form coherent sentences. “Uhh,” I began like a total nutcase, “I–I–I’m sorry, I’m just really starstruck right now and I can’t think of anything to say to you at the moment because my head is actually about to explode.”
He laughed (HE LAUGHED!) and said, “Oh, don’t be, it’s okay.” Yeah. Right. Like THAT was going to help. I suddenly dropped into serious mode and managed to tell him what I really thought about him, and what I needed to say to him since the day I fell for him. He was still holding my hand and looking me straight in the eye, his face calm and passive. But as I spoke, I couldn’t look at him directly for too long and merely glanced up at him a couple of times.
His eyes were too much for me. I thanked him for being my inspiration, and he very sincerely thanked me for saying so. He gave my hand a final squeeze. “No, thank YOU,” I said. And then I let him go. And that was it.
Excuse me, I have to go soak my head in a bucket of cold water. Eventually we left the theater, quite high on our experiences. A strange feeling washed up on me. That feeling of “You’ve waited so long for this–you’ve done it–now what?” kind of thing. But I was so amazed and thankful, because for once, fate was on my side. Things could not have been more perfect. I mean come on: almost getting run over by Kevin on his scooter, AND shaking his hand and telling him what he means to you, in the SAME DAY? For me, it doesn’t get better than this.
How I met Kevin Spacey by Mary Calhoun
I met Kevin Spacey three years ago. What was it like? Well first, let me tell you a bit about what happened. I finally got tickets for my best friend and I to go see the play. I ADORE Kevin. He’s the one man who can walk into a room and literally take my breath away! Anyway, we went to NY, saw the play, stood at the back of the crowd and came home the next day. I move up a few people and he leaned over my left shoulder to sign a photo. His face was two inches from mine. I nearly died. Anyway, we get back home that Sunday and there is a message on my answering machine, “Kevin Spacey would like for you to come backstage to meet him after the play”. Message was left Friday. I got it on Sunday. I live alone, my family have all passed away and I’ve never married so no children. There was no one to call and relay the message. I cried and cried.
After pulling myself together I called his assistant back and asked if we could do this again the next weekend. So my friend and I flew back to NY the following Friday. By then I was really sick (I have systemic lupus) and the heat and travel caused me to swell and have to use my cane to walk. Two braces on my knees. My meds had added weight to me and my face. I felt like an ugly duckling. We went to the theater around 10:30 p.m. to stand near the door. When we arrived we saw Kevin looking out the door. I was terrified. I tried to talk my friend into portraying me for the moment because I looked so horrible from the illness and meds. I was terrified he would walk into the room and would turn away from the sickly site of me. Anyway, the man at the door said, “Oh, we’ve been waiting for you” and said Kevin had just looked out the back door to see if we had arrived yet. Then I was scared. We sat in the green room listening to him give his final speech over the intercom and then he walked to the back door past us. I almost fainted. He stopped in the door and said, “Mary?” and I went deaf. I stood up, he hugged me, and we had a photo taken. Then we spent fifteen minutes with Kevin talking about life, the play, his plans later after the play, my life. He was so compassionate and understanding and never once looked at me like I was a sick pathetic soul. I actually felt like Cinderella. Before he had to go back onstage for bows, he took my hand in his and covered it with the other, held it a moment and kissed my hand and thanked me for coming all the way back from S. Alabama just to meet him. I found out also that the week before he sent someone into the crowd to look for me and couldn’t find me anywhere. He went to great lengths for this to happen to me.
I have only one regret. My friend says I’m silly, but he asked what we were doing on Sunday before leaving for home that evening. We said we were going to the museum. He said he hadn’t been to the museum in a long long time. Normally, I would have said, “Come go with us”, but I didn’t because of who he was. Now I regret at least not saying it….why didn’t I say it? It was indeed the most beautiful moment of my life and I will treasure it always. I think about it when I go for medical tests for my lupus, or am in the emergency room or hospital. He is my positive thought. I’ll never be able to repay him for what he did for me that day. He has a wonderfully big heart, is extremely intelligent, and has the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. Someone asked how I got the photo signed. Well, this didn’t happen till almost three years later. A friend of mine’s aunt played bridge with Kevin’s mom. The aunt told her my story and how I forgot to get an autograph when backstage. Mrs. Fowler told me to send it to her and she’d take care of it. I sent it, a letter to her, and a sase envelope to return it in. About two months ago, the photo arrived back to me autographed and sent back from Kevin. So I guess this story was a Trilogy of sorts.
April 30, 2002
If you want to add your Spacey meeting to the page, you can email it to me. Use Meeting Room as the subject header. Liss@drivingmrspacey.com