Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Max Cherry makes good.

Ordell Robbie: This you and me talking, is this like a lawyer-client thing, and you can't repeat nothing I tell you?
Max Cherry: You're not my client until you get busted and I bond you out.
Ordell Robbie: Well, if we ain't got no - what's that shit called? - confidentiality, why should I tell you a thing?
Max Cherry: Because you want me to know what a slick guy you are. You got stewardesses bringing you fifty grand.
Ordell Robbie: Now why would a stewardess be bringing me fifty grand?
Max Cherry: Now you want me to speculate on what you do. My guess is you're in the drug business, except the money's moving the wrong way. Whatever you're into, you seem to be getting away with it, so more power to you.

Those of you that follow this blog with any regularity know that I often talk about the deep amount of artistic talent that is in Rochester. It still never ceases to amaze that for a city of about 210,00 people, it has as much to do artistically in proportion to its size as NYC does. We have a saying here that if you're bored, it's your own fault.

In addition to the great artistic groups, especially the theatre groups, the individual talent is striking. Many have gone on to very successful careers as actors, or in the technical theatre arena. Some have even hit the big time, such as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Taye Diggs, and Kristin Wigg.

Enter Robert Forster. Does the name ring a bell? If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino, in particular of "Jackie Brown," then you'll know that Forster played bail bondsman Max Cherry, who runs afoul of Samuel L. Jackson while trying to help out Pam Grier. The role got Forster nominated for an Academy Award, and while he didn't win it, it revitalized his career. You may have seen him recently on "Heroes," in a recurring role as one of the main character's father.

Forster is also a Rochester native, and was back in town last week to help celebrate the 80th anniversary of The Little Theatre. Known locally as simply "the Little," it is the art house movie theatre here in Rochester, and known for getting many independent films prior to their distribution to the bigger movie conglomerates. It is also a place where Forster spent a lot of his time as a youth, when he wasn't acting on stage around town.

His first film role was with Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor, and if that wasn't enough, he was directed by John Huston, "Reflections In A Golden Eye." More on that later.

Forster received an award from The Little Theatre board of directors for his contributions to film and his support of the Little over the years. The Little also had a special screening of Jackie Brown one evening that was preceded with a talk by Forster, interviewed by noted movie critic Jack Garner.

Forster still has many old friends in the area, many of whom I am friendly with, and one of whom directed me in a play last year. He had breakfast with Forster the day before the Jackie Brown screening, and he mentioned that Blackfriars had built a new theatre, and Forster seemed very interested, as he had attended plays at Blackfriars, though he never acted with us. I began to wonder if he would like a tour of the new theatre, if he had time in his schedule.

I'm friendly with the head of the Little, and asked him if he could arrange an introduction to Forster, after explaining why. He said "Sure, no problem, I think Robert would like that!" I came to the Jackie Brown screening, early enough to catch the interview, and was introduced to Forster. He was, as I had heard about, the nicest guy you could imagine. For all his fame, he has retained a down to earth quality that some lose after gaining a lot of recognition.

He remembered Blackfriars well, and was excited to learn about the new theatre. He peppered me with questions about where we moved from, and what the current seating capacity of the new theatre is. He was pleased to learn that it was smaller, at 126 seats. This seems to be the trend in NYC and LA, to go smaller, not bigger. I asked him about a tour, and while he really wanted to do it, he didn't think he would have the time on this trip. I was expecting as much, as I kind of figured he would be booked up, but he then asked for my contact information so that he could arrange a visit next time he's in town. He comes back fairly often, as two of his daughters still reside here in Rochester, as well as his grandkids.

When the time came for the interview, he gave a great talk, and did a dead on impression of John Huston, recounting the story of his audition. He had never done a movie at that point, and it was his straightforward honesty with Huston that got him the role.

I'm looking forward to the possibility of showing Forster the new Blackfriars when he's in town next. Until then, I'll just remember Max's best line:

I'm 56 years old. I can't blame anybody else for something I did.


Gaston Studio said...

I do like Robert Forster but think Philip Seymour Hoffman is a genius!

Mr. Nighttime said...

Gaston - Funny you should say that, as that is what Forster thinks too...He said that he thought Hoffman was in a class by himself.

Bina said...

I LOVE the Jackie Brown movie and I remember the scene you put up there. GREAT movie!

And wow, you got to meet him! I'm so happy for you.