Around that time, you did that Steven Seagal movie, Out for Justice, which is a fine film. No, it’s not. That’s a perfect example. I did that so I could continue to do theater. I was doing so many plays, and I worked on that film for two days, and it paid me enough to pay my rent for a couple of months. I wasn’t making a cent doing theater. I did that film to feed my theater habit. It’s not like I was doing that because I thought I wanted to work with Steven Seagal in this high-art film.

No, no sane person could think that. But then the next year you were in Robert Altman’s The Player. I didn’t even have a part in The Player. But Altman, we met, and he was like, “You should be in the movie.” “What part will I play?” Because they had cast all the main parts. And he said, “We’ll just make it up.” So we made it up as we went along. I feel blessed and fortunate to have worked with Robert Altman. He was incredible.

You’re in that famous eight-minute shot that starts The Player. Do you remember feeling any pressure not to mess up the take? No, what I remember of that scene is that I was supposed to work for two weeks. But, there was only one day where one of my best friends was getting married. And, when he said, “Why don’t you work these two weeks?” I said, “Well, listen. Sunday is the only day I can’t work, I’m one of the maids of honor at this wedding.” And he said, “Okay, no problem.”

Then, as my character came into it more and more, he came to me, and he said, “Come here, I want to show you something.” And, he sat me down next to him at the typewriter, and he started typing out that scene. And all of a sudden he decided to call my character “Whitney.” He said, “What should we call your character? We haven’t named her. What about ‘Whitney Gersh’?” I said, “That’s great.”

Altman started writing me into the scene, and I was thinking, “Oh my god, that’s so cool.” And, he’s describing this scene as he’s writing it, and he said, “This is going to be this historic scene. It’s going to be done in one take. We’re going to be rehearsing it for a day and a half, but it’s going to really be cool.” And I was getting so excited.

And he said, “So, do you want to be in it?” And I said, “Oh my God, of course.”

He said, “There’s only one problem, we’re shooting it on the day you couldn’t be there. So, you tell me right now, do you want to be in it?” And, I was like, “Oh God, what do I do?” I was so tortured. Fortunately, my friend getting married was also a filmmaker, so I called her. She said, “You have to do this scene. Just come afterwards.” So, I did the scene, and I missed the actual ceremony, but I got there for the party.

Reading: Brookline Booksmith, 279 Harvard St, Brookline | October 19 :: 7 pm :: free | 617.566.6660 or brooklinebooksmith.com 

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