“Okay,” he says, moving to fetch the curly-haired brunette from the hallway. “Hey, Julianna, I’m George.” He ushers her into the side office, and for the next half hour, peals of laughter erupt from behind the closed door.
Finally, as Margulies departs, the director emerges. “I love her,” he tells Levitt. “She’s so smart. She’s wonderful.”
“Okay, so you love her. That’s interesting. Now what?”
On a TV set next to Levitt’s desk, a video-tape shows Julia Ormond in an unreleased movie with Vince Vaughn. The sound is muted, and no one is watching.
Less than a week before shooting starts, Zuckerman offers the role of Andrea to Julia Ormond despite Levitt’s overtures to Olivia Williams and Madeleine Stowe. This, Levitt fumes, is less casting than packaging: Garcia, Margulies, and Ormond are represented by the same management company, in a cozy arrangement that dashes the goals of Levitt and Hickenlooper. “Donald is pandering to them,” she says. Zuckerman claims Levitt’s last-minute pursuit of Rene Russo—a pipe dream, in his opinion—left him with no time and no choice.
Two weeks into filming, things fall apart. Robards is too ill to get on a plane, and when Ormond learns her costar has dropped out, she does, too. Levitt, who has been paid for the project and is now working as a favor, must trace her steps back to Olivia Williams and James Coburn, now the leading candidates for Andrea and Allcott. Williams signs almost immediately. Coburn follows after rearranging his schedule.
Levitt’s relationships with Hickenlooper and Zuckerman begin to fray. She’s spending too much time getting visas for the European actors. Then, with Hickenlooper worried about having so many English accents in the film, Zuckerman asks her to replace British TV actor Simon Templeman the night before his first shooting day. She balks.
“You just don’t treat people this way,” Levitt says later. “It’s like George, who acts like Mr. Nice Guy, woke up one morning and said, `Uh-oh, I have too many British people.’ So what?” For Levitt, treating actors with such cavalier disregard is the last straw—and, in a moment of frustration, she quits. “I am so off this movie,” she says. “Did I ever get to cast who I wanted? I won’t work with them again.”
Levitt sends Templeman a gift basket and concentrates on her next film, a Paramount comedy with Elizabeth Hurley and Matthew Perry.
Not that her objections will get Templeman his job back. “At the end of the day, she has no control,” Pfeffer says, sitting in his office. Even Templeman, who was paid in full by the producers, doesn’t quite understand Levitt’s outrage. In truth, he later explains, actors lose parts at the last minute all the time—and rarely get parachute money. “If the check bounces,” he quips, “I’ll get back to you.”
In Hollywood, of course, “I quit” means “I hate this project, but I need the credit.” When Hickenlooper calls her a few days later wanting to dump Maureen McCormick, she offers a compromise: She will recast the role only if McCormick is given another one.
Will she work with the director again? “I’ll reserve judgment,” she says. In other words, she’ll have to see the movie first.
On the set in Pasadena, more than halfway into the five-week shoot, Hickenlooper is thrilled. “I got everyone I wanted,” he says during a break. “It’s a miracle.” He got more than he asked for, in fact, when Jagger insisted that his character have a girlfriend and that his pal Anjelica Huston play the part. Huston agreed to do it for virtually nothing.
Garcia is delighted with the final lineup. Sitting in his trailer with his mother, who is visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, he watches dailies and tunes bongos. “I knew from the get-go the script would attract a great cast,” he says. “Heidi was efficient and aggressive. She didn’t want to settle for not going to the top talent.” He claims Olivia Williams, not Julia Ormond or Madeleine Stowe, was always his choice for Andrea, and that Jagger—”a prince,” in his words—was an immediate front-runner for Luther.
Pfeffer is less boosterish. “It’s a good enough cast to get us theatrical distribution, but it’s not guaranteed,” he says, warning that Gold Circle Films “can take the picture and stick it in a drawer if they want.”
Across town, in his modest Beverly Hills office, Gold Circle’s David Kronemyer seems confident. He predicts that by February, before the film is submitted for Cannes Film Festival consideration, he’ll have secured theatrical distribution for the movie, thanks to its magnificent ensemble cast (in order of billing): Andy Garcia, Mick Jagger, Julianna Margulies, Olivia Williams, James Coburn, and Anjelica Huston.
This feature appears in the March 2001 issue of Los Angeles magazine
published in the Los Angeles magazine