Meeting Lee Tergesen: TWELVE

By Anne (amytych@yahoo.com)

Nov. 23, 2011
More photos from this event at LeeTergesen.com

The screening for "Silver Tongues" was at this very cool coffee shop/restaurant/theater in Brooklyn just under the Manhattan Bridge. It’s called reBar with the first "r" written backwards. When you first walk in, there is a small coffee shop and snack bar on the first floor. Up the short flight of stairs is the restaurant and bar, which is pretty big. If you keep going straight at the top of the stairs, you go down this hallway past the bar and you get to the small movie theater, reRun. This place was built into an old factory building and it’s very cool.



Pic from the reBar website, showing our table!

I was waiting near the theater entrance for Leslie and her pal, Lora, when I saw a small group of folks heading toward me. Because of the lighting, I wasn’t sure if it was Lee, but he saw me and called my name and I got a nice hug. Yuko was there as well as was another couple. We chatted for a minute and they went inside while I waited for Leslie and Lora. (Leslie has been to past LeeFests with me.) They arrived and greeted Lee and Yuko and then I went to find seats. It was a pretty small theater and all the seats were made out of car seats. The first two rows seemed to be roped off for VIPs like Lee and Simon Arthur (writer, director, editor) so I went back to row four.

Yuko and Lee

The host for the evening, reRun movie curator Aaron Hillis, introduced Lee and Simon (to whom I had not yet had a chance to talk) and then the movie started. I don’t want to give away the plot because there are so many twists and turns that are worth seeing. If you’ve seen the trailer, it is really good at capturing the film without giving too much away.

Lee truly does get to play a huge variety of emotions in this film as his character likes to fool people by creating new personas. The best scene (and there’s a glimpse in the trailer) is when Lee is in the police station and has to go up against this female police officer. Very compelling and well done.

After it was over, there was brief Q&A session, most of which related to the movie and the plot, so I won’t go into detail. Simon did most of the talking about the motivations of the characters etc. Lee answered a few questions as well. After it was over, Lee invited us to have dinner with him and his colleagues/friends, which was really sweet. In addition to Simon and his girlfriend, there was another actor, Daniel Fox, who co-starred with Lee on "Generation Kill." Lee’s niece, Kacie, was also there. She is a student at NYU. As a result of the make-up of the crowd, the gathering was more subdued that the usual LeeFest.

Before the movie started, Yuko told me that she had seen the movie already and that it was Lee’s best work. I think I agree, although I’d have to watch it a couple more times to be sure. I told Lee that I thought his performance was amazing. He just smiled. He asked how I was doing and I told him it had been a rough year but that I was happy to be there.

Then we all went out to the restaurant. Daniel sat directly across from Lee, so I sat to Daniel’s right. Kacie was sitting next to Lee and across from me, so I got to chat with her. She looks a lot like her mother, actress Toni Lewis.

Lee thanked me for coming and someone noted that it was very loyal or brave of me to venture into day-before-Thanksgiving traffic to come up. A lightbulb kind of went off over Lee when he realized that yeah, this was a bad day for traffic. I told him it had taken me six hours to get there (usually, it takes four) and I could tell by his smile that he was pretty touched by the gesture. Later, when I told him I was going to drive home, he called me a trooper or something similar and thanked me again for making the trip.

After we ordered, Lee came over and sat down in the empty seat next to me and asked to tell him why I had had a rough year. I told him that my Dad died and that there had been ongoing crap with the idiot. He was very sweet and empathetic, even when I got a little weepy. I’ve been saying for years that Lee is my “happy place” during times of stress and at moments like this, he just reinforces that it’s true.

We caught up on other stuff and I asked him about his upcoming projects. He talked about "Desert Cathedral," which he filmed in Seattle. He said the film centered on the real-life disappearance of the character he portrays. (Lee told Leslie that some of the man's family members were at the screening.)

Then I remember the poster that Simon had sent to me thanks to a request from bleu_daisy on LiveJournal (Joanna). I had brought it with me to ask Lee and Simon to sign it, so I took it out and Lee signed it. He wrote, “Trust no one.” Simon, who was sitting at the other end of the table, next to Yuko, saw it and said, “Hey, where did you get that?” (He has an adorable Scottish accent, BTW.) I said, “You sent it to me.” Then I headed over in his direction to ask him to sign the poster. Simon said, “Oh, you’re the one,” or something to that effect. We talked about Joanna and how she e-mailed him to ask him to send the poster to me because I was a huge fan of Lee’s etc. I thanked him for sending it and then we talked about the movie and U.S. audiences vs. European audiences. It was a nice, longish chat.

Simon also said that he had chosen Lee for "Silver Tongues" because of his performance as Beecher on "Oz." He noted that Beecher had gone through so many changes and Lee had done such a great job that he knew he would be able to do a great job with the role of Gerry in "Silver Tongues." He went on and on about Lee's range, which tickled my fangirl heart. I love hearing anyone sing Lee's praises.

Later, there was a rather discussion about who was a “crier” and who was “stone cold,” which Lee teased Kacie about because she apparently doesn’t usually cry watching emotional movies and TV shows. Daniel told a story about watching a reality show that got him choked up.

Then Lee told an adorable story: He was working on "Oz" and staying with Kacie and her parents before he had his own place in NYC. He was watching the "Father of the Year" episode of "The Brady Bunch," and he got all choked up at the end. "The Brady Bunch" was my first true TV obsession, and I knew exactly which episode he was talking about and it never fails to make me cry either. Lee said, "So here I am this 31-year-old man, working on a prison TV show and I'm crying like a baby over 'The Brady Bunch.' And I stood up and said, 'I gotta get out of here!'"

Speaking of that "prison TV show" -- Lee talked about the scene in "The Truth and Nothing But" episode of "Oz" where he was clipping his nails after he killed Metzger. He told me about this woman who came up to him and said that the scene was so meaningful and she knew exactly what he was thinking as he did it. He said the woman had this whole elaborate thought process for Beecher. He no longer remembers all what she said, but she had clearly given it a lot of thought and felt it was some kind of turning point for the character.

He does remember that during the actual scene, he was just slouched against the wall because of the way they'd lit him and he was focused on getting the nail clippings in the toilet and pretty much nothing else was on his mind. He also told me that years later, he broke his wrist for real and it was so weak when the cast came off -- he said he couldn't even move his wrist at all. He said he called Tom Fontana and told him there was no way Beecher could have killed Metzger so soon after getting his casts off!

Daniel, Leslie (pictured at right with Lee), Lora, Kacie and I had this fascinating discussion about actors and accents, American actors and their ambivalence about finding the right dialect when trying to learn a new accent for a role, and the laziness of dialect coaches who want to teach a single accent for an entire nation instead of by region or even neighborhood.

Daniel said most people had trouble placing his accent and most people guessed he was English. There was even a time when someone thought he was French, which was mind-boggling to him. Before anyone knew where he was from, Leslie correctly identified his accent as South African. He was surprised she got it right on the first try because most people think all South Africans have the one accent portrayed in the movies. He said most actors do not do South African accents well. (I will not name names, but Daniel did.) He said the same about the British accent, although he noted that Robert Downey Jr. does do it well in "Sherlock Holmes." The man is clearly serious about his craft and talked about a time when he was cast to play an Irishman. He asked the director - where's he from? Ireland, the director said. Where in Ireland, Daniel asked. Dublin, the director answered. Where in Dublin, Daniel asked, noting that even within Dublin there are many dialects. I could have listened to him for hours.

Sometime during that discussion, Lee, Yuko and Simon had moved back into the movie room after the second screening. Then Lee came out to ask the rest of us to join them. He picked up his and Yuko’s coats. He put Yuko’s coat on (how he managed this boggles my mind because Yuko is about a size 0) and then he sort of strutted back to the movie room. He said Yuko was going to be angry because he was stretching out her coat, but she just laughed when she saw him. How could anyone not be charmed by Lee?

In the movie room, Leslie, Lora and I had a nice long chat with Kacie, who talked a little about growing up as Lee’s niece. She said she lived in Baltimore briefly while her Mom was filming "Homicide: Life on the Street." Kacie also talked about her internship at "Saturday Night Live" and her hopes for a writing career in movies and TV. She is such a sweetie and so much fun to talk to.

The owners started to kick us out around 12:30 a.m., but it took another half hour before anyone got the hint. It was around this time that I asked Lee to pose for some pics as I hadn’t taken any yet. He started flopping his arms around like he was a puppet on a string and would dance for our (or maybe my) entertainment. Ha ha. If he thought that was going to make me feel guilty, he was mistaken.

So I posed for a couple with Lee (which Yuko took) and then I took some pics of Lee and Yuko. Then I asked Kacie to take some with Lee. (He did the puppet thing again.) In the first one, they both smiled and Lee said, no, they both had to go “stone cold” in reference to the earlier discussion. But they started laughing – or Lee did because he thought Kacie was smiling – but then finally they got the stone cold look down. It was pretty entertaining. (Photos at right.)

Then Leslie posed with Lee and as she came over, he knelt down. She teased him about making her feel short, but those pictures are adorable. I tried to get a pic of Lora with Lee but she didn’t want to have her picture taken so she ducked and covered her face, which Lee imitated.

I didn’t take any pics of Daniel or Simon, which I now regret. But I was all focused on Lee, as usual. And the restaurant people were kind of giving us the bum’s rush. So we all went outside to say goodnight. Lots of hugs, which was nice, including a very long hug and kiss from Lee. *happy sigh*

After a long drive, I got home around 5:15 a.m., sent a couple of e-mails, posted a pic on LJ and went to sleep.

All in all, very much worth the trip.



 

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Meeting Lee

Meeting One
March 19, 2002

Meeting Two
May 19, 2002

Meeting Three
October 7, 2002

Meeting Four
December 7, 2002

Meeting Five
January 28, 2003

Meeting Six
August 31, 2003

Meeting Seven
November 13, 2004

Meeting Eight
January 7, 2005

Meeting Nine
May 31, 2008

Meeting Ten
May 2, 2010

Meeting 11
Dec. 4, 2010

Meeting 12
Nov. 23, 2011

Meeting 13
June 9, 2012

Meeting 14
Aug. 17, 2013

Meeting 15
June 14, 2015