Monday, July 12, 2010
Been There, Done That—Bruce Willis
My husband is a set medic. For those of you who aren’t familiar with film crew jargon, that means he is on call on film, television, or commercials sets for any medical needs and emergencies. The job sounds glamorous and exciting, but in reality he spends most of his time sitting around, waiting for someone to have a headache, stomachache, or get a splinter that needs to be removed.
Sometimes he has an exciting moment—like the day he resuscitated Hillary Swank’s dog who had electrocuted itself by chomping on a live wire, the time he had to convince Shirley MacLaine that he did understand the concepts of holistic medicine but all she really needed was to be helped up from where she had fallen, or the hours he spent massaging Liza Minelli’s legs to keep them from cramping—but most of the time the days are long and he is far from home.
Back in the days when we were first married, and before we were raising a houseful of boys, I used to travel to be on set with him. And that’s how I happened to see a different side to both Bruce Willis and Nick Nolte from what I ever expected as my husband worked on the set of Breakfast of Champions.
We had a long weekend from school, and I drove to Twin Falls, Idaho, to meet up with my husband for a few days together. After wrap the first evening, we just chilled at the hotel, enjoying the hot tub and talking about our week. The next two days, he didn’t have to work, but that’s where the real fun began.
On Saturday night, Bruce Willis was hosting a wrap party—something that usually happens before the filming is done, despite the fact it is meant to celebrate the end of the shoot. The location: The Mint Bar in Hailey, Idaho, one of his own business interests.
I had been to wrap parties before, ones that were hosted by either the LDS Motion Picture Studio, other LDS producers, or a bevy of Osmonds, which meant that this party was already going to different—it was at a bar and the L.A. based crew was going to be drinking. Call that the understatement of the year—they were soused by the time we arrived, not too long after the scheduled time for the party.
The place was packed and it was hard for Mike and me to walk around together, despite the fact he was holding my hand for dear life. I knew he needed to go around and chat with these people since they were the ones he was working with, so he sort of “parked” me at a back table, got me an un-spiked soft drink of some kind, then left me there alone to enjoy the music.
Also provided by Bruce Willis—himself. Seriously! He was playing the piano and singing away—if you can call either activity that—somewhere across the room. It wasn’t especially great entertainment, but what can you say. The guy was footing the bill for much of the shindig, so I guess he’s allowed to indulge himself however he would like.
I spent quite a bit of my time looking around the room, trying to scope out if his then-wife, Demi Moore, was anywhere to be seen, but when Mike returned to rescue me, he told me the couple was already experiencing conflict and there was no way she would be there. Somewhat disappointed, but not surprised, I enjoyed a few more minutes just watching the people, catching a glimpse or two of Lukas Haas, and generally being amazed by the drunken state some of the crew had managed to get themselves into.
The next morning we drove around downtown back in Twin Falls, looking for a place to grab some breakfast. That’s when we happened to see Nick Nolte walking down the street, holding a cup of coffee, and dressed in his pajamas, robe, and slippers. He was muttering script lines—something my husband told me the actor often did in the mornings dressed in this very same way. We stopped by him long enough for my husband to call, “Mr. Nolte, do you need a ride?” Nick said “No,” waving us off with his coffee cup—the same thing Mike said he did every day. I guess Nolte is living proof that actors can sometimes be eccentric.
And sometimes that’s the very reason my husband, or other set medics, are hired. Somebody has to be there to deal with the crazies. And you thought actors and actresses were normal people, just like you and me.