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A Weasel Looks At Sixty February 3, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Pop Culture Rants.
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2028, LA – When he invites me in the home, the first thing you see is the costume.

It looks like a strange amalgamation of a pirate costume, a Grateful Dead roadie uniform and a drunk and blind gypsy. It smells like sweat and vomit, but it stands there, the centerpiece to Casa de Shore. It’s the epitome of all he once stood for. It is the Weasel. Buh-dy.

They gave it to him following the Wrap Party for Encino Man. He had tried to turn it down; instead offering it to Brendan Fraser for the secret behind his “chin extensions.” But there was to be no chance for him that day. Instead, he took it and now it sits. As a reminder.

He doesn’t linger on it for long as he quickly whisks me into the trophy room. He has begun smoking a pipe, lighting it with a hundred dollar bill. The hundred didn’t have much meaning anymore. Kind of like NBC and any statement made on Sirius satellite radio. Even the faded and wrinkled picture of ex-president Winfrey couldn’t deter him from using it as kindling. He takes a few puffs and the smoke swirls around the room. It flutters past his large collection of autographed set photos and hard leather bound books. There was every Nancy Drew, each Hardy Boy and even a limited edition of Choose Your Own Adventures. Those were from the “old me,” he is quick to point out as I linger on them for a few seconds too long. “These,” he says, “are the new me.”

And there are tons of them. A library of immense proportions. The complete works of Shakespeare, autographed by the late Sir Ian McKellen. “When he died last year,”(at the age of 125, a ringing endorsement for knighthood, expensive scotch and homosexual marriage, if I ever heard one) he says, letting the smoke hang in the air for dramatic effect, “I cried. Not real tears, but as I call ‘em, ‘theatrical tears.” They sure did teach me a lot in acting school.”

Acting school. The attending of the school was unbeknownst to us back then. We, as a public, had simply assumed he’d vanished, finally succumbed to the perception that his time in the spotlight was over. He’d even released a movie, letting everybody know he was “Dead.” He remembers the night it all came crashing down. He had read one too many jokes, seen one too many parodies and had been hit with one too many gobs of spit while he panhandled on Rodeo Drive.

“And it came to me,” he says, a wry smile coming across his face. “In the words of Sir Dr. Dre, I heard it. He was in a lab, with a pen and a pad, trying to get his damn label off. And I knew what I had to do. Only my lab was an acting school. The pen and a pad were my latent talents. And the label was me…”

He waits for a second and we all know what was coming next. And he delivers; his voice caked with years of regret and pathos.

“Buh-dy.”

You look around the room and you see them all. The Oscars are too numerous to count. There’s the Grammys for his “Love Theme from Return to Bio-Dome” and the Tony for the all-white version of Raisin in the Sun. And to think, it all happened so fast.

He made his comeback as so many stars of the past often do: by taking a role in a Tarantino film. He laughs about it now. When Quentin called him, he says, he wanted him to read for the role of Stoner Hitman #3, a small role, but one where he got to say the film’s tagline, “It ain’t easy when you stoned.”

“I never really read scripts back in the old days. They’d throw some money in my face and all I had to do was read my lines from cue cards and throw in a Buh-dy now and then or laugh obnoxiously or do some of these…” And he tries to do that weird hand gesture, come-hither arm thing he used to do, but his shoulders, ravaged by arthritis and unchecked neck accoutrements are too weak to muster anything. “But they taught me at school one thing. Know your work. Read your role. Understand your character. But when I read the script, I saw another role. I knew I could play the redeemed junkie. I know that once people saw me stretch my talents, they’d forgot all about the weasel.

“So I went to Q and said, “Look here, let me play the lead.” And he was originally in talks with Kirk Cameron, who was signed and ready to go. But wouldn’t you know it? The Rapture happens and poof, Q’s left with me. Besides, we both dated Mira Sorvino so we had a few good laughs about that.”

His face crinkles as he scans the room. After winning his first Oscar for the role, he didn’t stop. Every year, he gained momentum. People kept searching hell for some sort of temperature change. But Shore was not to be denied. Yet he wasn’t truly accepted until he did it again the next year. And in a Scorsese film, no less.

“They said my Oscar was because Quentin won one. But I never let anybody take the credit for me. Was Son-In-Law a success because of the livestock? And for years, they always put Baldwin’s name above mine. But when I won lead actor for Oldfellas, I knew that it was mine.”

And he walks out of the trophy room, lost in a daze. Age is beginning to catch up with shore. He walks slower than he used to and the booming voice that made his Hamlet so meaningful and his singing of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl the official anthem of Starbucks Coffee Presents: Vietnam II. He stops and turns. The famous smoldering anger that made his Stanley Kowalski the best since Brando rises up and he says, “This country’s standards dropped so fast that maybe I was in the right place, right time. But I was due. That’s why I keep the costume. So when I walk in every day, I can know that it was my work, my ability and the acceptance that I was talented…”

Again, the pause. Only the Buddy doesn’t come. Just when I am about to prod him further, he continues.

“Because…I..am…the WEEE-SAL.”
The arms creak and crack again as he tries to shake and pose. His body withers away and he gives up; instead shuffling out to the veranda and looking over the estate he bought with his late wife Jessica Biel, shortly after winning his most recent Grammy for his duet with Suri Cruise, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy and Xenu.” He points lovingly at the several acres of farmland and of course the lifesize Bio-Dome he shipped in from Kansas.

“They said I was a joke. They said I would never make it. But I’m still standing and I always will be.”

And with that, he takes a final drag of his pipe and puts it out on his Golden Globe, then uses it to wipe some dog crap that had collected on the foot of his shoes. He turns and heads back inside. My day with him is over. Yet I can do nothing but think of the outfit. Tattered, mismatched and broken down. Like the career of the man I once doubted. And just when the tears are about to swell, he turns back to me and says, “Hey, you wanna go and watch In The Army Now? It’s playing on Cinemax all day to celebrate Andy Dick’s inauguration. That movie is so greeeesay”

Some things will never change.

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