Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Zucchini Sticks and a Smile

Six years ago, my good friend paid $50 for a man's boxers at a flea market. At the same flea market, another young woman paid $100 for his g-string.

Who was this sensation whose underwear earned such a pricetag?

Broadway star and rising film star, Mr. Patrick Wilson.

Four years ago, after hearing my friend rave about what a beautiful and talented fellow he was, I met Mr. Wilson on a warship. I was interning with a Broadway public relations company (you may recall this story, which occured during the that same summer...http://dianagolightly.blogspot.com/2007/06/oh-it-will-happen-some-day.html)

Since my boss was Tommy Hilfiger's agent, he planned the release party for Tommy (can I call him Tommy?)'s movie, PROUD. It was a World War II movie about a bunch of sailors, and the party was on a warship.

I was in charge of checking people in. I did my best to act like I was completely used to dealing with the rich and famous and powerful. I joked around with some important-looking lady about how lucky we were to have curly hair in such windy weather (on a party on a warship, of course.) When a family introduced themselves as the Hilfigers, I told them they weren't allowed in and we all shared a chuckle. I saw President Bill Clinton walk by, then Kim Cattrall, the chickie from The Sopranos, the "Dude! You're getting a DELL!" guy (BIG celebrities, I am telling you).

Monica Lewinsky HAD been on the guestlist, but I think was a no-show because that Clinton fellow came instead.

Celebrities breezed past me, press tailing them, people whispering.

I was perfectly fine and not starstruck in the slightest.

Until he walked in.

Patrick Wilson.

Now, even though Patrick Wilson is one of the most handsome men in the world, he also has a slightly common look to him and if you go walking in the street at any given time, you will most likely do a doubletake and think that you just saw Patrick Wilson. (At least, that is how I am...not sure about you.) I even think my cousin Eric slightly resembles him, if only because they have the same forehead.

As he got closer, I grew more sure that it was indeed Patrick Wilson, especially when the friend he came with said to somebody else, "Do you know Patrick Wilson?" (That usually casts the dye.)

When he came over to be checked in, I smiled (the smile I HAVE been told could light-up the Grand Canyon) and said, "Oh...you're...Patrick Wilson, right?" He looked slightly surprised, and I told him we had a mutual friend...that girl who paid $50 for his boxer shorts once. (No, I didn't say that.)

He joined the party, as did I after everybody was checked in.

(I also might have hid under the table to call my friend, the owner of his boxers, and left a crazy voicemail.)

Nobody else cared that Patrick Wilson was there! I guess that is bound to happen when former Presidents and TV stars are in a room (or on a warship)...the handsome star of The Full Monty and Oklahoma is overlooked!

I took this as a chance to chat it up with Patrick Wilson and become best friends with him. He was perfectly sweet to me when I approached him, asking what I did, why I was there, and what exactly this party was FOR. (See, he didn't even know...!)

My fellow intern wandered over to us...she had zero interest in Broadway (I'll never understand how she ended up at that place, because there were times I was quite miserable, but my love of the New York City stage kept me going) so when I introduced her to MR. PATRICK WILSON, I made sure I did so in a way that wouldn't clue him into the fact that she had no idea who he was.

"This is Mr. Patrick Wilson...you know, the Tony-nominated actor from Oklahoma and The Full Monty,soon to be starring in the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera!

She smiled and said, "Oh! So, do you have a good voice?" Patrick squinted, I giggled and said, "Nope, he just gets by on his good looks" (which he very well could do) and Patrick shrugged and said, "Well, it IS how I make my living!"

When Patrick helped himself to a plate of mozerella and zucchini sticks, he offered me some. I wasn't hungry, but I took some anyway...because when Patrick Wilson offers you finger food...you TAKE it, darnit.

I noticed something going on on the top deck, and turned my head up to watch. Patrick was standing a foot away from me, facing me, and he thought I was gazing up at him dreamingly or something (why would I do something like THAT?), and gives me a big meltworthy smile. I got very embarassed and stuttered, "Oh! I wasn't looking at YOU!" Now it was Patrick's turn to get embarassed, as he apologized to me (for smiling at me.)

I doubt that story will ever get old!

We talked a bit more, and when the evening came to an end, I shook Patrick's hand and said, "It was so nice to meet you!" and he said, "It was SO nice to meet you!" (And yes, there was emphasis on the "so".)

Ever the gentleman, he waited with me for exactly 5 seconds until I got a cab (sadly, cabbies never go on strike when you actually WANT them to.)

I smiled to myself and shook my head, calling my friend to recount the night and every last detail to my friend.

When I saw The Phantom of the Opera on the big screen the day after Christmas, 2004, I couldn't help but internally sigh and go, "I shared zucchini sticks with that guy once!" whenever Raul was onscreen, and any time he'd smile lovingly at Christine, I'd remember when he gave me a similar smile (well, it wasn't a loving smile, but a "hey, kid, I am humoring you!" smile) and how I told him I wasn't looking at him.

He's going to tell that story on Letterman one day...I just know it...he's going to say, "Yup, I was starting to get a following after I had starred in two Broadway shows...and one night, I met this young girl at a party, and she was gaping up at me, and I smiled at her, and figured that smile would make her lifetime...however, she only shook her head and said, 'Oh! I wasn't looking at YOU!' Nothing has ever kicked my ego as much as when she said that to me...It took me years to recover, really..."

He might be starring in big movies with Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep and Glenn Close and Jude Law now...

But to me, he'll always remain that kind soul who offered a dorky and starstruck intern zucchini sticks and a smile four years ago.

Congratulations on all your success, Mr. Wilson.

Diana Rissetto