Getting directions from Mike Myers in downtown Toronto, meeting the “repair man” from Jumpin Jack Flash, invading Rachel Ticotin’s “space”, indulging in the enduring kindness of Hollywood producer Brad Fuller and former wrestler turned Hollywood megastar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, listening to Sly Stallone’s inspirational tales, and hanging out with Bryan Brown. Here’s Top 10 Films’ own Dan Grant recalling his favourite encounters with Hollywood stars…
Hollywood has often shot movies in Canada for a number of reasons. Principally because it’s cheaper than the United States and its cities are a good stand-in for their US counterparts. Toronto in particular, which often pretends to be New York, Chicago or Washington, D.C., has enjoyed the presence of many Hollywood productions. During Dan Grant’s 10 years living in the city, he had the opportunity to meet many film stars that had made the trip north. Here are his ten favourite encounters.
10. Rachel Ticotin
Known For: Total Recall, F/X 2, Con Air
This is the only experience on this list that wasn’t a good one. So we’ll get it out of the way first. In the fall of 1990, I found out that the movie F/X 2 was going to be filmed in a town about 30 minutes from where I lived. F/X was the sleeper hit starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy that came out five years prior. So off to Woodstock, Ontario I journeyed in hopes of sneaking on set. It ended up being a lot easier than I thought it would be. I got to watch them film a scene in a giant grocery store where a hit-man is hunting both Brown and Rachel Ticotin.
In between filming, I managed to walk up to where Ticotin was sitting. She had her own chair and she was drinking a bottle of water. I cautiously approached her and said something like, “Hello Ms Ticotin, sorry to bother you but I loved your work in Total Recall.” She looked at me like I was a leper or a beggar or someone beneath her. She called over her publicist or some other person on set and told them to have me removed from “her space”. That is actually what she called it, her “space”. I was then escorted away from her, never to see her again. Maybe she was having a bad day or maybe because she was just coming off Total Recall, her success had already gone to her head.
9. Gordon Currie
Known For: Puppet Master 4 & Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Here’s an actor I don’t imagine many have heard of but it’s a tale worth telling. Currie was known to me because he was in Friday the 13th: Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan. He’d been in something like 50 Hollywood productions and he even roomed with Brad Pitt when he first moved to Hollywood. But I knew him from Friday the 13th. In 2003, he and two other Toronto actors were casting for a micro-budgeted film called Magnus Opus. I auditioned in Currie’s backyard for the lead role and although I wasn’t right for the lead, I did get the role as Magnus’ racist police officer friend. I didn’t have a name, I was just known as the police officer.
I spent three weeks on the $10,000 budgeted film. We filmed in Toronto without permits, we filmed in parks and we filmed in Currie’s backyard. During the shoot, we talked a lot about Friday the 13th and how much be enjoyed it. He told me a bit about Kane Hodder and I had a great time making the movie. They tried to get it into TIFF, but it didn’t get chosen. It’s the only film I’ve ever “starred” in and it was a blast.
8. Danielle Harris
Known For: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, The Last Boy Scout, Free Willy, Daylight
Danielle Harris is not quite as famous today but for those who can’t quite place her, she was in Halloween 4 and she was Bruce Willis’ daughter in The Last Boy Scout. Over the last twenty years she’s done a lot of low budget, direct-to-video horror movies. She is very well known in the horror world and she has done a lot of conventions. One year, I was in Philadelphia and there was a horror convention. She was there so I waited in a small line to see her. This is when she was just starting to get back into horror films. I was second in line. After the person in front of me left, I heard her talking to her handler about how he asked how tall she was in a weird way, so I said: “Did he ask your weight too?”. She laughed.
Danielle is strikingly beautiful and shes also very interactive. She spoke to me for a few minutes, signed a photo and didn’t charge for it. She seemed to enjoy talking movies and I got to ask her one question about working with Dee Wallace Stone on the Rob Zombie Halloween film. She said Wallace was a delight and she kept the cast and crew entertained by regaling them with stories about her days of working on films like Cujo and The Howling. Danielle Harris was a pure delight.
7. Ice T
Known For: apart from a successful music career he’s appeared in many films including New Jack City & Trespass
One night me and my boys and my ex-wife were clubbing. It was one of those giant clubs where world renowned DJ’s played and where celebrities frequented. Late one night, after dancing up a storm with my ex-wife, we found a seat and sat for a while to cool off. We were both a little inebriated. Suddenly a group of about five men, all black and all very big men, came and sat beside us. My ex-wife asked me if that was “that rapper guy”? I turned to my left, and sitting two feet away from me was Ice-T. His real name is Tracy Marrow. I didn’t know this at the time so I greeted him with something stupid like, “Hello, Mr. T…uuuh I mean…Mr. Ice.” I didn’t know what to say. I kind of stammered a bit but he was very accommodating.
He turned to me and just said, “You can call me Tracy.” This was 1997 or 1998 and he was coming off films like New Jack City and – the ones I knew him from best – Trespass, with Bill Paxton and Surviving the Game, with Rutger Hauer. Being a big Bill Paxton fan, I asked him his opinion on Paxton to which he replied that he was a cool cat. We spoke for less than five minutes but it left a lasting and indelible memory.
6. Mike Myers
Known For: Wayne’s World & Austin Powers
Famous for Austin Powers, Wayne’s World and Shrek, I met Mike Myers twice. The second time he and some of his team came into the Outback where I got to serve him. That was a good night as he was very funny and his wife was also very kind. But the funnier time I met him was the first time. This was before I moved to Toronto. One day me and a friend bought tickets to see the Toronto Blue Jays play baseball. After the game, we decided to walk downtown and take in some of the sights. We sort of got lost (this was way before cell phones and GPS) and so we asked someone on the street if he could help us. I stopped three guys walking and asked them if they could tell us how to get to Richmond Street.
The guy who answered was wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and he had long hair coming out of his baseball cap. He stopped, smiled, and then pointed over his shoulder and told us to “walk about 30 seconds that way.” I thanked him and then he asked us if there was anything else he could help us with. He said this with a sly grin. I thanked him and said no, and then we went on our way. My buddy turned to me with giant eyes and said to me, “Dude…do you know who that is?” I didn’t know what he was talking about. “That’s Mike Myers….you know Wayne’s World?” I turned back and looked as Myers and his two friends walked in the other direction. And I started to laugh. I just got directions for Wayne Campbell and I didn’t even know it. Mike Myers was walking with two buddies in downtown Toronto like he was any other guy.
5. James Belushi and John Ritter
Known For: Thief, Trading Places, About Last Night, Salvador, K-9 (Belushi) / Problem Child, Skin Deep, Stephen King’s IT (Ritter)
One night while working at the Skydome, James Belushi and John Ritter came in for dinner. They closed the place down and once everyone was gone, they stayed for drinks with the staff. They sat at the bar and the wait and kitchen staff sat with them and drank beers and got a little drunk. They weren’t shy about answering questions. I got to ask Ritter about his experience making the Blake Edwards film Skin Deep and the TV movie IT.
For those who have not seen Skin Deep, please do so. There is one very famous scene that involves glow in the dark condoms that kind of turn into a lightsaber battle. It was this that I asked Ritter about. He almost choked from laughter while telling me the tale of how it was filmed. He also said working with Blake Edwards was one of the highs of his film career. When he talked about being in Stephen King’s IT, he said one of the coolest things about making that one was working with the late Harry Anderson. I got to spend a good ten minutes talking to him. Others of course asked about Three’s Company and Problem Child.
I didn’t get to ask James Belushi anything but for about an hour on a Sunday in October, I got to hang out with Jack Tripper and the repairman from Jumping Jack Flash.
4. Brad Fuller
Known For: the producer of A Quiet Place, The Purge films and others
Brad Fuller is one of the owners – along with Michael Bay and Andrew Form – of Platinum Dunes, the company that is responsible for A Quiet Place, The Purge films and a slew of horror films including the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. I’ve never met Fuller in person but over the years, he has been very accommodating to me by email. This all started back in 2010 when I saw that he was on Facebook and I sent him a friend request. Shockingly, he accepted. I tagged him in one of my posts and I asked him something about A Nightmare on Elm Street. And he answered.
Soon after, we exchanged email addresses and I would from time to time update him with how much money A Nightmare on Elm Street was making internationally. He always liked my updates because he said I got them faster than he did. I was running a box office summer contest at the website I frequent and just for kicks, I asked Brad if he could send me a signed Friday the 13th shirt as one of the prizes. It arrived in the mail about a week later. I didn’t give that shirt away, I kept if for myself and it still hangs in my closet. Brad Fuller is one of the kindest Hollywood people I’ve ever encountered. To this day, he will still answers questions for me by email. I have a ton of respect for him and subsequently will see anything Platinum Dunes puts out.
3. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Known For: being The Rock on the professional wrestling circuit and for lots of movies
When I first moved to Toronto in 1997, I got a job at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Skydome and then eventually at an Outback Steakhouse. We used to get a lot of the wrestlers and sports stars come into our restaurants. While working at the Outback, The Rock used to come in when he was wrestling at the Skydome. One Sunday night, he came in very early, ordered a 26-ounce steak and sat by himself in the corner eating it as fast as he could before rushing off to the Skydome. I approached him and spoke to him very briefly. He told me that he was in a rush but that he would be back after his show that night. And he was.
He actually called my manager and asked if he would allow him to come back in after we closed that night. When he got to the restaurant at around 10:15 pm (we closed at 10 on Sundays) he had another Porterhouse steak and this time a beer. Once he was finished, he stayed for an hour and hung out with all of us. He had a beer with the wait staff and the kitchen staff. He signed shirts, shoes and other articles of clothing. You’d think he was a normal guy hanging out with friends. I personally got to ask him questions about other wrestlers and I shook his hand. This was long before he became a movie star so the conversation never turned to movies. You read things about Dwayne Johnson being one of the nicest guys in the business and based on my experience, it’s true.
2. Sylvester Stallone
Known For: Rocky, Rambo, Cliffhanger and lots more!
Just last month, my brother and I went to a real estate expo in downtown Toronto. This was an all day event where they had people come in and talk to us about cryto-currencies, how to capitalize on the legalization of marijuana in Canada and of course how to buy real estate with other people’s money. But there were two headliners that everyone really wanted to see. One was super-star singer Pitbull and the other was Sylvester Stallone. I’m not a big fan of Pitbull’s music but I became a fan of him that day. His words of wisdom were very inspiring and he did five songs for us. He was incredibly charismatic and a seemed like a humble man. And then Stallone came out.
Stallone is the one celebrity that I feign over. I grew up watching his movies and he’s inspired me since I was a child. I couldn’t wait to hear what the man had to say and he didn’t disappoint. He came out on stage with no cue cards, no teleprompter and no attitude. He told us stories of working on Rocky, Rambo, Cliffhanger and many other films. He told us how he had to sell his dog when he was young because he was so broke. He was on stage for 45 minutes, played to the crowd, did “YO ADRIAN” and was everything I hoped he would be. Stallone’s story is one that inspires me. I simply adore this man and seeing him on stage was one of the coolest days of my life.
1. Bryan Brown
Known For: Gorillas in the Mist, Cocktail, F/X
On the same day I was dismissed by Rachel Ticotin on the set of F/X, I first tried to meet up with Bryan Brown, who at this time was a bonafide movie star. He had done Gorillas in the Mist and Cocktail (with Tom Cruise) and he’d been acting for 20 years at this point. I found him sitting in his chair reading an Australian newspaper. He had no one around him and no one seemed to care that I was there. I approached him and shyly asked if I could have five minutes of his time. “Sure mate,” he said and he folded up his paper and put it on his knee. For fifteen minutes, I asked him what it was like working with Brian Dennehy and Tom Cruise and Sigourney Weaver (all of them were great blokes or “sheilas”).
We talked about the first F/X and how he was surprised it did as well as it did. He didn’t rush me to leave and he genuinely seemed to enjoy talking to me about movies. We laughed together and he asked me about my hopes and aspirations. At the end, he shook my hand, and said “Nice to meet you, Dan.” When I left, he picked his paper back up and started reading again. This is a story and a celebrity encounter I will never forget and have told to as many people as I can. It’s a tale of two people with some success to their credit. One dismissed me like she was royalty and the other laughed and joked with me like we were old friends. I’ll always have respect for Bryan Brown, he was all class.
Written by Dan Grant
Your turn: Tell us about your celebrity encounters, good or bad…