The first rule of Fight Club was: you don’t talk about Fight Club. But that was just the movie. I can talk about it. I can write about it. What are the consequences? Brad Pitt is too busy to beat me up if I start shooting my mouth off.
I worked in the support group scene - guys with testicular cancer. We spent six days sitting on folding chairs, listening to remarks, hugging each other, showing extreme concern. Meat Loaf hugged Edward Norton, both of them crying. For six days. Brad Pitt popped in and out, dressed in a red leather outfit. Helena Bonham Carter, chain smoked, still managing to look as cute as an Irish Setter - and not much bigger than an Irish Setter. A character actor led the support group, saying “I look around this room, and I see a lot of courage.” By day three, we all knew the line pretty well. In the dining tent, I looked around this room and saw a lot of indigestion.
The scene was filmed in downtown L.A., in an old church complex that had a gymnasium built in. Word on the set was that the movie’s budget was 72 million dollars, a fairly large chunk of which, purportedly 17 million, went to the guy in the red leather outfit. My own salary? Less than 17 million.
The majority of time on a movie set is spent waiting, fine tuning the lighting, moving stuff around for different angles, touching up details here and there. Between takes, the director David Fincher shouted “Shut up!” on a regular basis.
After six days, the support group scene was finished.
Eighteen months passed.
The production needed to re-shoot our guys. Could I come in and do it all over again? I told them sure, but I don’t have a beard anymore. I had shaved it off.
No problem. They put me in the make up chair and glued on fake whiskers in great detail, even touching in the grey from photos taken on the set the previous year. They made it a long one, ZZ Top style, then trimmed it down. In the adjacent chair, Meat Loaf was being rigged with his fat man body suit. He sang to me and the make up guy to pass the time.
Back on the set, word had spread that I was wearing a fake beard. Even Ms. Bonham Carter sought me out, drawing close, face to face, nodding her approval.
“It looks good,” she told me.
Then we went to work, I stood and hugged a guy with a shaved head for several hours, and we were done.
Ed Norton, left, and MZ
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)