One of the best things about the, so far as I know, current frontrunners in the actor races for the Oscars is that the narrative about them is just the best. Everyone, everyone who’s ever worked with Ke Huy Quan who’s come up in the last couple of months has been delighted and supportive and just full of joy that he’s where he is right now. Notable Curmudgeon Harrison Ford actually smiled. Steven Spielberg gave him a big hug. Similarly, when I observed to a cousin that having once appeared in a Brendan Fraser movie (he was young Dudley in Dudley Do-Right, and though they shared no scenes there are positively adorable pictures of the two together) sure does bump a guy up the IMDb Big List o’ Birthdays right about now, my cousin told me that Fraser was simply the nicest celebrity he’s ever met, and he has nothing bad to say about the man.
I love when this sort of thing happens. Especially after last year’s Night of a Thousand Dramas—I maintain that, had That Moment not happened, there were at least five other contenders for the weirdest moment of the ceremony. But every once in a while, even in our pursuit of dramas and Hot Takes, there are moments that remind you that celebrities, no matter what else they have going on, are people too and can have some really beautiful qualities to them. Oh, not all of them; we’ve mentioned more than a few toxic people here on The Solute in articles past. On the other hand, I’ve written about an awful lot of people where I’ve discovered things that bring me absolute joy.
Take Mel Brooks, for example. No, I don’t like his movies, for the most part; I can’t be bothered to say whether you could make Blazing Saddles today, because I saw it in 1994 and never again. On the other hand, I have heard literally nothing bad about the man, and he and Roger Corman are both responsible for quite a lot of really great cinema that they did not themselves make simply because they served as producers and/or distributors. Brooks playing Al Jolson at the Nazis during the Battle of the Bulge is also a story that never fails to make me smile.
Honestly? The Paul Rudd Mac & Me thing. That is, let’s be real, one of the silliest running gags in the history of either man’s career, and given the men in question, that’s quite the claim. But it clearly gives Rudd such joy to haul that clip out again, over and over again, and if O’Brien isn’t fooled, he’s at least willing to pretend he is and just go along with it. I love that. This week, I learned the history behind Pierre Bernard’s Recliner of Rage, and that’s delightful as well. It’s charming that they just decided they needed to let the man vent in his mellow way about whatever was bothering him that week—and that it got him a whopping two episodes of Stargate: SG1, a show he apparently loved.
I know I’m missing stories. I know you all have one that you hold in your own heart of “this is a great moment.” Gregory Peck’s utter conviction that Audrey Hepburn would win the Oscar for Roman Holiday. Heck, even Kubrick’s sheltering Danny Lloyd from knowing that he was appearing in a horror movie, though practically everything else about Kubrick is so odious. There are tons of stories of people mentoring unknowns and helping them out—Roger Ebert’s championing of Ava DuVernay, Werner Herzog, and assorted others. These are the stories I’d generally rather discuss, and we don’t hear enough of them. They aren’t enough to cover some things up—I don’t need to hear the stories of Tom Cruise being nice, as it won’t make up for using Sea Org “volunteers” to remodel his house—but my goodness it’s good to know the stories are out there.