I don’t necessarily think that this is on anyone’s bucket list. It’s not exactly something that you aspire to – to share a toilet with someone, be it Rene Russo or not.
So let me set the scene.
It was 2006 and I was on the last leg of my round the world back-packing travels by myself. The final destination was LA where I hooked up with one of my best friends, Jan.
I had met Jan at drama school about ten years earlier and a few years later she had moved to the States to pursue her acting career. I’d not seen Jan for several years, so when we met at LAX, suffice to say, hugs and tears were a plenty!
Of course, being actors we shared a love of movies and great performances – one of our rituals for several years whilst she was still in the UK was sitting up all night watching the Oscars each year. We would prepare nibbles and pour flutes of champagne to help us see the night through, whilst making predictions and talking life stuff during the breaks and boring bits.
It was a lovely surprise when Jan, after meeting me at the airport, announced that she had got us tickets to see Al Pacino on stage in Salome. Now this was no small feat since it was almost an immediate sell out, so I felt very privileged that I would see Al in the flesh.
Two of my acting heroes, of course, were Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The closest I had been to Bob was dining at his Tribeca Grill in New York when I was studying acting there in the Summer of 2002 – I got a photo of me stood by HIS photo on the wall, but alas I didn’t get to meet Bob.
The idea of seeing Al on stage, performing was almost too exciting to bear – not to mention my wild imagination going overdrive. ‘What if I meet him after the show, and he somehow just knows I’m meant to be the ingenue in his next film?’
On the night of the show, we were just as excited as we were when we used to ‘attend’ the Oscars. I put on my best skirt and top that had survived through six months of back packing through India, SE Asia and Australia and we headed off to the theatre. The leading actress was Jessica Chastain, not someone I knew of at the time, but during the show all I could think was ‘that should be me!’ – not in a jealous way, just an aspiring actress kind of way.
At the interval, I had to go to the bathroom. The theatre wasn’t a grand place, it was more of an ‘off-broadway’ type of venue (even though it was LA), and the toilet cubicles were the typical American stalls – not much privacy with a saloon door separating the outer area.
In line, I was crossing my legs waiting for the stalls to vacate and for me to be next, when then it happened. The middle stall door opened and out walked Rene Russo. She looked very glam and didn’t seem in-fitting with the bathroom surroundings – ie. she just didn’t look your average type to use a public loo!
Our eyes met, a nervous smile from me and then my need to pee overcame my urge to say hello. I’m glad really, because what do you say to Rene Russo in a bathroom?
I then graced the stall she had exited and sat down thinking, ‘Wow! Rene Russo sat here before me!’.
On returning to the theatre – I wasn’t able to pick her out in the audience, but I was very excited to tell Jan the news. What a typical tourist and fan girl I was.
We watched the rest of the play which was so-so. Al’s performance was incredible as you would expect and so was Jessica.
That night left me with not one memory of encountering the greats, but two.