SHOT ANDY WARHOL
DIARY BY PRODUCER CHRISTINE VACHON
We are in Newark, New Jersey, in a welfare hotel. Stephen Dorff takes three hours to be made up as Candy Darling and we all get nervous. Does he really want to play this part? Finally he emerges and gives a wonderful performance.
First day in the Hotel Kellor - very depressing. We are ready to shoot at exactly 8:30 am, but the camera is broken. No problem. We have a backup. No, we don't. The camera department is vague about why it's not there. We call every equipment house in New York, but all the cameras appear to be rented. We finally find one in Queens. Someone is dispatched, but it will take three hours roundtrip. Meanwhile, everyone is sitting around. The AD keeps muttering that if production had been more on top of things... until I snap and tell him we've done every fucking thing we can. By 1 pm we finally start shooting and somehow, miraculously, make the day.
We are in Nedick's. I hope that Stephen can pull off the comedy. Jaime Harold is astonishing as Jackie curtis and keeps wrestling the scene away from Stephen. Mary Harron, our director, wants to add him into the next scene. But she is getting nervous about Yo La Tengo. She has suddenly decided they are all wrong as the Velvet Underground. Ultimately, she changes her mind. Martha Plimpton's dog walker did not show up, so a production assistant has to drive up to her house and get the dog.
Outside in Washington Square. A pretty day and crowds of people around. The actors are upset with their cubicle dressing rooms in Washington Square Church - I can't wait until we're at the Warhol factory set and they all have to use Porto-sans. Stephen is very worried that onlookers will take pictures of him in drag. Although he's playing a quasitranssexual in the film, he does not want pictures of himself in a dress getting around. Tom Kalin, my coproducer, beeps me 911. He has just spoken to Stephen's agent at ICM who chewed him out for allowing any stills to be taken - which according to him is BREAKING OUR VERBAL CONTRACT, which according to him is BINDING IN THE STATE OF LOS ANGELES. We might have to track down and destroy all the negtives, or the state of Los Angeles will come after us.
Street theater on the Lower East Side. BEDLAM. Mary is yanking art department personnel and making them freatured extras. That's against union rules. By the time the AD informs me what is going on we are on our third rehearsal. What to do? If we yank the illegal extras, it could take at least an hour to reset - bad, especially given Mary's trapped-animal state of mind. And the skies look like they are about to open up. We go for it. I know an extra is going to rat on us.
First day in the Factory!
Tahnee Welch hates her hair. Jared Harris is astonishingly like Warhol. He says that Tom Kalin told him that we were getting him colored lenses. We're not. He reacts to this news with great distress. We finally secure very expensive alternative dressing rooms for Lili, Jared, and Stephen, but they look at them and decide they'd rather stay in the stinky ones they already have.
I've asked Chris Makos, the photographer and former Warhol sidekick, to take some photos on set. Kind of a publicity stunt. Billy Name, Chris' predecessor at the Factory, is here too. He is walking around and exclaiming how extraordinary this all is, how it brings him back. Just the couch is not quite right he says - and the columns were round instead of square. But otherwise it is perfect. And the energy is the same. Chris and Billy discuss the Andys they knew. Billy says the post-shooting Andy was the cardboard Andy; he says Andy never knew if he died then or not.
Lothaire Bluteau's producer from the movie The Confessional calls to see if we could please please let the actor go to Cannes since the film is scheduled for the opening night of the Director's Fortnight. It is ironic since I am trying to get Julianne Moore released from her movie to go to Cannes for Safe. I'm mean at first, but then I calm down and try to figure out a way to make it work.
Cindy Sherman visits the Factory. Office Killer, the horror movie script she's working on for us, is coming along very, very well. She asks if her step-daughter can PA for us on Warhol. I say sure - then I realize it's Viva's daughter, and she'll get to watch Tahnee Welch playing her mom. Wierd.
Crisis. The Maria Callas aria that was sent over for Jim Lyons (as Billy Name) to lip-sync to is the famous one from La Wally that's played over and over in Diva. Mary insists we can't use it, so we have to go with an aria that we haven't cleared; I tell Jim to steer clear of consonants in case we have to replace it. Mary asks me, "Am I being silly" and I say, "I don't know." Part of my role is to support a director's sometimes obtuse way of getting what he or she needs. Mary could be right.
Mary decides that Billy Name should shoot the screen tests within the film, as he did twenty-five years ago. Tom and I are a tad skeptical (the originals were said to be rather dark), but Mary thinks that for the Sake of Authenticity it's essential.
I am in the office. Hysterial call from the set. Billy Name's screen tests are unusable; they're practically black. The whole morning is spent reshooting them. We do not start shooting what we're supposed to shoot until 5 pm. MUCH finger pointing, blame-laying...
But our dailies look wonderful. All the actors seem to be becoming their parts: There is a constant sense of delight as the cast re-creates these people, those times.
The Voice prints what I think is a decent article about the movie BUT much unhappiness ensues. Jared is furious that his photo was printed. He thinks it's important to keep a lid on his Warhol "look" - and I think he is right. He tears up the paper in front of Tom. Stephen is upset because the article says he is "temperamental". He and Jared confer, and then Stephen accuses Tom of being frineds with the writer and therefore responsible for the dig. Who knows? I think the writer just overheard something on set.
Today we are shooting Andy Warhol. Massimo (playing Warhol's assistant, who was shot in the butt) called last night in a panic that his butt would really get shot. He wanted to know if he could get a bullet-proof butt cover. Katie assured him he would definitely not be really shot in the butt.
The day is unbelievably long. I'm stuck in the office on a horrific conference call with Miramax about Kids. When I get to the set, everyone seems calm albeit tired.
One of the electricians has started an irritating habit of drinking a cocktail just before wrap. It is a clear "fuck you" and it is driving me crazy. Tom spoke to him this a.m. and he seemed to agree to knock it off, but hen he went ahead and did it again today.
Jared is nervous that he cannot play Warhol at Studio 54 without a major makeover. He thinks that he doesn't look enough like Warhol at that point in his life. "Why don't you just get another actor?" he says. I bite my tongue and try to placate him.
One of the actresses wants an advance on her slary and keeps walking up to people and asking them if they are Christine. I am laying low.
We start Week 6. Everyone seems a little worn out. Ellen Kuras, the DP, takes me aside and says that the crew has been grumbling. I feel weary: The weekend before I had taken them all out for drinks at my own expense. The day gets very late and very very tense. I retreat to my office.
Chelsea Hotel. Very miserable owner, hates the way we moved the art around, demands we put it back the way it was, won't have good name of the Chelsea sullied, etc. The denizens are irritated and scary. Someone keeps pulling the fire alarm.
The end is near. We're at Studio 54, and Jared, despite his anxieties, looks astonishly like the older Warhol. The place is cavernous. Richard Harris, Jared's dad, comes to the set and hangs out. I imagine him saying to his son: "This is how you let them treat you?? Where's your trailer?? If you want to be a star you have to behave like one!"
(Diary extract from: 'Shooting to Kill' by Christine Vachon/1998/Bloomsbury Publishing/London)