Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Star sighting in Austin

Call this little story "Sexiest Man Alive: Once Removed."

It was a big celeb-spotting weekend at the Four Seasons in Austin. First I run smack into Kris Kristofferson, wearing a black t-shirt and black jeans (what else?). Then Jeff Fahey, star of Scorpius Gigantus and TV's Manticore, rolls over on the grass out by the pool and asks me the time. Variety editor and cable TV film-chat host Peter Bart is lurking in the Green Room at the Interactive fest. And then: A four-star encounter with the Sexiest Man Alive himself.

I am waiting for my car in the circle drive in front of the hotel. Two tall, shaggy-handsome guys walk right up to me and one says, "Hey, hot thing, did you get a better room?" I recognize him as having shared my elevator yesterday when I checked in, and, after seeing my crummy second-floor no-lake-view-as-promised room, zipped back down to the desk to get re-roomed. "You should be staying on the ninth floor," he says. "It's rock star up there." I tell him I got a much better room the second try and he high-fives me. I can't remember the last time anyone addressed me as "hot thing."

Now I look just beyond these guys and see that they're part of an all-male posse with Matthew McConaughey, who's standing there by himself in baggy shorts and faded t-shirt, waiting for what turns out to be a stretch Escalade. I ignore Mr. Failure to Launch and keep fun-flirting with his friends.

So who are you guys? I ask.

"I'm Matthew's stunt double," says the shorter of the two. He's Mark Norby, an actor who's doubled McConaughey on a bunch of films. They met as UT students and got to know each other on a trip to Mexico (this story is interrupted by McC, who nudges into our triad to bum a cigarette... I continue to ignore him because it amuses me).

Norby bears a startling resemblance to McC: same young Paul Newmanesque face, same aquiline nose, piercing blue eyes, layered hair.

I introduce myself and shake hands with the hand that pretends to be McC's hand. So the big star looks a little hung over today, I say. (He's out of earshot, having wandered away to give a bearhug to Don Phillips, who cast him in Dazed and Confused, his first movie job. )

"We're all hung over. We partied way late," says Norby.

They were all guests at Friday night's Austin Film Society bash that honored Lyle Lovett, Cybill Shepherd, JoBeth Williams, Kristofferson, McConaughey and others who began their film and music careers in Texas.

"We were celebrating Matt's new movie making, like, $25 million this weekend," says Norby.

I can't help but gossip a little. I heard he didn't get along with (co-star) Sarah Jessica Parker too well, I say. (It's taking a looooong time for our cars. But who cares? McC told an interviewer that SJP was "peculiar." I have to know.)

"Naw, they didn't get along," says Norby. "He didn't like the movie either. But he made a lot of money doing it!" (Reportedly, the $7-$10 mil range.)

Norby's wife is also a stunt double and did that job for Ms. Parker on Failure to Launch. "She got paid to push me out of sailboat all day," says Norby.

The shiny black Escalade pulls up. McConaughey gets in, gets out and gets back into the back seat.

My new friends ask for my biz card and tell me they'll send me a T-shirt. The tall one gives me a goodbye high-five. My dusty little Toyota arrives.

Right in front of the McC posse, I trip over the curb and almost fall off my sandal.

Unlike big stars, I do my own stunts.


Blogger Morgaine said...

That last line made the whole story. Hee.

3:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The stunt doubles are usually far better then the real thing.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh. Stars. I'm sure the Ashleys will be impressed.
The snack mix at the Four Seasons bar is more interesting.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love it!

8:01 PM  
Anonymous littlem said...

I once bashed my head getting out of a stretch limousine on the way to the afterparty of a NYC film premiere. Big bump on my head just before I met Denzel Washington.

Ah, schmoozing.

2:01 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I knew Norby our senior year at UT. Truly one of the coolest guys I have ever met. An adventure man and fine human being all wrapped up into one. If he an McConaughey have been friends this long, then Matthew must be a fine man himself.

11:19 PM  
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