Riding in Elevators with Movie Stars

The place where I’m staying has two apartments per floor, and the other apartment on the floor where I’m at is occupied by Timothy Hutton. So Timothy Hutton and I have been riding up and down together in the elevator. Which brings me to the subject of riding in elevators with movie stars. I mean, usually, if you get into an elevator where there’s only one other person, you say “Hi,” or something, and sometimes you even talk a little. But when you get into an elevator with a movie star (if you’re Deitch, at least), you make sure you don’t say anything, and you even try to pretend that you don’t know who they are, even though you know that they know that you know. Which is just a strange fact of life, especially in New York.

One time I was waiting for an elevator by myself, the doors opened, and the person inside, leaning in the corner and looking at me square in the eye, was Robert DeNiro. I looked at him, and I got in. He stayed in the same position, and I looked down, put my face into casual mode, and it was both stupid and reality. Annie Hall could have done it—she would have just fallen all over herself in her big hat, tie, and tennis racket, apologizing for knowing who he was and pretending she didn’t even though she did.

When I was much younger, according to many people, I looked a lot like Sigourney Weaver. I apologize already—she looked much better than me and I didn’t really look like her. But just so you know what I’m saying to you, I once interviewed the director John Singleton (Boys in the Hood, Poetic Justice), and he couldn’t stop interrupting our interview to say, “Damm! You look exactly like Sigourney Weaver!” Anyway. if I did, I don’t anymore—not since I grew out my hair, put on a few pounds, and put down my Alien flamethrower. But one day, when I was living in LA, I was buying something in a bodega near my apartment, when a young woman walked in and looked at me like I was Denzel or Santa Claus. She got really excited. And she said, “You’re her!” And I said, “I’m not her.” And she said, “You’re not?!” And I said, “No.” I don’t remember if I apologized or not.

Anyway, the point is, that it gave me insight into what it must look like from inside a movie star’s head—if you’re a guy looking for chicks, that could be great. But it can go bad. When I worked at The New Yorker in the olden days, the receptionist on the twentieth floor sat behind bulletproof glass. People just have weird projections. One time some guy came up, and when the receptionist didn’t let him in to use the bathroom, he pissed all over the glass. Nice, right? I got used to being attacked at parties about how bad the fiction was. People just couldn’t control themselves.

Anyway, I ride the elevator with Timothy Hutton, and I’ve started to relax around just riding, and not stressing out about how he feels trapped in an elevator with me, Deitch. I do have to say that he’s really cute, but I won’t say it to him.

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