From the time I was eight, I wanted to be a movie star. I had both of the prerequisites: a vast neediness that could never be satisfied except by the love of a million strangers, and family in show business.
Through nepotism and luck, I got a few lines on an episode of “Growing Pains” that guest-starred a then unknown, pre-Thelma and Louise Brad Pitt. He’d already done a guest spot for this show and I’d worked as an extra for them a few summers.
I was 16 and he was in his early to mid-twenties. I thought he was attractive, naturally, but I had a boyfriend I was crazy about (and cheating on), and Brad was a chain smoker. Smoking disgusted me so violently, I couldn’t see past it to consider a person’s other qualities. And yes, with an attitude like that? Of course I became a smoker myself.
To me, at the time, he was old and a smoker. Ew, and ew, said the teenage Valley Girl I was. What I recall clear as day is that he was extremely nice. I spent a lot of time on sets, and actors were as likely to be aloof or rude as to be friendly with the “nobodies.” My dad ran a show starring another before-he-was-a-star-actor whom I approached at a party only to be rudely blown off. Later that night, my dad the executive producer put his arm around me and asked, “[Mr. Actor], have you met my daughter Mo?” Complete 180 degree attitude change from Mr. Actor — once he knew who I was related to.
I mean, could he BE any more show-biz?
Brad Pitt was all Midwestern social graces. Polite, charming, and friendly. We chatted during breaks in blocking and rehearsal. I had recently seen his girlfriend Jill Schoelin on stage in “Hurley Burley” with Danny Aiello and Sean Penn.
“She has the most amazing voice.”
“Oh, GOD!” his eyes rolled back in his head, “Her voice melts me.”
Fifteen or so years later when Oprah Winfrey asked the superstar if he wanted children, he replied “Little girls melt me,” and I screamed to my empty living room, “Oh my God! That’s exactly what he said to ME about Jill Schoelin!”
Because I had four lines, I was hired for the entire Wednesday-Tuesday rehearse-and-shoot schedule. The storyline had a “groupie” (Brad played a rock star), but with no lines the part wasn’t cast until the last shooting day. At the end of each day of rehearsal on a four-camera sitcom, it was customary to have a run-through for the writers and producers, who then went back to the writing room and punched up the script. If you got your script the next day and your lines were all different, it wasn’t a good sign. Unfortunately, it would take many more years to finally accept I’m a terrible actress. They didn’t just change all of my lines after first run-through, they changed the name of my character.
In a pivotal scene, Ben Seaver (played by Jeremy Miller) walks in on his idol, played by Brad Pitt, making out with a girl who isn’t the character’s wife (ah, a glimpse into the future). Since the shameless hussy wasn’t cast yet, the director had blocked the scene with Brad lying on top of a pillow awkwardly, pretending to kiss it. Right before the run-through, the director said, “That looks stupid, with the pillow. For the writers, Mo, jump in there.” My heart pounded. It would be my first kissing scene! I’d been promoted! The shame of not being funny during last run-through faded a little. I blushed, worried about his cigarette breath, and secretly jumped up and down inside. My elation was short-lived when Brad Pitt got a puss on.
“I don’t feel comfortable with that. She’s like what? Sixteen? Seventeen? Her dad will be watching.” It was true. My father was one of the writers. Damn you, Daddy. You ruined my kiss with Brad Pitt.
After high school, I was accepted to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Los Angeles where I met people who had no trouble telling me I had no talent. Most of them kissed me first, though. I also met Paul Rudd. In my pajamas.
But that’s a story for another time. It will melt you.