The Winnipeg story cont'd

Thursday 7 Jan 10

So last night I went along with my friend and (ex bf) Rob to see the premiere of the romcom Leap Year, which my friends Deb and Harry (who wrote Josie and the Pussycats which I was in) had written.

After there was a party at this place called Tomato, and as they often do at these things, they fed you food that was sort in keeping with the movie. As this movie took place in rural Ireland we had cabbage, which, as a rabid veggie, I had loads of. Actually, thinking about it now, maybe the cabbage was just cabbage that they always serve, as the rest of the menu (salmon, steak, potatoes and macaroni and salad) bears little relevance to the Emerald isle.  Well, I'm going to pretend that cabbage was all part of a grand plan by the studio to keep us in the spirit of things. But that's not the point of this story.

Rob and I sat down in a booth with my manager, Dannielle, and chatted to some lovely people, one of whom was a man who had written a book about jet packs. How random is that?! I have always wanted a jet pack, but after his extensive research in this field, he advised me against it.  He said I didn't want burnt legs. You know what? I don't.

Anyway, as Rob and I were knocking back our fizzy waters (I have been off the booze since New Year and he has started a little cleanse) and staring longingly at everyone quaffing martinis and wine around us, a lady came up up to our table and said she was the lovely Amy Adams' acting coach and had last seen me in Winnipeg on the set of the George Lopez Christmas Movie! Now I should point out, I was not in the George Lopez Christmas Movie. But here's what happened...

After I finished shooting Reefer Madness in Vancouver in 2005, I decided to drive across Canada and back to NYC in my newly accquired 1978 VW camper van named Herb. Rob came along for the ride. Now, adults among you might thing it not the best plan to take a road trip in an ancient van across a continent with someone with whom you have recently split but are still embroiled in, and you'd be absolutely right.

The trip was a disaster.  Herb broke down EVERY SINGLE day.  I became very familiar with CAA (not my agents, but the Canadian Automobile Association) and things between Rob and I reached such a fever pitch of badness that I finally dropped him off at Winnipeg airport where we had a teary farewell and packed him on a flight back to Seattle.  Honey, my dog, and I set off on our own, but after  about a quarter of a mile Herb started his, by now, familiar spluttering and finally came to a grinding halt and would not budge. This time is it was really bad. He was towed to the VW dealership car park and I was told I'd have to wait till Monday for it to open.  This was Saturday evening.  This was not good.  Honey and I realised we would have to bunk down in Herb in said car park in the middle of an industrial estate in Winnipeg. And to think only a few days earlier I'd been a movie star.

 Talking of movies, I decided to try and ease my state of disbelieving torpor and go and see a movie at a nearby multiplex.  The movie I chose was The Day After Tomorrow. I came out thinking 'And they think they've got problems'.

Honey and I had a restless night of sleep, caused no doubt by the fact we could hear the local drunken Winnipeg youths screaming and pushing themselves around in a supermarket trolley only mere feet away from where we tried to slumber.

 The next morning I was resolute. I had to do something. So we started to walk into town (in the rain) in search of an internet cafe so we could find a hotel that would take dogs.  After realising we were going in the wrong direction we turned round and made our way towards the throbbing metropolis that is Winnipeg city center.  As we wandered pathetically through the streets, hungry and exhausted, I suddenly saw something that made my heart soar: fake snow!!  And trucks! And large men sitting on the tailgates of the trucks with walkie talkies in their holsters, eating burritos out of polystyrene boxes! This was a film set! These were my people! They would help me!

I sussed out the geography and found where base camp was, and as I passed the little trailers where I knew from experience the ADs and PAs hung out, I slowed Honey down to a funerial pace to maximise the potential of one of the said employees bounding out of their trailer and recognising me.  And it worked!! This lovely girl with a headest on carrying a pile of call sheets (whose name I have forgotten now but let's just call her Angel), scampered down the steps, saw me, stopped in her tracks and said 'You're Alan Cumming!', to which I replied 'Yes, and I need your help!'.

Within minutes Honey and I were sitting in Angels's little trailer, having a cup of tea whilst she was on the phone booking us a room in a dog friendly hotel and writing out directions to the nearest internet cafe. A passer-by, intrigued by the movie goings-on stuck their head in the door and asked what the movie was that was being filmed. In my blur of insomnia and steely determination I had forgotten to enquire. 'The Goerge Lopez Christmas Movie', said Angel.  And how perfect, for to me it was a Christmas miracle.

Last year, I ran into the real George Lopez at a party and he said 'I believe you owe me a great debt!' for he'd heard the story too.  And how funny that last night that as the acting coach lady came to say hello I should be sitting next to Rob, who had also been part of this sorry tale, albeit with a redemptive, you might say, romcom ending!

You see, movies aren't always far-fetched.