Tuesday, July 14, 2009

André Gregory tells a story

It concerns Jean Lenauer, who played the waiter in My Dinner with André (1981). "Louis" is Louis Malle, the film's director. "Wally" is Wallace Shawn.

The first day of shooting, Louis wanted to fire him, because of course he wasn't a waiter [laughs], so he didn't know what to do with the serving of stuff. So Wally and I, who grew up on the upper East Side [laughs], been to these restaurants, we stayed up all night with Jean, coaching him on being a waiter.

And he was amazing. In fact, Wally and I were coming from a rehearsal, I think of The Master Builder, a couple of years ago, and this guy ran up to Wally and said "My Dinner with André! I've seen it eight times! What an amazing movie! You were great! God, I love" — you know. And Wally after a while said, "I suppose you know my friend." And he looked at me and said, "I don't think so." And I said, "I was the other guy." And he said, "Oh." And he went back to talking with Wally and then shook his hands and went off down the street, and then he came running back, and he grabbed me by the arm. He said, "I'm so sorry — you were the waiter. I didn't recognize you." [Laughs.]
André Gregory tells this story to filmmaker Noah Baumbach in a video interview included in the Criterion Collection edition of My Dinner with André. A thousand thanks to Criterion for giving this film the digital transfer and DVD edition it deserves.

A related post
"Nil admirari in stone, the waiter"

comments: 5

macon d said...

Thanks! That's a good story. I loved that movie back in the day, so I'll have to try this new edition. (Shawn's play Aunt Dan and Lemon is a good read too, wish I could find a recorded performance.)

Michael Leddy said...

The Wallace Shawn Reference page shows nothing for Aunt Dan and Lemon.

I esp. like this interview for the way it shows AG's self-awareness. He describes his character in the film as (among other things) a "spiritual used-car salesman."

macon d said...

Um, unless I'm somehow mistaken . . .

A spiritual used-car salesman -- that's awesome!

One of my favorite lines from the film is Wally's (I may not be remembering it right):

"I . . . don't know . . . what you're talking about. I mean, I know what you're talking about, but I don't really know what you're talking about. What are you talking about?"

Michael Leddy said...

Oops — I meant nothing about a filmed production.

I've shown My Dinner with André a few times to students, and that line always gets a big response. I also like "The cookie is in no position to know that."

Hob said...

Great story! And now I probably have to get the Criterion DVD... sigh.

Macon: unfortunately there isn't any Aunt Dan recording publicly available. It seems to be getting produced a lot lately though, so we can hope.