I have the odd feeling, having worked with the ineffably charming and wildly professional Emily Mortimer, that I’ve worked with an “obit-definer”. Do you know what that is? Well, think about it. When we die, if we deserve a public obit at all, it tends to be about things that we might not have imagined were going to be quite the life-definers that we’d originally set out to make. I remember a few years ago reading about a man–a Congressman for Goddsakes–who was the last person to have breakfast with John F. Kennedy. That fateful morning in Dallas, this guy–who knows his name?–was the local politico who hosted the President’s breakfast. Kennedy was shot a few hours later. Forty some years later, this fellow died and rated a Times obit. Not because of his life’s accomplishments. But because fate put him in the way of something much larger.
Truly Emily Mortimer makes me feel this way. When I’m aged and decrepit–assuming the journey takes me that far–I have an odd feeling that my phone will still be ringing because of the brief but decisively wonderful moment in which my life intersected with hers. Her “Molly”–her character in “City Island”–is so lovingly drawn, so original and so effortlessly tossed off as to make me feel that I overwrote, overthought and overthunk the whole thing: Emily showed up and showed me how it should be done and who this woman truly was. Oddly we only worked together for about five days–yet now that I’ve got the whole movie assembled it feels like she’s in at least half of it. Somebody wrote me in the comments section askiing about screentime for the actors: both Emily and Julianna share the same amount of screen time. But for whatever reason, Emily’s shoot days were concentrated into just a few and Julianna stuck out the run of the show. It felt to me like Emily was doing a cameo–but not at all; she is a major and majorly important piece of the puzzle that is “City Island”.
Her bearing and worldview is both incredibly poised…and wonderfully obscure. Sometime we would simply look at each other and laugh…at nothing. I’m not sure if she was just being polite and thinking “Poor man…he’s so distraught and tired”…and perhaps, in some way, she was and that makes it even sweeter of her. Enough. She’s a life-giver and a super-pro. She’s also a great “Molly”. The person I wrote became a much more interesting life blood figure because of Emily and her participation. Which is how it should be, granted. But not always is it so gratifying and lovely a thing to witness.
Next up I’ll tell you about that other fabulous woman J. Marguiles. Meanwhile, here are two outtakes of the soon to be legendary Emily Mortimer: in one she pronounces the word “fuck” in the way only the English can do: “Fack”. In the other, she steps on Andy Garcia’s foot and apparently hurts him–but they both carry on with the scene no matter what. And third, I’ve included a wonderful clip of the great Bill Evans from 1970 playing Johnny Mandel’s theme from “The Amercanization of Emily”…called, what else? “Emily”.