Big game celebrity hunting

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

By Allison Heather 

After hours of waiting in the sun with my eyes glued to Cusak’s trailer, his door opened.  I held my breath.  What if he sees me and freaks out?  Are there laws against stalking movie stars?

Somehow, none of these questions occurred to me when my crusade began last January.  I found out Cusack was filming in Toronto when I read about it on another fan’s Web page.  I spent a lot of time trying to narrow down location, timing and especially, my own presentation.  Crashing a film set takes a lot of planning, but I eventually learned which hotel he stayed in, the filming locations and that he went to a lot of movies at the Cumberland theatre.

By March, I knew the man was in my city.  It was horrible.  I couldn’t walk by a film set without finding out what movie it was for.  Sean, one of my customers at Starbucks works for a lot of productions in the city.  With a little bit of incentive — free jumbo decafs — I scored a piece of paper.  But he said, “If you bump into me here, you don’t know me.”

The paper was a call sheet for a day of filming down on Lake Shore Blvd. East in April.  When the big day arrived, I skipped English class and found myself staring at a sign that read “No Trespassing” on the lawn of the studio.  Trailers were scattered everywhere on the lot but there was nobody around.  No crew members, no extras, nobody.  I took a deep breath and walked with my head up and notepad in hand towards the trailers.  Trying not to dart my eyes too much, I looked for “nick’s” trailer.  (Call sheets are a good way to know the star’s film name because no trailer will ever have “John Cusack” on the door.)

The first trailer door I looked at was decorated with a white piece of paper with “Nick” scribbled on it in black magic marker.  There it was.  My heart started pounding.  What if he’s in there?  I asked myself.  What if he sees me and freaks out?  What if he is (gasp!) a complete and utter jerk?  I’d be crushed!

Panicking, I made my way back into the parking lot and sat down on a curb.  I rubbed my sweaty palms on my pants.  Some people came out of the main building and saw me, so I started scribbling stuff on my notepad just to look calm, as though I should be there.  The tension was killing me.  My blood pressure was skyrocketing.  I didn’t know the consequences of stalking a movie star.  Could I get arrested?  I doubted it, but even if I was just escorted off the property, it would still be damn well embarrassing.  I waited for an hour, but no sign of Cusack.  I gave up for the day.

A few weeks later I received another piece of paper form my informant, Sean.  It was a promising tip that there would be lots of extras around, so it would be easy to blend in.  Off I went again, this time to the studio district at Pape and Eastern Ave.  It was a very small set with lots of trailers, and again, I found “Nick’s” right away.  With extras around, and having already done this once, I felt much more at ease.  I perched myself on a chair with some extras, right between the indoor set and the trailers.  It was a good spot.  People were hanging out, smoking and sitting in the sun, so I blended right in.  After another hour of waiting with my eyes glued to Cusack’s trailer, the door opened.  I held my breath as he appeared.

He looked just liked he does in movies — tall, thick black hair, chiseled features.  He was ready for the next shot, dressed in a crisp white shirt and black tie.  It was almost as if he still wasn’t real, like I was watching him on some new 3-D movie screen.  For some reason the sight of him made me feel calm, almost peaceful.

He came out of his trailer wearing a baseball glove and started playing catch with some bottle-blonde.  There was music in my ears, just watching his graceful frame throw that baseball back and forth.  I thought, okay, he’s real.  I can get on with my pathetic life now.

But then he pinged a baseball off a car and didn’t even flinch.  He is so suave, I thought.  I have to meet this guy.

Then his cell phone rang.  He moved to the sidelines in the shade by his trailer for some privacy.  Some privacy that was.  He was about 15 feet in front of me and I was glaring at him through mirrored sunglasses.  As he spoke on the phone he ran his long fingers through his jet black hair while he paced back and forth like a hospital visitor.  Then he became even more human.  He started picking his nose.  I mean, he didn’t even try to hide it.  He was just digging away, alternating between thumb and forefinger.  I may have even drooled.  Hey, it is John Cusack.

When he was finished on the phone, he tucked it away in his pocket and … started heading my way!  I must have looked like that little girl Chihuahua in the Taco Bell commercial, as the little boy Chihuahua is walking towards her and she waits intently for him.  But just like the boy Chihuahua, Johnny walked right past without noticing me.  My heart sank.  I must have looked like I just lost my best friend.  He didn’t even notice me?  I had gone out of my way to look ultrafeminine — complete with tight top — and he didn’t even notice me?  What’s wrong with him?

I began to have hostile thoughts.  But before I knew it, he came back out and walked right by me again.  It was now or never.  Do or die.  Carpe diem!  A group of extras were in his way so he kind of slowed down and turned my way and caught my eye looking for a detour.  “John?” I said.  Did I just say that?  I didn’t just say that.

“Hi, how you doing?” he asked.

“Um, I’m great thanks!”  After much nervous stammering and hand shaking, we established that I was a big fan and really liked his work, yadda yadda yadda.  I felt like such a nut.  I kept thinking, I am the biggest loser, with a big, dopey smile on my face.  With that, he thanked me and said he must get back to work.

And there you have it.  Mission accomplished.  But it wasn’t enough for me.  I still want more.  I want to hang out with him.  I want to talk with him.  Get to know him or something.  I don’t think I’ll ever understand my obsession with this famous person.  It’s like he’s a part of this whole other species and it’s a really special event to interact with him.  Like dolphins or something, thinking that when we actually communicate with them it’s some big accomplishment.


Tips for stalkers

As Toronto’s film industry booms, you options for celebrity stalking are increasing dramatically.  Here’s a handy checklist to launch your hunt.

Find a call sheet.

Good to have, because it describes the itinerary for the shoot.  Better than wandering around looking for the movie trucks.

Use props.

Items like mirrored sunglasses for discreet observation; cigarettes as an excuse for loitering; and a clipboard or notepad for that vaguely professional look.

Play a part.

You might have best results on a day when you can blend in with the extras — who look lost, just like you.

Know your victim’s “name.”

Look for the trailer with the name of the character played by the object of your obsession, not the name of the actual person.

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