Gone But Not Forgotten


By Marci Liroff

I watched “Good Will Hunting” last night. I hadn’t seen it since it first came out in 1997. To think that the very young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote this as their first movie is amazing. I realize I still can’t believe Robin Williams isn’t with us anymore. I’m finding it very hard to accept.

We’ve lost so many actors that I’ve had the pleasure to have known and worked with through the years and they bring back so many wonderful memories.

Here are but a few.

Robin Williams was one of the first actors to take the leap of faith on a little animated movie I cast, “Ferngully-The Last Rainforest,” long before celebrity voice-overs were popular. When I cast him in the film “Insomnia” I had to convince the powers that be that he could play against type as a serial killer.

When I worked on “Poltergeist,” young Heather O’Rourke immediately stood out with her sweetness and curiosity about the world around her. I had been bringing in the talented Dominique Dunne for several years and finally found the perfect role for her. Both are gone too soon. We lucked out when we found Zelda Rubenstein to play the eccentric psychic Tangina.

I became friendly with Dudley Moore after casting him in “Six Weeks.” He drove me home once when my car got locked in a parking lot where we were out to dinner—and even picked me up the next day to go and get it!

It’s hard to imagine that director Bob Clark made the raunchy “Porky’s” and the hilarious classic “A Christmas Story.” A drunk driver on PCH killed him and his son. Working with him on these movies was one of the highlights of my career. You’ve never met a sweeter man.

I had the pleasure of casting Chris Penn in two movies: “All the Right Moves” and the original “Footloose.” The producers fell in love with him on “Footloose” and re-wrote the role to suit him.

Brittany Murphy was so great in “Summer Catch,” but another audition sticks in my mind. In the middle of her audition for “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” she went into the corner of the room and took out her contacts and dropped them on the carpet, saying they were driving her crazy. The director had to take her in hand and walk her off the lot and back to her driver because she couldn’t see!

When we cast Gregory Hines for the cult classic “Eve of Destruction,” he was so into it he came to the auditions and read opposite the actors.

In 1982, Vic Morrow was hoping to make a comeback with “Twilight Zone: The  Movie.” The children production found to be in the scene (I had refused to get involved in casting them because I felt the scene, as described by director John Landis, was too dangerous), Renee Shinn Chen and Myca Dinh Le, were so excited to be in a movie. A dangerous and ill-conceived stunt went awry and the helicopter crashed down upon them and Morrow, killing them all. I testified in court against the defendants. A very sad day in Hollywood history.

It was a treat to come to work everyday when director Harold Ramis was in the room. He made everyone feel so comfortable. He and the star and creator of the pilot, Paul Reiser, stood up to shake hands whenever a lady came in the room. To sit in the room with the two of them as they were riffing back and forth were moments that I’ll never forget.

Although I miss them, I’m grateful these films have immortalized them and, at times, it still feels like they’re with us.

Rest in peace my friends.

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