FLUFFER: LIFE OF PI















Resident inebriate and charmer, Sir Edwin Fluffer gives us a fascinating insight into the making of the years most popular films.
 Without a doubt this was one of the most arduous shoots I’ve ever been on, and an actor of lesser experience would’ve found it a lot more difficult than I did! The idea was to pay homage to that wonderful Alfred Hitchcock movie, Lifeboat. Hitch provided his traditional cameo for this picture by appearing in an advert in a newspaper that’s found in the boat and a few of us decided to do the same as a little joke. 

We spent a lot longer than we probably needed to getting the photo right, and if I remember rightly that was because I arrived on set slightly worse for wear after a very good lunch.  The trouble was that every time we put the newspaper on the raft it kept blowing into the sea, so after a couple of takes we just forgot about it. Sadly I never got to meet the tiger, but I’m assured he was quite charming.

FLUFFER: LINCOLN

Me and Danny

Resident inebriate and charmer, Sir Edwin Fluffer gives us a fascinating insight into the making of the years most popular films.


This was quite simply the finest ensemble cast I’ve had the honour to appear with since Hollywood Canteen. I was very taken aback when the phone rang and I answered it to none other than Steven Spielberg! ‘Is that Sir Tom Courtenay?’ he said. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘it’s Sir Edwin Fluffer.’ ‘You’ll do,’ he said and I was on set the very next day! Of course this meant there was no time to rehearse and my performance may have suffered a little as a result.

Two bottles of champagne on the flight over and some terrible jet lag the next day didn’t help much either.  If I had to describe Daniel Day-Lewis as an actor I’d use the word ‘fussy’, but his father was a friend and his limericks did make me laugh. It all went wrong when Tommy Lee Jones bet me $20 that I couldn’t throw a peanut and get it to land on Danny’s top hat. Hal Holbrook was brought in to re-shoot all my scenes, so it was like Into The Wild all over again!

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER REMEMBERS LES MISERABLES


HOLLYWOOD – Resident inebriate and charmer, Sir Edwin Fluffer gives us a fascinating insight into the making of the years most popular films.
The director Tom Hooper owed me a favour after I had to drop out of The Queen’s Speech for legal reasons, so when the call came I made sure I was first on set. Unfortunately I got the day wrong and was there a week early. When I went back again they were already half way through shooting, so we felt it best if I took a step back and lent some of my credibility to the crowd scenes. 
I was overjoyed to see dear old Russell Crowe again: we still laugh about him getting me fired from Gladiator for refusing to wear the sandals. Les Mis was an absolute joy to work on, and after a few takes I couldn’t help joining in with some of the songs. If I can’t get another Oscar for this one I’d be more than happy to accept a Bafta, or if push comes to shove even a Golden Globe.

FLUFFER’S END OF YEAR REVIEW: PART 2

For Your Consideration

As award season approaches veteran ham Sir Edwin Fluffer shamelessly campaigns for the recognition he doesn’t really deserve. Here are just a few of his performances from the last year that the Academy won’t find it difficult to ignore.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
I took the inspiration for this performance from my dear old friend Alec ‘Gin And Tonic But Not What I’m Working’ Guinness. His portrayal of the elderly Brahmin scholar Professor Godbole in A Passage To India has to be seen to be believed, so I paid tribute to that.  
Sadly the director felt it was more of a direct copy than a tribute and we had a slight disagreement about that. In the end I had to agree with him that it was not entirely appropriate for the role I was playing, which was that of one of the patients in the hospital with Maggie Smith. What the script didn’t make entirely clear was that my character had recently passed away from complications caused by pneumonia and emphysema, which is why you only see me lying on a bed with a blanket over my head.


Life of Pi
Without a doubt this was one of the most arduous shoots I’ve ever been on, and an actor of lesser experience would’ve found it a lot more difficult than I did! The idea was to pay homage to that wonderful Alfred Hitchcock movie, Lifeboat. Hitch provided his traditional cameo for this picture by appearing in an advert in a newspaper that’s found in the boat and a few of us decided to do the same as a little joke.
We spent a lot longer than we probably needed to getting the photo right, and if I remember rightly that was because I arrived on set slightly worse for wear after a very good lunch.  The trouble was that every time we put the newspaper on the raft it kept blowing into the sea, so after a couple of takes we just forgot about it. Sadly I never got to meet the tiger, but I’m assured he was quite charming.

FLUFFER: END OF YEAR REVIEW: PART 1




For Your Consideration


As award season approaches veteran ham Sir Edwin Fluffer shamelessly campaigns for the recognition he doesn’t really deserve. Here are just a few of his performances from the last year that the Academy won’t find difficult to ignore:

The Hobbit
I had a small but memorable scene in this little picture with that twinkly old darling Sir Ian McKellen, or Serena as I found he doesn’t like to be called. I played his doting father, Gandalf The Greyer, who insists his son wraps up warm before setting off on his big adventure. 
The 3D scarf and matching gloves I had to give him were almost frighteningly realistic. It’s a shame that my cameo didn’t make the final cut, but if they’re running short on Part Two or Part Three they can always pop it in later I suppose. The director, Peter Jackson, was an absolute sweetheart. I would tickle him under the chin and he’d chuckle like a little baby. In the end he had to ask me to stop it because we weren’t getting any work done.

Django Unchained
Let’s just say that westerns have changed a bit since my appearance all those years ago in Apache Chaps! Being the sort of actor who’ll do anything for money I was delighted to be on set with my dear old friend Samuel L. Jackson. We had a lovely chat and I told him all my favorite stories, like the time Gabby Hayes accidentally shot one of my fingers off, and dear old Sam said ‘shit, who is this guy? I can’t understand a word he’s saying!’ That’s Sammy for you: we just fell about laughing! Some of the language was a little ripe for my tastes and I did raise that with the director so I hope he’s turned it down a bit. I’ve not actually seen it yet, but I hope they’ve kept in the bit where I fall off the horse: it was an accident waiting to happen, but very funny. 
Young Leo DiCaprio actually wet himself.

BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES: 11: SPIKE LEE

Poached eggs, spinach, cappuccino.

I meet Spike Lee in a small patisserie in Brooklyn, New York. He’s wearing his trade mark baseball cap and trade mark glasses. Spike hasn’t even sat down before he starts complaining about his fellow film makers. 

Christopher Nolan? You know he wanted to call The Dark Knight, The Darkie Knight. Goddam limey racist. 



Spike, lets talk about your films. You have several films due out this year. Can you tell me something about Red Hook Summer?

 Sure. Clint Eastwood’s Firefox didn’t have a single black character. Not one. 

But Eastwood made Bird?

A black director should have made that movie. That was supposed to have been a black director’s film. I should have made it, but then this goddam cowboy comes along – a man who makes a film called The Pale Rider goddam it – Jesus.

Why didn’t you make it?

 That’s beside the point. The point is that Hollywood is racist through and through. James Cameron? Racist. Steven Spielberg? Slave owning racist. Stanley Kubrick? Racist. White people in space scared of a goddam black monolith? Goddam honky.

 So your documentary about Michael Jackson’s album Bad shows…

Robert Redford? Racist.George Lucas? Racist.

But he produced Red Tails about black airmen in the…?

A black director should have made that film.

But a black director did make that film. Anthony Hemingway.

 No, I mean a black director who wears glasses and a baseball cap. Whose name sound slike the kind of name you’d give a cartoon dog.

Okay. I suppose we better talk about Quentin…

Racist motherfucker. 

Tarantino. So you haven’t seen Django Unchained?

I don’t need to see Scary Movie 5 to know it ain’t funny.

The Scary Movie franchise was created by a black director.

Fucking hilarious. Bad example. Anyway Tarantino is using our history as entertainment. He wouldn’t do that with the Holocaust, would he?

Inglourious Basterds?

Bad Example. The point is slavery… What I mean is that the history of black people… I want to say that… racist, racist, racist.

Spike Lee takes his baseball cap off and throws it on the ground and then jumps up and down on it, which is his traditional way of signalling that the interview is over.

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

FLUFFER’S XMAS TOP TEN: PART 5



In the final part of his Xmas top ten, Sir Edwin Fluffer writes of his favorite Xmas films and his experience working in the cinema as an ‘actor’:

9 Miracle on 34th Street
I enjoyed this movie so much that I spent years trying to track down the preceding 33 Streets only to find that this is actually the first one. They haven’t made the sequel yet either, but I could always find time in my schedule for a cameo. I’d like to play the judge because then you can sit down behind that nice big desk and if you get too warm you can take your trousers off. 
When I was cast in The Searchers I wanted to play it with no trousers on, but the saddles on those horses were most uncomfortable. In the end I had to bring a cushion to sit on, but when John Wayne saw it he wanted one too and the whole thing got out of hand. I had to get Natalie Wood to embroider my name on my cushion because Jeffrey Hunter kept stealing it. 
Having no trousers backfired quite spectacularly when I was bitten by one of the horses, which resulted in some quite lengthy medical treatment. To this day I can’t think of lovely Natalie Wood without feeling quite uncomfortable. Sadly all of my scenes were cut from the movie because John Ford felt that the subplot I was involved in didn’t really gel with the rest of the picture. Even at the time I felt that having an astronaut with no trousers turn up in the middle of a western was slightly avant garde and once again history has proved me right.

10 Die Hard
The day I got my star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame I also got a phone call from that lovely young actor Alan Rickman. The poor love was in tears and I could barely understand a word he was saying. I headed straight over to his hotel room and found him in a terrible state. Ally was just about to start filming his role as the lead villain in Die Hard, but couldn’t find the character. It’s every actor’s worst nightmare. With all my years of experience in the business I couldn’t see a fellow performer suffer that way, so I stayed up with him all night long running the lines and trying desperately to find a way for him to get under the skin of that part. It was the early hours of the following morning when I suddenly had a brain wave: why not do it with an accent? 
We must’ve tried them all, Mexican, Japanese, Australian, but we got there in the end and the result is one of the most mesmerizing performances in the entire history of the cinema. So if anyone ever asks you ‘who had the bright idea to get Alan Rickman to do a French accent in Die Hard?’ you tell them Sir Edwin Fluffer! Darling Alan was terribly grateful and said he’d tried to get me a credit as dialogue coach. 
I don’t know if he remembered or not because when I saw the film I’d had a few drinks and fell asleep long before the end. 

FLUFFER’S XMAS TOP TEN: PART 4

As the holiday season approaches actor, raconteur and functioning alcoholic Sir Edwin Fluffer pours himself a large one, and introduces us to his Top Ten Christmas movies.  
Dear me, I must have had a snifter too many because I entirely to forgot to put number three in my Top Ten. Here it is now, and be a dear and don’t tell nurse:
3 National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
This is quite simply the funniest movie ever made, but when I got my voting form for that year’s Academy Awards I couldn’t believe it hadn’t been nominated for a single Oscar! I’ve never known a worse travesty of justice! I wrote Chevy Chase’s name in every single category and then put a big tick next to it but to no avail, and so I threatened to resign from the Academy in protest. 

It was only then my agent told me that if I did they wouldn’t let me have my lifetime achievement award.  
In the end I decided it was best to just let it lie.  
Dear Chevy was very understanding, and he still sends a card every year.


The Shop Around The Corner
This was one of my first jobs in Hollywood!  MGM were sure they had another hit on their hands, but they were worried that audiences couldn’t understand what James Stewart was saying. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jimmy was one of the most marvelous actors that the big screen’s been fortunate enough to make rich and famous, but that voice of his could be a bit tricky on the ear. 
In the end I was called in to dub all of Mr Stewart’s lines, and I spent hours in a sound booth going through them over and over again. If I do say so myself the end result was quite impressive, but sadly the studio didn’t agree. They felt that having an English man dubbing the voice of an American actor starring in a film set in Hungary was just too confusing. 
In the end they had to get Jimmy back in to record all his lines again! He wasn’t very happy about it, although I was delighted! There aren’t many actors who can say they’ve been overdubbed by a star of his calibre, but I’m proud to be one of them. To this day The Shop Around The Corner remains one of my finest performances. It’s just a shame that nobody got to see it. Like when I danced on top of the piano and played the kazoo in Casablanca.

FLUFFER’S XMAS TOP TEN: PART 3












In preparation for the festive season Studio Exec asked resident flaneur and genius Sir Edwin Fluffer for his top ten Xmas movies. This is part 3 of his selection:


6 Gremlins
Lovely Harry Carey Jr. rang me a few years back to say that he had a part in a new picture they were shooting called Gremlins.  I visited him on the set and can’t say I fully understood what was going on, but everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun. 
When I arrived they were setting up a shot using a stair lift much like I have at home. The actress who’d be sat in it still hadn’t been called, and I was pleased as punch to be asked to stand in for her! I got into costume and took my position, but then the machine malfunctioned and I was propelled up the stairs at break neck speed! I was travelling so fast that I couldn’t stop and was flung off the end and straight out of a window!
I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in all my life! The director loved it and kept the whole scene in the final cut. He even let me have the dress, which comes in useful whenever dear Mickey Rooney is having one of his parties.

7 Home Alone
The first time I saw this picture I didn’t like it at all, but that’s because I went into the wrong screening and ended up sitting through The Godfather Part 3. The second time I saw it I thought the popcorn was a little overpriced. I believe I paid a dollar for my carton (bear in mind that this was 1990!) and so I expected a dollar’s worth of popcorn. I can’t remember exactly what happened next, but a photograph did appear in the LA Times the next day of yours truly lying on the sidewalk outside the theatre with paramedics in attendance. 
I reached an out of court settlement with the staff at the movie theatre and to this day we’re still the best of friends. 
In fact I think I may be right in saying that the deputy manager married one of my daughters, but don’t quote me on that. In the end I saw Home Alonemany years later when it was shown on television. It was very funny, but I didn’t like the adverts.

FLUFFER’S XMAS TOP TEN: PART 2

‘The size of a healthy penis’

As the holiday season approaches actor, raconteur and functioning alcoholic Sir Edwin Fluffer pours himself a large cognac, and introduces us to his Top Ten Christmas movies.



4. It’s A Wonderful Life

When Frank Capra rang to offer me a role in this Christmas classic I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately I landed awkwardly on top of Lionel Barrymore. Luckily I wasn’t seriously hurt, but poor old Lionel ended up having to film all of his scenes from a wheelchair. It was a simple accident and could’ve happened to anyone after a few large brandies, but I’m afraid that darling Lionel did rather hold it against me. I won’t go as far as to say that he had me fired from the picture, but he certainly wrote a long letter to Frank pointing out my many failings both as an actor and a human being. 

In all fairness some of the points he raised were hard to disagree with and as I read on I soon found myself nodding in agreement.
Jimmy Stewart took it a step further by asking the rest of the cast and crew to sign a petition requesting that my services be no longer required and I mistakenly signed it thinking it was a birthday card for Donna Reed! We did laugh about that!
Even to this day I still can’t think about this film without getting a tear in my eye.


5. Love Actually
I’ve not actually seen this film myself, but the lady who comes in to do my cleaning assures me that it’s very good. The box says it has an all-star cast so there’s every chance that I could be in it.  If there’s a smartly dressed gentleman with an eye for the ladies making witty remarks while pretending not to notice the bunch of mistletoe sticking out of his trousers then that’s probably me.  People including my lawyer say I’m far too old for that kind of behavior, but try telling that to dear old Ollie Reed or darling Dickie Harris. 
Of course Peter O’Toole’s given up on all that sort of thing now, and have you seen the state of him? He looks dreadful! 
Wait! I have seen this one! 
Has it got Charlton Heston doing the chariot racing? 
That’s on every Christmas, and very good it is too.

BREAKFASTS WITH ASSHOLES: 10. LEONARDO DI CAPRIO

HOLLYWOOD – As I approach Leonardo Di Caprio‘s door I can hear a voice coming from within. I don’t ring the bell straight away. I lean close and hear clearly a voice shouting, ‘It puts the lotion in the basket or it gets the hose again.’ I smile.

Leo, Leo. Up to your old tricks again.
And I ring the bell.


Di Caprio looks startled to see me, but his face breaks into a huge fixed grin. He’s wearing the rubber apron he often wears at home. ‘Oh, hi,’ he says. ‘We’re supposed to be having breakfast, right?’

Leo stops to close the door to the cellar and then guides me into the kitchen, where we set about some wonderful toasted home made bread with a lovely pâté and some blood orange juice.

So Leo, The Great Gatsby?

I love the book. I loved the character. I thought this film needs a visionary director who knows how to handle moral ambiguity and nuance, as well as provide the screen with a sumptuous visual spectacle. Unfortunately, Marty was busy so we got lumbered with Baz Luhrmann!

But surely Luhrmann’s a fine director!?

That’s what I thought but just before we started filming I saw Australia, not the country, the film. What a piece of shit. Again, not the country, the film.

It wasn’t his finest…

It was dog shit is what it was. Yikes! Do you like the dolphin pâté?

Is that what it is? It’s mmm. I didn’t think you’d eat dolphin pâté.

What? You think I’m too cheap. Only the best for the Sternburger.

No. Because of your environmental beliefs.

Oh those. Nah. I don’t bother with those any more. I watched an episode of Jersey Shore once and I thought, fuck the planet and fuck everything. Plus dolphins might be highly intelligent animals but they’re also delicious.

And next up Django Unchained. Was it difficult for you to play the villain?

(Laughs freakishly for ten full minutes) Yes. I suppose. Yes. It was. Really (laughing) difficult. Uh huh.

You have become the most consistently interesting American actor of your generation. How?

I’d say it’s always down to my choice of the material and the director. Each one has his different style and you have to adapt to that style but at the same time remain true to your own performance. So Quentin is very verbal and he wants a certain largeness. Marty is into the character. Eastwood on J. Edgar just spent all his time talking like off to one side and I realised he was actually giving his instructions to the set. 

And what about Baz Luhrmann?

But Di Caprio begins again with the disconcerting laughing. As I leave I he’s tightening his apron and putting on what look like night vision goggles. He waves a cleaver at me as he opens the cellar door. No doubt he is researching a character. What a pro!

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.

FLUFFER AND ‘THE METHOD’

Monty having a laugh!













One question that directors in particular always ask me is ‘did you actually go to drama school?’ It was a long time ago now of course, but I’m glad to say I did and to any young person thinking of entering the profession I cannot recommend it highly enough. Drama school is invaluable for picking up all those little hints and tips that will help you no end when you first arrive on a film set. For example, when the director says ‘action’ you must start acting straight away.

A while later, probably after you’ve got one of the lines wrong or called one of your co-stars by their real name and not that of the part of whom they are playing, the director will say ‘cut’ and you are free to go off and do the crossword.

The only exception to this rule is what we call ‘method acting’. 
It’s a lot easier than it sounds, you just have to remember to carry on acting after the director says ‘cut’. This is what’s known as ‘staying in character’, but why on earth you’d want to do that once you’ve been told to stop doing it I’ll never know. 
Dear old Montgomery Clift was one of these method acting fellows and he took it all very seriously. I had the joy of working with him when he starred as a troubled priest in that delightful little comedy More Tea Vicar?On day one of shooting I rolled up on set, grabbed the nearest Bible, and was ready to go, but there was no sign of Monty. We didn’t see him all day long. We didn’t see him the next day either. When he hadn’t turned up by the end of the week people were getting fed up with waiting… 
It turned out that he’d decided to prepare for his role by training for the priesthood! It was another seven years before he arrived on set ready to shoot, but by then they’d rewritten the script and it was now set in a commercial kitchen with Monty playing a troubled sous chef. Luckily this only required 18 months of training, so we were finished in no time at all really. 
Despite his funny little ways we were the best of friends. He did threaten to stab me with a potato peeler that time he was tying up his shoelace and I mistook him for Hope Lange, but that’s another story… 

FLUFFER REFUSES TO LEARN HIS LINES

That’s me in the topper at the back…












I can’t remember exactly when I arrived in Hollywood, but it was certainly when films were still being made in black and white. Nowadays ambitious directors will shoot in black and white for what they call ‘artistic reasons’, but believe me when I say back in those days we had no choice!

It was black and white or nothing, and there was no sound either! This made learning lines particularly difficult as there weren’t any, and for years I found it to be a time consuming and laborious process. The best piece of advice I ever got was from my dear old friend Marlon Brando.

‘Just don’t bother,’ he said and from that day to this I never learned my lines again. 
Many modern directors fail to appreciate this particular technique, feeling it to be rather old fashioned, but I disagree. Just look at the greats, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Katherine Hepburn, none of them ever learned their lines and it never did them any harm!  George Cukor actually preferred it when I didn’t know the lines. During the famous Ascot scene in My Fair Lady he gave me the best note I ever had. ‘Edwin,’ he said ‘just stand at the back and don’t say anything’. You won’t find many directors today with such a clear vision of what they want from an actor, more’s the pity. 
I remember darling Alec Guinness telling me what he thought George Lucas should do with some of his lines on Star Wars, but that’s another story…


BREAKFAST WITH ASSHOLES 9: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS

Brioche, espresso e succo di arancia  

I met Danny Day-Lewis in Florence, Italy where he works in a small shoe repair shop between movie jobs. We shuffled unnoticed through the arcades to a busy bar near his shop: Negozio di scarpe di Dannio Day-Lewisio. He’s in a cheerful mood after Lincoln: ‘it was a hoot,’ he says. ‘Emancipating and rocking the beard. By a mix up I got the wrong script and so I spent three months hunting vampires in preparation until Steven told me there had been a mix up.’


You’ve always chosen your roles very carefully. What made you choose to do Lincoln?

True. With the exception of Nine. For that role Rob Marshall just got me very drunk, mixed in a bit of Spanish Fly and put in a room with some pigs for two days and some high definition video equipment. I had to do it then. But Lincoln was a no brainer, especially after the theatre scene: Ha ha ha!  

You’re famous for your preparation. What did you do to prepare for this role?

Well, first of all I had to emancipate some slaves. How do you do that in this day and age? I thought, but luckily Steven has his own plantation he’s been keeping because of some legal loophole, something to do with taxes (read more about this horrifying story here), and he let me go over there and liberate some. You know just to get a feel for it.

And the voice?

That was a challenge. I mean how did Lincoln speak? I meditated on this for literally minutes and then I decided, fuck it I’ll just pretend.

What’s next? 

I’d like to do some sequels. I’ve got a script that I’ve written with Jim Sheridan called My Right Foot about what happened to Christy Brown later in life. And with Michael Mann I’ve been talking about a sequel to The Last of the Mohicans called That’s it! The Mohicans Have All Gone. No one seems that interested but it doesn’t matter I’ve got my shoe repair business here. And Florence is a nice city, or as Dante would say, A-Firenze it’s-a nice-a city-a, shudduppa your face!

For all the Breakfasts CLICK HERE.