Written by Wire Piddle
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Friday, 1 May 2009

image for How I, Simon Cowell, Learned Everything I Know From Working on Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining'

Hollywood, USA [UPI] - I was a young lad and my first 'real' job was actually working as a runner on the movie 'The Shining' by Stanley Kubrick. I wasn't expecting it to amount to much but what I learned over those several weeks would prove to be crucial in my later life as a multi-millionaire record executive and television talent scout. I reflect back on those days fondly.

One day we were shooting a scene outdoors with the two stars, Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. The scene required Jack Nicholson to lose himself in a maze and freeze to death. Unfortunately, Mr. Nicholson was having a problem with his motivation. Luckily I was close by so I insulted him a few times and, being the callow youth that I was, proceeded to whack him over the forehead with a spare board that the carpenters had left to the side of the set. Well Mr. Nicholson went down cold and, although the footage ended up on the cutting room floor and the director, Stanley Kubrick, couldn't get a performance out of Nicholson worth stink, the experience did teach me one thing that I was able to use much later in life.

It taught me the resiliency and durability of the hardwoods; excellent characteristics when renovating a recording studio.

On another occasion, the little boy in the film, Danny, has to show his ability to detect ghosts. The actor was having difficulty so I took him aside and tried to give him some encouragement. However, after about an hour of this, I realized that he really was a hopeless case; a trait you find in many child performers.

I found a steel bar used for hanging lights on and, basically, I walloped the back of his head with it. Now you could say that he might have seen stars prompting him to get a greater understanding of premonitions and whatnot but that really wasn't a focus for me.

I realized from that point onward that steel bars, like the hardwoods, have a very unforgiving nature and, at the same time, are quite thin and tall which really gave me an idea what it would be like to be around supermodels, 24/7; undoubtedly another lesson that has carried me to this day.

On another occasion, the actor "Scatman" Crothers was having real difficulty getting into his role. You see most people don't realize this but Benjamin, AKA "Scatman", was actually a classically trained British actor, quite far from the character he was supposed to play. In fact his accent was quite 'posh'; the Queen's English. Kubrick was having a dreadful time trying to get Benjamin into character, to have him speak like a black man with a thick southern accent. Well for some unknown reason Stanley actually looked at me, as if I had the knowledge, skill and intellect, to give him guidance.

Now, upon reflection, I realized that, up to this point in shooting, my total contribution to the project consisted of either 'running' for things or whacking people over their heads with firm, solid objects, with less than stellar results.

'What could this award-winning director, this legend, expect me to do for him?' I was stymied. He wanted me to be the one to craftily develop this actor's persona into one of the most endearing American characters in cult film.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that I had totally misread Kubrick's stare. He was not expecting me to do anything for him. He was just noticing a bit of parsley that had become lodged between my teeth. And so from that point onwards, right up to this day, I make it a point to floss. Regularly.

Well that's about all I can recount for now about my first days in 'show biz' but, as you can see from my experience, the 'early days' seemed to be the most instructive days and have left me with, not only useful tools, but also very, very pleasant memories.

- Simon Cowell

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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