Saturday, December 10, 2011
A Shot In the Dark
So this is the second of two letters I wrote Mel Brooks in the hope of getting into one of his films. I posted the first to this blog on the 27th of May, 2011.
Reading it over and correcting the spelling errors I am not surprised he never responded. Well, no. I’m sure he has better things to do than deal with fan mail.
How crazy was I?
22nd July 2007
Dear Mr. Brooks,
This morning as I worked the employee gate at (a loading dock) I made a not so funny joke about the “brother hood of brown”. One of the workers asked “who are you, John Candy?” as I scanned him with my metal detector.
There’s that name again. It has followed me since the age of eleven when they called me “Uncle Buck”. I don’t see the resemblance but no less than three people have commented on it in the last year. I’m also told that I have a striking resemblance to my maternal grandfather, and I don’t see that either. I never met the old Jew, but I’ve seen him in photographs.
Well, to the point, I wondered if you might be looking for the next John Candy. I realize that this is a long shot, but let’s look at it another way. I could buy a ticket and win the lottery and still never get to see Mel Brooks in person. If I lost I’d be out a few dollars. If this letter is another gamble I’m out a stamp, an envelope, and a few sheets of paper. To win I’d merely need a letter of reply, and would have been worth my effort, and how could I price the experience. If I didn’t send you a letter I’d regret it for the rest of my life.
I have experience as an actor, but I stopped acting, because my fellow actors had no dedication. It’s a funny thing, Mr. Brooks, you can prepare your lines perfectly, and have your delivery down to second nature. Then it all gets lost, because the other actors just don’t have it down. College theatre is like that for the most part. Too little attention is paid to the future of the student, and professionalism is not a recognized goal. They actually took me aside and explained this to me. Frankly, I feel that, like anything worth doing, a good performance is about hard work and dedication, but enough about my feelings.
Let me try you another way. What do people want? World peace, health care, good burritos, etc. Well, we could help them with the burritos. What do people want from a “Space Balls” movie? Lots of things but you can deliver all of them except for John Candy. That is where I come in, because with modern makeup it would not be difficult to make me look like John, and as an actor I have portrayed many people with different physicality. In my last play I only had one line, but when I commented on that people were surprised to hear it because of my movements on stage. I told a story without speaking.
Yet, there is one other thing I can give the audience: hope. Sounds silly, I know, but hear me out. Everyone wants to be up there on the big screen and a “who is that guy?” could be great advertising especially if they can’t recognize me and we don’t tell any of my friends and relatives. Most people are no names, and seeing a man come from nowhere into a role like John would play is inspiring.
They could punch my name into the internet and come up with all kinds of crazy people. There is an ex pro football player and a senator with my name so questions will be asked about me and there are so many Richard Neals in the world that finding me would be like finding the right needle in a sowing shop.
Okay, this is totally hair brained, and even I don’t know why people think I look like John Candy but why not? You got bullets and night you take a shot in the dark. What is there to lose? I’m a walking cliché. I’m a white guy with two first names going to college at twenty-seven who is also a fat security guard. If that isn’t funny then you don’t know how to laugh.
Look I’m putting a picture of me and a picture of John with this letter. Our faces are similar now that I look at them. That is an old photo of me, ten years, but people say I still look that way. Between you and I there just being nice. My chin is more ridiculous now and it has a dancing partner. I can only hope to hear from you.
Richard Leland Neal