Yesterday I was whispering in Robert Loggia’s ear. I told him he was going to hell.

It’s a movie (duh.) A bio-pic of the life of the Apostle Peter from Pure Flix, a production company that does films geared towards the Christian-believer film market. Pure Flix has a good track record and they are good people who do films the family can watch together. Randy Travis is a founder. Ironic that they hired one of the screen’s great badasses to play the elderly saint. I play a demon who taunts him in his cell while he is awaiting execution. Couple of nice scenes with just me and this great actor. Very nice break for me. The man was nominated for an Oscar. And two Emmys.

Here’s Loggia in a decidedly less-saintly turn from David Lynch’s 1997 LOST HIGHWAY:

I don’t have any pics of him as Saint Peter. Here’s how I look as the demon taunting him:

Bill Oberst Jr

They dialed back my demon look considerably, because it’s a family film, an unusual occurence for the likes of me (this is only my third family-oriented feature, after The Hallmark Channel’s THE SHUNNING and Asylum’s THE PRINCESS AND THE PONY.)

But back to whispering in Loggia’s ear.

The scene called for me to whisper devilish nothings to him and for him to cast me out. 1/8 of a page. Two-shot; Loggia is in frame as Saint Peter, praying, I snake my head into his frame and do my taunting inches from his ear, reminding him of his betrayal of Christ. He says “Begone demon” and I snake back out of frame. Easy breezy.

I just didn’t expect him to cry.

It was only one tear, but I saw it. I was close enough to smell his cologne had he been wearing any (he wasn’t.) I said my last line “You are alone” and that great jaw trembled; those piercing eyes flashed and that magnificent profundo voice set me straight with a line we had not rehearsed: “I AM NOT ALONE.” And then that tear flowing down the cheek.

No one else noticed. The take was bad for sound. Everyone was in a hurry to get the shot done. It was late. We did another take. It was fine, but no tear. No tremble. I saw the magic one. Up close. It’s my memory. And it’s my lesson.

He’s 81 years old. Life slows you down in that decade, no matter who you are. But there was defiance in that take; there was strength of will in those eyes. There was the stuff of life. Only it wasn’t life; it was just pretend. Right?

I think not. I think that for the great ones, there is no pretend. Lesson learned.

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