We walk down the street and he’s telling me about his plans. He’s going to remake Vertigo, where I’m Kim Novak. He spent the night up storyboarding but now he’s worried about being over-budget. At least that’s what he tells me as we walk down Dwight, autumn but still sunny.
He tells me that it’s not a shot for shot remake, but loosely based on th film. I play a has-been Olympian swimmer who’s vacationing in France. Presumably I’m in France for a meet, but also to get some time away from the Bay Area. They’ve invited me to stroke and turn judge. For me, it’s nothing serious, just a diversion. My athletic days are behind me since I’m not a child really, basically, which was all I ever really had going for me then. I get letters for these things occasionally still. I guess I’m still a celebrity to someone.
I write mostly, but my publisher’s a crook, that’s what he tells me, about the character. What’s never clear is if my publisher’s ripping me off or if I’m paranoid or both. That part doesn’t need to be explicit he says.
In France, I’m existentially stuck. Like that Camus novel, I go to the beach at sunset and get tired of my life. It’s my artistic temperament, he says. I’m in a seaside town, but can’t stand it. I’m horrified of the sea and have nightmares about waves swallowing up the house. My character’s afraid of sharks, even though there aren’t any sharks in the Atlantic. He tells me it’s a learned fear, that I’ve always loved artificial pools and chlorine, but could never stand the real thing. The fear, he says, that’s where the Vertigo part comes in.
I point to my head. How can I be Kim Novak with this hair? He tells me that we’re shooting an Asian version, that it’ll be mostly underwater. He plans to have his goldfish co-star. Do you swim? He asks me.
I don’t know if I swim that well, I hesitate.
Isn’t Vertigo about James Stewart’s erotic obsession with that Kim Novak character? Doesn’t she sit in from of a portrait at the Palace of Fine Arts that looks just like her, completely absorbed? Isn’t there that whole part with the double, where James Stewart gets her to dress like the dead girl and then there’s that chase where she jumps off the roof?
Yes, he says. Remember that part where James Stewart is running on the roof? Well, we’ll have the riptide swallow up the good guys. Instead of falling off buildings, it’ll be water and beach. He’ll fall into a pool.
Don’t let anyone know you’re in my movie yet. It’s a secret. You’re such a celebrity Angela. We need a big name for this project.
How can you be over-budget where you’re in pre-production? I say. Plus I’m hardly a celebrity. He says he likes that I’m not pretentious and that I’m easy to work with. He tells me, I’m not over budget yet, I just know what’s going to happen. Look at this phone, all of my money is inside the phone. It’s dead.
Would you want to make your character not married, but her boyfriend can’t see? I think I’m going to call the first part of the story arc Nevermind.