domenica 7 marzo 2010
Del perché questa notte faremo l'alba per vedere gli Oscar. Del perché facciamo questo mestiere. Del perché quando si spengono le luci in sala ancora ci commuoviamo. Del perché ci innamoriamo sempre di quelli sbagliati. Soprattutto, del perché continuiamo a volere la favola.
Ali MacGraw did not want to do The Getaway, which would star Steve McQueen and be directed by Sam Peckinpah. Her husband Bob Evans urged her to do the film, because it would stretch her beyond preppy roles, but MacGraw didn’t want to be separated from their baby, Josh. Moreover, she was apprehensive. She remembered that “one winter day in 1968 it was raining and freezing and I had time to kill” before one of Sokolsky’s shoots, “so I darted into Radio City Music Hall to see Bullitt.” McQueen was at the height of his fame with that movie, with its genre-creating extended car chase, most of which he performed himself. MacGraw says, “That was the only time in my life I went, ‘Oh. My. God.’”
On a spring day in 1971, McQueen was paying a visit to the Evanses to discuss The Getaway. “It sounds so corny,” MacGraw says, “but I remember sitting in the projection room and seeing Steve on the other side of the swimming pool, and you could see those eyes—the most extraordinary blue. I was just electrified. That’s scary. It’s very visceral. The brain isn’t involved in that moment.” After McQueen left, she telephoned her old boss:. ‘Mister Melvin, I’m in trouble", she said.
MacGraw and McQueen began their affair soon after they arrived in Huntsville, Texas, for the three-month shoot. “It was very evident that they were falling in love,” says Katy Haber, who was then Peckinpah’s assistant. When The Getaway wrapped MacGraw went back to Evans to make a stab at reviving their marriage. “McQueen was desperately in love with Ali.”, says Katy. “He said, ‘Katy, you don’t understand. This is the first time in my life that I have no desire or even thought of sleeping around. This is the person I want to be with for the rest of my life.’". MacGraw, meanwhile, was struggling. “She was in extreme conflict; her loyalty to Bob was strong—she went through hell and back,” Haber remembers. Ultimately, there was no defense for her feelings for McQueen. MacGraw had a mutual friend call Candice Bergen, who she knew was vacating her house. After a short stay there, MacGraw rented a Coldwater guesthouse and McQueen rented one on Mulholland Drive. The cottages were separated by an empty field. When they fought, as they frequently did (from the start, “it was either great days or horrendous days, and nothing in between,” says MacGraw), they would separate, then immediately miss each other and set out across the field to be together again.
MacGraw and Evans divorced, and she and McQueen—with young Josh and McQueen’s son, Chad—moved to a beachfront home in Trancas, north of Malibu. They lived the simple life that McQueen stubbornly cleaved to and that MacGraw felt was right for Josh. She put Steve’s meat and potatoes in front of him every night at six. He didn’t want her to work, so she didn’t.
On July 11, 1973, McQueen and MacGraw took off with their children to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and checked into a room at a Holiday Inn. MacGraw recalls, “Steve and Chad slept in one bed, Terry [Steve’s daughter] and I in the other, Josh in a crib in the middle.” The next day—with Ali and Terry in identical plaid skirts, carrying matching bouquets—Steve and Ali were married in a public park.
MacGraw says today that McQueen was “very damaged, and I don’t mean that at all in a nasty way—he was a combination of incredible darkness and anger and mystery and almost child-like vulnerability. His mood swings were incredible.” But she doesn’t let herself off the hook. “I am 1,000 percent not a victim.” They were equally at fault, in her view. “I did the sullen holdback. I was tight. Judgmental. Simmering. We both had work to do.” She went into therapy. Insecurity made her “trim and cover” who she really was “to make myself desirable, because he was the most desirable man on the planet, and I would think, I can’t possibly be desirable enough for this creature—every woman in the restaurant is looking at him!”
Meanwhile, McQueen felt cowed by the world sherepresented. He resisted going to the formal party for his film Papillon because “intellectual heavyweights like Jonas Salk” would be there. McQueen’s anxiety was even deeper. Before Mengers’s party for Princess Margaret, MacGraw says, “he got high on coke. He knew it was bad for him. He got these catastrophic depressions, I mean the scariest. I said, ‘Why in the world do you do this? The level of misery you set yourself up for!’.
There were “sweet, wonderful” times, she says, “Easter and the Fourth of July, having potluck dinner with the neighbors. We had a peaceful, incredible, real life.” She recalls a dinner for his film The Towering Inferno, “where our chemistry was extraordinary, unbelievable. A trip during my birthday. I came back to my room in the motel, and there were daisies and white roses everywhere. He loved daisies; there were hundreds and hundreds of them.” Once she even got him to the ballet. “Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland—I said, ‘You can’t not go!’ It blew his mind.
Ultimately, McQueen’s paranoid possessiveness was unconquerable. He had already been having numerous affairs, according to MacGraw. “He had a suite in the Beverly Wilshire hotel, where he would go when we fought. It was a place I never went, which was stupid. I should have gone in, opened the door, and kicked the shit out of whoever was in bed with him.” She adds, “He would have enjoyed it!”.
The only infidelities that mattered to him were the ones he imagined her having. When she was at her lowest ebb, she was invited to be photographed by Francesco Scavullo for his book Scavullo on Beauty. She flew to New York, eager to feel what she hadn’t felt in a very long time: glamorous. There was a knock on the door of the apartment she had borrowed, and it was McQueen. Convinced she was having an affair, he’d taken the next flight to check up on her.
After she made Convoy she and McQueen drove to Montana. “I fell in love with him all over again.” She wanted them to cancel dinner with a friend of his, but they kept the date, and while McQueen “boringly talked camshafts and God only knows what,” MacGraw conversed with his friend’s companion in her rusty Italian. “You were flirting with him in a foreign language!,” McQueen accused her during the drive back to Malibu. “He kept at it and kept at it and kept at it. It was terrible and frightening and catastrophic.” Realizing that even she couldn’t fix that much distrust, she moved out.
Theirs was one of the great love affairs of the past century. “It was very, very passionate, and dramatic, and hurtful, and ecstatic,” says MacGraw. “It was pretty much a wipeout for both of us. But I think it’s safe to say it would have been impossible not to fall in love with Steve.”.
As for McQueen, the actor’s closest friend in his last years, martial-arts master Pat Johnson, says, “I have to be careful, because I still know Barbara [Minty McQueen, the last of Steve’s three wives], and he did love Barbara, but … ” He pauses, then out it pours: “Steve loved Ali MacGraw more than he loved anyone else in his entire life. Until the day he died”—in November 1980, of lung cancer, three years after he and MacGraw divorced—“he was madly in love with her.”
(L'articolo intero, spettacolare, è qui. Credo di non avere mai letto niente di così meraviglioso che spieghi, raccontando vite vere, che cosa sia in realtà la magia del cinema.)