SEE YOU AT THE CAST PARTY, IRONSIDE:
A STORY FROM THE SET OF TOTAL RECALL TOLD IN FIVE CHAPTERS
BY SEAN GILL
BY SEAN GILL
The year was 1989. The place: Mexico City. A heavyset, scraggly-bearded man strode purposefully though a cavernous soundstage, forcefully clutching a wrinkled piece of paper. The fellow doing the striding was Mickey Jones. Renaissance Man. Drummer for Bob Dylan. Best friend of Michael Ironside.
‘Burly Miner’ in TOTAL RECALL- whose set, as a matter of fact, was the one through which he was stomping with such insolence. It was the last day of shooting, which should have been a day of joy, a day of reflection, a day for the cast and crew to look upon their accomplishments with pride and to feel that tingling satisfaction of a job well done. But none of these things were on Mickey’s mind. Mickey was pissed, and, by God, it took a hell of a lot to get Mickey pissed. He paused at the door marked “Ironside.” No light issued forth from within. Dammit, he’s not here yet. I’ll just leave it, Mickey thought. He turned the knob and gingerly peered inside– a silhouette. Teeth gleaming in the darkness. Shit, someone’s there! Before he could react, the lights popped on with a bang to reveal… Ironside.
“Jesus God, Mike, you scared the hell outta me!”
Ironside chuckled. A deep, dark, throaty laugh. He absent-mindedly picked his teeth with what appeared to be a small metal spike. “Sorry about that…” He lifted his feet up, resting them on the counter as he stared off, deep in thought.
“Have you been here all night, Mike?”
“‘Have I been here all night… Mike?’ Yes, Mickey, I have. Been thinking about CHAINDANCE.”
“Oh, yeah. How’s that script coming along?”
Ironside lowered his feet from the counter and swiveled to face Mickey. “Why don’t you tell me what brings you here in such a state? Talk to me, Mickey.”
“It’s like this, Mike–” and Mickey offered the half-crumpled sheet. Ironside took it, unfolded it on the counter, and smoothed it with his palm. As he read the what the page contained, his eyes widened, then narrowed. His eyebrows contorted with rage. His teeth clenched.
“Jesus, Mike, your mouth!”
Sure enough, Ironside had accidentally bitten the metal toothspike, breaking it cleanly into two halves, which clattered on the counter. “Don’t worry about it, Mickey- worry about this!!!”
Ironside gestured to the paper, which, typed in Comic Sans font, said something like:
“ATTN: Cast and Crew. I regret to inform you that there will be no TOTAL RECALL cast party tonight, at least not in the traditional sense. It will be a Euro-centric private party open only to myself and Mr. Schwarzenegger. B.Y.O. Campari. We regret any inconvenience. Sincerely, your director, Paul Verhoeven.”
The statement was followed by this photograph:
Ironside was up in a flash, his fist already blasting a hole through his dressing room mirror. Slivers of the reflective glass and chunks of wooden frame crumbled onto the floor.
“A lotta people worked on this film, Mickey. THIS IS BULLSHIT!,” Ironside roared.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa- calm, down, man!”
“I even brought several twelve-packs of Labatt Maximum Ice, expressly for this occasion!”
“It’s okay, Mike– we can drink those Labatts in my trailer- watch a hockey game or something. I wouldn’t have told you if I thought it’d make you this angry–”
Just then, a hulking figure appeared behind Mickey in the doorway. It was Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“Hach-hach-ha-ha-ha! Good mohrning,” Arnie remarked. “Seee yew aht the cast pahr-ty, Irohnside! Hach-hach-ha-ha!,” and just as quickly as he’d arrived, Arnie was gone.
“Now that’s not right,” Mickey admitted. “It wasn’t like this on V, was it?”
“No, Mickey, it wasn’t.”
“Are you, okay, Mike? What are you thinking?”
Ironside stared intently at the space where Schwarzenegger used to be. “He’s dead,” Ironside snarled. “He and his Dutch buddy, both.”
“What!?!,” Mickey shouted, incredulously.
“And when I’ve finished… I’m going to eat them.”
“Whaat do you think of this wuhnnn?,” Arnie inquired, as Sharon Stone apathetically thumbed through a series of glossy photographs.
“It’s fine, they’re all fine,” Sharon replied. Her motivation in saying so was an attempt to escape the conversation as quickly as possible.
“Yesss, but which one do you like the behst??”
“What are you two looking at?” said Rachel Ticotin, interrupting. She was immediately sorry that she had asked. But it was the perfect opportunity for Sharon Stone to make a break for it, and she did precisely that.
“Thaaank you for ahsking. Paul und I just had these tah-ken at Kayy-Mahrt. Which one do you like thee behst?” Arnie held up two photos which looked like this:
Rachel examined the photos for close to a minute, unsure of what to say. “Well, actually, they’re both fine. I like them both.”
“Meee too.” Arnold smiled in genuine contentment.
“Did he pull any shit like this on ROBOCOP?,” inquired Ironside.
“Well. Not really,” answered Ronny Cox. “It’s just… maybe just don’t take it so personally. If you got into acting for the cast parties- I, uh, think you’re gonna end up disappointed.”
“That’s not why I’m mad- it’s the principle of the thing. I’d just as soon go back to roofing.”
“Come on, Michael. Don’t talk like that. Calm down. Let me tell you a story...."
"I was working on this flick called TANGIERS with Ronald Lacey. He’d just gotten off of a Spielberg shoot- RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. He played Toht, the Nazi with the coat-hanger- yeah, you know who I’m talking about. Well, anyway, the whole time we’re shootin’, he just can’t drop it. ‘Oh, Spielberg’s craft services were so much better,’ and this and that and the other. And I just got to thinkin’ about Spielberg’s craft services. My mouth is watering. We’re out in the middle of nowhere in Morocco, and all I can think about is some other director’s caterer. Anyway, yeah, it affected my performance a little bit. And I learned a valuable lesson about acting that day… about myself.”
Just then, Sharon Stone strode in. “Talkin’ about craft services, huh? Best I ever had- you’re not gonna believe this– POLICE ACADEMY 4: CITIZENS ON PATROL. Of course you had to eat it while sittin’ across the table from Bobcat Goldthwait…”
“We’re not talking about craft services– we’re talking about this cast party bullshit!,” exclaimed Ironside.
“Well, I think it’s all a cheap shot at you, actually, Mike,” said Sharon with a touch of maleficence.
“He’s rubbin’ it in that you were his third choice for Richter. You know he called Kurtwood and Robert Davi first, right?”
Ironside bared his teeth.
Ronny frowned. “Whoa-whoa- that’s out of line, Sharon, and you know it. Apologize to Michael.”
“No,” said Sharon, snidely. Then she spun on the balls of her feet and promptly strolled out the door.
“Is that true, Ronny?”
“Noo…I don’t think so.”
“I’m crashing that party tonight, Ronny. Are you in?”
“Ehhh, I got a flight back at 6 PM. You should come, too. You got HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING coming up, right? That’s exciting, right? Maybe you should focus on that. It’s not good to get wrapped up in all this negative energy, Mikey.”
Ironside sat in his dressing room, dejected. It was almost 8:00 PM. The shoot was over. Crews were tearing down the last of the set, and soon, they’d be taking away the makeshift dressing room. Ironside stared at the broken mirror. They’ll probably take that shit outta my paycheck, he mused. He contemplated his next move. Sure, he could do Labatts and hockey with Mickey. He could work a little more on CHAINDANCE. He could even get an early start on those wig-fittings for HIGHLANDER 2. But Arnie’s taunting words hung over him like a poisonous shroud: “Seee yew aht the cast pahr-ty, Irohnside! Hach-hach-ha-ha!” Son of a bitch must pay, thought Ironside. He clenched and gritted his teeth as a sound emerged which approximated that of several grinding millstones gone haywire. Something clicked in his mind, and he flashed back to NOWHERE TO HIDE- on one of the days when Amy Madigan’s husband, Ed Harris, had visited the set. “Let me tell you something, Mike,” Ed had said.
“These people will shit on you. They will hire you, they will work you like a dog, and then they will shit on you. They will even dress you in cardigans. But you must not let that happen. You must kill them. And you must kill them with your bare hands… Alright, let’s go have a drink.” Ironside smiled. He missed hanging out with Ed Harris. But then he felt something sharp prickling the palms of his hands. He looked down, only to realize that he’d been thinking so intensely about Ed Harris that he’d shattered the armrests on his chair. He released his grip, and the floor was sprinkled with two handfuls of splinters and sawdust. Ironside stood up, and began the long walk to the trailer marked “Schwarzenegger,” his course of action now clear.
“Doez yowhr person prefehr me in RUNNINGH MAN or TWINZ?,” Schwarzenegger inquired. Verhoeven stared at the card in his hand.
“Umm… RUNNING MAN, I guess.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven were locked in a rousing game of Subjective “Guess Who.” Schwarzenegger flipped down a few faces, faces who looked like they wouldn’t enjoy having the sort of good time that TWINS had to offer. After a moment, Verhoeven asked, “Is your person Peter?”
“No,” replied Arnie, “It’s Claire.”
“Wait a fucking second, I turned down Claire like six questions ago.”
“Whutt wus the quest-schun?”
“Uhh…uhh…it was, uh– that’s right- it was ‘Does your person wear panties?,’ and you said YES, when clearly she doesn’t.”
“I am sorry, Paull. I deed not mean to ruin your game.”
“No, it’s alright, it’s just uh- just, uh, don’t worry about it. Get me some more Campari.” Arnie reached across the couch and grabbed Paul in a bear hug.
“I am so sorry I have roo-inned your game, Paull.”
But just then, the door to the trailer was separated from its hinges through sheer force of Ironside, who stood in the doorway now, his eyes wild and teeth gleaming. He approached Arnie and Paul, who quivered senselessly in fear. They had never seen Ironside look quite this terrifying during the entirety of the shoot.
His shadow loomed over the couch. But suddenly, Arnie let loose with an enormous, goofy smile. Ironside rumpled his eyebrows in brief bewilderment.
“Loook behindh you, Mike-ahl!”
Ironside knew better than to fall for this pitiful deception, yet he couldn’t resist. He turned around, and through the trailer’s doorway saw: the rightful TOTAL RECALL cast party.
“Hach-hach-haa-haaa! We really goht Mike-ahl, didn’t we, Paull!,” Arnie shouted with babyish exuberance. Verhoeven shivered uncontrollably, unable to shake the image of a murderous Ironside from his mind’s eye.
“Uhhh…yeah. Yeah, we did,” Paul muttered.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before,” said Mickey Jones as he sipped on a Labatt Maximum Ice.
“It’s alright, Mickey, I, uh, knew the whole time,” replied Ironside, “by the way, did you know that only Labatt possesses the power of ice brewing, and only ice brewing can create Labatt Maximum Ice?”
“Yeah,” said Mickey, “I know.”
“Hach-hach-haa-haaa! We really goht you, Mike-ahl, didn’t we! Hach-hach-haaa, what fun!,” Arnie exclaimed, as he walked over to Ironside.
Arnie chomped on a piece of cake covered in red frosting and blue lettering, the full extent of which was undecipherable (but if it had been, you could see it once said, “Get your ass to Mars”). With one calculated movement, Ironside flipped up the bottom of Arnie’s plate, dunking his face in the frosting. Ironside smiled.
“Hach-hach-haaa-haa! Now you haf got-ten meee back! Hach-hach-haa!!”
“Something like that,” said Ironside coldly.
“Hey loook, it’s Benn-y!,” declared Arnie as he spotted Mel Johnson, Jr. making his way through the crowd.
“Hey, Arnold, you remember me, I’m Mel Johnson, Junior!,” screamed Mel Johnson, Jr.
“Hach-hach-hach-haaa! I lovve you guys!,” announced Arnie as he enveloped Mickey, Ironside, and Mel with an enormous hug. Ironside pursed his lips. A sensation of melancholy washed over him. He hadn’t had this much fun in a long time, and he hated to see it all end. But then Ironside winced and perished the thought because he knew CHAINDANCE would be just as much- if not more- fun, and he wouldn’t even need to leave Canada to have it. Ironside took a swig of his Labatt Maximum Ice. Life was good.