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I actually met Roger Ebert a few years ago, not long after he after he lost his jaw to cancer.
I go to the Tribeca Film Festival every year. My favorite films are the ones that don’t necessarily get a lot of hype — the smaller films that are made with more spirit than money. That year I decided to see a Chilean film called Play, and I found myself the only person in the audience besides the director, her crew, and one other man. That man, of course, turned out to be Roger Ebert.
I could hardly pay attention to the movie – I kept looking over at the man I’ve admired most of my life. When it was over, he walked up to the director and shook her hand, and then turned to leave. I usually have a policy of not walking up to celebrities — it seems rude to me — but in this case I just had to make an exception.
As he was leaving I stumbled over the seats towards him.
He stopped, turned around. I like to imagine that he smiled, but it was after the cancer so… well, you know.
“I am a big fan of yours. I have been since I was a kid — I wouldn’t know half of the things I know about movies if it wasn’t for your show and columns.”
He looked me in the eye, I will never forget what he said to me:
“blwaaaaahwawerrrrraaggh dfrrragggth. Thhhhssssrrrrup.”
Seriously, though, there is one part of this story that’s true – Ebert is a man I’ve admired most of my life. We need more like him.
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