Monday, November 12, 2012

I Have Inside Jokes With Sean Maher and You (Probably) Don't

To see today's other post click here

Normally I would never write two posts in one day - mostly because I feel my tiny brain has a limited number of good ideas and stories, and should therefore out drag the ones I have, making them last as many weeks as humanly possible. But this is a special occasion - I realized it's the 10th anniversary of Firefly.

If you're asking what Firefly is, we probably need to spend more time together. Starring the guy from Castle and created by Joss Whedon, who made Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's a beautiful gem of a sci-fi show. And if you don't like sci-fi, it doesn't matter - it's a show about people and relationships. Every episode is gold, and the ensemble is perfect - it's one of those shows that it's impossible to have a favorite character on, because everyone is so great. There's only fourteen episodes, so since eighth grade when I first saw the show, I've watched the series maybe dozens of times. It's lived with me. When they made the show into a movie, Serenity, my friend Brian and I to a special fan screening that was several months before the actual movie came out. Bottom line: go watch it.

Last Septemer, my friend Caitlin asked if I wanted to see Contagion - I had been an extra on it and was curious to see if I made the cut. But honestly, the movie looked so unbelievably depressing and upsetting - I wasn't really in the mood to see a bunch of nice people die horribly.* I asked her if there was a comedy, and she told me Our Idiot Brother was playing. Not only did it look way less depressing, but since it was at 3:45 and not at 4:15 like Contagion, we would get to pay the matinee price! I'm sorry, but I'm living on a freaking budget over here, okay? So, thinking I would only see Caitlin, I threw on a ratty Shy Ronnie t-shirt and left my apartment without showering.

*This same reasoning is why I avoid Coen Brothers films.

After purchasing our tickets, we walked through the lobby and towards the escalators, passing the concession stand. A man was coming off the escalators as we were stepping on - I made eye contact and he gave the obligatory smile you do when you make eye contact with a stranger. I couldn't stop staring at him - he looked familiar... the face traveled from my eyes to my brain, where finally it clicked. At the top of the escalator, I stopped. "Caitlin, I'm pretty sure that was Simon from Firefly." I knew Simon Tam's real name was Sean Maher, but I wasn't sure if Caitlin would so I knew this was how I needed to explain. She'd watched Firefly once before, but wasn't into it the way I was. I also knew, since I have an IMDBrain* and know everything about what all actors are in, that Sean was in the upcoming series The Playboy Club, which I knew filmed in Chicago. So I realized it really could be him. Normally I'd probably be too nervous to say something, but Caitlin had recently taught me a lesson when she had run into Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon at iO (the improv theater). She told me how even though she'd been really nervous and a little jittery she had just gone right up to him and been like, "Are you Michael Shannon?" he said he was, and they had a cool little conversation. "You just went up to him?!" I asked. "Yeah, um, was I going to miss the opportunity to talk to Michael Shannon?" That combined with my regret at not saying something to Amy Poehler when I saw her one time - long story for a later post - lit a fire under me. I explained the situation to Caitlin. "Can we go say hi?"

*Copyright me. I came up with this. 

We came right back down the escalator where the man who was maybe Sean was waiting in line for concessions. Incredibly nervous, I mustered an "excuse me?" he turned and looked at me. "Can I ask you a question?" He smiled really big. This was a good sign. "Sure". "Um..." I stuttered, "um... uh..." and behind me Caitlin was laughing, saying to possibleSean, "You know. You know." I felt like it would be weird to call someone by their name who I'd never met, like it would be creepy to know someone's name, so I just said, "'re Simon." "Yes", he said, "Nice to meet you, I'm Sean." He extended his hand, which I shook. "I knew that", I said. Way to not be creepy, dude. I introduced myself, and then went on a long, rambling monologue about how much I loved the show and how many times I watched it and how amazing it was and how I went to a preview screening of the movie and blah blah blah I was a sweaty mess and I think I was breathing really heavily because at one point Caitlin went, "um, do you need me to get your inhaler, pal?" I think it was a good thing she was there, because seeing I had a normal, funny friend probably made Sean aware that on a regular basis I wasn't this much of a weirdo. Although when we asked what he was doing here, and he explained he was on The Playboy Club, and Caitlin said to him, re: me "he knew that" I wanted to be like, "SHUT UP, GIRL!" We had some more chit-chat and Sean - who was incredibly sweet and yes, his eyes really are that blue and his jaw is that chiseled, this is clearly why he belongs on TV and I don't - asked what movie we were seeing. It turned out we were seeing the same one! "I'm just going to get a drink, do you guys want anything?" "Well, actually", I thought to myself, "I could use a diet coke- ALEX I KNOW YOU'RE CHEAP BUT YOU ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE SIMON FREAKING TAM BUY YOU A SODA." "I'm fine!" I said. As he was in line, I asked Caitlin if we should go up without him, I didn't want to crowd him or creep him out - "oh no", she said, "we are waiting right here and we are going to walk up with him. Get yo' shit together, son."

We went up the escalator, talking more. I asked Sean if he moved here for the show, but he explained that while some of the cast moved, his family was in LA, so he flies back and forth. He had filmed on Friday and also was set to film on Monday, so he decided to just stay the weekend and in his off-time occasionally goes to a movie. "I almost didn't come today" he said, "Now I'm really glad I did!" "ME TOO", I didn't scream like a crazy person. Now here's where things get kind of unbelievable - we got to the theater, and again not wanting to crowd or pressure Sean, we walked in ahead of him. Caitlin sat down in a seat, then me. AND THEN SEAN CAME AND SAT NEXT TO ME.

Can you even believe this? When does this happen? You run into someone you're a fan of, gush for ten minutes, and then go to a movie and hang out with them? Insane. Also, this was pretty ballsy on his part as well, because although we all know I'm actually SUPER COOL, Sean had no way of being sure of this. "I hope you don't mind if I crash your date!" he said, sweetly. "Oh, this is SO not a date!" I said. "And even if it was, it would be SO fine!" Just like that, I sold out my fake-girlfriend Caitlin. She'll get over it. The trailers came, one for Jack and Jill, and when I laughed at the single joke where Jill crushes the horse she's sitting on, I asked if it made me a terrible person for laughing at this awful-looking movie - Sean said no, he laughed at it too. Hashtag #seanapproval.

I was too nervous to talk to him very much during the movie - and people have different feelings on how much chatter should take place in the theater; some people want absolute silence or they get ornery. So I didn't want to bother him. But the benefit of having a whole entire movie is that by the time it was over, I had decompressed and calmed down; I was a normal person again. I think once you've said something to a famous person once you're sort of inoculated - Caitlin had no worries since she'd talked to Michael Shannon, and I could probably now go up to someone I'm a fan of without gushing and hyperventilating. So as we left, I said to him, "I'm sorry I nerded out on you so hard before... I think I was just really surprised." He said it was totally fine, that everyone involved with the show loved it so much that they just genuinely enjoy hearing about it. Now that I was a normal person again came what I think was the best part of all - Sean, Caitlin and I hung out for like a half hour, just talking about random stuff. Not about Firefly, not about the business* - but about what movies we liked in the last year, or about how terrible the last Oscar hosts were (he thought Anne Hathaway was worse, I thought James Franco was worse, but we all agreed it was a mess). When my friend Caitlin mentioned she was a nanny, Sean took out his phone and showed us pictures his kids had drawn. We talked a little bit about things he could do in Chicago. We discussed our dislike of pushy canvassers. We just chilled out like we were real-life amigos, and it was really cool. Basically now we're best friends.

*Which, by the way, many people asked me "oh my god, did you tell him you were an actor, can you help you get a job working on the show, etc." I was like, absolutely not. I wasn't going to besmirch the sanctity of the supercool bestfriend hangout funtime sesh by trying to like, parlay this into some weird desperate attempt to use him! Come on, people. We were having fun. T'was not the time nor place.

Oh, and of course, as I always say: "pixar it didn't happen."

Good god, I look terrible. Especially next to his handsome TV face - my face is relatively average, but next to his face my average face looks like a gnome-troll face. 

After a little while it was time to go - we each got a photo with Sean AND A HUG - during which all I could think was, "WHY didn't I take a shower today, dammit!" - and we said goodbye. As we walked back to the bus, I was high as a kite - I couldn't believe we had just hung out for the afternoon with Sean Maher. I had so many questions - had I dreamed it? Would anyone believe me? Why didn't Sean invite us to have dinner with him?* In order to prove it had actually happened, Caitlin and I tweeted him. We live in the twitter age, after all. A little while later, we got this back:

If you'd like to tweet Sean and badger him suggest he get lunch with me read this post, you can tweet him at this name above

Guess what? Parker Posey wasn't in Our Idiot Brother. I'm not even going to explain it, you probably wouldn't get it cause it's an inside joke between me and Sean, y'know. So the big takeaway from this post is that me and my close personal friend Sean Maher have inside jokes and you don't. That's all.

*This is a joke.


  1. Holy batman, that is all sorts of amazing! And FYI - I most definitely popped over here to read this thanks to Sean linking to it. :D

  2. Great blog my fellow Browncoat. Yes, the word Browncoat deserves a capital B. It sounded so incredible that you hung out with Sean. Wish I could! Maybe next time the cast comes to England I'll name drop you and he'll take pity on me for wanting to be you lol. Back to the Firefly boxset I go!

  3. It was really fun reading this, it's great to find out that Sean is as nice as he seems. The fact that he tweeted a link to this page also speaks volumes. Too bad I don't live anywhere close enough to my favorite actors (I also would NEVER be brave enough to go talk to them).

    1. You totally can be brave enough! Sometimes they turn out to be really cool :)

  4. Alex,
    your blog is great
    I want to ask: what is your opinion of HOMELAND (or can it just be Homeland?)? I have not seen the show (or at least not an entire episode) and I would like to know what you think about it and what facts you can spew from your IMDBrain about it?

    Is the SNL skit with Anne Hathaway a fairly accurate portrayal of the show? Anne Hathaway doing Claire Danes was hilarious, AH is gaining cred in my book.

    thanks for you thoughts and this blog

    1. Hey there! So I think Homeland is pretty fantastic - the first couple episodes were good, and then somewhere along the way in the first season it just exploded into something amazing. The acting is, like, unbelievable - Claire Danes and Damian Lewis should just win Oscars for TV. And I know they don't give Oscars for TV but it's THAT good, especially with what's happened in season two. And it's not just acting, the plotting on that show is crazy - it feels like every week you're like "I can't believe that just happened".

      And the SNL skit was funny and pretty accurate actually! Except on the show when Carrie freaks out it's less hilarious and more super devastating haha

      And Anne Hathaway finally earned my forgiveness for the Oscars hosting after I saw The Dark Knight Rises - I'm just a sucker for badass ass-kicking female, I guess - Buffy is one of my favorite shows! - but I also genuinely thought she was really good.