Adrian in the A.M.

The extremely successful, supremely self-effacing Adrian Lyne talkes about L.A. disappointing decline (in alcohol consumption, that is), Anglo-American prudery, and the challenge of keeping Demi Moore from looking like a whole in his new film, Indecent Proposal.

____________________

I can tell you right now that things don't look good. The plan is that I'm to meet director Adrian Lyne at 7:30 a.m. at Hugo's on Santa Monica boulevard. First of all, I make it a practice not to see 7:30 a.m. unless I've been up all night, which i haven't been. Second, after being up all night I've been known to gag in Hugo's, which is famous for serving pasta at breakfast. And third, at the moment of this meeting, I have a piece in print (in Movieline, no less!) calling Lyne's film 9½ Weeks "one of the most odious movies ever made." So you can see that this might be trouble.

On the up side, Lyne has made four other films (Flashdance, Foxes, Jacob's Ladder and Fatal Attraction) which I haven't, as far as I can remember, trashed in public.

I'm the only person at Hugo's when the door opens and in walks ... James Woods. Which really has nothing to do with this story, but as added color goes, it beats John Tesh. And then Adrian Lyne comes shuffling through the door. He looks like maybe he just got punched in the stomach. I mean, he sinks into the seat opposite me.

"Are you an early bird?" I ask, since no matter how he looks, he's the one who insisted on 7:30 a.m.

"No fucking way," he says, running his fingers through his long hair, looking and sounding exactly like Rod Stewart.

"Then what are we doing here now?"

"I don't know," he answers. "I thought we had to do this early because you wanted to. I hate the fucking morning."

We will both speak to Paramount about this later, I bet. In the meantime, I'm already liking Lyne more. And when he orders granola and coffee instead of spaghetti and shrimp, he's home free.

We sit contentedly in our stupors for a while, until Lyne says, "Wait a minute. Movieline magazine. Isn't that the magazine that murdered me once?"

"Not really," I say, hiding the offensive issue under my seat. "They were pretty fair ..."

"No fucking way," he insists. "I remember how mortified I was when that piece came out. Nice guy who did the story, but then it came out all fucked up. They mangled me. Oh God, what am I doing here? And someone told me recently that they said something horrible about 9½ Weeks ..."

I just give Lyne my blankest look and shrug my shoulders. I act like I have never even seen 9½ Weeks. Instead, I bring up my friend Seymour Cassel, who just finished work on Lyne's new movie, Indecent Proposal.

"I love Seymour," he says, rising to the bait. "He's the most relaxed actor I've ever worked with. He has no nerves at all. He just kind of enjoys it and has fun. Did you see In the Soup? The guy was fantastic. I knew him years ago, in the '80s, when things were fun ..."

"What's the matter, Adrian, the '90s getting you down?"

"What, you're happy? The '70s and the early '80s were great. And now ... No one drinks, no one smokes. My God, I hate it. I don't know how to cope with this. I hate those condoms, I could never make them work. I'm the only person in this town who drinks. I don't know what they do here. Ten years ago, Los Angeles was a den of iniquity. And now it's a fucking monastery. I hate it."

We sit and mope together for a few minutes, remembering the good old times.

"Okay, tell me a little about yourself." This is him talking.

"No Adrian, I think you have it wrong. I'm the interviewer. I get to ask the questions."

He sighs. "I hate talking about myself. I'd much rather find out about you."

"Well," I say. "if you take me to the editing room and let me see a little of Indecent Proposal, I'll cut the questions short."

"No, that would be impossible. It's frighteningly long. No, no, I couldn't possibly let you see it."

"Okay then," I say, "I'm going to make you tell me every last detail of your bloody boring life."

If grown men could cry, he would. "Look," he pleads, "it wouldn't be fair to show you the movie now. It just goes on and on. I'm at the point now where I hate the fucking thing. I always feel this way when we edit. It's like it's a monster that you haven't tamed yet. You don't know if it's good, if it's going to make any money. No, it's just too fucking long ..."

"Okay," I say, "we'll start with when you were making commercials in London."

Lyne begins to whimper.

"All right, we'll skip the commercials. And come to think of it, maybe we should skip your films, too ..."

"Why?" he asks, perking up. "Did you not like them?"

Well, here it is, the moment of truth. I order more coffee and head to the bathroom. When I come back, he's sitting there expectantly. And I decide, what the hell, what's the worst thing that could happen? He won't take me to the editing room.

"Okay, I'll tell you the truth. I have not been a big fan of yours. Your movies all look great. They have this sheen that makes you think you're watching something wonderful. And I've seen all of them more than once. But in the end, what's the point? They leave me feeling pissed off and cheated."

I go on. "I thought Flashdance was incredibly stupid. First of all, I don't look good in ripped sweatshirts. And then the whole dilemma of, should I be a welder or a ballerina? Welder? Ballerina?" I start slapping myself across the face, saying "welder/ballerina" like the "my sister/my daughter" thing in Chinatown.

Lyne is laughing. "Oh, I know. It was a silly little thing. But the music was good, don't you think?" He's actually waiting for an answer.

"And 9½ Weeks," I continue, "I could have killed you for. I loved that book when it first came out. I used to jerk off to it all the time..."

Lyne chokes on his coffee. "Did you say you used to jerk off to it?"

"What, Adrian, you didn't think girls did that?" I ask indignantly.

"No, of course I know that. Of course. It's just not what I expected you to say. Go on, though, this sounds promising."

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