Grover, we’re worried. This photo we’ve obtained of you — bleary, boozy, disheveled. It doesn’t look good. Want to tell us what’s going on here?
“Acting!” declared Grover Norquist, doing his best Jon Lovitz-as-master-thespian imitation.
Indeed: The conservative anti-tax activist was acting! — in, of all things, the next chapter of the big-screen adaptation of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”
Norquist, 55, told us he was headed out to L.A. last week for a talk show appearance when the movie’s producers suggested he stop by the set to take a cameo role. Technically, he says, he was just an extra — “meaning you don’t talk, therefore you’re not part of the Screen Actors Guild, therefore they don’t have union problems” with the off-the-books casting.
First thought: Funny to think of the producers of “Atlas Shrugged” dealing with union problems.
Second thought: They’re really going ahead with this “Atlas Shrugged” movie? Part 1 of the long-planned trilogy, after all, was a notorious flop when released last year. But apparently on DVD it got enough fans grooving to its objectivist-capitalist-libertarian message to inspire producers to stay the course. With an entirely new cast and director, producers hope to have Part 2 out by election time this fall.
Norquist, the president of Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, first shot an office scene, handing a three-ring binder to heroine Dagny Taggart’s assistant. Easy enough, it sounds. Then producers suggested a second role. For a scene where Dagny and Hank Rearden walked along the street discussing the decline of society, they put Norquist in the background as some kind of down-and-out businessman, slumped on a stone bench, a bottle of wine in his lap. They roughed up his face with makeup, and messed up his hair, but he wore his own suit.
The actor playing Hank commended Norquist’s acting ability — he even stayed in character between takes! Consider it his Method approach: Having woken up 20 hours earlier for his West Coast flight, Norquist was nodding off by the time of the night shoot. “I’m half asleep, my character’s half asleep,” he said.
Back to the photo, taken of the new thespian on set and in character. We warned Norquist that his fans and detractors alike will have fun with this one; would he like to make the first joke? He thought for a second, and then offered up his proposed caption: “The Obama recovery, at rest,” he laughed.
Read earlier: ‘Atlas Shrugged’ finally makes it to the screen, 4/8/11
‘Atlas Shrugged: Part 1’ reviewed, 4/15/11