Power Smokers of Hollywood
From the Print Edition:
Rush Limbaugh, Spring 94
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"I'm the boss," he says. "Nobody bitches."
John Milius and Ron Shelton take a similarly imperious view of their directorial imperatives.
"I started smoking cigars when I was 13," says Shelton (director of Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump and Blaze). "Other kids snuck behind the woodshed to smoke cigarettes; for some reason, I smoked cigars. In retrospect, they were pretty awful. But I've come to appreciate and smoke good cigars--my favorite is the Montecristo No. 2--and any time a day goes by that I haven't smoked a cigar, I feel like something's missing."
Shelton usually smokes one a day, after lunch or dinner, unless he's writing or directing; then it's more. And if someone on the set complains?
"I've learned not to work with them. There are few ground rules for working with me; one of them is that I'm going to smoke cigars."
What are the others?
"That's about it." He pauses. "No, there are two rules. If you complain about my cigars, I'll never work with you again; if you lie to me about anything, I'll kill you."
Once, Shelton says, he lit up on the set, and an actor with a small part complained. Shelton returned to his trailer and wrote the actor out of the scene. End of complaint. End of job.
"I'm respectful of others in situations where I feel it's not my privilege to dictate the environment," Shelton says. "I'll only smoke in a restaurant where I know it's accepted and enjoyed. But on the set, well--it's my set."
Milius, the director of Conan the Barbarian and The Wind and the Lion and the author of screenplays for Jeremiah Johnson, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and the recently released Geronimo, says anyone who complains about his cigars on the set can "get another job."
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