05 August 2008


Wil Wheaton describes getting good direction from Rob Reiner on the set of Stand By Me, doing the scene I remember best.
In that final scene, when Gordie pulls the gun on Ace, my instinct was to yell at him, like I was trying to intimidate him (again, this made sense when I was 12.) Rob let me rehearse it that way, and then he very calmly pulled me aside and asked me to try it again, but to keep my voice quieter. “Let the gun do the talking,” he said. “It's more powerful.”

I was 12, so I said that I thought I should do it my way. (Ah, the impertinence of youth, how glad I am to be rid of it.) Rob nodded patiently and said, “Okay, listen to this.” He took a few steps away, and pointed his finger at my face. “No, Ace, just you,” he said. Gravely, quietly, seriously.

Then, he pulled that finger back and held it up.

“Now,” he said, “listen to this.” He took a deep breath, pointed his finger at my face again, and screamed, “NO ACE JUST YOU!”

His voice echoed off the river, as he asked, “Which one is scarier? Which one is stronger?”

I laughed nervously. “It's scarier when you yell at me, but it's stronger to be quiet, which is guess is scarier if you're Ace.” I said.

“So let's try it that way,” he said, kindly.

People always give me credit for being great in that movie. The truth is, I don't think I deserve as much credit for it as I'm frequently given. I think back on my limited experience and my silly ideas, and then I see what a magnificent performance Rob Reiner coaxed out of me. The difference is striking.

You can see it here.

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