About a year ago, I got the chance to visit a cool movie set. My goal? Searching for the elusive, mythical Dick Van Dyke. He’s a creature of great comedy and gravitas, but I’d never seen him in the flesh.
This is bucket list material for me.
So, with the help of Walt Disney Studios, I got to visit the set of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Based loosely on the beloved book by Judith Viorst (a personal favorite of mine, my mom and my eldest son), it follows Alexander, a ne’er-do-well kid whose family joins him on a most heinous, excellent adventure.
And we all know the catalogue of excellent adventures. Bill and his friend Ted have taught me this.
Back to my adventure, I jumped in my car with a fellow Van Dyke woodsman and we made our way to Pasadena’s finest bookstore, Vromen’s, for our set visit in hopes that St. Van Dyke soon would be there.
Along the way, we ran into Jennifer Garner and had the chance to chat with her about ‘Alexander’ before I continued my quest. In addition to starring alongside Steve Carell, Jennifer was equally excited about working with Dick Van Dyke:
“He’s… I mean, he’s really—I love musicals and I love music, movie musicals, and my kids do as well, so he’s the big deal for me. I’m really excited.”
Super producer Lisa Henson of the Henson Family said, “He’s just perfect. Also, we all, every single person on set, wanted to meet him.”
SOUNDS FAMILIAR LISA. FUNNY, I HAD THE SAME THING IN MIND.
Jennifer Garner was a sweetheart of a person, and had lots of fun things to say about shooting a movie based on such a rad book with such an amazing cast.
Next, I found Alexander himself, an Aussie wunderkind named Ed Oxenbould. We talked at length about his schooling and how he’s like the character. I found him to be super grounded with a great sense of humor.
“I just met Dick van Dyke, which was pretty awesome, yeah. That was cool. Um, Steve and Jenn are so nice. They’re just lovely people. They’re just normal, you know? I’m going to miss everyone on set. There’s not one person who I don’t like.”
You met Dick Van Dyke, Ed? Really? What about me? What about my needs? It was turning into my very own No Good, Very Bad Day and I was starting to lose hope.
I headed off to the bathroom for a quick break from watching the filming process. Deflated (yet with an inflated bladder), I pushed on the door and… there he was. Dick Van Dyke. Caractacus Potts. Bert, himself. Diagnosis AWESOME. I was standing in front of a legend. My wife, his hugest fan, implored me earlier that day to get a photo with him. All I could do was look at him slack-jawed.
“Hey, Dick!” I was verbose. He smiled. Then, looked at me like I was the only person in the world.
“Hey, there! Having fun?”
A pat on the shoulder and that was it. He didn’t even tell me to move out of the way like any reasonable person would if confronted by an unmoving person staring at them just outside a bathroom. He was all I could’ve hoped for. And I can’t wait to see him in this film. He was making people crack up non-stop on the set. He’s still got it.
And these other guys look equally hilarious. It’s a sure bet for a fun family time.
The film opens next Friday, October 10th! Are you going??