The Law of Contact

Burnadette Peters

by Rex Bromfield - September 2015

I was lucky enough to work with Bernadette Peters on a film in Montreal. Bernadette is a great actor, a fabulous person and a real player. Aside from being enormously talented and always thoroughly prepared, she loves to party with the cast and crew. We would take over restaurants and party most of the night away. We'd still get up at 5:30 to get to the set. Don't know how we did it. I guess we were young.

The French crews in Montreal are tight-knit groups of real filmmakers. The big thing at the time (1979) was to sneeze different things and make everyone laugh. Let me explain: you conceal something, like a cigarette or an apple or an orange in your hand while you pretend that you are about to sneeze. Then you sneeze and release the object from your hand and grasp it at the last second letting it hang there so it looks like it came from your nose. I know, it's incredibly adolescent. The guys in the grip department were particularly good at it. They were sneezing cigarette lighters, pens, pencils, wallets. All kinds of things, and making it look pretty convincing. Everyone laughed. We had fun.

One day we were shooting in a hospital in Montreal and people were grabbing up all kinds of items from the props department and hiding in stairwells to practise sneezing them.

That night at the restaurant everybody had to show off their new sneezes. The focus puller sneezed a pack of cigarettes. One Gaffer sneezed two forceps at the same time and got a big laugh. After her audience had had plenty to eat and drink, Bernadette raised both hands and said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. I have an announcement!” Everyone got quiet and watched as she climbed up onto the table. She was making a nice little speech about how much fun she was having working with us in Montreal and how great the people were then, suddenly something came over her. She gasped for air, looked up at ceiling, took a big breath then sneezed a huge silicone breast implant bag and thoroughly blew everyone's mind.

Every man in the room (and many of the women) fell in love that night (if they weren't already). During that time we all had together we learned that Bernadette knew exactly what to do and when to do it. It was a particularly difficult shoot, and if it hadn't been for her I doubt we would have been able to get it done as well as we did. She's a wonderful person and a great actor. No wonder she's a big star.

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