Original Gangster

Watching Martin Scorsese’s The Departed with an old friend is a pretty good way to spend the Sunday afternoon. Especially if your good friend is an international movie star himself. My old childhood friend Hansel has rolled into town for the festive season all the way from Hollywood after wrapping up his latest feature, a Gus Van Sant feature that should be out sometime in 2009.

It’s hard to believe that once upon a time Hansel (not his real name of course) was once from the sun bleached streets of St. Kilda. Also harder to believe is that his nickname in school used to be The Buck Tooth Bandit but things do change. Leaned back on my couch with an ice cold bevvy in his hand all tanned and trim like some warrior poet from Troy and decked in Aviators you get the feeling that his being a star was nothing less than destiny.

On screen on my Panalux 32 inch High Definition LCD TV Leonardo Di Caprio is waxing lyrical about the stress of being an undercover cop to some actress whose way too gorgeous to play a shrink. The image on screen looks pretty damn good in HD I have to say.

“Funny thing about Leo,” Hansel says, “he’s actually a pretty chilled out guy in real life but he always plays these stressed out characters.” I look up from my giant bowl of buttered popcorn and nod distractedly, yeah right, like I know the first thing about what Leo does or does not do, the only thing I do know is I freaking love this movie, wish the Irish Mob would move into my neighborhood. Then thinking about Billy O Flanagan and his crew, I decided that they moved in to this neighborhood a long time ago, it’s just that real gangsters ain’t nothing like TV gangsters.

Not that I’m going to share that nugget of insight with world famous Hansel over here. The only thing gangster about him is the size of his paychecks. “How come you never played like a gangster before huh Hansel?” I ask just to start something. He raises his shades above his eyes just to asses the question all serious like then does a nonchalant shrug like he couldn’t care less and says, “I don’t know man, I guess like it’s not my calling, I’ve played a cop a few times but never a gangster, maybe it’s that good guy image thing I have going for me.”

“Sure,” I say “but look at Leo dude,” gesturing the screen, “he is playing a cop who’s acting as a gangster, I mean that’s like two roles in one. Does that mean he has a good guy image and a gangster image? No dude, I don’t think so, it just means he’s a good actor. He can put forth whatever image he wants to portray, you know what I mean dude? I mean what was your role in the Gus Van Sant movie you just did?”

“I played a troubled pediatrician.”

I look at Hansel thoughtfully for awhile to see if he is making fun of me or he’s serious and when I see him crack a smile I tell him to shut up and watch the movie.

Which he is only too glad to do so.