The proof of his international prestige is As Good as It Gets, the new film which earned Jack Nicholson a Golden Globe. Nicholson plays the obnoxious Melvin Udall, who wages verbal war on a waitress, played by Helen Hunt, and a next-door neighbour, played by Greg Kinnear and named, yes, Simon Nye.
At any rate, that's what it says in the production notes dished out to journalists at the film's advance showings. Onscreen, Simon Nye has been transformed into Simon Bishop. According to my erstwhile colleague Dillie Tante, It Girl and doyenne of film criticism, this indiscrepancy means that Kinnear's character was originally called Nye, but was rechristened at some late stage in the production. Were the film-makers trying to avoid confusion with "our" Simon Nye? We may never know, but an American version of Men Behaving Badly has aired in the US, so it's at least possible that someone at the studio had heard of him.
This is especially galling to me and two of my colleagues at the Independent, David Lister and Max Walker. Immensely famous as we all are, we sadly haven't reached Nye's status. My name was pinched by the protagonist of Barry Unsworth's novel Morality Play, Dave Lister is Craig Charles's character in Red Dwarf, and Max had already endured years of being mistaken for an Australian cricketer when his name was also given to Jean Claude Van Damme in Timecop. Not that he minded. "I was flattered they felt my name was hip enough to adopt," he says. "There's a bit in Timecop where his wife says, 'There's nobody like Max Walker to keep the streets safe.' Nobody else in the cinema could know the little frisson of pleasure that ran down my spine."
ALAS, Cries & Whispers' dissertation on the pointlessness of interviews with film stars has had little effect. The interviews keep coming, and they don't get any more insightful: the profile of Samantha Janus in this month's Loaded magazine is a vintage example. Janus is the winsome young blonde in the sitcom Game On who looks like a cruel caricature of Michelle Pfeiffer. And as those of you who have read this week's film reviews will know, she stars in John Godber's Up'n'Under, as a sexy young fitness instructor drafted in to shape up a hopeless amateur rugby team (you can tell it's a British film, can't you?). "They only let her play rugby because they think they'll be able to shag her in the bath afterwards," Janus says of the character in the interview. "There's a scene where Neil Morrissey barges into my shower and I turn around and go, 'You've had a look, now fuck off!'"
Digest all this information, if you will, and then read the very next sentence spoken by Janus. "But it was nice to play a part that didn't rely on my looks."
I'd assume she was being funny, but having seen Game On, it doesn't seem likely.
ONE MORE thing. Can anyone explain why Richard O'Brien - creator of the Rocky Horror Show, ex-host of The Crystal Maze, and official Coolest Human Being Alive - put on a Liverpudlian accent for his role of a demonic tabloid photographer in the Spice Girls film? Just wondering.