Just People Like You and Me

September 21, 2023

There is a crucial scene in Delirious where Les Galantine (Steve Buscemi) comes face to face with a real celebrity. As a paparazzi, Les’ mantra about the celebrities he hounded had always been, “They’re just people, like you and me.” Yet, when he meets Elvis Costello in the film, Les is rendered speechless.

The schizophrenic heart of this scene came from a real, cynical paparazzi I hung out with while writing the script who told me Robert De Niro shook his hand once on a red carpet, and he didn’t wash it for a month.

An experience of my own, ironically when I was with Steve Buscemi, further invested me in the idea. We were both in London showing films. Backstage at Steve’s film, I felt him tug on my sleeve, and as I turned, he said, “Hey Tom, do you know Paul McCartney?”

Meeting the Beatle did indeed take my breath away. All I could do was mumble something about being a “huge, huge fan.” But, it did sear my brain with the idea that this was something Les Galantine should experience in Delirious.

Steve actually reached out to Sir Paul on my behalf as I was casting Delirious, but he wasn’t available. The tricky thing was the scene required someone who really was a celebrity. Someone pretending to be a fake celebrity was just not going to work.

One day, while I was on a tech scout in a van full of crewmembers, my phone rang. I picked it up, and a British voice said, “Hello, is this Tom? It’s Elvis Costello.”

In my astonishment, I said, “Hey Elvis, how’re you doing?” The entire van instantly fell silent.

Elvis told me that Steve had sent him the script and that he was really interested in being in the film. I agreed instantly. We spoke about some ideas he had, which were hilarious. As I hung up, the entire van erupted in applause.

Learn more about Delirious: The Director’s Cut and get the Blu-Ray or DVD here.


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