The paparazzi idea was one of two that motivated the script. The other was the ferocious addiction to fame and celebrity gripping the world today. People not only want to devour the stars, they want to be stars themselves. Why? What is it about being famous that is so enticing to people? One theory is that it instantly solves all their problems of self-worth. If the entire world tells you you’re incredible, then you must be. Whatever personal weaknesses and insecurities you might be struggling with—just forget them. The whole world loves you and that’s all you ever need to know.
Another theory: The Lure of Eternal Infancy. People want to become famous so they can become babies again—forever. The whole world loves a little baby. Who wouldn’t want that—to be the universal center of attention; loved by everyone? A baby can do whatever it wants and someone will always be there to cuddle and clean up after it. A baby can crap in its pants whenever it wants to. I saw an actor do this once. It was in his contract. I didn’t have to clean him up but his publicist did. That’s in my contract.
But if everybody’s so desperate to be a Star do real Stars even exist anymore? If so, what makes them a Star? It seems to me that the people who truly fascinate us on the screen are those whose souls are open to the world. We see into them. They have a purity and innocence that entrances and mesmerizes us. Toby Grace (Michael Pitt) is a young homeless kid in Delirious. As he wanders the streets of NY we sense he’s been damaged by something in his life but he hasn’t let it cripple him. He has an instinctive honesty and innocence that draws people to him.
Because Toby accidentally stumbles into Fame I needed an actor that could be as believable digging through a garbage can as he was walking on the red carpet. I knew I’d found him when the moment I met Michael Pitt. Michael said yes immediately. The problem was convincing the financiers to say yes. They threw all the usual suspects at me; from Justin to Leonardo to Frodo and Legolas before I finally got the go ahead.
So now, two years after completing the script, I had Les and Toby cast. The next most important part for me was K’harma, the lost pop diva Toby falls in love with. It’s a juicy jewel of a role, just right for a strong, sexy young actress who wanted to show her acting chops. If you think I went through hell trying to cast Toby wait till you see what I went through with her.