Errol Flynn in Robin Hood
Recently Sydney was at a gathering here in L.A. and she ran into our dear friends from 'the biz' Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. They were excited about to begin directing a new film they had written about the last days of cinema great Errol Flynn in Cuba detailing, among other things, the making of his final film Cuban Rebel Girls.
Sydney looks at them and says, "Peter's in that film!"
Yes I was in Errol Flynn's final film Cuban Rebel Girls and as a result of that fortuitous conversation, I also —ahem -- "appear" in the new film with Kevin Kline, Dakota Fanning and Susan Sarandon. The producer is the amazing person and great filmmaker Christine Vachon of New York's Killer Films.
The story then is like this ....
Young Peter Belsito, looking good
When I was a boy -- a young teen from Whitestone Bayside Flushing Queens New York City -- and my schoolteacher Mom would be off from school, my dad, an attorney, would take us on travel holidays for Easter vacation.
One year he goes to the Flushing travel agent and says, "What do you have for Puerto Rico?" The travel agent looks down and says, "Puerto Rico's full up ... but Cuba's wide open!" So my Dad books it.
April 1959: My Mom, Dad, Sister Brenda (19 years old and looking good), Uncle Frank and Auntie Lala (Mom's kid sister) and I land in Havana.
Four months after the Revolution. Much MUCH to say about what was going on and what happened and what we saw and experienced for that's another story.
We stayed at the El Comodoro Hotel on the beach west of Havana central (still there and not changed so much now).
Errol Flynn getting his nails done
What's relevant here is that soon after we arrive a film crew pulls into the hotel. It's the actor Errol Flynn coming to make, as he told us, "...my version of how I saved the Revolution for Che and Fidel in the Sierra Maestre." At this time the U.S. had not yet turned against the Castro brothers (that would come in mid 1960 after the Russian connection and Fidel's love of Marxism became evident) and during their revolutionary struggle in the mountains U.S. celebrities visited them (i.e., much as such types do now in places like Haiti).
My sister and I were recruited to do a walk-on as Cuban kid autograph seekers when Flynn drives up to the Hotel. (Fyi - I got the DVD of that film, Cuban Rebel Girls from Amazon and checked and YES! our scene is still in it the first 10 minutes.)
my family front, Errol, Beverly in back
So cut to Atlanta last week where I stopped for a day returning home from the Berlinale Festival and EFM Market.
Now I can announce that I am (briefly) in this new film about the last days of Flynn entitled The Last of Robin Hood
, written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. When they heard I was in the original film with Flynn they thought it would be cool to put me in the new one as I would be the only (alive) person in both films!!
In "my scene" in the new film I play the director of Flynn's last movie (with Kevin Kline as Flynn hovering over my shoulder) and I am watching / directing a scene between Dakota and a "Cuban" girl. Dakota plays the tabloid notorious (and then famous) 17 year old blond hottie, and Flynn's supposed girlfriend, Beverly Aadland. She was at our hotel with her mother as I recall, and the photo here, which I took then, shows her and Flynn poolside.
I can say that Kevin and Dakota were very good in "my scene" and I have one line, or one word actually, 'CUT!' As it is a key scene (Dakota / Beverly flirts with a teen boy and Kevin / Flynn gets upset) and the two stars are in it (and both very good!) I have a feeling the scene will end up in the film.
As I was working, taking photos was hard and Kevin didn't want any, but the one included here of the Cuban Rebel Girls running at the camera says it all.
I think the film will be good; from what I saw it also looked really interesting. Can't wait until it shows.
Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland directing
Postscript note - About a year and a half later the Flynn film Cuban Rebel Girls came out (he had died in December of 1959 a few months after our encounter) I took a group of my high school buddies to see it in, of all places, Times Square (which was very different then, quite seedy and low class). I was shocked and we all agreed it was one of the worst films we'd ever seen. But Flynn himself is a great story, and my gut says from all I saw that the new film will be TERRIFIC!! I hope so.