I recently sat down with the multiple Academy Award Nominated Ed Harris for a conversation about seizure disorders. He joined me for a mid morning coffee at Peaches Cafe on Western Avenue, right here in Albany.
Matt Scully: Welcome, Mr. Harris, please make yourself at home.
Ed Harris: Please, call me Mr. Harris.
MS: How are you enjoying Albany, sir?
EH: I love it, always have. (singing) I’ve got Georgia on my mind.
MS: (looking around to make sure no one heard that) Oh, no, not Albany, Georgia…
MS: (shaking head) No.
EH: Oh, well then, Minnesota, the land of 1,000,000 lakes!
MS: That couldn’t be more wrong.
EH: Isn’t that the state motto? I’m pretty sure it’s the state motto.
MS: Well, no. And we’re not in Minnesota. We’re in beautiful Albany, New York. Our mayor is an orange, did you know that?
EH: Oh, Jesus Christ! I’ve never even heard of this ‘burg.
MS: Really? It’s the capital of New York state. (off his blank stare) Never mind, we’re getting off track before we even started. I wanted to talk to you today about “non-epileptic seizure disorders.” From what I understand, it’s another thing we have in common.
EH: You think I have seizures? Who told you I have seizures? I don’t have seizures. So we don’t have that in common.
MS: Are you sure?
EH: Am I sure that I don’t have seizures? Yes.
MS: Because you probably wouldn’t remember. You should ask your wife about it. We can get her on the line, if you like.
EH: (looks around the mostly empty cafe) What line? Who’s we?
MS: Are you sure you’re not having a seizure right now?
MS: OK. Snippy. (produces a sheet of paper and places it on the table) I have here a record of donations you’ve made to various charities for children with non-epileptic seizure disorders. It’s very good work you do. Tell me, what inspires you?
EH: I have no fucking clue what you’re talking about. Can I see that? (takes paper) It just says, “Fergus love Jude,” and it’s written in crayon!
MS: Are you sure? My assistant assured me that was the document I requested.
EH: How old is your assistant?
MS: He’s 6, but he’s very smart for his age. He can count to 100.
EH: (rubbing temples) Look, I don’t have seizures. I don’t give money to any “seizure charities,” would you like to talk about my career?
MS: (teary eyed, lip trembling) I guess.
EH: Are you crying?
MS: No, I will not cry in front of Ed O’Neil.
EH: Well, I’m Ed Harris. (exasperated) Look, don’t cry. You said seizures were another thing we had in common? What else do we have in common?
MS: (brightening up) We’re both bald!
EH: (stone-faced) I’m not bald.
EH: Listen very carefully. I. AM. NOT. BALD.
MS: I can see the light reflected in your scalp. (maintains eye contact)
EH: OK. I admit that my hair may be thinning.
MS: (hopefully, like a kid on Christmas) And you have seizures?
MS: OK, fine, let’s talk about your “career.”
EH: Why did you do air quotes when you said career?
MS: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you feeling OK? Maybe you’re having a seizure.
EH: I should go.
MS: NO! Let’s talk about your career! I’m actually a big fan!
EH: You are? Because a minute ago you called me Ed O’Neil.
MS: (chuckling to self) Yeah, classic.
EH, MS: (simultaneously) What’s your favorite Ed Harris movie?
MS: You go first.
EH: I’d rather not. That’s a little self-serving and egotistical for my taste. Tell me yours.
MS: No Country For Old Men, for sure.
EH: I wasn’t in that movie.
MS: (taking out phone) I’m just going to double-check on IMDB, because I’m pretty sure you were.
EH: Are you thinking of Woody Harrelson? Because Woody Harrelson was in that movie, and I was not.
MS: (looking down at phone) One moment, I don’t have the best signal in here.
EH: (checking his watch) Jesus.
MS: There we go. Nope, you weren’t even in that movie. Are you seriously trying to take credit for other actors’ work? That’s low, sir.
EH: I never said I was in that movie, you did.
MS: No, I just checked IMDB, and I can clearly see you’re not in it. You’re thinking of Woody Harrelson.
EH: No, you are.
MS: That’s very childish, Mr. Harris. Do you often confuse yourself with Woody Harrelson? It could be a symptom of your seizures.
EH: Look, for the very fucking last time: I DON’T HAVE SEIZURES! I don’t think I’m Woody Harrelson, either!
MS: (leaning forward) Oh, do you know him? What’s he like? I loved him in Apollo 13!
EH: I’m done.
MS: Oh. OK. I know you’re a busy man. Thank you for your time today. Good luck with those seizures. (offers hand, is ignored)
EH: (stands up and walks away, without saying goodbye I might add, and leaves through the fire exit)
MS: Note to self, send Ed Harris a fruit basket.