Two weeks ago, however, the yearbook waited under my seat as I interviewed Blair in correlation with her new movie, The Deal – a prescient political thriller that is currently in theaters.
So, when I write that Blair is a refreshing break from the usual egotistical Hollywood celebrities, that she’s a character study in humility, or that she’s always impeccably garnished with the most unique bracelets and rings, please do not read anything into it. I will cite examples of this behavior below and allow you, the reader, to judge Blair’s behavior for yourself.
Asked to explain The Deal, a delicious film with plenty of twists and turns, we expect Blair, as most actors would, to talk eruditely about Wall Street, cash reserves, The Confederation of Arab States and Russian Mafia that pepper the film. But Blair shrugs.
"I read the script and I liked it … I didn’t get it really," she says with a laugh, "but I liked it. I liked that [my character, environmental idealist Abbey] was a strong girl and I love Christian Slater, and there’s some great cast members. So I wanted to do it. But I still didn’t really understand it. But I wised up. Someone finally explained things to this poor ignorant soul."
Self deprecation from an actress? Can they do that? This honesty is disconcerting. Must be a fluke. Let’s talk about her just-wrapped The Fog – is it a thriller? Bloodbath? Horror? Where’s John Carpenter going to take this remake?
"I don’t know, we’ll have to see it. I don’t understand what The Fog’s about." Blair starts laughing again. "Poor Selma! I need to play a blind mute girl next, because I have no idea what’s going on in anything!" More self-deprecating laughter (yes, there is such a category of laughter and Selma has perfected it).
If Blair is being portrayed as ignorant, I have not limned her character properly. For an actor to openly admit that they, initially, did not understand a role, or acknowledge that they still have more to discover about acting ("I cried after my last audition") is about the smartest thing an artist can say. In fact, Blair is so sharp she’s never been the object de scam as she was in The Deal.
"Not that I know of," she says, laughing. "The gardener cut down the wrong tree once, I think he did it on purpose, but whatever." With a twinkle of pain in her eyes, "I told him to cut down the tree over yonder and he cut down my favorite tree in the yard. It made no sense. I still get choked up about it – the miscommunication, yeah." Sarcasm entering her voice, "‘Please, cut down my favorite fig tree.’ So I didn’t pay him. I was devastated. A healthy tree cut down! I lost sleep. I had to move from the house. I felt so guilty."
With the interview coming to an end, and Blair admitting that she’s about to start a campaign for a huge hush-hush fashion house – "Now I definitely won’t be able to walk down the street in flip-flops and jean shorts to take out the garbage," she says – her publicist enters, ready to take her away. I now begin my breathing exercises. This time I won’t lose my nerve. As Blair rises to leave, I, with quaking hands, flip out the Hillel Day School 1985 yearbook and, face turning redder than Blair’s lips, ask her to sign it, sloppily explaining how I fudged it 19 years ago.
Ten minutes later, I leave the interview with something Aharon’s been waiting for over half his life: a personal message from Selma "Bat Sheva" Blair ending with a slew of X’s and O’s.
The Deal is currently in theaters.