Ross Was My First Boss: How I Met David Schwimmer
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Ross Was My First Boss: How I Met David Schwimmer

Getting to see the other side of Hollywood.

Ross Was My First Boss: How I Met David Schwimmer

This is the story of my first job

INT. Dexter High School social studies classroom February 2009

I am sitting at my desk, writing notes as my Italian teacher lectures us about the Latin language, how it wasn’t really dead but hidden in Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and yes, even English. The classroom laughs at his little joke. Suddenly, the principal walks into the classroom.

“Annie Cameron?” she asks.

Annie. She has been really quiet lately as if something of her usual spark is gone. I go back to my notebook, but the presence of the principal distracts me, as if she is overbearing. She asks Annie to come down to the office with her. I can feel that familiar sense of dread when this happens.

Earlier this very school year, I felt that same sense when a freshman was pulled out of my creative writing class by Vice-Principal Koenig for having marijuana in his locker. Part of you wants to snicker and part of your feels a bit guilty yourself, not because you did anything wrong. Annie is usually a good kid. I don’t know her much, but she seemed nice enough. She stands up and the principal escorts her out of the room.

David Schwimmer yells “Cut!” The crew gives a small clap. “Good job, Liana. Good job.”

(My blue arm is in this picture)

He leans back in his director’s chair; the white words read “Trust” on the black canvas of the chair. It is clear that he is trying to act the part of a director, wearing a black baseball cap and hoodless sweatshirt like pictures of Steven Spielberg in his prime. He watches the playback from his monitor, smiling and nodding as he goes. Yes, that’s what directors do; I’ve seen behind-the-scenes features enough times to recognize the gestures of a filmmaker. Perhaps he thinks this will be the twenty-first century’s first real stab at becoming a Citizen Kane, a piece that will change the conversation about internet interaction.

Liana Liberato, who plays Annie, smiles a little. I realized much later why she looked familiar. She was in the “Seven things I hate about you” video with Miley Cyrus. I’m ashamed I made that reference. This is only her second movie, and she is nailing the range of emotion, take after take. She plays a once happy teen who starts an online relationship with a 16-year old only to find out that he is forty years old. Schwimmer is pretty proud of this talent discovery.

It’s six ‘o'clock, and after nearly twelve hours of filming, all I want to do is go home. I barely ate lunch, a small PB&J I packed for myself. Only the film’s crew, cast, and featured extras, like that chick from my Spanish class, were allowed to eat the catered food, the rest of us were relegated to whatever we brought.

Under the Michigan Film and Digital Media Incentives of 2008, production companies that filmed in Michigan would receive a tax break or refund in order to promote a new economy in Michigan. My grandfather’s first paying job was in a Ford factory, and mine was in the movies.

Trust, which one apparent fan on youtube called “Catfish before Catfish,” wasn’t the first film to be shot in my high school. Hilary Swank as Betty Ann Waters was at our school just a few months earlier. But she had only shot one scene in the Principal’s office. David Schwimmer’s Trust was using the entire school as a set piece and its various students as extras. Under the promise of money and fame, 90 students skipped classes over a four-day period, students like many of my drama club friends. Dexter High School in a semi-rural town in Michigan was transformed into a Chicagoland suburban high school.

After this successful take, David Schwimmer dismisses some students, including Paige, telling them they were free to go home. But Paige, Corey, Drew, and I had made plans to get dinner after the shoot.

The crew rearranges the desks to get the optimal view of Liana. Michael, my ex-boyfriend’s little brother, sits down next to her. David Schwimmer rubs my back as he leads me to my seat. “Okay, Sweetie, this is where I want you to sit, okay?”

INT. Dexter High School second floor hallway February 2009

Corey stands poised, a majestic Great Blue Heron. Corey usually reminds me of an Emu, tall and lanky at a young age thanks to growth hormones, unibrowed, and he was known to make strange noises. When we ran track together for five years, he reminded me of a newborn colt trying to gallop. But right now, he is a stalking heron in the marsh.

He gazes at me a moment, as the throng throws me into him. He raises his unibrow and nods his head. In his hand is his famed batman pencil, the treasure pencil he found on his desk freshman year; the Batman pencil was perfect, smooth when sharpened, lovely lead color, and featured Batman punching the air with such grim and grit, it was no wonder he was known as the Dark Knight.

As the crowd stood waiting for the director to cry “action,” Corey stalks, shoulders hunched, head bobbing on a too long neck, the heron in the marsh. His New Balance shoes scuff the carpet. My eyes expand, horrified. He raises the beak-like pencil ever so slightly, so not to disturb his prey, the crowd presses in a bit closer. The prey doesn’t know he is being hunted. He strikes. The prey remains unmoved.

If David Schwimmer felt the poke, then he didn’t react. He was too busy setting up his shot. Corey held the pencil triumphantly. I remember it shattering completely right then, to always be stub of its former self, breaking under the glory of Ross. But Corey reminded me it broke much later, under different circumstances. Andrea appears next to me, her dark tresses camera ready.

David Schwimmer yells “Action!”

Thirty high school extras, led by a handsome 20-something pretending to be sixteen, race to the window. We watch Liana Liberato get put into a cop car. Andrea is crushing me as she tries to box me out of the window. The camera outside can see her and Corey but not me. I am too unknown, too obscured. The 20-something pulls out a cell phone, and so we all do and snap pictures of our supposed classmate getting taken away by the police. We all are supposed to think she’s a slut. That’s our motivation, according to the extras’ wrangler.

In the movie trailer for Trust, Clive Owen gives his fifteen-year-old a Macbook Pro for her birthday. Cut to a map of Chicago from Google Maps. The title card read ominously “They changed the way we work.” Clive Owen is in his office looking at this-is-totally-not-American-Apparel-we-swear-guys-clothing-company’s ads. The ads feature semi-nude hipsters in lomography-esque lighting. Clive Owen says, “This is for a clothing company? How come no one’s wearing any?”

Then he laughs at the response that indicates that he likes semi-nude barely legal women. The hubris is thick in the air. Cut to Title card: “the way we COMMUNICATE.” Cut to Clive Owen watching over his daughter’s shoulder while she uses iMessage. “I’m chatting dad,” she says rolling her eyes. Dads are so out of touch. We see her screen, picture of a cute blond guy playing volleyball attractively. Behind his head is a tannish arm with a red shirt. That’s Corey’s arm. He spent three hours playing volleyball, and the only thing that made it into the movie was his arm for a couple of seconds in a still shot.

I like to think that David Schwimmer remembered getting poked by a pencil. And as he was looking at the volleyball shots, he looked at Corey’s face, remembered getting poked in the side, and decided to destroy him with obscurity.

INT. Dexter High School Gym February 2009

The stands are packed as a volleyball game is underway. The crowd is excited, on its feet as Maroon and White spikes the ball onto the Green and Gold side. Home team point. From the concession stand above, Rachel watches the game very noncommittally. She is only there to get popcorn after driver’s ed, not a big fan of volleyball or high school sports in general. But this game was special; Rachel forced fistfuls of popcorn into her mouth as she watched with intrigue.

Down on the green side, a dad is videotaping his daughter’s game. He smiles privately, proud of his daughter.

Suddenly a dad from the maroon side appears in his field of vision.

“You enjoying this, huh?” Maroon dad says.

“‘Scuse me?” Green dad says. He shakes his head. First, why is there a British man at this volleyball game? Secondly, why is he yelling?

“You enjoy filming these little girls, aye?”

Rachel turns away from the concession stand to watch the dads. The Maroon side dad punches the Green dad in the face. When the Green dad fights back, he grabs Green dad and pulls him on the volleyball court. Frothing at the mouth, he busts his fist into the other dad’s face. Hit after hit, he imagines his daughter’s horrific night in a seedy hotel room, being raped by a man twice her age. Finally the maroon volleyball coach pulls him off the other dad. Annie, watching her father from the court, is filled with nauseous horror. Maroon dad feels hot tears about to fall. Rachel from her post near the concession stand gets flustered.

The director yells “Cut! Great energy everyone. Let’s take five!”

Clive Owen helps up the guy he just punched. Rachel, who has always loved older British actors, can barely contain her excitement as she watches one stalk the gym of her high school, the same gym she is forced to run laps at everyday. Clive Owen, from Children of Men and King Arthur. Her heart flutters a little. She imagines striking up conversation with him after the shoot. She watches as he walks over to a boy in a wheelchair to talk to him. That’s Colin, a drama club member like Rachel. Colin wants to break into entertainment one day, so she can only imagine how Clive Owen is telling him to pursue his dreams. Clive Owen finds his seats in the stands and starts talking to the extras around him, Josie and Kimber. Josie and Kimber are in drama club, too, just like Rachel. Why isn’t he talking to her?

Curse her driver’s ed class! If only she could hang out with Clive Owen. Might be worth not getting her license.


I never watched Friends during its original run, though my mom would sometimes catch glimpses when it came on, then turn it off. I always got the sense that it was too vulgar for her and too risqué for me. Still, like any person born before 2000, I can sing The Rembrandts’ “I’ll be there for you” all the way through to the end of the first chorus, including the clap interlude. When the show ended in 2004, here’s what I knew about it: Brad Pitt’s wife was in it, everyone older than me loved it, and “Cause you’re there for me tooooooooo…” I knew almost as much when David Schwimmer came to Dexter High School to film Trust, but then again, so did many of my peers. No one watched Friends to my knowledge, and when I tried to explain who David Schwimmer was to my younger stepsiblings, I told them “The giraffe from Madagascar.”

Something changed when I went to college; I think it became relevant to watch the lives of these beautiful cool twenty-somethings, because their lives seemed like a very near and real possibility. Who wouldn’t want to live in a fantastic apartment with their closest friends, sharing in life’s adventures when your job’s a joke, you’re broke, and your love life’s D.O.A? While I have only seen a few episodes (“The Where Ross Finds Out” at least three times, because it’s the only episode ever on TV), I understand the popularity. It’s long-term twenty-something fantasy.

Ross Gellar, from my limited knowledge, was the whiny pretentious one, a paleontologist in the post Jurassic Park era who thinks maturity equates being in a stable relationship more than anything. I think his relationship with Rachel Green helped to coin the phrase “taking a break.” Most fans I talked to either hated Ross and thought Rachel deserved much better or hated Ross and thought he and Rachel were good for each other.

One friend tells me that no one should like Ross; he was all wrong for Rachel in the end, because she deserved better. She said he is “self-centered, manipulative, and more in love with the idea of Rachel than who she was.” The friend then gave me her top ten reasons why Joey and Rachel should be together.

“I have strong feelings about this,” she said.

“I can tell,” I replied.

“I just love Joey so much.”

Another friend says that they are perfect for each other, that their former stupidity was eventually tempered, and they had a strong foundation of friendship in their past. She quoted the line “he’s her lobster,” but I don’t understand why a crustacean is romantic, especially such an irritable and expensive one.

I have since seen Friends and Ross is the worst.

David Schwimmer was soft-spoken as if he had always been shy and bumbled into acting rather than pursued it. He spent the entire four-day shoot nursing a five o’clock shadow on his weakening jaw line. I know five years had come and gone since Friends, but he seemed to let himself go a little, a little pudgier than he looks on TV, a little older. Behind his eyes was a despondent sadness that seemed to say, “I used to be on NBC.” He looked more like Droopy dog than Ross Gellar, more normal than extraordinary.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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