Remembering CJ Schneider

MCMSaturday, October 30, 2010

I just heard an old friend from high school passed away yesterday, and I wanted to let you know why he was such a great guy. There are actually a lot of reasons he was amazing, but I'll keep this brief, because I'm not horrendously articulate right now.

CJ was a clown. And I mean that in the best way possible. There are a lot of people who are clowns, but they're just playing at it. CJ was a brilliant actor who could turn crap dialogue and make it funny. He was in my infamous short movie about stealing a chair, and it was good only because of him. He was Charlie in the original Arkady and Kain, bringing teh funny to a story that needed it. He'd just finished doing a play where he played a Frenchman, and so the British character's accent ended up this confused blend of the two. It was insane, but it was perfect. In a climactic scene, he's supposed to beat the bad guy up with a baguette, but the thing was so stale by the time we used it, it cracked in half on the first take. We had to embed a rod in the damn thing to make it work, which meant when he hit with it — and oh boy, he hit — it hurt like hell.

My biggest regret in the rewrite of Arkady and Kain last summer is that Charlie almost disappeared completely. He used to be in almost every scene, but now he exits fast. I kept as much of CJ alive in the character as I could. Charlie is CHARLIE because of him. I'll never show you that movie, but if you saw it, you'd see what I mean. He made it come alive.

Here are two clips ("Gooood morning, Ambassador!", "Paprika") from the rough audio on Arkady and Kain where you can hear his voice. There's a longer, ad-libbed clip of the paprika scene, but part of the schtick he makes up is about a funeral, and for whatever reason, I don't want to post that right now.

Last thing: I remember once when I had asked one of our mutual friends out on a date, CJ took me aside, spoke in a quiet, quiet voice, and said: "If you break her heart, I'll break your legs," and I was shocked at how serious he'd suddenly become. And then he added, with a smile: "And I wouldn't know how. So be nice."

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