Robert Downes 5/25/09
Mark Staycer is getting the full-blown movie star treatment this week in Toronto, where the city is revved up over the premiere of his new film, Let Him Be.
Mark, who is Traverse Citys gift to the world for his ability to nail the music and mannerisms of the late John Lennon, is starring in the role of a recluse from northern Canada who just might be you-know-who.
In Let Him Be, two undergrad film students discover a musician named Noel Snow living in northern Ontario whos a dead-ringer for a dead rock star, only older. Could it be?
Thats the coy part of the film because Staycer‘s character never claims to be John Lennon in Let Him Be. Nor are there any songs by The Beatles or Lennon included in the film. Staycer has also been instructed by the filmmakers to avoid discussing the co-leader of The Beatles, who was gunned down outside his New York City apartment building by a crazed fan on Dec. 8, 1980.
Why? Copyright issues, and the filmmakers dont want to give Lennon‘s widow, Yoko Ono, any sort of edge for a lawsuit if Let Him Be does boffo at the box office.
But that doesnt stop Staycer from having fun with the role of an old chap who just might be a rock hero who somehow escaped an assassins bullets and pulled off an Eddie and the Cruisers-style getaway.
So how did he land a starring role in a major film?
“They found me on my website,“ Staycer says. “I was their first and only choice for the role.“
Staycer waves off the notion of being a newly-minted movie star, saying that the plot of the film centers on the two vid-kids who discover his character and how they react.
But the Toronto media is already affording him star status. “I‘ve been told that I‘ll be doing nothing but media interviews for at least three days leading up to the premiere,“ he says.
That includes newspapers, magazines and television shows anxious to hear what Staycer has to say prior to the May 29 premiere.
Oh, by the way: he‘ll be arriving at the premiere in a Rolls-Royce. Also attending will be his wife Jan and son Christian.
Life has been a whirlwind for Staycer since he started doing a professional John Lennon tribute show in 2002. Shortly after returning home from a two-month tour of Japan in 2006, he was recruited to play Lennon with the band, Beatlemaniacs, which plays cruise ships all over the world. You name it and Staycer has been there: Russia, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean many times over the past two-and-a-half years.
In fact, he just returned from a cruise of the western coast of South America, starting in Patagonia and finishing in Lima, Peru. “I came home for 30 hours and then had to fly to France for a cruise of the Mediterranean,“ he says.
It beats flippin‘ burgers or doing his old radio DJ gig at WTCM, but Staycer notes that it‘s not all glamour and limelight playing on a cruise ship. Often, the band plays only one show for the entire cruise and the rest of the time involves waiting to get back to port and dreaming of home and family.
(But with that said, many of us wouldn‘t mind trading places with Mark for a cruise or two...)
The film was shot in Toronto two years ago. Staycer says it was often a “hurry up and wait experience,“ which involved up to three hours in makeup, with appliques and cosmetics used to age his already-Lennonesque appearance.
“I still haven‘t seen the final result yet,“ he says of the film, noting that he‘s only had a chance to review some rough cuts and outtakes.
The premiere‘s timing couldnt be better: May 25-June 1 is the 40th anniversary of the Montreal Bed-In, in which John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent a week holed up in their hotel room, granting interviews to an army of reporters to promote peace in Vietnam. John and Yoko also held court for celebrities such as Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory and Tommy Smothers and recorded Give Peace a Chance in their hotel suite.
Will Let Him Be be shown at the Traverse City Film Festival? Staycer says the TCFF has a copy of the film, but the verdict is still out as to whether it will be featured.
“It would be nice if people from my hometown could see it, and I‘d be happy to do a performance if it plays here,“ he says.
Who knows? Perhaps Yoko Ono will catch the film too and tag Mark to play John Lennon in a bio-pic. That would give him star status, for real.
“I don‘t know what to think of the movie star thing,“ he says. “I was just part of a nice group of people who gave their all to accomplish making this film.“
You‘re invited: Robert Downes will speak on “How to Backpack Around the World“ this Wednesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. at the Traverse Area District Library. The sight & sound presentation includes tall tales, funny stories and thought-provoking stuff from the book, Planet Backpacker, about a 2007 trip around the world that included mountain biking 700 miles across Europe and backpacking on through Egypt, India and Asia. Admission, free.