To make a list of the night’s highlights would be to transcribe the reading, word for word, from beginning to end. At that point, the reader should put on his or her own reading with their most talented friends. Though, that probably won’t compare.
Catherine O’Hara perhaps gave the reading’s best performance as the President: While she was performing the role for the first time, she read through her phone conversations with the Russians liked she’d rehearsed them a billion times before. Sometimes, her delivery was even goofier than Peter Sellers himself. And of course she received the biggest laugh of the night with the classic line, “Gentlemen. You can’t fight in here! This is the war room.”
Waiting for Sir Patrick Stewart to perform as Dr. Strangelove gave the reading an exciting build-up, as the audience had no idea what to expect from the actor for the first half of the evening. But when he finally spoke, it was as if we were listening to Peter Sellers himself. Stewart mastered the Nazi salutes, Strangelove’s insane voice and the madness of the moment he realized he could walk. (If some maniac were to approve of remaking the film, Stewart should certainly be a contender for the role.)
Meanwhile, Seth Rogen laughed a lot. And that lead the audience to laugh as well. It seemed a little absurd to put him in George C. Scott’s place, but his voice was perfect for the role. It was commanding, goofy and confused, and the way he maniacally drove through his lines brought constant chuckles.
Johnny Knoxville, playing Major ‘King’ Kong, came to fool around, but you can’t expect anything less from him. He wore a fake mustache — which fell off — a knight’s helmet instead of a Cowboys hat, and a full on Air Force get up. When he fell off the plane with the bomb laughter resonated throughout the room.
Meanwhile, Shia LaBeouf lit a cigarette and Josh Gad riffed lines like no other. The two had great chemistry playing Ripper and Mandrake, as Gad couldn’t keep his hands off LaBeouf in his silly and well-executed Sellers impression.
PJ Byrne, Olivia Wilde, Colin Hanks, and Fred Willard were perfect on stage, as well. Hanks had a lot of trouble concealing his laughter, which was fun to watch, and Romanek even jumped in for a general that was never cast.
There were two geniuses not present that really shined through on Thursday night: Kubrick and Sellers. Kubrick is often praised for the visual worlds he creates, but stripping the film down to just a script revealed how genius his writing really was. And Sellers… While it was unreal watching three brilliant actors pull off his three roles, watching one man pull off all three is its own story.
Definitely go check out the next Film Independent Live Read at the LACMA. It’s one of the most special performances you’ll ever see.