God and Connie Sellecca
I had just finished casting A Marriage Made in Heaven when I received a call from our casting director. She told me the actress who was going to play my Greek mother had taken another job on another film and was dropping out of our movie.
I told our casting director that we had a signed deal with this actress, and she couldn’t do that.
To say I was angry is an understatement.
I sat back and thought about it and realized I didn’t want to work with someone who behaved this way. So, I let her out of her contract.
The problem was that this role was the hardest to cast in A Marriage Made in Heaven. There were not a lot of older actresses available who looked Greek.
So, I prayed about it. Although I didn’t hear God’s voice, looking back now, I’m pretty sure this is how the conversation sounded in Heaven.
Me: God, I’ve got a big problem. We just lost the actress who was going to play my mother.
God: I know.
Me: And I have no idea who we can get to replace her.
Me: I really need your help to find me someone to play this role. We start filming in a few weeks.
God: I took care of it already.
Me: You did? When?
God: In 1986.
Me: I don’t understand.
God: Just keep moving forward. It will make sense in the end.
So, I emailed the casting director, still very upset and said, “Do you have any ideas who we can hire for this role?”
She emailed me back one name: Connie Sellecca. It was the only name she sent me.
I wrote her back and told her Connie Sellecca was a great idea.
Why did I think that?
Over 35 years earlier, I had gotten my first acting job on the show Hotel. Connie was one of the stars of that show.
On the day I found out I got the job on Hotel, I found out that my longtime acting coach, Peggy Feury had died in a car crash. It was one of the saddest times of my life.
As I began working on the show, I kept remembering Peggy’s voice as I would act in the scenes. I wept many a day in my trailer, during that week.
One day, we were about to film a scene where I burst into James Brolin’s office and Connie Sellecca came on the set to film the scene with me.
As the director prepared to call action, it was just Connie and I in a side room, alone, silently waiting for the scene to begin. It was at that moment, that, for some reason, I remember suddenly having this thought about what a kind and good person she was.
But, here’s the funny thing: we hadn’t said more than hello to each other.
In fact, I don’t remember much else of that whole week, other than that one moment where I just had this feeling that she was a really good person… and I never forgot it.
Looking back, I can’t help but believe that God orchestrated this. In the depths of my sadness, over learning about Peggy’s passing away, God planted a wonderful seed: Connie Sellecca.
Over 35 years later, that seed came to fruition. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, but Connie’s performance was pitch perfect. So wonderful.
Beyond her performance, what really stuck with me as I got to work with Connie and get to know her was that the feeling I had in the room that day, 35 years ago, was true and accurate.
She is one of the kindest, funniest, and hardworking people I’ve ever been blessed to work with.
One moment underscored it all for me. On the morning of our premiere, it was so hectic. There were so many details and so many things I was trying to get done, in the few hours we had before the screening.
Just then, I saw yet another text come through on my phone. I looked down and saw Connie had sent it. I quickly read it, thinking she needed help with something. She didn’t need anything. She was just texting me to let me know that she and her husband, John, had just prayed for me and for our film.
I was so touched by that. It reminded me of that same feeling I had 35 years ago.
Below is a picture of Connie and I at the premiere of A Marriage Made in Heaven.
Keep the faith…
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