Lucky Her

With her glamorous looks and A-list friends, Emily Wachtel seemed to have it all. But for years she chased an elusive dream of taking Hollywood by storm. Thanks to persistence and good fortune, her time in the spotlight has come



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Art Imitating Life?

Emily grew up in Westport, the third and youngest daughter of Sylvia, a magazine writer and editor who later went into advertising, and Jesse Wachtel, an importer of Italian shoes who created the brands Nickels, Jazz and Via Spiga. With her father often abroad, Emily made a best friend of a girl whose successful father also spent much time away: Clea Newman, the third and youngest daughter of Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. Emily and Clea have lived parallel lives ever since. They went to the same prep school (the Hun School of Princeton), the same college (Sarah Lawrence), and, loosely speaking, they work today at the same Westport-based charity—SeriousFun Children’s Network, which runs Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang camps for ailing kids. Clea calls in “Tenacious E” whenever SeriousFun needs help booking A-list celebrities for its gala events.

Some years ago, when Emily completed a draft of Lucky Them, Paul Newman agreed to look it over. “Paul read it within twenty-four hours,” Emily says. “He was so sweet about it. He called the next morning and said, ‘I think you have a real shot with this thing.’ And then he gave me his notes.” Newman recognized that Lucky Them was in some sense autobiographical and encouraged Emily to explore those elements. Emily is loath to commit self-analysis in interviews—the movie should speak for itself—but she does allow that the missing Matthew owes something to her busy father’s long absences from home.

And Lucas? Lucas speaks directly to Emily’s love of music and, well, musicians. “Ten years I was an unemployed actress in New York, listening to a lot of live music. You know, when you go hear music—it takes you out of what you’re doing and makes you think your life is better than it is,” Emily says. “And then I had a romance with a younger musician as I went off to supposedly star in a television show. Of course that didn’t happen. Meanwhile, this kid that I’d been dating became the biggest star.” One naturally wants to know who it is. But here, too, Emily is reticent, fending off names of New York singer-songwriters like so many gnats. Life is life, art is art.

Still: “Ellie Klug” is the name Emily used for herself a few years ago when writing columns for Fairfield Weekly. Ellie and Emily are not wholly divisible. In Toni Collette’s nuanced portrayal of Ellie, we see a talented woman with nothing but dead air in front of her. She’s stalled, in love and in life. The Kinks’ “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?” might well have been her theme. How can Ellie proceed? How can Emily proceed? Just as Ellie Klug confronts her past through journalism, Emily Wachtel confronts her past through filmmaking. Perhaps this is why, as Jake Robards puts it, “Failure was not an option for Emily. It just wasn’t.”

Yet there were times when failure seemed inevitable. As the project languished, actors unattached themselves, presumed director Huck Botko left to do other, more viable projects, and potential financiers kept saying no, no, no. What else? “Somebody promised $750,000, then pulled out. He was a billionaire. We had a three-hour lunch with him. Bailed. I had an instinct about it, but everybody kept saying, don’t worry, don’t worry, he wouldn’t give you his word if…” she trails off. Emily suffered personal losses, too, along the way: her father died in 2006 and Paul Newman, her most important booster, in 2008. (She did take solace in learning that Newman had said, a week before his death, “She’s going to get it done, isn’t she?”—confident to the end. Emily has dedicated the film to him.)

Meanwhile people would ask, year after year, with a creeping sense of indulgence, “How’s the movie coming?”

“People thought I was crazy,” Emily confesses. “I’d talk about this movie, and it was like they were thinking, ‘Really? Where?’ And then, when it finally happened, a friend of mine said, ‘I just have to tell you, I thought you might have been slightly batshit.’ I said, ‘You and a lot of other people.’”

 

Greenwich Agenda

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  • Financial Literacy 2-Day Lecture Presented by Bob Salomon at YMCA of Greenwich

    2014.10.21
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    Making sense of the world of finance FREE and open to all *Participants should pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal on Oct.22, as Bob...

  • Susan G. Komen CT Educational Session at YMCA of Greenwich

    2014.10.22
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    FREE AND OPEN TO THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY! Learn about the importance of early detection and screenings Meet the men and women whose work is...

  • YMCA of Greenwich Harvest Art Week

    2014.10.18
     @ YMCA of Greenwich

    YMCA of Greenwich Harvest Art Week October 18 - 26, 2014 Join us for a week-long celebration of local art! Showcasing established and emerging...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • The Good Lie Screening

    2014.10.22
     @ Bow Tie Cinema Greenwich

    Greenwich International Film Festival in collaboration with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is screening  The Good Lie All proceeds benefit UNICEF...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • SPLURGE Matches Scarf Donations for Cancer Patients

    2014.10.01
     @ SPLURGE

    SPLURGE and the Cancer Institute at Greenwich Hospital are partnering to bring comfort and encouragement to cancer patients.  From October...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Networking Event

    2014.10.23
     @ Delamar Hotel

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce will hold its October After Six Networking event. All are invited to exchange business cards, enjoy appetizers and...

  • October After Six

    2014.10.23
     @ Delamar Hotel

    Join us for After Six Networking at the Delamar Hotel

  • Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

    2014.10.23

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  • Oktoberfest 2014 Greenwich United Way

    2014.10.24
     @ Loading Dock

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  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

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  • The Food Network Open Casting Call for Home Cooks

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    FOOD NETWORK’S TOP CELEBRITY CHEFS ARE SCOURING THE NATION IN SEARCH OF AMAZING HOME COOKS! You’ve watched them on TV, bought their...

  • Greenwich Hospital Gala

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     @ Greenwich Country Club

    It will be a Gala worthy of a doge when retiring Greenwich Hospital president and CEO, Frank A. Corvino, will be presented with the...

  • The Wilton Fall Antiques Market

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     @ Wilton High School Field House

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