My Attempts to Stalk John Malkovich

Photo: Crista Cloutier

I stalked John Malkovich.

It was the first time I came here, nearly 20 years ago. John Malkovich had a house outside the French village where I was living.

And no, I didn’t go to his home. Though it was easy to spot. There was only one villa with a basketball court in these parts.

I’d heard the stories, but I never saw the man. Even though this village only held 60 people, I’d never set eyes on John Malkovich.

Everywhere I went, every joint I walked into, it seemed that John Malkovich had just left. “Did you see him?” People would ask excitedly. “John Malkovich was here!”

But I kept missing him.

I was writing then, I’d just finished a script. And, as it turns out, John Malkovich was my muse for one of the leads. It was John Malkovich I saw when I created that character. Obviously, the fact that I found myself in a village of 60 people and John Malkovich was one of them, was a big green light from heaven.

So I stalked him. It was ordained.

Now, this wasn’t stalking in the traditional sense. I’m not a nut case. I put a copy of my script in my backpack and carried it everywhere I went. It just so happens that I decided to go to those very places he frequented.

Only I kept missing him.

Part of me was glad. Glad not to see him. I mean, what would I say to John Malkovich? No matter how I formed the words to explain why I would give him a script out of the blue, I sounded like a nut case.

In the meantime, I spent an awful lot of time sitting in bars and cafés looking for him.

I met a man who told me he’d sat next to John Malkovich on the train ride down from Paris. They chatted during the whole journey. “Nice guy,” said my new friend.

Artists sometimes have to plead for their work, so I pled. I pled and I begged and I cajoled until I talked this poor man into joining my search for John Malkovich so he could star in my movie.

Together, we’d frequent the bars and cafés of the region. I made my new friend wear the same outfit that he had on the train so that John Malkovich would recognize him. I’d buy him drinks and tell him about the film I wrote as we waited for John Malkovich to walk through the door.

We practiced the introduction he’d make so I didn’t seem like a nut case, but rather a writer who just happened to be at the same place as him with a script in her bag. A script that I wrote for him. What a coincidence!

But John Malkovich never showed.

Part of my Friday morning routine was to hike across the valley and up, up, up to the top of a nearby mountain village to visit the market. I’d then trudge back home with my backpack bursting with local cheese, fruit, flowers and such.

The journey took the better part of the day, what with stopping off for an almond croissant and all. I’d buy so much food that my backpack was always heavy on the way home.

So one Friday I took the script out and set it on the table before my trek to lighten my load.

It was a hot day to be hiking mountains. I was exhausted when I finally reached the very top of the village where the market was held. My face was red and sweaty. I was totally out of breath. Covered in dirt with disheveled hair. I looked a mess.

I pulled myself up, up, up for those final few steps to the market’s level ground. And just as I reached it, I found myself face to face with John Malkovich.

He was so close that I could have kissed him. We stood there in silence, staring at one another as I caught my breath. He blinked at me expectantly in that John Malkovich sort of way.

Then I saw a shadow of scorn in his eyes as he took in the sight of me.

I remembered all of those times I’d dressed up, done my hair, trying to look cool in anticipation of meeting him. I thought of the time and money I spent drinking in his favorite haunts and dragging along that poor guy in hopes that he’d introduce me.

I thought of my script lying back home on the table.

And before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “DAMMIT!” right in John Malkovich’s face. Then I sharply turned on my heel and stomped off in a huff. Furious.

As I walked away, I heard John Malkovich mutter, “What a nut case.”

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