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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Vincent D'Onofrio Road Trip!

by Chris Metzner Carr

I tried very hard with varying levels of success to manage my expectations for this trip. The worst case scenario, from what I could tell, was that I would spend some time in the same restaurant with Vincent D’Onofrio for an unknown period of time, get one picture taken with him, and meet fellow fans. All in all, the worst case scenario was pretty darn good. The reality of how things played out so far exceeded those expectations that it’s almost impossible to explain the resulting pure joy. But I will try.

The trip in from the airport was a little more exciting than I would have hoped, thanks to the State of Utah and their secret plans to completely redo the state’s infrastructure from the hours of 9PM to 6AM every night. I admit my GPS lady was the target of some not-so-nice language, but given my plans for the next few days and the lift that gave me, she got off pretty easy in the end. I kept reminding myself that other fans were driving thousands of miles for the opportunity to meet Vincent so in the scheme of things getting a little lost in Orem, Utah wasn’t so bad.

Thursday morning I met up with fellow fan Shannon. We hung out at the motel for the most part and got to know each other a bit before heading over to the VIP dinner at Rib City. We met up with our fellow fans and were a little early, but there was some activity going on already. This pic was taken right before the dinner began by one of the staffers there:

There were actually several VIP tables set up, and Toni, God bless her, had set up one table and reserved it just for us in a prime spot right in front of the place where pictures were being taken. We knew we were going to have a great view of him the entire night, which was awesome. We chatted for a while, ordered our food, and got to know each other a little better until he walked by our table. And then everything stopped. A close friend could have been sitting next to me telling me about an extramarital affair she was having with her son’s best friend and I wouldn’t have cared. Vincent was in the house and the evening was officially under way.

The VIPs were given the opportunity to have pictures taken without having to stand in line, so when we were ready (translation: when we stopped giggling and shaking) one by one we approached him for a photo. The photographer was great and took several shots of each one of us with him. For my photo, I had a plan I had devised weeks before. Now, I just had to summon the courage to execute it.

He is a classy man and any thoughts of doing or saying anything inappropriate, as strong as those thoughts might be, vanish when you approach him. I kind of expected that, so the photo I had in mind had to be intimate without being offensive. It had to be something that created a connection without being something he would be embarrassed by. When I was browsing through images looking for something to use for his birthday card, I found exactly what I wanted. Goren and Nicole Wallace, nose-to-nose. Perfect.

When it was my turn for the picture, he said “Nice to meet you” and I held out my hand expecting a hand shake. He hugged me instead. Already I felt my knees weakening. He doesn’t just hug you. He engulfs you. It was wonderful. I reminded him that we had actually met once at a screening of Don’t Go in the Woods in New Jersey and he politely pretended to remember me. I then pulled out the picture of Goren and Nicole Wallace and handed it to him. He said “What’s this?” I said “Well, that’s you and that’s…” He finished my sentence and said “Oh, that’s Olivia! Do you want me to sign this?” I screwed up my courage and said “No, I want you to do that….for the picture.”

For a moment I was afraid I had offended him. He looked at me sideways and furrowed his brow. I guess in the few seconds he took to think it over he decided this wasn’t an overtly sexual thing and he walked up to me. I told him he had to look serious but intrigued and couldn’t smile. I later felt like a complete idiot for telling him how to perform a role he had created. And of course I couldn’t stop smiling myself. We tried one time and when he looked at the picture he decided we needed to be closer. I can’t begin to describe what it was like having him look in my eyes from that distance. It was inches. After the second picture was taken he asked the photographer if she got a close up, since that is what he knew I was going for. We both looked at the picture and aside from me grinning like a moron it looked wonderful. I expected to sit down happy as a pig at that point, but he put his arm around me and we took a few more “normal” pictures.

Then I got really bold. I help teach a women’s self-defense class every August and I asked him if, sometime on Friday, I would be able to get a picture of me kicking or punching him to use for the class. He said “Women’s self-defense? Sure, we can do that. Are you going to the barbecue tomorrow? We can do it then. But you aren’t going to really kick me, are you?” My heart absolutely melted at that point and I looked in his eyes and said with all the sincerity I have in body “I won’t hurt you.” The fact that he thought I could hurt him was flattering, though. The guy is a giant.

Once all the individual pictures had been taken, we got together with Toni and had some group shots taken. When I approached him for that, he said “Oh, you’re back!” I said “I I hope that’s ok, we’re having a group picture taken now. We came from all over the country for this!” He said “I know” and it sounded like he was going to say something else, but the photographer started shooting at that point. The poor guy didn’t seem to ever get a chance to actually sit at a table and eat, though. The real VIP was put to work having pictures taken the whole time, but he seemed to be in good spirits all night.

Expectations? Already exceeded. By a lot.

Many fans had coordinated efforts prior to this trip and we had collected many birthday cards for him (his birthday is in June) all of which contained donations to the local charities he supports. Friday morning, Vincent was scheduled to appear at a local Harley Davidson dealership during pre-registration for the Ride for a Hero event to be held Saturday. He wasn’t going to be there for long, but Toni advised us that this would be the best opportunity to present the birthday cards/donations to him. Unfortunately for the charity, but fortunately for us, there were very few people there other than our small group of fans.

When he did arrive, he walked around the dealership for a while checking out the merchandise. Then, it was time for more pictures, this time taken on a Harley. I approached him to present the cards and the first thing he said to me “We’re going to do the self-defense thing, right?” I thought he meant he wanted to do it right then, but then he remembered we had a date…I mean… a time reserved to do it that night.

( This is what Chris said:Our group of adoring fans wanted to collectively recognize your 53rd birthday. Ideas were exchanged, and the suggestion to hand deliver birthday cards evolved into celebrating in a more meaningful way. Enclosed are not only our individual birthday wishes, but donations to the charities you generously support.

Please know that our admiration of course includes your talent, creativity and passion for your craft, but you also have our utmost respect for the way you have chosen to use, and not abuse, your celebrity status.

We are a diverse group representing many countries, cultures, ages, ethnicities, sizes and shapes. And most of us have never met. Although Facebook and Twitter may have their detractors, social media brought us together in cyberspace and created this opportunity to say thank you and


With a cracking voice I read him the inscription we had written describing what the cards were and who they were from. When I finished, he looked at the other fans there and said “That was really sweet you guys, thank you!” and I believe he meant it. I told him we had to document the moment for a lot of people, and he grabbed me and smiled into the camera for some pictures. (I purposely went sleeveless that day, and this is exactly why. GREAT decision on my part.) We then got to have individual pictures taken sitting on the back of a Harley with Vincent in the driver’s seat. Just like that, a whole new realm of fantasy was born.

Believe it or not, things got even better that night!

We arrived at the barbecue which was held in a very large garage at the local University. I didn’t realize it until after we sat down but he was already there, sitting at a table at the end signing autographs for anyone who stopped by. This event was also not filled to capacity, so when I felt he wasn’t busy I walked over and asked if it was a good time to do the self-defense picture. I think the highlight of my trip came next. HE introduced ME to the guy sitting next to him. Not by name, exactly, but he said “she teaches self-defense” and the guy held out his hand to shake mine. I have no idea who he was but the fact that Vincent thought something I did was interesting enough not only to remember himself, but to point out to someone else, was mind boggling. He asked me what camera I was going to use (he thought the professional photographer was going to take them but I wanted to use my own camera so I’d have full access to the pictures) and then he said “Well if you’re in the pictures, how are you going to take the pictures?” I pointed to the table of fellow fans and said I had someone to take them for me and he said “Ok, go get them” or something like that.

I walked very briskly back to our table and motioned for everyone to come NOW for these pictures. We collected the camera and video camera, and went back to collect Vincent. I picked a spot in the garage where there were no people in the background…wouldn’t have looked very realistic to be fending off his attack while people were smiling and watching us. He got up and followed me to the spot I wanted to use and he rubbed his hands together and said “Ok, what are we going to do here?” Fortunately I had given a lot of thought to that so I wouldn’t be wasting his time.

I gave him direction on what to do, and he did it, and he was smiling the whole time except for when he shouldn’t be. I didn’t realize the expression on his face throughout the few minutes it took to do this until I watched the video later. He was having fun! I was taking it so seriously I forgot to have fun, but I am so glad he enjoyed it. It was very cool to have him listen to me and follow my direction. He was amazingly in tune with what I was trying to do and I really gave most of the direction with my arms and hands. At one point I just gave a slight nod of my head and he executed the attack I showed him. The two pictures we took we got on the first try. It was all over way too soon but that’s because he knows what he’s doing when he gets in front of a camera. At one point he changed the angle we were using when everyone else was still trying to figure out why things weren’t looking quite right. Here’s what we ended up with:

I thanked him when we were done and asked him if he wanted to see these pictures before they were used for anything but he just patted my shoulder and said “You’re good.” He trusts me. Awesome.

The last bit of excitement was when some of us went over to get some more things signed. I hadn’t brought anything with me and Ruby, another fan, asked him to sign her arm the night before so I went with that. Not even a week later and the signature is gone but that’s why you take pictures of things.

The big question here of course is why. I’m a 48 year-old wife, mother, lawyer, all that well-respected stuff and here I am getting on a plane to have a stranger sign my arm. What’s up with that? I admire and follow other actors but I can’t envision traveling so far to meet anyone else. (Just a note…I did this mostly with travel points so there was not a ton of money spent.) So why him? I honestly don’t know. It may be because he gives the impression there is a storm of sorts going on under his skin. He is so guarded, so reserved, and yet we know there is something powerful there because we’ve seen it in his acting and you can’t fake that passion, that intensity. It’s there somewhere and there is a part of me that just wants to reach down his throat and rip it out. I have yet to see an interviewer do a good job with him, and maybe that contributes to the mystery in some way. I’m sure I’d get over this if he just let me sit down and ask him a few questions…


  1. WOW!!! Chris, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us all the wonderful details about your adventure. I can't even begin to express how happy I am that you and the other ladies had this opportunity to meet Vincent. Not just meet him, but actually spend time with him!!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Chris!!! I quite enjoyed the photos on Facebook and everyone's excitement came thru loud and clear! Brilliant of you to recreate the Bobby/Nicole scene, and the self defense pics are awesome! So happy for all you guys! And Toni is AWESOME for setting this whole thing up too!

  3. That was a great read! I felt like I was right there with you! What an incredible experience for all of you.

  4. That was fabulous..thank you so much for sharing and thank you for the wonderful pics. you've taken and shared.

  5. What an amazing experience and story. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Truly, a dream come true for all of you! Thanks so much for sharing your adventure with us, and there is something about Vincent that captures our hearts and makes us do things we probably wouldn't do otherwise. OH, I hope I get to meet him someday. Thank you Chriss for the great account of your Holiday and to all the ladies and to Bev for posting this.

  7. Oh ladies you've been very blessed to meet him, some of you even twice!
    And Chris, you did an amazing job stepping up to him and doing all this stuff (presenting the birthday cards, asking him for the self-defense video and so on)!

  8. Wow wonderful pictures and thank you so much for sharing all your experiences.

  9. Thank you... I loved reading this, it's so well written that I felt like i was there too ! Such a great experience, you're a lucky woman !!!

  10. Thanks Chris for posting your story and wonderful photos. Vincent looked like he was happy to oblige, and the photos turned out really well. What an amazing experience you've had, one to treasure forever.