Monday, April 01, 2019

CHRISTIAN ZIKA (1969-2019)

I saw Steven Spielberg’s 1941 three times in the theater in 1979 before I ever allowed myself to admit that I liked it, that I was responding to it despite the tidal wave of bad reviews it had racked up. (It has, of course, in the time since ascended to the status of one of my favorite movies.) But even when I was telling myself it wasn’t my cup of gargantuan chaotic comedy, I still got a really big laugh from the movie right out of the gate courtesy if the young actor Christian Zika. Zika plays one of the sons of Ned Beatty and Lorraine Gary, and when he comes crashing through the ceiling on his bed, after Beatty destroys his own house with a badly positioned artillery ordnance, spits out a mouthful of dust and shouts, “Boy, that was fun!”, all before beating his chest in triumph, I surprised myself by letting loose a sincere and most unexpected belly laugh. And just moments before, as Beatty wheels the giant gun through the living room, Zika got me with yet another great throwaway line: “Dad! You’re ruining Christmas!”
I like to think this kid-scaled performance was a key gateway for me toward appreciating this giant, gorgeous, hilarious movie, and I was lucky enough to be able to express that sentiment to Christian himself when I ended up working with the kid, now a man, 15 years or so after seeing the movie for the first time. He was, as it turned out, the stepson of another coworker who himself would, over the course of the next 25 years, become one of my closest friends. And though I never got to know Christian well, I was always happy that I got to let him know how cool I thought it was that he appeared in this wonderful film, and that he would occasionally talk to me about what it was like for him to be on the set, shooting a Steven Spielberg movie.
I worked with Christian’s mom Lynne too, and I want to express all my sympathy to her, to his stepfather Andy, Andy and Lynne’s son Will, and all of their family at the news of Christian’s death last month. There is no silver lining to the loss of someone who was still so relatively young— there’s room only for sadness and for remembering the good things, and there are a lot of those for Andy and Lynne and Will and the rest of those who knew and loved Christian well. But for me, though I met him in life, I’ll always be grateful for the laughs he brought me before I ever knew who he really was. Thanks, Christian, and may your rest be a peaceful one.


No comments: