How the ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ “Coffee Is for Closers” Scene Got Made

How the ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ “Coffee Is for Closers” Scene Got Made

Do I have your attention now? Then. Put. That. Coffee. Down—and read on.

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James Foley, directorCloser to the Action After Dark, My Sweet saw Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross Broadway. While he thought it was good, it didn’t impress him as much as seeing Lauren Bacall in the musical Applause. The agent then called.

JAMES FOLEY (Director).He claims he is also Al Pacino’s representative and would like to speak to me about some of his ideas. So, I’m thinking, Naah, fuck him. [Laughs]No, I meant to say, “Well, blow me down.”I said, “When does he want to meet?”And my agent said: “Well, he’s outside your house.”And in came Michael Corleone and not Serpico, but someone with no connection to any characters. He’s a schlub who wears big baggy old clothes. He sits at the kitchen table, four scripts in his hands. He also mentions Glengarry.I [told him] I wasn’t blown away when I saw it, like, “I have to make the movie.”Al said David added a dimension that deepened the story and expanded it, making it more compelling to make a movie. I read it and agreed with every word. I was blown away by the script, compared to what I saw at Broadway.

ALEC BALDWIN“Blake”):I said [to David Mamet], “You won the Pulitzer Prize for the play. Why do you feel the need [for this extra scene]?”I was curious. And he said he needed something to incentivize the salesmen, to ratchet up the pressure because they’re not people who are inclined to commit a crime. He wrote the scene.

FOLEY: I don’t remember talking to any actor about Alec’s part except Alec. He had already done. The Hunt for Red October.There was no audition. Alec’s name came up, and I said, “Perfect.” Alec said, “Great,”It was so rare that we did it.

BONNIE TIMMERMANN (Casting director):Have you ever seen a movie called Miami Blues? Well, let’s go back to that movie, and let’s go back to some stage plays, let’s go back to the body of work. Alec was a complete mystery to me. He was a very handsome leader man. He fascinated me. He was very mysterious. He gave you the things he wanted to. He’s a favorite of mine.

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PATTON OSWALT (Actor and author of Silver Screen Fiend): The choice of using Alec Baldwin; suddenly it’s the most handsome man in the world being so icy, so psychopathic, and kind of foreshadowing that the truly dangerous villains of the world aren’t the ugly hunched-over Dick Tracy villains. It’s such an iconic moment.

Baldwin’s scene is the audience’s first exposure to the low-rent offices of Premiere Properties. Jane Musky, production designer, set the stage.

JANE MUSKY (Production designer):We knew there had been many men in this office. So, I wanted to make sure there was enough history with older components so we know this is an ongoing situation. We put up all these aspirational gung-ho quotes. There were only a few new things, but nothing was revolutionary. They spent their entire lives at these tables.

FOLEY:It was fascinating to see how their desks became their territory. We spent a lot time deliberating which desk was facing which direction and where it was located. It’s interesting that, in fact, Al’s desk is the only desk facing a different direction. Everyone else’s desk looks forward toward the office.

MUSKY:The chairs were crucial. Alan Arkin’s character was that kind of guy who would lean back in his chair, while Al’s character had more posture, so his chair was a little tighter. When it got around to setting up the guy’s desks, Jamie and I came up with what we thought would be a good pattern based on the way he thought he was going to block the scene. And then we dressed each salesman’s desk according to what I thought the character would be and then invited the cast to come for an afternoon and let us know how they felt about it. I think Ed and Alan were happy with theirs. Al was the one to tell me Ricky would need more locks in his drawers. He doesn’t trust anyone. He desired a certain level of cleanliness at the top.

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