“Ernie had said it was an hon­our to make his last movie with me. I was si­lenced”

Emirates Man - - CULTURE FILM -

“I thought, wouldn’t it be great to do it as a West­ern,” says Petridis, who came up with the idea af­ter driv­ing home an ac­tor from an­other project who had shook Fer­nan­dez’s hand. “An old guy rides into town and cleans up an old peo­ple’s home.” The lm also stars June Squibb, from About Sch­midt, and an­other star of the West­ern genre, Barry Corbin.

“Ernest was 96. He was a work­horse,” he adds. “He was very grounded, very lit­tle ego, happy to be an ac­tor. He con­stantly handed back the ba­ton back to the direc­tor. He wasn’t a method guy.”

Borg­nine and Petridis forged a friend­ship. “Some­times he’d drive home with me from the set. We’d talk about old lms, his ex-wives – he was mar­ried ve times. We talked grandpa, grand­son kind of stuff. Be­fore Ernie died, his son called me to say that Ernie had said it was an hon­our to make his last movie with me. I was si­lenced.”

The lm is not get­ting a cinema re­lease in the UAE, but it’s avail­able to buy from Vimeo On De­mand. “Wouldn’t it be a shame if peo­ple didn’t see Ernie’s last lm?”

Petridis’ for­ma­tive years in Dubai means there have been at­tempts to la­bel him a UAE lm­maker, along­side From A To B’s Ali F Mostafa. He doesn’t baulk at the idea, but is quick to point out that what he cre­ates is more im­por­tant to him than where he comes from. “Let’s stop look­ing at ev­ery lm in the UAE that they’re work­ing for the tourism board. The fact Abu Dhabi is be­ing shot for Star Wars is great, but it’s a tourist at­trac­tion. Tom Cruise scal­ing the Burj Khal­ifa is a tourism thing. Let’s make a good freakin’ movie.”

Petridis splits his time be­tween the UAE and Los An­ge­les. He’s been ap­proached to di­rect his next Hol­ly­wood lm, about two kids try­ing to au­dit the NSA. He also has meet­ings with Im­a­geNa­tion in Abu Dhabi.

He would will­ingly talk lm trivia with you for hours if you let him. Our meet­ing ends with more ref­er­ences to Rex Page, and a life of re­gret. “From mu­sic videos to this lm, it’s about putting a lit­tle bit of your soul into it,” he smiles. “I’m afraid of not mak­ing it. Imag­ine be­ing 96 and still try­ing to be a suc­cess. That’s what I’m most afraid of. I don’t think lms work if there isn’t a lit­tle bit of you in them.”

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