ilovefilm.me – A permanent fixture on the fringes of movie-shoot locations in New York City, the homeless-looking fellow known as Radioman belongs to that elite species of film fan for whom there’s almost no border between real life and the movies.
Mary Kerr‘s Radioman returns the favor, allowing some of Hollywood’s biggest stars to express their own fascination with a man they couldn’t get rid of if they tried. Likely to ring some bells for festival auds, the doc reveals the darker sides of its subject’s life without ever feeling judgmental or exploitative.
Disheveled, big-bearded and never seen without a cheap radio tied around his neck, Craig Castaldo would be hard to miss on a movie location. In his early days as a hanger-on (back when he was drinking, and sometimes making his home in the bowels of Penn Station), he made himself even less inconspicuous by shouting at cast and crew: “Bruce Willis, your acting looks like a fucking cartoon!” he yelled from the sidelines of 1990’s Bonfire of the Vanities.
But more actors were charmed than offended, it seems, and Kerr wrangles a slew of A-listers for affectionate, genuine-sounding testimonials. Josh Brolin says, “When I go to New York, first thing I think of is ‘When am I going to see Radio?’”; George Clooney smiles while recalling jokey harassment delivered in Castaldo’s put-on “Lucky Charms accent”; Meryl Streep, who’s been seeing him for 30 years, calls him “the most loyal, loving movie guy there is.”
He’s almost a colleague, in fact, having been a background player for scenes in (by his estimation) around a hundred films. We see him bike through Wall Street 2 and get squashed by Godzilla, bit parts he takes very seriously — he’s dismissive of other, less career-minded extras, and occasionally of stars who haven’t yet earned his respect.
Kerr follows Radioman home, to a Hoarders-worthy lair in Brooklyn, and to Los Angeles, where he tries unsuccessfully to sneak into the Oscars. Away from his home turf, he finds paparazzi and full-time autograph hounds “like vipers.” The contrasting scenes could almost be repurposed by NYC’s film commission to tout the city’s collegial charms.
Though he’s apparently too busy tracking down secret locations to take an acting class, Radioman would love to land higher-profile gigs. A recurring presence on 30 Rock may be the closest he’ll get to stardom; while he waits for his big break, though, he’ll settle for whatever level of access lets him stash handfuls of craft-service snack foods into his ever-present backpack.