The homeless bum who beat alcoholism to become lucky mascot to every New York movie set will appear at Galashiels’ Pavilion Cinema this Sunday, following the Scottish premiere of a documentary about him by Jedburgh filmmaker Mary Kerr.
‘Radioman’ (also the title of the documentary) is described as “the world’s unlikeliest film star”, the “where’s Waldo of showbiz”, and the “celebrity’s celebrity”. “Hollywood’s dirtiest movie star alive,” as he describes himself, is also featured on the front cover of The Big Issue this week.
This Sunday the documentary receives its Scottish premier in Galashiels, at the local cinema where director Mary Kerr began her love of film when she was growing up at her family home at Jardinfield near Jedburgh.
Now 31 years old, the London- based filmmaker is receiving critical acclaim for her first movie.
The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw described Radioman as: “a shrewd insight into the sentimentality and superstition of the film business, and the brittle world of movie status and prestige”, while the BBC’s Mark Kermode called it “a charming, quirky documentary made very, very affectionately”.
Mary will attend a Q&A after the documentary – and so will the film’s subject, Radioman, straight from New York. “I first met him on the set of Indiana Jones in 2007,” Mary told TheSouthern. “He was eating out of the bins at Yale University, and talking to Steven Spielberg at the time. From then it took us four years to make the documentary.
“I used to work in a homeless shelter and liked the idea that everyone has a story. I felt his story should be told.”
She added: “We’re taking him round the Borders this weekend to visit castles. He’s very into ghosts and says he can feel spirits.”
“I believe in Nessie,” Radioman told us, “and I hope I’ll sense something in the Scottish castles.”
“It’s all a whirlwind, a hurricane: I never expected any of this,” he added about his fame. “I toured the House of Lords this morning. They were all thinking: ‘What is this bum doing in here?’”
According to the film’s website, “Radioman is the unbelievable story of an extraordinary eccentric – a New York street bum of the same (nick)name who overcame homelessness and addiction to become an unlikely New York City movie legend with over 100 small parts to his name”, including cameos in Zoolander, The Bourne Trilogy, Godzilla, Indiana Jones, The Sopranos, Elf, Two Weeks Notice, Ransom, and many more other films and television shows.
Every day the 61-year-old pedals across the Big Apple on his trusty bicycle (given to him by Whoopi Goldberg) from movie set to movie set, to hang out with the cast and crew between takes, land cameo roles, spy stars, collect autographs, and feed from the studio rubbish bins.
“The stars, filmmakers, and crew are the closest thing Radioman has to a family,” adds the film’s producers Ten Cent Adventures, “and he cherishes the time he can spend alone with them as one spent amongst equals, even if it involves waiting for them for seven hours in the freezing cold.”
Craig Castaldo, born in Brooklyn in 1951, earned his nickname ‘Radioman’ from the battered boom box he hung around his neck to deter thieves from stealing it while he was sleeping rough. According to his own website, Castaldo was homeless and struggled with alcoholism, and following an involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital, he decided to give up drinking more than 15 years ago.
The 68-minute documentary features interviews with many of the celebrities who know him, including George Clooney, Matt Damon, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Tilda Swinton, Robin Williams, Jude Law, Josh Brolin, Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey and more.
“Radioman is the rags to (no) riches story of a human being full of dreams and contradictions, and of a life full of missed opportunities and unexpected blessings,” the film’s website continues: “It gives the audience unparalleled access to the everyday behind the scenes of showbusiness – of paparazzi, autograph collectors, premieres and film shoots – all seen through the unlikely eyes of an old New York street bum.”
The film was released in April 2012 and premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs documentary film festival, and has just begun a UK tour.
The Pavilion cinema’s manager, Andrew Poole, said: “The Pavilion was Mary Kerr’s local cinema when she grew up in Jedburgh, and it’s great to see her now directing her own films. When we saw the trailer for Radioman it captured our imagination, and we are sure that this is a film our customers will want to see. Here’s a guy who came from absolutely nowhere, yet now seems to be absolutely everywhere, with a filmography longer than some of the biggest names in Hollywood. And he seems to have not just rubbed shoulders with these stars, but is on first name terms with them. We are looking forward to welcoming Mary back into her local cinema and, of course, Radioman himself for the Q&A after the film.”
You can view a trailer for Radioman at http://pavilioncinema.co.uk/radioman.htm and book tickets at the cinema box office, online at pavilioncinema.co.uk, or by calling 01896752767. Tickets cost £7.50 (adult), £6.50 (teen 15-17), or £6 (student/senior).