Meeting Roger Ebert: Sharing a Sweet Memory

Meeting Roger Ebert; Sharing a Sweet Memory     By Roberta Bassin April 9, 2013

A regular guy, unassuming, easy to talk with, relaxed with himself and open to the world. That was my impression of Roger Ebert. One of the special perks of being in this thing we call ” show business ” is the privilege to meet the icons of the world.

“Barfly” which has become a cult film, attracted the nobility of Hollywood. It was all new for me, as I was just beginning my professional acting career.

On a Friday night, the bar “Big Ed’s in which we were filming in Culver City, following a day of shooting, was filled with the rich and famous. It was charming, exuding a warm atmosphere, with a relaxed and welcoming air.  Among those celebrities whom I enjoyed talking with that night, including David Lynch and Isabella Rosallini, I was brought by our wonderful director, Barbet Schroeder, to meet Mr. Ebert. He was sitting at one of the red leather booths, comfortably situated with his arm on the padded crown of the booth’s back taking it all in and looking very relaxed.   Barbet put his arm around me and jokingly asked Roger, ” what role do you think she ( Roberta) plays? Why? Because my role as the alcoholic bag lady, Lilly, was so opposite in appearance and persona from myself. I shyly smiled then and chuckle now at the thought.  The rest of the conversation is a blur, but it was a very special night to remember.

Needless to say, Mr. Ebert loved the film, and the interesting real life characters “Barfly” introduced to audiences, including my Lilly.

I was fortunate to be able to thank Roger personally a few years later at the Sundance Film Festival where he told me how much he liked my work and what a great job I did in the role of Lilly. Easy going, comfortable with himself, at home with the famous and not so famous, ” At The Movies”, R.I.P. Roger Ebert, you gave us so much enjoyment without fanfare. I am deeply saddened.

BARFLY review Dec, 1987, Roger Ebert,  Chicago Sun Times

“The result is a truly original American movie, a film like no other, a period of time spent in the company of the kinds of characters Saroyan and O’Neill would have understood, the kinds of people we try not to see, and yet might enjoy more than some of our more visible friends. “Barfly” is one of the year’s best films.”

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