Radioman (Director: Mary Kerr): How does a former New York City homeless man become a movie industry legend? Radioman has appeared in more than 100 films and television shows since the early ‘90s. With his trademark radio around his neck, he’s become a celebrity to movie stars like George Clooney, Matt Damon and Meryl Streep. Radioman is a charming film about an eccentric dreamer who finally gets his closeup.
George Clooney, Robin Williams, and Josh Brolin sit down for interviews and provide their take on Radioman. For the most part he’s described as a lovable guy who is obsessed with the movies. He’s considered to be good luck for a production and according to Radioman, every time he appears in a film it makes money – Tower Heist, The Departed, and Elf.
The celebrity aspect of Radioman is sure to make this a popular film at Hot Docs. Everyone from Paul Giamatti, Sandra Bullock, Whoopi Goldberg, Jude Law and Tom Hanks appear briefly to share their Radioman experiences. Most of these clips are quite funny, including a bizarre moment with James Gandolfini and a conversation with Ricky Gervais that left me in stitches.
Radioman is credited as Craig Castaldo on IMDB but he also goes by the name Craig Schwartz. It wasn’t clear to me in the film why he uses two names but it doesn’t really matter. Radioman is a fascinating character – a former homeless man and alcoholic who lives in a roach-infested apartment and dresses like a tramp. He rides a bicycle around New York, trolling movie sets for food and hustling for parts in films. He dreams of becoming an actor with real speaking roles instead of the small bit parts he’s landed in the past.
I found myself wanting to know more about Radioman as the film progressed. At first glance he comes across like a child, picking his nose and farting on camera but in an instant he can be quite serious and sound very intelligent. In one clip Johnny Depp questions whether Radioman is really an eccentric billionaire having a laugh at our expense.
We never see Radioman on a computer but he’s shown talking on a beat up cellphone to somebody about filming locations. Shia LaBeouf questions how Radioman can know his shooting schedule before he does. Where does Radioman get his information from? For a guy who often gets mistaken as a panhandler he seems well connected.
The film takes on a different tone when Radioman travels to Los Angeles, hoping to crash the Oscars and hang out with his Hollywood friends. He may be the king of New York when it comes to getting access to the stars but in Los Angeles he’s a nobody. Unless he’s on the guest list, Radioman is just another autograph hound, hanging around the sidewalk with the likes of Sean Young.
It was interesting to see the stark contrast between the two cities from Radioman’s perspective. Everything and everyone in LA comes across as cold and superficial compared to the people of New York, whom Radioman describes as being friendlier, warmer, and kinder.
Sadly, Radioman sees celebrities as his friends. He’s lonely and the closest thing he has to a family is the movie set. When he used to drink Radioman said he felt invincible. He thought people were laughing with him and having a good time but he came to realize that people were really laughing at him. I wonder how many of his celebrity friends are really laughing at him, merely amused by his eccentric behaviour.
You might not know who Radioman is but chances are that you’ve already seen him in a dozen films. He’s always wanted a bigger film role and I can’t think of a better opportunity than the one Mary Kerr’s documentary provides for him. I used to look forward to Stan Lee cameos in Marvel films. Now I’ll be looking for Radioman cameos in every film that is shot in New York.