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His laugh seems to come from the bottom of a wine cask, his head thrown back and his tongue hanging out over his lower teeth to make more room for the flow. The way his eyebrows hop over the top of his glasses and that grand-piano grin shines from under them, the way he stretches his words, exaggerating and overlapping them with inflection, and then rewards himself with that belly laugh from the barrel when he sees that he has you...surely, thinks the world, surely here swaggers six-feet-five inches of uncontainable happiness.
"Five minutes!" calls the stage manager. "Five!"
"I love this acting stuff," he says. "It's just like sex—the first time is best. Acting like the person I'm supposed to be has always been the easiest thing for me."
For Harvey Martin, acting like the Devil has been a one-month reprieve from hell. The day he got the role he walked outside the theater, thrust his arms to the clouds and shouted, "Thank God!" That was not acting. The offer had come just when he was certain the world had junked him in its rubbish heap of ruined celebrities. He was still reeling from the IRS battle and the humiliation of bankruptcy when the cocaine accusation hit the papers and suddenly, at age 32, the phone had stopped ringing and the TV and radio and personal-appearance requests had disappeared for Dallas' highest-profile Cowboy.
A man whose ballast was inside him might have been able to haul down the sails and sit out the stillness, but all of Harvey Martin's ballast was out there, with those who had rejected him.
"Three minutes. Three!"
And now, in two more hours, Damn Yankees would be finished, and in the wings stillness waits for him again.
"C'mon to Acapulco with me," he says. "I've been planning to go down there the day this play is over. Costs nothin'. Peso's still fallllin' through the ground.
"I heard a few years ago they took a poll down there and voted me the most popular player, and so I just had to go down and find out. Know what? It's true. No whispering behind my back down there. It was just, 'There goes Harvey Martin.' I felt so refreshed."