I was sad to read over the weekend that Taylor Negron died. Not a household name, but a talented actor and writer nevertheless.
One of his first roles was as a pizza delivery guy in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), a film of fine details and rich characterizations. He delivers the double cheese and sausage to Spicoli in Mr. Hand’s History class. It’s not much of a role but Negron did a good job with it. The audience is aware that this pizza guy has something going on internally, beyond service to the plot, something we don’t know about in a world beyond the frame.
He seems kind of put out at having to be there standing before the class. Food service jobs are perilous business in the movie. Stacy and Brad can both attest to the types of characters you go up against in that line of work.
Mr. Hand takes the pizza from Spicoli and invites Stacy, Desmond (that weasel!), and others to eat it. Incidentally, I don’t see any sausage on the pizza. You can interpret its absence as representative of a raw deal, or as an oversight by the script supervisor. Or, maybe the sausage is under the cheese. That’s probably it.
And what is Desmond’s problem? He clearly has some unspecified grudge against Spicoli. On the first day of school, he poisons the well by telling Stacy that Spicoli’s been stoned since the third grade when he shows up late to class. Later, he pikes out Spicoli when he is tardy again. And then, he gets to eat some of Spicoli’s pizza. Spicoli, for his part, seems unbothered by Desmond.
How much of Negron’s performance as the attitudinal pizza guy can be attributed to Amy Heckerling’s direction and how much of it is Negron’s own acting choices? Maybe there's no way to tell. It’s probably some combination. It can’t just have been magic. There’s no such thing. But, there are some things that can’t be known by studying and looking, not even closely, not even with love.
For more Fast Times insight check out:
"Christmas Time at Ridgemont High" via BXTXKV