Not everyone was happy about my relationship with Christine. Among the skeptics was Milton Justice, a friend and one of my earliest mentors. Milton is a brilliant and creative man, a Yale educated actor turned producer who earned an Academy Award in 1986 for his work on Down and Out in America, a documentary feature about the lives of transvestites and transsexuals. Milton was one of the producers of Staying Together, a movie in which I had starred in 1987, and he agreed to help me and my friends produce a play in L.A. that we wanted to act in. He would also help by producing my first short film with me, introducing me to Stella Adler, helping me land representation from what was then the biggest agency in town (Creative Arts Agency), and getting me into the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. Needless to say, he had a manifest impact both on my career and my thinking at a critical stage in my development. Our friendship started simply enough. Milton had produced a play that Id been in, and as I was trying to figure out the Hollywood game of forming meaningful and important relationships, I invited him out to dinner in the hope of picking his brain and perhaps absorbing some of his wisdom. I took him to a nice restaurant, which I think he found rather charming. I was an eighteen year old kid, and he couldn't believe I was paying for his dinner, since actors, especially young ones, just didn't do that kind of thing. But there was so much value to knowing him and learning from him. And I liked him a lot, both as a person and a potential business partner.
So we developed what I considered to be more than a friendship; it was a mentorship. Milton supported me; he believed in my ambitions and ability, and wanted to help nurture my talent, and eventually help trade on it, of course.
Milton and I worked well together until I met Christine. When I told him how much I cared about her, and how I planned to marry her, he was dismissive.
"You say that about every girl."
"I know. But this time it's different."
Not long after that, when I told Milton I didn't want to continue carrying such large overhead expenses I was spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month, with barely anything to show for it he became incensed. He took it personally and walked out. And I let him go.
We had been working out of a rent free space, which is a funny story on a couple of levels. First, Milton and I had independently known about a postproduction facility in Hollywood called Matrix Alliance. I knew one of the guys who worked there, having worked with him on several occasions over the years. His name was Barney, and whenever I had a looping session at Matrix, Barney always seemed to be in charge. There was an upper room in the industrial area that nobody was using, and one weekend while Barney was on vacation with his family in Palm Springs, Milton and I literally moved in. We put their boxes into a storage area and turned on phones and furnished the space with rented furniture; I even put some posters up on the walls. On Monday, when Barney returned, I called him in and said, "Hey, Barney, look Lava Entertainment!" He was, like, "Oh, boy, look what you did."
But I calmed him down by appealing to his genuinely decent nature.
"Please:' I said, "I can't afford to pay for office space. Let me use it. You won't even know I'm here. Eventually it'll pay off, and if you need the space, just say the word and we're gone."