Noah Wyle: His best day was my best day
by Jennifer Cott
Noah Wyle is like my younger brother and I love him with all my heart. I presented him his 21st birthday cake. Our friendship has continued throughout the years.
When we first met, he was auditioning and waiting for his “big break.” Soon after, he mentioned an audition he had for a TV series called ER. I didn’t pursue it, because he didn’t mention it again. I didn’t want to bring up a potentially sore subject.
One evening, after listening to all kinds of music at his house, we discovered a mutual love for the musical Dreamgirls. Noah felt that he, Mr. California, knew the words to the musical better than me, Ms New York/Broadway, who had seen the show 3 times, played the score ad nauseam, and made Jennifer Holliday a household name among my friends. After bickering back and forth about who knew the score better, we challenged each other to a lip sync contest.
I learned from Noah that the ER situation was still on the table. By this time, I had my own management company. I decided to use my resources and get a hold of the script. I already knew that George Clooney was attached to the project. With that in mind, I proceeded to read the script.
After a few weeks passed, Noah came over for our contest. We planned dinner with two of our friends acting as judges. Notoriously early, Noah showed up while I was still cooking. He said “Guess what I’m doing tomorrow?” I had no idea. “Going to network for ER!” I freaked out and asked him if he wanted to go home and prepare/rehearse. But Noah said no, he was fine. He asked if I had read the script. I knew who the other actor in consideration was, so I told him exactly what I thought.
“Noah, I know two things: 1) This is going to make George Clooney a huge star; and 2) You are going to get the part.’ He said that the other actor was really good too, to which I replied, ’Yes he’s good, but this role is you!’
Our friends arrived, we had dinner, and then we began the contest. We broke it up into two parts. I was very confident, and got things started with my perfect Jennifer Holliday, “I’m Not Going.” Then Noah began the 8 or 9 person “Steppin’ To The Bad Side.” I was in trouble when he began in a crouched position. He had choreography too! I threw up my hands and conceded right then and there. He wiped the floor with me! I still can’t believe it! Everyone left, wishing Noah good luck. I asked what time his audition was, he said three o’clock, and promised to call me afterwards.
After I cleaned up, I did something I’ve never done before, or since. I got ready for bed, and before I got settled in I got down on my knees at my bedside and prayed to G-d, and I prayed hard. I pleaded with G-d to please let Noah get the part. I spoke about how he so richly deserved this, and how Noah was such a special person, with such a big and wonderful heart. I talked about his being so dedicated to his craft, how he’s paid his dues, and that no one deserves this more.
The next day, while at my office, I glanced at my watch and saw it was 3:00. I looked up and quietly whispered: “please, please, please.” I’m not one to do this, but I felt it couldn’t hurt. 4:00 came, I heard nothing. 4:30 came and went. I didn’t want to call him, because what if it went badly? When it was 5:00, my friend Christine said ‘Oh, just call him already’!
Reluctantly, I picked up the phone and dialed his number. Much to my surprise, he answered the phone. He did not sound good, and asked if he could call me back. Noah called back 5 minutes later, and said “Well … I got the part”! I screamed! Hearing something in his voice, I said “Are you crying?” He answered yes. I asked if I could come over and give him a hug. He tearily answered “I wish you would.” Christine and I dashed to my car, and raced across town to his house.
I ran up the stairs, straight into Noah’s arms, who was waiting at the top. I think I must have given him the biggest hug I’ve ever given anyone! He told us we could only stay for a little while, because his mother and stepfather were coming to pick him up, in order to go to dinner for his stepfather’s birthday. I asked what they said, and he told me he hadn’t told them yet, as he was waiting to tell his whole family together over drinks at dinner. If we were there when they arrived, it would give it all away. With big hugs, and much kudos, we hastily left the premises.
I must have broken every speed limit in the book in order to get home. Once there, I got the number for the restaurant Noah’s family was eating at. I said,”Great! I’m going to give you my credit card number, and in about 15 minutes, could you please bring over a bottle of Dom Perignon for Dr. Carter, and tell them that it’s with love and congratulations from Jennifer?” Unfortunately, they screwed up and brought it over right away. Noah was waiting until everyone had their drink orders to tell them the news. So, instead, the waiter broke the news. When he arrived with the champagne, asking for Dr. Carter, they all looked at him, and he said, “I got the part.”
My phone rang several hours later and I heard Noah’s voice saying “You’re a class act!” I have never been happier for anyone in my life. Nor have I ever known anyone who deserved and earned such a life-changing thing more than Noah.
So, life goes on, and takes its turns. Noah was recently in New York, and we met for breakfast, after having not seen each other in awhile. And now, both in our 40s, we banter via email, and my friend he remains.Tags: Actor, Dreamgirls, Entertainment industry, ER, Friendship, Hollywood, Jennifer Cott, Jennifer Holliday, Noah Wyle, Talent Manager