LOS ANGELES — You’ve never seen The Graduate like this.
On Thursday night, director Jason Reitman put a new twist on the classic movie for Film Independent at LACMA’s final Live Read of the season. Reitman regularly hosts such evenings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater, inviting stars to recite famous scripts in a cold read, from Boogie Nights to Groundhog Day.
Past pop-up performances have invited Taylor Lautner to play Boogie Nights‘ Dirk Diggler and Jason Bateman to read as Groundhog Day‘s Phil Connors (originally played by Bill Murray).
But this time, it was Sharon Stone who surprised ticket holders when she showed up to take over for Anne Bancroft as the original cradle-robber, Mrs. Robinson. For nearly two hours, the actress, dressed in a body-hugging black turtleneck dress and knee-high boots (and fighting a cough), purred, teased and tormented her Benjamin Braddock, played by Jay Baruchel, who was game for Dustin Hoffman’s career-making role.
As a nostalgic treat, original screenwriter Buck Henry was in the audience watching proceedings.
Reitman took advantage of his moderator’s perch by also reading stage directions. A particularly amusing setup from The Graduate notes, in detail, the dress of those gathered by the Braddocks’ pool, described as California contemporary sport style: “the adults in styles infinitely too young for them, the children in styles infinitely too old for them.”
“Things have changed so much,” Reitman cracked. And when it came time in the script for Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin’s first tryst at the Taft Hotel, Baruchel went out on a limb and planted one on Stone. The audience cheered.
“I’ll get undressed now. Is that all right?” Baruchel read from the script as timid Benjamin.
“Sure,” Stone said coolly.
“I don’t know what you want me to do,” Baruchel responded.
“Why don’t you watch?” she suggested.
Baruchel gulped. “Sure.”
Unsurprisingly, Simon & Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson played the audience out post-show. Film Independent at LACMA’s Live Read series will resume in Los Angeles this fall.