This is actor Roy Scheider, in the moment you probably remember him from: his first meeting with the shark in Jaws. In 2000, he was the star of a low-budge film I worked on called Chain of Command, and was far and away the kindest actor in my experience.
Whenever we broke for lunch, he never jumped to the front of the line (as is customary with actors). Always, without fail, he got his meal last. He even shooed away a young AD who had the temerity to tell him he could go to his trailer and she'd bring him his food!
When we switched from location shooting to a "studio" inside a warehouse with no air conditioning, he didn't say anything about the heat when he first walked in. Everyone was moving around, busy working. He was hot too, I noticed, but he waited until the first rehearsal for blocking to say anything. Then, when everyone on the crew was paying attention to the actors, he called the producer over and told him to get portable air conditioners in the studio by lunch. This put the producer on the spot. And Roy Scheider didn't call the producer a cheap prick (which he was). Roy didn't threaten to walk out. He didn't raise his voice. He didn't stomp his foot and go on about how he was an Oscar nominated star who never got treated this way. He just pointed at all of us and said, "Look around. We're dying in here. You need to fix that." And we had AC in a few hours.
When there were breaks in shooting, he often stuck around the set and talked to the crew. And he asked about THEM, where they were from, what was going on in their lives. I wore a #32 Ricky Watters jersey one day and he asked me about the Eagles and where I felt they were headed. Only at the very end of the conversation did he talk about himself: he was from New York, and therefore a Giants fan, and I've never met a more gracious one. (Or, to put it another way, I've never met ANOTHER gracious one!)
I was not the dolly grip on this show but ended up pushing the dolly for a couple hours because of an emergency. There's a big moment in the film where Roy Scheider, playing the President, learns that Washington DC just got nuked (or some dramatic nonsense). We did two takes of the entire scene, just of him on the phone, each like four minutes long, with the camera pushing slowly in during the whole shot. This was not an easy task. I had to gently move the dolly down eight feet of track to his desk, keeping a steady but dead-slow pace ... but I got to watch his performance close-up. It was very cool to have been a part of that.
I was inspired to write this since I just watched a musical he did called All That Jazz. The disc has a short commentary by him. Commentary tracks provide three things: funny anecdotes, a chance for the director (or whoever) to point out how tough a certain scene was to film, and lots of self-fellating. It can be eye-rollingly arrogant, some of the shit these folks say about themselves. Roy Scheider's commentary was none of those things. Instead he talks about everyone else: the director, his costars, the many dancers in the musical numbers. Anytime he does talk about himself, like how he drew on a memory to motivate his performance, the story ends up focusing on someone else. He comes off as quite generous and not the least bit self-important.
Now, it could all be an act. That is, after all, what actors do. Maybe he'd trained himself to be polite and gracious in public; maybe it was how he'd liked to have been remembered. Even then, I don't care. Phony nice beats genuine asshole, and I believe he was genuinely nice. It was a breath of fresh air, from an actor whose work I've always been a fan of. Check out The French Connection or The Seven-Ups, great films with incredible chase scenes, with Roy Scheider playing some dodgy cops doing questionable things ... quite unlike how the man I met actually was.
The pic is from 1976. Roy Scheider passed away in 2008.