Catch-up time! Solve ACTING LIKE A DIRECTOR here, then read on.
Acting Like A Director
Constructor: Jeremy Horwitz
Theme: Directors who made cameos in their films.
- 17A: M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN – Bit player whose casting as Dr. Hill in “The Sixth Sense” was hardly a surprise twist since he was pretty much always on the set
- 23A: ROMAN POLANSKI – Guy who probably got the part as Man With Knife in “Chinatown” because he’d known the director since birth
- 37A: QUENTIN TARANTINO – Actor whose role as First Scalped Nazi in “Inglourious Basterds” might have had something to do with being in the director’s family
- 55A: JOHN CARPENTER – Thespian whose gig as Bennett in “The Fog” likely came thanks to years of living at the same address as the director
- 63A: ALFRED HITCHCOCK – Portrayer of Man Outside Real Estate Office in “Psycho” who regularly spent nights in the director’s bed
Ben: Really enjoyed this one. About the only nitpick I have is that all of these directors are men, and it would have been nice to have a little diversity. In fairness, most famous directors are men — the only two famous women directors I can think of offhand are Ava Duvernay and Kathryn Bigelow, and I don’t think either of them have made cameos in their movies.
I also might have left out ROMAN POLANSKI given that he’s a statutory rapist, but maybe that’s a different conversation.
This is a dense theme — all of these names are long (QUENTIN TARANTINO is 16 letters, in fact, necessitating an oversized grid), and I’m actually quite impressed that the constructor crammed them all in here. They’re all famous directors, too — maybe not household names across the board, but pretty close.
Some great clues here. 6A: See-through fossilized tree resin that like all the popular girls from the ‘90s were named after is a particular favourite. As a high school teacher, I can tell you that AMBER isn’t as popular in Canada as it used to be, but I’ve definitely taught a couple of them.
Much love for the Zora NEALE Hurston shoutout. There’s a lot of cultural references in this puzzle, and it’s pretty diverse — everything from HALO and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to Zubin MEHTA. No “Harry Potter”, shockingly.
Also really liked the “Casablanca” quote in the ILSA clue — 59D: “You” in Rick’s reminiscence “I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.” I should probably rewatch that movie.