Directors' Hidden Talents: Nicolai Fuglsig

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Nicolai Fuglsig
It's a strange feeling never wanting to receive but only wanting to give. I'm neither flashy, nor a jackass. I never celebrate my birthday, nor Christmas—I avoid every possible opportunity to be given something. A few of my friends call me the "serial tipper." Like everybody else, I tip. But with me it gets completely out of control and it almost ended up ruining me financially—I'm so embarrassed so let's not even go there! A few years ago, I managed to turn my "serial tipping" disease into a dangerous passion for generous stunts. From Canada to Brazil, my shooting crews and I have managed to pull off some great, big, elaborate stunts of kindness. At Rio de Janeiro International Airport, a few members of my crew once managed to piece together enough of our leftover per diem to forever change the life of one man, the men's bathroom attendant. Hours apart, one by one, we all subtly ventured into the bathroom. No smiles, no words said, we each left a tremendous tip, enough to make a difference forever. It was a wonderful feeling.

In Los Angeles one Easter lunch, my entire Danish "Mafia" is visiting from New York. With cheap room service silverware in hand and with a lavish, warm breakfast under a silver dinner dome, we head downtown, desperately cruising the empty streets looking for the lucky one. I run the entire length of the 2nd Street Tunnel. My arms are quivering from the heavy load. I'm not used to being a curbside server, so it's a balancing act. Seems like there are plenty of "do not disturb" guests on cardboard beds to choose from. Putting down the rattling tray and lighting the candle next to one man, I head backwards to the mouth of the tunnel to watch. Dozens of minutes go by. The Danish entourage is growing impatient and tired. It's early morning now. A singing man on a bicycle enters at the other end. Other residents are now mumbling from under their blankets. A warm draft of Santa Ana wind is rushing through the tunnel, blowing our fragile candle out. I can't fucking believe it! The object of my generous stunt still hasn't moved—not an inch, not a flinch, and I see the ingredients for a very bad movie piling up. I want to leave. Freaked out, we flee past the other guests as they load up their Wal-Mart carts. In hindsight, having seen many dead people in my life, I begin to wonder...I never wanted to be the Robin Hood of Hollywood, nor the Merchant of Death. That's it! I'm done with this "serial tipping," the giveaway-and-run, and the drive-by charity. Haunted by my generous mind.

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