From the very beginning one of my chief aims in writing So Beautiful it Hurts has been to show how every single person on My So-Called Life contributed their own unique talents, passions and viewpoints to make that show the rich, unforgettable creation that it was. My thanks to Reuben Greene for sharing with me on Monday his own recollections of that process.
Though he was often present at the filming of scenes, he spent much of his time in the makeshift classroom set aside for the school-age members of the cast: Claire Danes (Angela), Devon Gummersall (Brian) and Lisa Wilhoit (Danielle).
As studio teacher, it was his job to ensure that all three kept up with their studies while on set. No stranger to this unusual blending of school and Hollywood, he has instructed a number of famous pupils, including Brooke Shields and Molly Ringwald.
“He was strict,” Danes told me recently with a chuckle, “which I loved and Devon hated.”
Chosen for his fluency in French – the better to instruct Danes in her study of that language – Greene applied his no-nonsense approach to education to the job, but never lost sight of his students as young people who were under a great deal of pressure. Around the room he hung posters of nature scenes, and played classical music conducive to both learning and relaxation. He also taught them deep breathing exercises for better coping with those times when soothing music was simply not enough.
“Your example means a lot,” he says of teaching. “I just tried to expose them to the best I had to give.”
So Beautiful it Hurts’ is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with ABC, The Bedford Falls Co., nor anyone involved with the making or distribution of “My So-Called Life.”