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Guarding Tess

Charles Ivy

Shirley MacLaine is Tess Carlisle, a widowed first lady (half Nancy Reagan, half Bess Truman) living quietly in Ohio. Nicolas Cage is Doug Chesnic, the Secret Service agent assigned to protect her. He longs for action but feels like a heavily armed butler. He wants out, but Tess won’t let him go.

Veteran writer/director Hugh Wilson got together a really fine ensemble cast for this film headed by Shirley MacLaine and Nick Cage. Both were a lot of fun to work with during the time we spent in Baltimore on location. The story pits a veteran Secret Service agent against his charge, a former First Lady of the United States. The bodyguard is dutiful but wants to move on to bigger and better things. The former First Lady is a free-spirit who can’t be bothered by security concerns now that her famous husband is dead.

When the former First Lady disappears, – apparently abducted, – every Federal Law Enforcement or investigative agency in the nation descends on the Secret Service Agent and demands answers. I play the Director of Central Intelligence who clearly believes the Secret Service Agent played by Cage is an incompetent who ought to be shot.

While staying at a downtown hotel in Baltimore, most of the actors gathered in the bar one night to tell showbiz stories and watch snow fall on the city. The snow kept falling for the next two days and we were all trapped in the hotel. It put Wilson and his crew two days behind schedule, …but we had a hell of a time trapped in that bar.

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