Long before the 59-year-old Alameda, California, native had a closet full of awards to his name, he was simply a student at Skyline High School with big dreams and a lot of chutzpah.
In a letter now on display at the Library of the Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills, the 18-year-old unknown wrote to George Roy Hill, who had just picked up the 1974 Oscar for Best Director.
"Dear Mr. Hill, Seeing that ... I have seen your fantastically entertaining and award-winning film The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and enjoyed it very much, it is all together fitting and proper that you should 'discover' me," he began, according to NPR.
"Now, right away I know what you are thinking ("who is this kid?"), and I can understand your apprehensions. I am a nobody ... My looks are not stunning. I am not built like a Greek God, and I can't even grow a mustache, but I figure if people will pay to see certain films ... they will pay to see me."
He then tossed around imaginative ways the director could discover his genius.
"Let's work out the details of my discovery. We can do it the way Lana Turner was discovered, me sitting on a soda shop stool, you walk in and notice me and – BANGO – I am a star.
Or maybe we can do it this way. I stumble into your office one day and beg for a job. To get rid of me, you give me a stand-in part in your next film. While shooting the film, the star breaks his leg in the dressing room, and, because you are behind schedule already, you arbitrarily place me in his part and – BANGO – I am a star," he continued.
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Fortunately, he knew enough even then to ensure that fame would not go to his head.
"All of these plans are fine with me, or we could do it any way you would like, it makes no difference to me! But let's get one thing straight. Mr. Hill, I do not want to be some bigtime, Hollywood superstar with girls crawling all over me, just a hometown American boy who has hit the big-time, owns a Porsche, and calls Robert Redford 'Bob,' " he concluded.