You’re going to be hearing a lot about a little movie called Trust. It opened last Friday and it’s powerful, about how a seemingly innocent online encounter can unravel and nearly destroy a middle-class American family. The movie, being universally praised, was written by David Schwimmer. Yes, the very same actor who played goofy, neurotic, but lovable Ross Geller on Friends. It’s Schwimmer and co-writer Andy Bellin’s stab at raising awareness about the internet’s heart-wrenching potential as a hunting ground for sexual predators.
Before Trust was made into the indie film starring Catherine Keener and Clive Owen, it was staged at Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre, the cutting-edge theater Schwimmer co-founded with seven fellow thespians in the fall of 1988 soon after graduating from Northwestern University.
Even though the former Friends star is about to have a baby with new wife, Zoe Buckman, and spends most of his time in New York so she can be closer to her British roots, he’s still a staunch supporter of his adopted hometown of Chicago. He owns a home (or rather a loft) there and shows up regularly to star in, direct and help mount Lookingglass Theatre’s highly-physical renditions of classic literature and myth. For years, while Schwimmer was busy in California portraying Ross, Lookingglass, albeit regularly staging world-premiere original works, was a gypsy, moving from stage to stage. But by 2003, thanks in part to Schwimmer’s unwavering support, it moved into permanent digs, a stone castle-like structure on the north end of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.
And, yep, Schwimmer was there for the grand opening, directing the first production, an adaption of fellow Chicagoan Studs Terkel’s Race.
According to his fellow Lookingglass co-founders, Schwimmer is not only dedicated to theater, but he’s unfailingly interested in social issues and using his influence to “make a difference.” Trust, for example, grew out of his years volunteering at a Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica. He once wrote a film about Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto and has publicly stated that someday he’d like to teach.
As for Chicago, Schwimmer is equally devoted. While going to Northwestern, he worked at Ed Debevic’s, the cheesy faux-50’s diner where he playing a roller-skating character named Romeo. He recently lent his support to Chicago’s John Hancock Observatory. With 360-degree views and, on a clear day, the ability to see 80 miles and four states, this observatory on the 94th floor of the Hancock Building offers a free self-guided audio tour of Chicago narrated by you know who. Although Schwimmer points out all the important landmarks, everything from Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate, a three-story bean-shaped sculpture that reflects and distorts the city’s skyline, to the competing observatory, the former Sears Tower, he also offers a few personal details: he’s a Cubs fan and he once lived at 11th and Halsted.
All I know, is Schwimmer’s familiar voice made the tour extremely fun. As I gazed out across Chicago, listening to each tour stop with my headphones, I almost felt like Rachel Green, being wooed by the man of my dreams.