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Ivan’s Rainbow August 30, 2007

Posted by Dougie in Filming.

Wow.  Over a month of silence from Dougie.  Six day work weeks, and a three week visit from Mrs. Laurie has left me unable to sneak to this smelly internet cafe and share the stories that are piling up.

But those stories have to wait for just a moment.  I can’t even think of telling funny quips until I can release my joys and sorrows regarding one young person who has left a deep impression on me here in Budapest.


It was mid-June, just after the production started filming.  Driver Joey was dropping me at my hotel entrance after another long day at the studio. As I was saying goodnight to him, climbing out of the car, a deep voice speaking English but laced with Italian enthusiasm came from behind me on the sidewalk.

“What time will your wake up call be for tomorrow?” he asked.

I whirled around wondering who in tarnashions would be asking me that here on the street.  And there stood a tall, smiley, angular, 28 year old Italian fellow wearing a silver choker, t-shirt with jeans that were barely clinging to his little hips, and a white baseball hat.  Never saw him in my life before this, so you can feel my curiosity as to why he was asking me this question.  So, I told him “3 in the morning, why do you ask?”

“Ah” he said with a big smile, “That is a little better than your 2:15 wake up call from today!”

Not sure who or how, all I could say was, “Yes … wait … how did you know that?”

“I am the hotel night auditor who took your wake up call last night … Hello”, he replied.

“OH, yes, OK, now I see.  Hi, I’m Doug Jones,” as I shook his hand.

With grinning pride, he said, “Yes, I know.”

Which left another question … “Wait … How did you know that was me getting out of the car?”

“Simple”, he said, not losing an ounce of his posture, “I recognized your voice from the phone.”

Amazed by this boy, I had to flashback to the night before:  It was around 10:30pm and I called down to the front desk for my insane wake up call.  I remembered the receptionist being a very animated and jovial voice I had never talked with before, as I told him that I wasn’t kidding, I honestly need to wake up at 2:15am to get outside to my driver by 2:30am.  He chuckled with me, and wished me a good few hours of sleep.  When 2:15 came, the phone rang with the automated computer voice telling me to have a nice day.  Ugh, the drudgery at this hour!  I hung up the phone and lay there in the darkness for a couple of dangerous better-not-drift-off-again minutes.  That’s when the phone rang again.  Again?  The system never calls twice.  When I picked up, I heard that jovial voice from the night before, asking if I got my wake up call, and am I going to be OK.  Something no one has ever done at any hotel I have ever stayed at.

Now let’s jump ahead to the following night again at the hotel entrance.  “Oh!  So that was YOU who called me this morning to make sure I was OK!  Do you do that for all your wake-up calls?”

“No,” he replied, “I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would have to get up that early, and I knew the temptation to fall back asleep would be too great, so I had to call.”  Yes.  THIS was Ivan Ricci.

Ivan walked with me up to the door of my suite, and in that short time I learned that he was from Italy, but living and working at this Italian-owned hotel while in Hungary to fulfill a life-long dream of recording his first music CD at a studio here in Budapest.  Also in that short walk, he asked all about me, and clutched his heart when he heard that I was here in Budapest as Abe Sapien working on “Hellboy 2”.  Turns out he was also a huge fan of “Pan’s Labyrinth” and couldn’t wait for the Silver Surfer, as well.  Before he walked away from my door, he informed me that he just lived one floor up, and that if I need anything, or if I have free time when he does, all that.

I have always said that angels come in two forms.  The actual wing-flapping kind sent from Heaven who protect us, and the people God places in our lives at the right place and time.  Ivan didn’t know it, but he was an answer to prayer.  I had been quite lonely in my first few weeks here, not knowing where to go, or how to get there, and feeling very out of sorts with the language barrier.  And here in a matter of minutes … plop … I’m blessed with a local friend.

Over the next two months, it’s hard to recount how much Ivan was in my life.  Some snapshot memories would include:

– Ivan grabbing me from the lobby as I limped in from another long day, dragging me behind the front desk, and insisting that I sit with him, David (another night auditor), and Gyorgy (Night Manager) whom I have also grown to know and adore.  Ivan would have room service bring me a milkshake right there at the desk, and look up songs on YouTube that we could sing together.  If I didn’t have to work the next day, this could go on until the sun came up.

-Ivan making me get down on one knee in front of Night Manager Gyorgy and him as they did a comical knighting ceremony and presented me with my very own hotel employee badge with DOUG on it.

– Ivan continued phoning minutes after my wake-up calls any night that he was on duty.  One wee-hour morning, he wouldn’t hang up until he talked me through all this … “It’s a beautiful day.  Sit up now.  Smile because you are alive.  Put your foot on the floor.  Now the other one.  Turn on a light.  It’s going to be a great day on the movie.  OK?  OK.  Now come downstairs and hug us before you go.”

– Ivan showing me where to buy tickets for the city trams and metros, then taking me for a test ride to a mall where I needed to buy a tea pot for my room.

– Ivan taking Selma Blair and me to an Italian restaurant for his favorite dish there, Gnocchi with Gorgonzola.  Heavenly comfort food.  He and I re-visited this place many more times, and always got the same thing.  A creature of habit, just like me.  We would sit in there and talk for hours about his dreams, his wishes, his passions.  A young life with so much potential and creative energy.

– Ivan talking about his parents back home in Milano, and how his one top goal was to make them proud of him by fulfilling their wish for him to own his own house one day.  As he spoke, he needed to take a pause as his eyes filled with tears.  He told me he hadn’t cried in front of anyone in years, but how comfortable he was in front of me.  Such an enormous compliment from such an enormous heart.

– Spending an evening with Ivan and his gorgeous Hungarian girlfriend Adrienn.  Watching him point out her cute little nose and stunning green eyes was adorable.  Later he told me that getting her to smile or laugh is one of life’s biggest pleasures.  I learned that brightening anyone’s day is what that boy lived for.

– Running my lines for a scene with Liz Sherman with the deep-voiced, Italian-accented Ivan.  He insisted that we keep going over the scene again and again until he was satisfied that I knew it well enough.  I can still hear his charming voice doing Liz’s line “Shut up Abe” as “Shut-a Hup Habe”.

– Seeing his face as I gave him signed glossies of Abe, The Faun, and Silver Surfer.  You would have thought I just gave him 3 gold bricks.  Best of all, was knowing that he would have been the same Ivan with me if I was a bus driver.

– Ivan telling me one of the things he loved most about me … that even though I could wear any designer label I wanted, I was most comfortable that day in my cut-off jeans, t-shirt with a stain on it, a tourist fanny pack, and a filthy ball cap that I pulled out of my friend’s salvage yard in Texas.  Yep, he fully “got” me.

– Wherever we would be with piped-in music, Ivan stops everything, points to the ceiling and says, “I love this song”, followed by his fearless singing out loud to it.  Of course I always joined him.

– Hearing him go on about style, colognes, food, and romance, starting every thought with “Please … I’m Italian!”, which totally justified all his opinions and tastes to the point where I wanted to get a pen and jot down notes.

– Watching him listen intently with a tilted head after he asked me to share why I believe there really is a God.

– Seeing his face so proud of himself when he put one of his numerous pairs of designer sunglasses on me.  He stepped back, told me they were better on me than him, and sent me back to my room with them.

– Watching any store clerk or food server’s barriers break down as Ivan’s charm would get them all to giggle within minutes.

– Having Ivan take me to his music producer’s (the delightful Achilla Sparta) radio show on a whim, and ending up staying and chatting on the air with Achilla and Ivan for 2 hours between songs about the Hungarian opening of “F4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer”.

– Ivan telling me that when he got a call from the daytime desk manager asking him to cover a day shift right after one of his night shifts, he understandably wanted to cuss.  But instead, he said that he heard my voice in his ear, and even affected my sing-songie tone to tell her, “Why yes, I would LOVE to.”

– Singing with Ivan, then him looking at me in all sincerity to say, “You should do a song with me on my CD.”

– Watching Ivan charm the socks off of Mrs. Laurie the day after she arrived here.  Over our usual Gnocchi with Gorgonzola, he told Laurie that he has never known anyone like me, that he never thought he would meet someone 20 years older that would be this much like him, and then playfully pondered the possibilities of moving in with us in Los Angeles.  By then, Laurie wanted to know how soon he could get there.

– Ivan telling me that even on his worst days, getting to see me somehow made all his troubles dissolve away, and how talking with me always made him feel that anything was possible.  I had no idea.

So many moments to savor with this exuberant young man in the short span of only two months. 

It was Sunday morning August 12th, just a couple of weeks ago,  when my phone started ringing.  I got out of bed to find three missed calls.  Upon returning these calls, I spoke with girlfriend Adrienn and Linda, a long time friend of Ivan’s family.  What they told me left me in a heap on the floor staring at the carpet.

Ivan was in a coma.  That Friday night, he and four friends were driving on the highway to the beautiful Lake Balaton.  He left his job and living arrangement at the hotel a couple of weeks before this, and told me that he had accomplished more with his song writing and vocal recording in those two weeks than he had in the entire last year that he has lived here.  But now without a day job, he wasn’t sure if he could afford to stay. Ivan had told Laurie and me how his time at the Lake inspired him and gave him hope to continue his dream of finishing this CD album of his.  So it was no surprise that he took his friends up on an offer to return to the lake for this weekend.  Little did any of them know what was about to happen.  While at top speed on the highway, and attempting to pass another vehicle, the car rolled, throwing Ivan from the back seat, and leaving him with many injuries to his head, neck, stomach, and one lung.  Enough so, that the prognosis after surgery was “Hopeless.”

Now it was almost two days after the accident, and Ivan’s friends and family found my number in his cell phone.  I was so humbled to hear friend Linda say that since the first day Ivan met me, every time they spoke, he would spend half the time talking about this Dougie guy.  She told me what a huge impact I had on Ivan, and said she simply had to contact me.  Again, how very humbling to hear.  I don’t think any of us will ever fully know what effect we leave on others.

All I could think to tell Linda was to please kiss Ivan on the forehead for me, whisper that Dougie loves him, and that God’s angels are all around.  Holding him.  Holding all of them.

By 10:30 that night, the call came telling me that Ivan had indeed passed away.

I was a mess.

How could a 28 year old with such promise, such energy, such passion for life, such passion for people … how could his young life be over?  So hard to wrap my head around.  At my age, having people in my life for 20, 30, 40 years, how did this boy make it so far into my heart in only 2 months.

Let me share one last snapshot with you.

One morning at around 3am, I was leaving the hotel for work as Ivan was heading back into the hotel after a party night off from work.  He figured out what day it was and excitedly said, “I don’t have to work tonight either … may I come to the set with you?!”  So, he got in the Mercedes with Driver Joey and me, and off we went.

Thus began a day that he referred to as a dream come true.  Not only had he finally gotten onto the set of a big Hollywood production, but he also got to witness the filming of that scene with Selma that he helped me rehearse, and sat in my make-up trailer watching the whole Abe getting ready process.  When our Hungarian assistant Nora stepped out for a cigarette, Ivan joined her, leaving me alone for a minute with my make up artists Thom Floutz and Simon Webber.  That’s when Thom said, “I can see why you two get along so well … he’s a younger Italian version of … well … YOU.”

Just then Ivan came bursting back into the trailer with a child-like excitement telling us we HAD to come outside to see this!!!  So, make-up half done and feet in slippers, I went outside with all of them to witness the most beautiful double rainbow.  By now it was around 6am, and the sun was just rising in the east with a gray cloud cover over us that created the most beautifully serene lighting over the sunflower fields that surround Korda Studios out in the country.  And that rainbow … like I’d never seen.  As I stood there taking it all in, Ivan came up behind me, put his arm around my shoulder, and spoke with all the Italian charm he had in him, “See what happens when you bring me to work with you.”

I did see.

To me, rainbows have always meant a sign of God’s promises.  And as I look at the attached picture taken that morning by make-up artist Simon, I feel joy in the midst of all the sorrow. 

All that hope that Ivan spoke of.  So happy that he got to record 5 songs before he left us, that producer Achilla will finish mixing and have available on MySpace soon.  So happy that I had the chance to know this remarkable young man, who was an angel to me.  So satisfied that even though he never got to show his own house deed to his parents, he did own so much real estate in people’s hearts like mine.  So happy that he got to see a double rainbow, marking God’s promises to him so close to his own going home to Heaven.

Please enjoy this beautiful photo with me.


And if you get the chance, you may click on this link to see Ivan in a music video he made on a shoestring budget here in Budapest about 2 years ago.  Goran MC … That’s him.

Click Here  —  http://youtube.com/watch?v=n15bE2ekNbA

Thank you for indulging me in this very long catharsis.  And I’ll check in again soon to continue more stories from “Hellboy 2”, I promise.

There’s Love!!!  — Dougie



1. Ruth - August 31, 2007

How wonderfully you write. I could see it all as if I were there. I think you have a second career in writing.
I think Blue has your personality, or is it vice versa?

2. Dan Guy - August 31, 2007

I’m so glad that you were allowed to meet Ivan and get to know him. I’m glad he was treasured. I’m sorry he’s gone.

3. Some random fan - August 31, 2007

I’m so sad for the loss of this astonishing person, and so glad that you had the pleasure of knowing him. And, of course, grateful that you shared this story with us.

Life really is short, isn’t it?

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” — Anais Nin

“So live, that when you die even the undertaker will be sorry.” –Mark Twain

4. Cookie - August 31, 2007

Oh dear…

I can’t say how much it touches me…

You got me in tears here…
I lost most of my family already (only have left a bro and a sis) and i can just say that i know firsthand how much loosing someone you hold to is painful…and that nothing anyone says can muzzle the pain…

All my thoughts are with you.

Best of courage and warm hugs…

5. Mattia - August 31, 2007

When I came to read about August 12th I shared a bit of your shock.
You managed to make your memories of Ivan a pleasant narration about a living person. The best possible epitaph I can imagine. Thanks for letting us know your friend.

A hug from Milano.

6. Riddick - August 31, 2007

Dear Doug,

I send you all the good energy from France, and please receive toutes mes condoléances.
It is sad to see someone young die.
I hope it will no affect you too much longer. You are in a strange situation in your job, sometimes there are hunderd of people around you and the other day your back at your hotel room alone…
A new friend like him must be precious.

On an other side, I am agree with the others, you have a true talent for writing, hope you will make something with this…

The style of your friend reminds me a french rap singer, Akhenathon (the white guy)..
You can see him here:http://www.dailymotion.com/IAM/video/x2pjmy_iam-offishall_music

Take Care

7. Katie - August 31, 2007

My deepest, most sincerest prayers go out to both you and Ivan’s family.

The loss of a good friend -no matter how long or short of a time we’ve known them- is always a heartwrenching and painful experience.

I wish there was more I could say, but…

I’m so sorry. =(

8. Vashti - August 31, 2007

This was an astonishingly beautiful eulogy, dear heart, and I thank you for sharing this extraordinary person with us. He will be missed by more people than he ever met.

9. Anne Kuschel - August 31, 2007

I think God put you both together to fulfill needs, your need for a friend, Ivan’s need for God. Amazing how we don’t have to do anything but God does it all for us. I pray for your grief and praise God for your love.

10. CosmicAvatar - August 31, 2007

Dude, I’m sorry. But if it helps, you made him come to life again for us with your evocative description. He sounds like a truly special guy.

11. Laura - August 31, 2007

It is a serious loss…but some people, despite the death, keep on living in the heart and they become eternal. God has made you meet an angel before call him in Heaven, and they are great gifts…
Condoglianze alla famiglia
Tivoli (Roma)

12. Courtney - September 2, 2007

Words can’t describe how much that story has touched me. So unfortunate that the good die young.
I think Ivan would be proud of what you have written here, that complete strangers from all over the world can read this and know what a great guy he was.

13. Camilla Todd - September 2, 2007

Oh sweetheart… you’ve written an absolutely wonderful tribute to Ivan. It sounds like you really were blessed to have shared those last two months with him – i’m so sad for you and his family, that it had to be the last two. What an amazing thing to have happened though, it almost sounds magical, his personality, what he inspired in you, the rainbows he brought.
Sweet sadness, i suppose.

14. Lindsay - September 2, 2007

I can’t tell you the smile that brought me when you were describing your time with Ivan, and how I teared up when it came to the end. I’m so sorry for the whole ordeal, but it’s no wonder at all to me that you meant so much to him. Seriously, what I wouldn’t give to be more like you.

15. Floriane - September 2, 2007

I don’t really know what I can say – I’m only 15 and I’ve never been confronted with death of close friends but I imagine how that can hurt. Sometimes, you meet someone who is SO like you that after only a few days, you have the impression to know him/her for years. That person becomes very precious to us… I’ve a friend like that and I know that the bound becomes quickly very deep. Ivan seemed to be a very particular person with talents and many qualities. It’s really sad that a life with such promises had to end that early. All the moments you shared will become more precious to you with the time and your friendship will always be like the rainbow which, on that particular day, illuminated the Hungarian sky: rare, beautiful, touching and unforgettable. People don’t really die until we’ve forgotten them, don’t they? And thanks to this article, Ivan won’t be forgotten. I’m sure he would be very proud of this article which is really written with the heart. ‘Sincères condoléances’ to you and the whole family.


16. Gary - September 3, 2007

Dougie….what a terrible loss..Ivan indeed sounded like an angel, and a very talented one at that..he will be missed by his friends and family.knowing you ,i’m sure that you made a very positive impression in his life.you have that affect on everyone whose life you touch.My prayers are with you and his family and friends.Stay strong and positive my friend…take care of yourself

17. coyote - September 6, 2007

Hi Doug!

I read your blog Lovely remembrance for Ivan. The actor’s work and life is very hard Last evenig I saw it. I’m the guy for the aeroplane.I and my colleauge thank’s for the last evening It’s very fantastic and intresting. good luck.

Balázs (Hungary)

18. David Beck - September 7, 2007

I’m so sorry for your loss… I nearly cried hearing about this tragedy. It’s such a wonderful thing that you were able to make such an impact on Ivan’s life and he on yours before he died… It’s things like this that make me remember that there is a higher power at work in the Universe.

19. Monica - September 10, 2007

I was so glad to see that you had written another entry, you always have something interesting to write. I’m really sorry that Ivan is dead, even though I never met him, it’s always sad to see young people with so much potential pass away. I feel for you!

A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.
Henrik Ibsen

Monica (Norway)

20. Adam Beck - September 10, 2007

I’m not sure what to say but I want you to know that I’ve read this blog. It reminds me that people are what really matter here on Earth. Praise God for sending you into Ivan’s life to tell him about Jesus before the Lord took him.

21. Maya - September 12, 2007

I am soo sorry to hear of the loss of such a wonderful young man like Ivan. It breaks my heart to see people so young pass away. I know how it feels to lose someone you’re close to and when they die so young and so suddenly, it’s a shock. Hugs and lots of them


22. Sybil - September 13, 2007

So sorry to hear of the death of your new friend Dougie. He sounded like such a great guy that came into your life at a stressful time. I cried for Ivan like I seldom do for someone i never met. Your words brought his personality alive for me and i thank you for that. Hope to meet you again in Minneapolis someday.

23. Chicca - September 14, 2007

Hi Doug.
Thank you for your remembering Ivan. I had a sort of relationship with him, 8 years ago. Then, in 2 months, it was all finished (my fault). I don’t know if he even rememberd me. I have known he has died only today, from a common friend. It was a harsh piece of news. I could never imagine thet I could cry, even 8 years later, even if I didn’t know him no more.
Thank you for your words. Now I know who he became. And he had became great.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

24. Emma H - September 17, 2007

Hello Mr.Jones

Sorry for your loss. I know what it’s like to lose a friend, someone who has touched the lives of many around them.
You were his angel and he was lucky to have known you and your lovely wife.
We’ll all remember Ivan the way you have.

E.H. (Canada Eh)

25. Chrissy - September 18, 2007

Oh, Dougie… My most sincere condolences for your loss. I know that when people are striving to work, whether it be in the movie industry, finishing their degrees, or even just trying to get through their day to day work and family issues, one person can make the difference between only existing and truly seeing the true beauty in the world. It seems Ivan was truly a blessing for those fortunate to be within his presence. Thank you for sharing the story of your friendship with us.

My thoughts go out to you and his loved ones.

26. Joseph - September 22, 2007

Oh, Doug.

Losing those who mean so much to us – especially when we’ve only gotten the chance to just begin knowing them in our lives – is almost too much to bear. You do his memory a great justice here.

Thank you. Not only for showing us a little piece of your life that might leave you very vulnerable, but for sharing your memories of Ivan. It is an important reminder that there are still such angels in the world, and I have no doubt that you made him just as happy as he made you.


27. Sylvia Untermann - September 25, 2007

Dear Doug,
the story about the 2 month friendship between you and Ivan is so beautiful and so sad.We have no answer,why this young and very talented guy has to go.Only God know it.Nobody is forgotten,who live in our hearts.I feel with you.Remember in love to this guy.I think,he had a place in your heart for the rest of your life.Take care for your life.
Love and greetings,Sylvie
Whishes to Ron!

28. Jared Cleary - September 29, 2007

Ouch… i never knew this man, but i can tell you now that i’m touched reading about him..

That was a beautifully written piece. may god be with you, Ivan’s family…

29. Ulrike - October 13, 2007

Oh dear, your story touched me. Im so sorry for you and Ivan.
I’ll hope your ok now. I saw him in the video, he was cute, someone I would liked to meet someday… well, it’s sad, why do so young lives have to end? I’m 22, that story of your’s, keeps me thinking about my own.

I love this story and keep the Ivan, you told about, in my mind.
Thank you Dougie *hug*


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