"WHEN I first started coming to L.A.," says Aussie actor David Wenham, "it was a bit frightening, an overwhelming place. But I've been here 30 times in the last handful of years, and now I feel at home as soon as I step off the plane. I have great memories here."
Like last weekend's, when his film "300" opened and promptly hit No. 1 at the box office. Wenham, in town to promote the sword-and-sandal spectacle, seems primed to make even newer memories.
Start with a beer
By the time Friday rolls around, I'm probably rather thirsty, especially if it's been hot, so I'd want a refreshing Japanese beer at Matsuhisa and then some sushi. I'd just ask what the chef would recommend. I always like a surprise. Or I could go to Ago and maybe start with a martini before I tuck into one of their delicious dishes. Then I'd be in the mood for my favorite dessert, creme brulee. I had it in Paris many years ago, and the taste of it stays with me to this day, so I'm constantly in search of the perfect creme brulee. After that, you don't have to twist my arm to check out L.A.'s flavor-of-the-month club scene, but I'd start at the Chateau Marmont.
A trail to coffee
On Saturday, I'd love to say that I wake up and go for a hike in Runyon Canyon along with everyone else in L.A., but I don't. With the streets empty because everyone's at Runyon, I'd head to Urth Caffe, because I love their coffee and they're open early. If I'm feeling healthy, I'll order a fruit cup and yogurt; if not, I'll have a chocolate croissant.
After that, I might stop by Gold's Gym, which is always a great character study if nothing else. I'll pretend to lift weights as I research projects that may or may not come up in the future. After that, I'd check out the local galleries and look for up-and-coming artists. Then I might go to MOCA or the L.A. County Museum of Art, where I always love wandering around. They're such peaceful places.
In the evening, I'll hook up with friends and, since L.A. is the center of the universe for movies, we'd catch a film. I might do something I've never done, which is to see one of my movies at an Imax theater. For dinner, I'd go to Dan Tana's, which is such an institution. There's nothing quite like it in Australia. After dinner we'd hang out and enjoy a few beverages.
On Sunday, I was going to say that I might hire a bike and ride along the bike path in Santa Monica, but I'd be spinning another yarn. Well, there's Urth Caffe; it's tried and tested. After that, I like Hennessey + Ingalls architectural bookshop on the Third Street Promenade. And Abbot Kinney has lots of good places to eat and art galleries to check out. But what I might do is grab a sandwich and juice at Venice Beach and just people-watch. I'd be quite content to sit there for hours and just watch the world go by. Later, I'd close out the weekend with dinner at a little shack that's been there forever, Chez Jay. Maybe a beer and some red meat. Like Dan Tana's, it's a total institution.
-- Mark Sachs