Producer Cassian Elwes Drew on Agenting Skills to Subdue Unstable Airline Passenger

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“It was like talking to a crazy actor who wants to walk off a movie set,” says the former William Morris employee of the Aug. 19 incident on a cross-country JetBlue flight.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Rambling Reporter column of the Aug. 23-Sept. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

Film producer Cassian Elwes has been the toast of the Twitterverse since he tweeted the harrowing tale of talking down a highly unstable fellow passenger on an Aug. 19 JetBlue flight from New York to Los Angeles. The plane was diverted to Denver so the man, who identified himself as a Marine and former heroin addict named Marco, could be arrested for assault.

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As Elwes tells it, after Marco had groped a pregnant woman and growled at other passengers, Elwes volunteered to sit next to him, hoping to calm him until police could intervene on the ground. “I went into my agent mode,” says the former William Morris employee, who was returning from a weekend trip back east to help his daughter move into her first apartment. “It was like talking to a crazy actor who wants to walk off a movie set, someone who isn’t listening to logic. It’s about playing into their ego and anger.”

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It worked — in due time. Elwes, now at work on Lee DanielsThe Butler, soon had Marco telling him about his recent short-story writing effort (the protagonist was, gulp, a kamikaze pilot): “It was fine. I’ve dealt with nuttier personalities in Hollywood.”

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