Among the tall Gothic buildings of downtown Pittsburgh, during a cold autumn day, I rushed to the William Penn Hotel to my favorite manicure shop. My hands were chapped and my fingers numb. My favorite manicurist pulled me aside and spoke about the hottest gossip.
“Do you know who is staying at the hotel?”
Of course, I had no clue.
As she massaged my hand with cream, she looked around the room making sure no one was eavesdropping and whispered something about Sienna Miller. She was staying in the hotel and had ordered a masseuse to come into her room.
“I’ve seen her out and she has a great sense of style.”
It so happened to be that Sienna Miller was staying in town to film a movie based on a novel by Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, about a young college grad named Art Bechstein whose father happens to be a mob boss. In the novel, Art meets a young gay man named Arthur Lecomte and his rogue biker friend Cleveland Arnig. Bechstein is in a frail relationship with Phlox Lombardi, an insecure young woman. Eventually, Art’s attraction grows towards Arthur while Cleveland digs deeper into the city’s organized crime families drawing Art closer to the mob.
“Who is she playing?”
“Jane,” said my manicurist as I offered her a tip.
But there was no Jane as a protagonist in the book. The on-again-off-again-girlfriend of Jude Law was playing a minor character upheld to main role status in the film. She was living the great life at a majestic hotel and next thing you find out—Sienna Miller puts down Pittsburghers. “Can you believe this is my life? Will you pity me when you’re back in your funky New York apartment and I’m still in Pittsburgh? I need to get more glamorous films and stop with my indie year,” she said in a Rolling Stone article.
That cold autumn night all of Pittsburgh was outraged. Pittsburgh’s mayor, Bob O’Connor, had recently died when the Mysteries of Pittsburgh was being filmed, and the new mayor, Luke Ravenstahl (26 at the time) was not going to agree with that statement.
“I think if she would have interacted with regular Pittsburghers, she would have found differently. She needs to get out with us regular folks,” said Mayor Ravenstahl to the Pittsburgh Gazette.
Sienna Miller apologized a nd Mayor Luke Ravenstahl made her keep that promise. It was understood by all including my manicurist that Sienna Miller had spent too much time locked up in her hotel room not seeing much of the city. Filming for the Mysteries of Pittsburgh was done mostly at night.
The first stop was a Southside local bar, Folino’s Young Tavern, and Sienna Miller fashionably dressed entered with her family. Mr. Kovacs, the bouncer, who adheres to strict PA law asked her to produce her identification. She sat down anyway with her family and ordered alcohol. He asked her again and one of her parent’s produced not the identification, but a copy of the morning newspaper. On it, Sienna Miller appeared next to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
‘Don’t you know who this is?” Ms. Miller’s mother asked.
“Yeah, It’s the mayor,” said the bouncer.
And so, Sienna Miller returned to the majestic hotel with a very different impression of Pittsburgh. The movie ended filming and the reviews were mixed when it was showed in 2009. And I continued getting my nails done by the same manicurist who knew the very mystery of Pittsburgh–
“Never leave your license in your hotel room,” she said.