Navigate to News section

I Dreamed I Quoted St. Augustine

An old Jewish story about Jon Voight

Marc Tracy
October 25, 2011
Voight in Runaway Train.(IMDB)
Voight in Runaway Train.(IMDB)

The best part about writing things is having readers respond—positively, that is! And the subset of positive responses that are even better are those in which you learn something new.

After publishing an article on the actor Jon Voight, a vocal right-wing supporter of Israel, I received a lovely email from one Elaine Shapiro about her late husband, Aaron, who for a time was Voight’s business manager and accountant.

“Jon’s agent at around that time had been trying to convince him to take a role in a new film and Jon remained very indecisive,” Shapiro told me.

The agent called Aaron to try to convince Jon to do this film. The deadline for this decision was a Monday. Aaron left messages for him all weekend, to no avail. Finally, Jon returned his call and Aaron said to him, “Jon, I am going to quote St. Augustine and then hang up. St. Augustine said, ‘Lord, Make me pure—but not yet!’ ”

The following morning, the agent called Aaron to tell him that Jon would be doing the film, which turned out to be [1985’s] Runaway Train and for which he received an Oscar nomination. Subsequently, an interviewer asked Jon what made him decide to take the role, and he answered, “When my Jewish accountant quoted St. Augustine, I knew that I had to do it!”

Related: Cowboy [Tablet Magazine]

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.