A CHILDHOOD ESSAY

A Chance Encounter with an Actor Brought Me and My Grandma Closer Two Years Before Her Death

While watching The Green Mile in the theaters, we saw actor Graham Greene…who was in The Green Mile

Samuel Dunsiger
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readMar 26, 2024

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Credit: Moviestore Collection Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

When I was 12 years old, my grandmother took me to see the film The Green Mile in theaters. In hindsight, watching a film that categorically spotlights life for inmates on death row may not have been the best choice for a Grade 6 kid to see. But, my grandma — affectionately designated as Nanny — and I were exceptionally close and one of the many things we bonded over was film. At the time that we saw The Green Mile, Nanny and I were already as thick as thieves, but a chance encounter that day brought us even closer together. What made it even more surreal, little did we know, was that Nanny would succumb to cancer nearly two years later to the day.

Shortly before the winter break, Nanny came to visit, so we went to see The Green Mile at the small-ish theater in our local shopping mall, which could seat no more than 40 people. As soon as we walked in, we took notice of how quiet it was for a Saturday, with merely ten people or so in the audience. How bland, I thought, considering the film had just been released.

However, midway through the film, Nanny was suddenly overwhelmed with excitement. Her exhilaration didn’t really match the movie’s grim subject matter. In my confusion, I whispered to her, asking for an explanation. Nanny whispered back, telling me to look behind us. I turned my head and sitting several rows behind us was none other than Graham Greene, a legendary character actor known for a variety of roles, including — believe it or not — The Green Mile. That’s right, my grandmother and I were watching a film alongside one of the actors in said film.

At the time though, I didn’t know who Greene was and so, I couldn’t fully process the surrealness of the situation or why my grandma was so excited. Over time though, and upon thinking about it more, the whole thing — watching a character on screen in the same room as the actor who portrays them — really did feel extremely bizarre, almost dream-like.

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Samuel Dunsiger
Human Parts

Freelance writer, storyteller and educator. Disability and accessibility advocate. Amateur teller of jokes and comedy writer. Strongly dislikes produce bags.