Chameleon

I write the script - it's my only purpose in this. But I want to see what happens to the characters I write and the actors who play them; and for this, I need to talk to leading actor Ben Barnes...

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"So that'll be the end of Scene 33..." Herb pushed aside some papers and took a sip of water. There were about twenty of us around the circular table, directors, actors, sound guys. Ben ran a hand through his hair tiredly. This one o'clock meeting was obviously taking its toll.

"So," Herb sighed, "we need to decide what should happen towards the end. Ideas, Mel?"

I took a deep breath. "I think we should kill off Sophia."

Ben's head shot up. A director was shaking her head. Herb didn't seem so tired as he said a little condescendingly, "And why exactly would we do that?"

I shrugged, attempting to appear nonchalant. "I think the character deserves it. And plus, it'll give Jack something else to overcome."

Herb seemed to consider my idea for a second.

"We'll discuss it again in the morning." He rose, tucking papers into his briefcase and striding off.

Ben approached me. "I'm a few streets away, do you want to share a cab?"

"Sure," I smiled. But he just paced away, buttoning up his coat. It seemed Ben has lost his mega-watt smile. I followed him outside.

The air was brisker now, chilling, so I was relieved for the warm, albeit a little smoky, cab atmosphere. But the atmosphere between Ben and I seemed strained - his suddenly stoic nature had confused me.

"Are you okay?"

He turned to face me. "Why do you want rid of Mariella?"

"I want rid of her character, Sophia," I said coolly.

"Do you know what I think?"

"What?"

"I think you made that decision based on your opinion of Mariella rather than the best option for the character." 

His words stung. But he had a point.

"Thousands of people would kill for the job she had, and she's a downright bitch." I regretted that instantly. Talk like that could get me into trouble.

Ben didn't try to put me in my place, instead staring out of the window. He spoke again after a while.

"You really shouldn't do this. You know it's not right for the story."

"It could work." I tried to defend myself, but stopped when I glanced over at him. His shoes were scuffed, hair disheveled by the rain whilst waiting for the cab. His face was free of the stage make-up. Even his eyes held such a weariness.

It was surreal to see the two sides of an actor:

The flawless look, the smile, the cameras.

The exhausted, fed up man fighting for a script he believed in.

I swallowed a lump in my throat, ready to make things better between us, but the cab swerved into my street.

"See you tomorrow," he said plainly. I nodded.

 

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