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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1. Meet

 

“Rule 12: talk when talked to, not at all otherwise. You’re here to provide the script, not to chat up the actors.” I winced at his patronising tone, but he was right. Apparently I wasn’t so subtle at checking out one of the stunt men when I arrived.

“Rule 13: do what the actors say. We’re paying a bomb to have them here, so if they ask you for so much as a glass of water you get it for them. Dammit, you run and get it for them.”

“Erm, okay,” I said.

He rambled on a bit more about the actor’s rights and I was given the impression that even eye contact with one of these stars was forbidden. I glued my gaze to the floor and nodded vaguely.

“Any questions, don’t come and whine at me – find one of the others, Lee perhaps.” He gestured to a stocky middle-aged guy who waved and winked at me. I looked away quickly.

“Playtime’s over. Feel free to stick around.” Herb headed off in the other direction. I was glad to see the back of him – his thick American accent was grating, plus I find it hard to pay respect to my superiors when a) they don’t show even a smidgen of respect to me, and b) when they have ridiculous names. He’s a person, not a seasoning.

I sat at the back of the studio, watching the female lead have her make-up adjusted. She was called Mariella and she was gorgeous. I was involved in some of the casting because I wanted a specific look for the leading lady. I wasn’t so fussed about the lead guy – I had left his description pretty open with ‘dark hair and eyes with a great smile’. I was curious to see who they had chosen.

“Ben, we’re ready for you.” I only saw the back of him as he walked towards Mariella and encased her in a hug. She was smiling widely, showing off an array of pearly teeth.

“Give us a twirl, Mariella.” She did so, her pale pink dress billowing out around her perfectly shaped legs. Give us a twirl too, Ben, I thought, craning my neck to try and see his face. He turned to look at the camera.

“Action!” the director shouted.

I was glad we were now confined to silence for several scenes, because otherwise I would probably have screamed a little. Ben Barnes, the leading man, was my favourite actor, and favourite celebrity personality. He was witty and endearing, with great fashion sense and a beautiful British accent. I had long dreamt of writing a script for him, and now it was happening.

“What do you mean you don’t love me?” He had delivered the line exactly the way I had intended whilst writing it; confident, accusative, but still with the naivety that Sophia did still feel for him.

I’d thought up the idea a while ago now. Gorgeous guy (Jack) meets gorgeous girl (Sophia) in a coffee shop on a rainy day – typical start. Girl leads guy on – typical dilemma in the middle. Guy goes to win back girl – but half of the stuff they did, said, felt, didn’t actually happen. The guy met the girl, they met a few more times, but they were practically strangers. Guy embellished a life with her and got lost in the middle, down to some deep-rooted psychological trauma which he cracks in the end and lives sort-of happily ever after. I didn’t want to kill him off – too predictable. I thought it’d be nice in a way to have a story where the lead overcomes a problem and doesn’t ruin themselves through drugs, alcohol or harm to themselves.

“We’ve only just met!” Mariella’s crystal voice snapped me back to attention. She had misinterpreted this line, I felt; it was too sympathetic and understanding. She was supposed to be alarmed and repelled by this desperate guy who had invented himself into a relationship with her.

“You know that’s not true.” He reached for her hands, but Mariella jerked away. I wanted to shout cut; she was getting it wrong. I would love to be able to go and talk to her about what I had intended the scene to look like, but of course, a lowly writer like myself mustn’t mingle with the celebs.

Ben and Mariella went through a few more scenes, including a kiss, which looked beautiful. I noticed Mariella running her hands through Ben’s hair, and I couldn’t help but feel envious.

“That’s a wrap, good job everyone.” The greasy director (John something) leapt up from his seat and out of the door, heading for the pub where he drank until closing time.

Herb was chatting to a sound guy. I wasn’t being watched.

It was time to bend the rules.

I approached the water cooler near to where Ben was standing and prayed he’d make conversation. I chanced a glance in his direction, and he smiled. I felt a small grin on my own face, but then a sharp tap on the shoulder brought me crashing back down.

“You should use the water cooler in the standard lounge.” Herb crossed him arms. I looked dumbly into the plastic cup I had already filled.

“I will, next time.” I tried to imitate Ben’s mega-watt smile and took a sip. Herb was not impressed, but there was little he could do now. He stomped away, almost tripping on a cable. I looked to Ben – he was still smiling.

“Ben, we need you in wardrobe,” a female voice cooed. And he was gone. I finished the water, clenching the plastic up in my fist and tossing the cup into a bin.

“See you tomorrow,” Mariella called to a make-up lady, turning to walk towards me. Surely there was no harm in paying her a compliment.

“Great kiss at the end,” I said with a smile.

“Do I know you?” she asked, irritably.

“I’m Lissa Stewart, the writer,” I said, holding my hand out for a shake.

“So why are you talking to me?” she said, completely ignoring my attempt at a polite handshake.

“I... wanted to compliment you on the scene. If you have a second, I’d love to discuss a part of it.”

“Sorry, honey, I don’t have time for this,” she said in a tone far from apologetic. She looked me up and down and smirked a little. “Lemme give you some advice - don’t step out of your place, sweetie.” Her heels clacked away from me.

What a bitch.

I’d have the last laugh though. I was writing another scene tonight, and I’d show her up spectacularly.

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