It was the first big project that I could really put on my resume as an actor, even if it's only a bit part. My 15th birthday was still a few months away, but after a few cattle call auditions and a bunch of meetings that didn't really go anywhere, I finally felt like I might actually have a shot at doing something that I love. Who knows, maybe I can be one of the boys you secretly sneak peeks at on the magazine covers at the grocery store. Evan Elliott...teen idol. Hehehe, well I can dream, can't I?
I was really excited about this gig, as 'The Walking Dead' was one of my all time favorite shows on television. I thought for sure that they were going to go with this other kid with this really light blond hair, lighter than mine anyway...but they actually chose me instead. Surprised the hell out of me. That lucky phone call from my agent will go down as one of the best I've ever had. I danced on the ceiling from the moment I hung up the phone until the first day I showed up on set to start filming a few weeks later.
I know it wasn't a BIG part or anything, but I was happy to both be an official 'working' teen actor and on the set of a show that I really really loved. However, I have to admit that my intense infatuation wasn't just for the show itself. There was another reason for my excitement levels to be shooting through the roof. Something that wouldn't let me sleep most nights while I waited for the cameras to roll.
You see, I've had this sugary sweet infatuation with this other teen actor, Chandler Riggs, since the show's first season. I have been soooo swept up, so uncontrollably GOOFY, for this boy...that it defies all reason. I don't know what it was that made me so crazy whenever he was on the screen, but I felt a tingly sensation rushing through me every time those diamond blue eyes came into view. I had it so bad that I would actually get short of breath during the episodes where he played a larger role. Something about him made me feel all funny inside. But I loved every second of it. That boy...he does weird things to me.
You really can't imagine what it was like for me to see him in person for the first time! I mean...he was RIGHT there! In the flesh! Close enough for me to reach out and actually touch him. I melted instantly when he shook my hand. He smiled at me! SMILED! Oh God, I nearly creamed myself right then and there. Seeing those blue eyes in person...it was MORE than a dream come true.
Before I even went to the first audition, my mind had created a variety of detailed fantasies where I walked on that set and Chandler fell madly in love with me at first sight. Fantasies where we became secret boyfriends and got together to snuggle up as often as we possibly could. I often dreamed of what it would be like to kiss and gently suck on those sweet lips for just a few minutes of bliss. Actually, I just want to rub noses with him in the cutest way. Just thinking of that and having him smile from the contact is enough to arouse me to the point of getting dizzy. And the thing is, he's SO sweet and personable in real life. He plays such a stoic and hard-hearted character on the show these days, but the second the cameras stop rolling, he goes right back to smiling and being one of the cutest, coolest, boys EVER! The first two weeks that I was there, I was certain that I had fallen hopelessly in love with him. I mean, I didn't want to seem creepy or pushy or anything...but I never took my eyes off of him for longer than a few seconds a day. I couldn't help myself.
I know that he was working. We both were. The director had to spend much more time with him, obviously. He was a main character on the show, while me and the other teens they hired for the next string of episodes were hired to play a bunch of kids who survived the zombie apocalypse by hiding out in our high school and surviving off of cafeteria food. Heh...I can't imagine doing that in real life. I'd rather be devoured by the living dead than have to live off of school lunches for the next year or two. Anyway, my group gets to meet up with Chandler and his adult companions here in the forest, where we try to survive and take care of one another. I don't know if the writers are going to keep us on for more than a few episodes, but that works for me. If it means that I get to be close to my sweetheart for a few months during the Summer, then I'll take it.
I have been working on getting closer and closer to him since filming began in this giant clearing next to a heavily wooded area about an hour drive from my house. I tried to make eye contact when I could. I was nervous, but I just wanted to get his attention and maybe smile or something to show him that I was...I don't know...'interested', I guess. I tried eating lunch with him a few times by sitting at the same table as him, but I was always to nervous to do more then mumble 'hello'. Leaving me to gobble down my food from the catering truck while trying not to shake myself to pieces from the fear of being close enough to Chandler to hear him eating his potato chips. He makes the cutest little crunch when he eats potato chips. After a week, I tried a little bit harder to know him. I talked to him when I could get near him, and he was always polite. Always gave me a smile. But it wasn't really...umm...arghh! I was soooo eager to see if maybe I could get him somewhere alone. Just for a little while. I wanted nothing more than to talk to him, one on one. An actual conversation. Witty banter and giggles and a few tender moments we can truly grow on one another. And if I was lucky...a kiss that was sure to knock me flat in the first three seconds. I was making it my mission to make that happen, and he seemed to start warming up to me in the second week of shooting. He even remembered my name, giving me an occasional, "Hi, Evan." whenever he came out of the hair and makeup trailer. It felt like I was actually making some progress here.
Asa showed up.
And everything changed.
Asa Butterfield. A more 'experienced' actor, I guess. Certainly more experienced than I was. The producers went with someone more recognizable for the role of one of the main boys in our refugee camp. He just showed up on set one day with his pretty face and his pretty eyes and his pretty accent...it just wasn't fair. And he can turn the accent on and off too. He sounds cute either way. How does he do that? Then he's got these big glasses that he wears when he's not filming...but he's still cute. Then he puts contacts on for the show...and he's even hotter than he was before. Once he came to work on the show, everything concerning my Chandler fantasy kind of fell apart.
I couldn't tell if they had ever met before, but they seemed to 'buddy up' almost instantly. Every word that came out of Asa's mouth seemed to either fascinate Chandler or make him laugh. For that whole third week, I watched them bond in a way that made me feel like a total outsider. It was like a 'locked' game of tag on a grade school playground. Chandler didn't even acknowledge my existence anymore. Whenever he showed up for the day, the firs thing he did was look for Asa. Whenever Asa showed up, the first thing he did was look for Chandler. The two of them were inseparable during every break and lunch. And they had a lot of scenes together, so the rest of the boys, me included, were kind of pushed into the background while the two of them got to play off of one another. I couldn't believe it. Asa was stealing all the attention from the boy of my dreams. How is it that he can just walk in here and steal my witty banter and giggles and tender moments? That's not SO not fair.
I kept trying to say hello to Chandler, but all I got was the same polite and professional, "Hey, Evan." I mean, I could have chased him around and tried to force myself on him, but that would have just made me look creepy. Or even worse, like some kind of actor leech who's looking to increase my popularity by trying to muscle in on another actor's spotlight. I hear that happens a lot. They call it 'networking', but it's really just a narcissist's way of avoiding the term 'gaining fame by association'. I don't want to be that guy. I just didn't know how else to approach him. And before I could figure out some casual way to maybe strike up a deeper connection that would get Chandler to notice me again...there was Asa! Brightening Chandler's whole day with his smile, and causing my chest to almost cave in from the misery as a result. I'll never get close to him now.
It was a few days later when I started noticing Chandler's absence from the set. Another day or two was when I noticed that Asa's little disappearing acts seemed to be in sync with Chandler's. As I started to pay more attention, I saw what was going on. It was almost like there was this hidden signal that was transmitted between them. Something that nobody would notice unless they were actually looking for it like I was. It was a wink, a nod, a slightly unnatural smile. Then one of the boys would sort of blend into the background of extras and set technicians. The other boy would wait a minute or two....and then he'd do the same. Sometimes Chandler would go first. Sometimes Asa would take the first walk. But it happened at least twice a day. And they always came back together. Walking shoulder to shoulder. Practically holding hands.
I couldn't really describe what I was feeling inside. It was this weird emotional cocktail of anger, pain, and envy...served raw with no chaser to dull the sting. Every time they went sneaking off the set together, my mind went wild with self induced images of something truly naughty going on. Which was both agonizing and arousing at the same time. Where were they going? What were they doing? I plagued me so much over the next week of filming that I was beginning to forget the few lines of dialogue that I had on this show. I was trying to forget the whole thing, but my heart hurt every second that they were away. And when they came back to set, sharing their sexy little secrets and smiles....it hurt even more. It's extremely hard to hide that on camera and stay in character. I can't screw this up. My agent busted her ass to get me this part. I need to make it worth her time.
I just need to focus. That's all. Just focus.
A few more days of filming pass. I begin to notice that Chandler and Asa sit closer to one another when they eat lunch together now. They stare into each other's eyes for just a second or two longer than normal. Their playful grins have become more subtle, more flirtatious. I've seen Chandler blush a few times in Asa's presence. I don't think they're just buddies. In fact, I'm pretty sure that something funny is going on between those two. And that truly crushed me inside. Chandler was supposed to be mine. I came all the way out here, this was my big chance...and I lost him to someone else because I was too chicken to make my move before Asa got here and made it for me.