I'm in Hollywood - Chapter 65

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 10:13:39]
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On January 7th, in a villa in Beverly Hills, the shooting of Pretty Woman officially started.

Like they said it so well in the east, don\'t let one\'s own fertile water flow into others\' field (féi shuǐ bù liú wài rén tián). Many of the supporting roles were given to UTA\'s signed actors since, as Kapoor had pointed it, these people were talented, all they lacked was an opportunity.

Even if all they got was a few lines in the Home Alone\'s director new movie, these young artists were amply satisfied.

Eric hadn\'t bother rectifying their views, once Pretty Woman was released, those actors and actresses would find out exactly how lucky they were. In his past, the movie had been so popular that even the small roles had received some kind of recognition.

Since no one in UTA could come close to Edward\'s lawyer (Philip Stuckey) image, Eric decided to contact the original actor, Jason Alexander.

At this moment in time, Jason Alexander was an ordinary Broadway comedian. Although his acting was excellent, his external appearance didn\'t play in his favor, and so far, he had only played minor roles in movies and TV shows. Hearing he could get a supporting role in Eric\'s new movie, the actor didn\'t hesitate to jump ship, dropping his now former agency to join UTA.

As long as Jason Alexander was successful in the future, no one would berate him for \'betraying\' his agency. Rather, they would more likely envy his good fortune.

At the villa, all the actors were in place. Eric sat behind the monitor and made an OK sign at the 2nd assistant camera [1] to signal the start of the shooting.

"Pretty Woman, scene one, take one. Action !"

After the clap of the slate[2], those in front of the camera began moving.

The camera focuses on a magician saying his lines while skillfully handling a coin.

"No matter what they say, it\'s all about money…."

The magician pulls out a coin from Edward\'s former girlfriend\'s ear as Philip Stuckey appears in the frame, smiling. He inquires about Edward\'s whereabouts while he watches the magician perform.

This was a nearly one minute long take which required more concentration and therefore put an actor\'s ability to play to the test. It had been rehearsed a lot though.

Jason Alexander didn\'t let Eric down, in front of the camera, the man was leisurely smiling, each of his lines were freely flowing out, and his body language fitted his character to a tee as he mingled amongst his guests.

Jason kissed the cheek of a female guest, and Eric shouted with satisfaction: "Cut !"

Jason Alexander put down the glass of champagne in his hands and smiled to Eric: "Director Williams, how was it ? Do you need me to do it again ?"

Eric gave him a thumbs up, and praise: "No need, that was perfect. We\'re getting off on the right foot."

Several members of the crew couldn\'t help but gather behind the monitor as Eric replayed the scene. It was obvious for all who saw, that Jason Alexander\'s performance was indeed flawless.

Once the replay was over, Eric confirmed that there was no need to re-shoot anything. He clapped his hands and said: "Alright everybody, prepare for the second take."

Everyone dispersed, including Jason Alexander who went to find Al Pacino to prepare for the next take.

On the villa\'s second floor, in a room that was converted into a meeting place, Al Pacino had been going through pages of documents. He couldn\'t remember how many times he had read the data.

In order to help Al immerse himself completely into his role, Eric had specially asked some people to prepare dozens of informative pages on both Edward Lewis Industries and Morse Industries. Although the two companies were fictional, the content of those pages were written by professionals to make it as realistic as could be.

The second take was a meeting to discuss the acquisition of Morse Industries. Although the room had been modified already, it still took half an hour to arrange the seating.

After the shooting began, most of Eric\'s attention was directed towards Al Pacino. He didn\'t have a lot of lines, but all needed to be accompanied by accurate facial expressions and body language, which was actually something that Al excelled in.

Al\'s version of Edward was different than Gere\'s. Of course, he was still handsome, but his gentle and easy-going temperament had been stripped away. He appeared wiser and indifferent, which was in fact, more in line with the script, as Edward was supposed to be a profit-seeking businessman, so Eric quickly got used his version.

After a few shots, Eric suddenly frowned and stood up. He shouted: "Cut !"

"Eric, is there a problem ?" Al Pacino asked, puzzled. The first few takes had went well, he didn\'t understand what he had done wrong.

Eric shook his head: "It\'s not you, Al." With that, he walked towards a blonde sitting at the conference table. The girl, whose name was Dolly, hastily stood up.

Eric blankly picked up the notepad the woman had been scribbling on, and said: "Dolly, do you realize, that because of your sloppiness, we need to re-shoot those takes again ?!"

Dolly anxiously apologized: "I\'m sorry, director I…. I don\'t understand where the problem is…."

"You\'re supposed to be the minute taker[3], but you\'ve been zoning out for a while now. If this was a real meeting, you would have been fired. And look at what you\'ve written here; \'Shall I compare thee to a summer day ? Thou art more lovely and more temperate.\', a poem, really ?"

The girl\'s face reddened slightly, she softly explained: "It\'s…. it\'s from one of Shakespeare\'s sonnets."

"Alright, sit down." Eric personally corrected Dolly\'s sitting posture, and slid the notepad squarely in front of her before saying: "No more poetry, you need to write down Al\'s lines, got it ?"

Dolly nodded: "I understand director Williams."

Eric returned to his seat and directed the re-shooting. The reason why he had let the girl off so easily was because he was partially to blame in this matter.

He had been so focused on Al\'s performance that he had neglected Dolly\'s mistakes. It wasn\'t until she appeared in the monitor\'s frame that he had reacted. Had he corrected her right away, all those takes wouldn\'t have been wasted.

He, however, needed to maintain his prestige as a director in front of the crew, and could definitely not admit to his mistake on such a trivial matter.

Although the party\'s scene only amounted to a few minutes in the movie, it still took a good half day to shoot. It wasn\'t until four in the afternoon that they finally wrapped the last take; the one in which Edward has a conversation with his former girlfriend.

After abruptly breaking up over the phone with his girlfriend Jessica, Edward made his way down the stairs, intent on leaving the party, when he ran into his ex-girlfriend, and briefly struck up a conversation:

Edward stares at the woman, and says: "Mmm. Susan, tell me something."

"What ?"

Edward considers for a moment, before saying: "When you and I were dating, did you speak to my secretary more than you spoke to me ?"

Susan smiles and says: "She was one of my bridesmaids."

Edward freezes, he smiles to Susan in embarrassment, says goodbye and leaves.

This seemingly ordinary conversation was, in fact, a turning point in Edward\'s life.

Pretty Woman being able to achieve a successful box office and joining the ranks of the best romantic comedies of all time, was not without reason. Many people would just jump to \'well here\'s another Cinderella fairy tale that will never happen in real life\', and although that was not completely wrong, the plot had at least the merit of having been written without plot holes.

If you said that there was no logic in it, then Notting Hill would probably be the most brainless movie of its genre; the man and the woman had barely met that they were already kissing in the former\'s apartment.

In Pretty Woman, however, the two protagonists come together at the end quite logically, after Vivian and Edward\'s characters each went through three different turning points.

Vivian\'s first one was near the beginning of the movie, when she was confronted with the violent vision of a dead prostitute thrown in a dumpster. The camera had done a close-up on the look of terror that had transpired on her face at that moment. When she had met up with her friend, Kit De Luca a bit later, she had asked her: "Don\'t you want to get out of here ?"

Her second one, was when she, who was supposed to accompany Edward to dinner, went to buy clothes, but was driven out of the store thanks to her attire. As she walked down the street wrapped in her coat, Vivian bore the brunt of the humiliation, adamant to escape from her current circumstances.

Her third and last one, was when Edward gave up on the acquisition of Morse Industries, which caused Philip Stuckey to fly into a rage, and blame Vivian for it. Back in the hotel room, when she tells him that Edward will be \'home\' soon, Stuckey confronted her about it: "Home ? This is not \'home\', this a hotel room, and you\'re a hooker, not his little wife."

This sentence was something that had stayed etched in Vivian\'s consciousness, as she remembered her childhood fantasies. When Edward saw her all packed up and ready to leave, he had asked her to stay. She confided in him about her dreams, and told him to either give her a shot at a fairy tale, or to let her go.

She eventually chooses to leave, although the story doesn\'t end here.

Edward\'s first turning point was back at Philip\'s party, when he ran into his ex-girlfriend Susan who told him that his secretary had been one of her bridesmaids. One can only imagine, how withdrawn he had to have been for his own secretary to be closer to the woman he dated than he himself. Although this detail didn\'t cause major changes in Edward\'s, it was enough to let him reflect on his past behavior.

The second one was when Edward had lunch with Morse. He went back to the hotel and sat alone on the balcony, overlooking Los Angeles\' night. The conversation he had had at lunch had reminded him of the passing of his father; he had studied and worked hard in order to retaliate against the man who had abandoned his mother, and finally set up a company of his own. The first thing he did then, was to acquire his father\'s company.

However, once his father died, his fourteen years of rivalry and resentment vanished, and fatigue washed over him. He was a tired man, and his willpower was at its weakest, in this kind of circumstance, a woman suddenly appeared in front of him. She enlightened him, comforted him, and unknowingly broke the last barrier protecting his heart.

His final turning point was on the evening of their opera outing. They had just gotten home and were playing chess, when Edward, hand supporting his chin, had said: "Why don\'t we finish this tomorrow ? It\'s really late, and I have to work."

Vivian had said: "Why do you not go to work tomorrow ? Take the day off."

Edward had asked back: "Me, not work ?"

Vivian: "Yeah."

Edward, who seemed to come to a realization: "I do own the company."

So Edward went on a date with her, they ate a hot dog, laid on the grass, read, chatted, did things people did on a date…. That\'s when he realized, that he couldn\'t let her go.

On a sad rainy day, with "It Must Have Been Love" playing in the background, Edward finally made up his mind to grant Vivian her fairy tale. He transformed into a knight, holding a sword (umbrella) in his right hand, and flowers in his left, he climbed to the castle\'s window (using the hanging ladder), and got his princess back.

_ _ _ _

[1] Formerly known as clapper loader, more about it here.

[2] Also known as clapperboard.

[3] Someone who takes down minutes.