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The Greatest Showman – Chapter 68

Chapter 68 – Proud and Arrogant.

As they were talking, the subway arrived at the station.

Renly and Andy walked out of the subway station together. This time, Andy didn’t continue to follow Renly but stopped by the roadside.

Renly took two more steps forward before realizing that Andy had fallen behind. He turned around, and Andy’s friendly smile came into view. “So, how do you feel about letting me plan your future in your movie journey?” After the long discussion they had just had and their two encounters, Andy clearly and accurately expressed his intentions for the first time. “I am a top-tier agent. I have access to resources that ordinary people can’t touch. I possess professional knowledge and blueprint planning. Give me three years, and I guarantee that you can become a true top-level star. Do you know what I mean by ‘star’?”

Confident and composed, even with a touch of wit and humor, Andy displayed all the charm that an agent needs to possess.

At this moment, several people passed by them. They were probably on their way to work. Seeing Renly and Andy standing face to face at the exit of the subway station, one in a sharp suit and the other in a street attire, one looking like a Wall Street elite and the other like a hip-hop enthusiast passionate about graffiti art, they seemed like a mismatched pair of a lawyer and a delinquent teenager frequently entering and leaving a juvenile detention center. This normal yet abnormal pairing naturally attracted everyone’s attention.

Especially Andy’s commanding demeanor drew even more gazes, as if they were looking at a lunatic.

Renly couldn’t help but laugh lightly. “Can you believe this? They must be looking for the cameras around here.” In New York, street filming was a common occurrence.

Andy spread his hands with an untroubled expression on his face, not distracted by Renly’s joke, waiting earnestly for Renly’s answer.

Renly recognized that Andy’s words were very persuasive. They not only demonstrated Andy’s business capabilities, negotiation skills, and language organization skills, but also showed his sincerity. Obviously, he had done his homework in advance, specifically studying Renly’s recent activities and preferences.

Just based on these two aspects, Andy had already stood out among all the agents who had contacted him so far. Coupled with the background of the Creative Artists Agency, Renly had no reason to reject Andy.

If it were someone else, they would probably just nod their head, but Renly was not someone else.

Having lived two lives, Renly knew very well that people could speak eloquently during negotiations but behave completely differently when in action. Hollywood is an extremely realistic circle. It seizes the power of speech when it is profitable and discards it after using it. The reality of Hollywood reflected in work like “Sunset Boulevard” is only the tip of the iceberg.

For most people, agents are easily replaceable. They can sign a contract with an agent, achieve success, and then dump the agent without any problem. But Renly didn’t want that. He had a clear goal and a clear concept of selecting works. He wanted to find a suitable partner and walk the path together.

You could say he is an idealist, or you could say he is cautious, or you could also say he is not self-aware. But Renly wanted to test it again.

“I am a very picky person,” Renly said, with a slight smile on his lips. “Or to be more accurate, I am a very troublesome person.”

“Oh? How so?” Andy’s interest was piqued, so he asked eagerly.

Renly shrugged. “For example, I don’t like the idea of signing package deals, selling myself to Marvel all at once.” This made Andy burst into laughter. “Another example is, I would want to challenge unconventional roles, which could very well break the image of me that we built.” This was also the biggest difference between Renly and people like Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt.

In Hollywood, if you want to reach the pinnacle, you must become a beautifully packaged “commodity.” What you can do and what you cannot do, which independent films you can take and which commercial films you cannot, are all carefully planned.

“And, occasionally, I would like to enjoy my own free time,” Renly raised the skateboard in his hand, implying everything without saying a word.

Things were starting to get even more interesting, Andy thought.

For newcomers like Renly who haven’t proven themselves, Hollywood is full of countless stumbling blocks. Even with a series like ‘The Pacific,’ the scope of what can be proven by doing just that is limited. Even for actors like David Schwimmer who proved himself in ‘Friends,’ it was not an easy task for him to prove himself again and to expand his career afterward.

In other words, Renly didn’t have many chips to play, but he was still so choosy. Andy had personally visited him twice, showing enough sincerity, yet Renly continued to be picky. If it were any other agent, they would have flipped the table and left long ago.

So, is Renly self-obsessed and foolish or full of self-confidence? Is he arrogant or driven by his abilities? Is he seeking fame and fishing for compliments or is he resolute in his aspirations?

Looking at it from a positive perspective, such individuals often have a clear understanding of what they want, with specific goals in mind. They are focused and devoted, able to go further on the path of exploration. Given the opportunity to shine, they can reach higher limits. However, from a negative standpoint, such people may either be too foolish, easily swallowed by the waves of Hollywood, or too stubborn and rigid, prone to breaking under pressure.

Which category does Renly fall into?

Andy was also evaluating and judging Renly, but his expression didn’t reveal his thoughts. He simply smiled and said, “Sometimes, self-confidence is a good thing. But when there’s too much of it, it becomes arrogance. The line between the two is thinner than most people could imagine.”

His teasing remark didn’t anger Renly; rather, it made him smile. The playful expression on his face hinted at a sense of amusement. “I thought every actor is required to be self-obsessed, even a bit arrogant. Otherwise, living under the spotlight, receiving praise and criticism, cheers and curses, and constantly seeing their own face everywhere in life… they would have gone insane a long time ago.”

Instead of refuting, Andy acknowledged that statement, nodding in agreement. “So, most actors always consider themselves superior, especially those from British drama schools.” This insinuating irony couldn’t have been sharper.

Renly politely closed his jaw, accepting the evaluation calmly. Then he raised the skateboard in his hand, pointing towards the direction behind him. “I’m running late for this morning’s competition. Well then, until next time,” Renly said. After speaking, he threw the skateboard onto the ground and gracefully stepped on it, speeding away towards the sun. His slender figure was quickly swallowed by the gaze of onlookers.

Andy stood still, watching Renly’s departure intently.

Today, although Andy didn’t directly accomplish his goal, he gained a lot and furthered his understanding of Renly. Honestly speaking, among contemporary actors, he couldn’t find a suitable reference point for Renly. Although he and Edward Norton has some similarities, Edward lacks the unrestrained and arrogant demeanor that characterizes Renly.

Renly is more like… Marlon Brando, someone who was arrogant and conceited, disregarding others, acting recklessly, and possessing natural talent. However, Marlon’s flamboyance was outward, radiating brilliance that made it difficult to look directly at him. On the other hand, Renly is more introverted. One has to approach him slowly and carefully to unearth the pride that lays deep within his bones. This blend of arrogance and temperament gave birth to an indescribable and unique charm.

Andy wasn’t disappointed; instead, his curiosity grew stronger. Is Renly a genius or is he just a mediocre talent?

Many times, geniuses see themselves as superior to others, sometimes even being arrogant and domineering. This is because they can see things that ordinary people cannot. They stand at heights that ordinary people cannot reach and adhere to truths that will only be discovered decades later. This inevitably sets them apart from the surrounding society.

But the line between genius and mediocrity is thin. For mediocrities, their illusion of superiority becomes the beginning of their downfall. The misalignment between their abilities and confidence, their limited perspectives and knowledge, guarantees their inevitable doom from the very start.

If they are geniuses, their abilities will always surpass those of their opponents, no matter how much they are excluded, envied, hated, or suppressed. Their brilliance cannot be extinguished. But if they are mediocrities, they will perish faster than ordinary people in the tumultuous reality of life, especially in a glittering constellation like Hollywood.

As Renly said, every practitioner in Hollywood is like this, with varying degrees of narcissism and even arrogance. The mutual exclusion and competition among them make the realm of fame and fortune sharper and bloodier.

So, what about Renly? Is his superiority a result of his abilities or just a foolish arrogance?

Originally, Andy was ready to leave, but after thinking for a moment, he decided to follow along. His steps stopped outside the skateboard park as he observed Renly’s every move.

At this moment, Renly is warming up, completely focused, as if all the noise around him had vanished. His world seemed to revolve solely around skateboarding. His concentrated expression gave the impression of him being in a World Championship, even though this is just a neighborhood skateboarding competition.

Many people would probably scoff at it and say, “It’s just a small competition in a neighborhood, why make such a big deal out of it?” They would find Renly’s behavior extremely absurd, even laughable. But that kind of wholehearted dedication and focus is the key to success, something that most people lack. Therefore, those who stand at the pinnacle will always only be a small fraction of the population.

When Renly was about to take the stage, Andy, on the other hand, turned away. He knew that Renly needed some time to consider his offer, and Andy himself also needed some time to ponder. Setting aside his own standpoint, Andy truly looked forward to Renly’s adventure in Hollywood, anticipating the heights he would ultimately challenge—whether he would be extinguished by the masses or shine at the top of the world.

Whether he is a genius, or a madman?


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