Chapter 69 – To Give up What Is Close at Hand in Pursuit of the Distant.
“Good morning, Renly. The weather is really nice today, isn’t it?”
“Hey, Renly, if you run into Tom next time, say hello to him for me.”
“Renly, you’re here again today? So, any news yet?”
“Hey, my buddy! Excellent job, excellent!”
“Have you chosen the next work? Many eyes have been on you lately.”
Passersby actively greeted Renly as they brushed shoulders, their expressions varied. The sound of greetings filled the air, ranging from familiar, flattering, cordial, enthusiastic, fawning, and polite greetings. Their intentions and meanings were different, unfolding the myriad aspects of life in the small office of the New York branch of the American Actors Union.
Renly is currently in a delicate position.
“The Pacific” had brought him considerable attention, but it is merely a TV drama, a miniseries with limited influence. The producers of the show are the famous Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, but these two giants are not easily approachable. Although there had been many discussions about the series after its broadcast, making him somewhat recognizable, two months had passed in the blink of an eye, and Renly still hadn’t directly benefited from it. The news about “Thor” for now are secretive and relatively unknown, at least in the eyes of everyone else…
Renly had not achieved great fame and fortune, but he had potential. He hadn’t skyrocketed to stardom overnight, but he had made a name for himself. He hadn’t soared to the heavens, but he excelled in his youth and had unlimited potential. For actors in the third and fourth tiers, he was precisely the most suitable person to associate with. Perhaps it was a matter of face, perhaps it was with ulterior motives, perhaps it involved careful calculations, or perhaps it was a long-term strategy. Regardless of the purpose, they were happy to engage with this fresh blood.
Just like it was with Chris Hemsworth before.
“Here for the union report again?” A middle-aged woman sitting at the front desk greeted him with a big smile. Her chubby cheeks had a friendly rosy glow, reminiscent of Santa Claus. Her squinted eyes twinkled with a pleasing light. “You should find an agent. It’s much better than constantly searching for a needle in a haystack at the union.” She exaggeratedly laughed twice after speaking. “I believe there must be a long line of agents waiting to sign contracts with you!”
This blatant flattery couldn’t be more obvious, and Renly naturally didn’t miss it. However, he just showed a warm smile and slightly raised his chin. “I’m waiting for the day when Fifth Avenue is packed.” His self-deprecating humor couldn’t help but make people chuckle. “So, any news this week?”
“A piece of news that was just released today is going to cause a sensation by the afternoon!” The middle-aged woman lowered her voice and spoke mysteriously. After looking around to make sure that no one nearby had noticed that, she continued, “It’s a top-notch commercial blockbuster, beyond any imagination.”
After speaking, she proudly blinked at Renly, then pointed to the bulletin board next to her. “The announcement was updated only fifteen minutes ago, and the news hasn’t spread yet. You should hurry.” The woman sighed lightly, “If you had an agent, things would be much simpler, but…” Her tone of regret couldn’t be more obvious.
Renly didn’t respond, as if he hadn’t caught the underlying meaning behind the woman’s words. He simply smiled and nodded, while saying, “Thank you.” After exchanging farewells, he quickly walked towards the location of the bulletin board.
Lisa Mears peered out slightly, watching Renly’s calm and unhurried steps. She let out a gentle sigh, surprised by Renly’s generosity and tolerance, and even more surprised by his composure and magnanimity.
Previously, when Renly came to the union with Chris, Lisa didn’t show much favor to Renly. The union had to receive hundreds of unknown actors every day, and among them, there might not be a single actor who will achieve success in the future. She couldn’t possibly be pleasant to every person, so she naturally had to make choices. Compared to Chris, who starred in “Star Trek,” there was no radiance emanating from Renly. From her standpoint then it wasn’t a hard choice to make.
However, there were quite a few people like Renly who had achieved periodic success despite being looked down upon. Many of them would come back to show off, seeking revenge or holding grudges. Even if it wasn’t so obvious, the excitement and enthusiasm in their words were hard to avoid. After all, this is Hollywood, a place that gathers the world’s spotlight, and it always brought a great sense of achievement, giving people the illusion of them being gods.
Lisa had been a bit worried before. Renly had been doing well lately, and if he had become arrogant, Lisa would have had no choice but to stay silent. But the result was that Renly not only didn’t become conceited but also took the initiative to be kind, and he didn’t mock her either. This level of magnanimity was truly something not that everyone possesses, especially considering he is only twenty years old this year. This is truly incredible!
“Unfortunately.” Lisa pursed her lips, unable to hide the disappointment in her eyes.
While amazed by him, Lisa’s thoughts were clear. People like Renly, who had a hidden sense of pride, would rather give up the shortcut of having an agent and come to the union to seek job opportunities. This approach never worked in Hollywood. She still had more confidence in Chris’s future.
Renly didn’t know that Lisa had such intense internal turmoil. Even if he did, he wouldn’t care.
He knew that whether it was auditioning for “Thor” or signing with Andy Rogers, these are shortcuts to success. Any other person would eagerly seize them, as no one knows if another chance would come. Hollywood isn’t a fairytale world; it is a reality society that doesn’t withstand squandering. Moreover, he doesn’t have the capital to squander right now.
But having lived through one life already, Renly understood that the social media era is too impatient and restless. Everyone is rushing forward, burying themselves to the point of losing their true selves. Life isn’t long, but it isn’t short either. The starting point and the endpoint are the same. In that case, why rush and sprint so anxiously? Sometimes, slowing down, taking a detour, might be a good thing.
More importantly, he knew what he wanted and what he didn’t. Some opportunities, even if seized, might not be a good thing, and similarly, some opportunities, even if missed, might not necessarily be bad.
As for Lisa shifting her attitude towards him, Renly really didn’t take it to heart.
This is not only the norm in Hollywood but also the norm in society as a whole. It wasn’t directed at anyone. There was no need to feel unfairly treated. The best solution isn’t to mock or patronize but to continue achieving success, going further and higher. Soon, he would leave all these insignificant people behind and ascend to a whole new level, while those petty individuals who were obsessed with grievances would remain stagnant, trapped in their own little world.
Therefore, all he needs to do is to keep moving forward. Just like now.
Hollywood is a massive operating machine. Every year, at least two thousand projects are established, with three to six hundreds of them directly entering production. This means that on average, a new batch of job positions appears every week, not even including television projects. Hence, without the help of an agent, the union is the best place for actors to find work.
After the airing of “The Pacific,” Renly would find a vacant time slot every week and make a special trip to the American Actors’ Union to search for the information for the potential new job. After giving up on “Thor,” Renly was in no hurry, because he is confident, he can find the next “The Pacific” within the union.
Although it is already 2010, the notice board of the New York Actors Union’s branch is an old-fashioned blackboard. On it, various projects’ latest information was written in colorful chalk, with different colors representing different meanings. For example, red represents projects where actors must come within next 72 hours, while green represents newly updated projects, and so on, so that people can understand everything at a glance.
The hasty chalk handwriting, the swirling dust, the uneven colors of the blackboard, under the slightly yellowish light from the union’s ceiling, outlined a retro atmosphere of the 1930s and 1940s. Just this alone clearly highlights the difference between New York and Los Angeles— the latter had long replaced blackboards with electronic bulletin boards.
Standing in front of the bulletin board, Renly skillfully found the information he needs on the colorful blackboard. Many of the information caught his attention. There is a production called “Super 8” that is going to be produced by Steven Spielberg and is written and is soon to be directed by J.J. Abrams, which is currently assembling a group of young actors, including the male and female leads, who has to be under fifteen years old. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is recruiting a group of supporting actors willing to learn motion capture technology, hoping they could join Andy Serkis’ ranks and play the roles of apes through computer technology. The film already had confirmed cast members such as James Franco and Tom Felton…
Every of these projects has its own allure and is open to every actor for competition.
This is also one of the distinct characteristics of Hollywood. Unlike the professional and aloof atmosphere in the European film industry, in North America, although the resources for top-tier productions are always controlled by a small group, opportunities that come once in a blue moon are presented to everyone from time to time. Hollywood always opens its arms and embraces people from different backgrounds, social classes, and levels, which is an important backdrop for breeding “overnight fame.” If European cinema represents professionalism, then the American film industry represents diversity.
Even the grassroots, who have nothing, have the possibility of reaching new heights. Although this “possibility” is extremely slim, it is enough to drive countless people to strive for it relentlessly.
After carefully scanning the bulletin board, Renly quickly found the top-tier project that Lisa had mysteriously hinted at just now. When he clearly saw the content represented by the chalk writing, his pupils involuntarily contracted slightly—”The Amazing Spider-Man!”
Never in his wildest dreams did he expect it to be “The Amazing Spider-Man”!
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