Novel Translation

The Greatest Showman – Chapter 81

Chapter 81 – Dilemma

Scarlett’s small eyes always shimmered with a faint halo, sometimes slanted, sometimes glaring, their fleeting charm between motion and stillness is unforgettable.

Looking at Scarlett’s lightly raised corners of the eyes, as her Persian cat-like lazy eyes measured him up and down, Renly’s smile deepened gradually. He not only remained calm but also leaned slightly to the side, resting against the brick wall by the door, becoming more relaxed and casual. His right hand continued to play with the cigarette pack, as he was smiling without saying a word.

Scarlett raised an eyebrow in slight surprise at Renly’s posture, looking rebellious and unrestrained, displaying a unique charm in his every movement.

This was only Scarlett and Renly’s first encounter, and she didn’t know what kind of person Renly really is. However, from his appearance and their brief exchange just now, Renly seemed more like a gentleman with hidden sharpness, effortlessly controlling the situation with elegance and wisdom.

However, now Renly appeared to be more outwardly wild, the pride and roguishness swirling in the misty atmosphere reminded one of James Dean. This subtle contrast made it difficult to figure him out.

“I know you have a good hand, but I also know you’re bluffing,” Scarlett’s pupils slightly contracted, like a cat spotting its prey, it was either waiting for the perfect time to strike or prepared to immediately deliver a deadly blow. The hidden threat within her blurred gaze revealed a sharp edge.

The corners of Renly’s mouth drooped slightly, seemingly amused by Scarlett’s words. His gaze held a playful glimmer, “And what does that mean?”

“You know, there’s a certain type of people who always believe they’re special, one of a kind, but…” Scarlett elongated her tone, mischief shining in her eyes, her rosy lips pursed into a thin line, then suddenly curling up, “but in reality, they’re just nameless pawns, no one has ever heard of.”(T/N – Damn, Scarlett, take it easy on our boy Renly)

“Ouch.” Renly exclaimed in pain, yet, his smile deepened in response. “Well, then this should be a good thing. It seems like you are already certain that Ryan will definitely get the role?”

Renly’s reaction made Scarlett somewhat uncertain. She lightly bit her tongue with her white teeth and her eyes flickered. “You don’t seem like someone who would easily surrender.” Renly’s decision to stay obviously meant more than just him standing here foolhardily. So, what exactly was he seeking?

Renly maintained his smile. “Should I take that as a compliment?”

This dripping gesture of his allowed Scarlett to come to a conclusion. She shrugged her shoulders, showing a complete lack of concern. “Who cares? You can take it as a compliment if you want. It’s your freedom. As for whether Ryan can succeed in the audition, that’s his problem, not something I should worry about.”

Renly showed a surprised expression. “I thought you came here today specifically to accompany Ryan, with an attitude of inevitable success. Like a devoted wife, it would make a great story in Hollywood.”

Scarlett blinked her left eye lightly, and her shell-like teeth bit her lower lip. A sly smile traced across her face, and as the smile grew bigger, her soft lips gradually slipped through the gap between her teeth, forming a graceful curve. “Haven’t you heard of something called – setting up a scene? In the unseen corners, paparazzi are already snapping pictures away as planned.”

“Creating rumors about the two of us?” Renly’s smile had an extra dash of flirtation in it, and the flirtatious words were so well scaled that instead of being offensive, they would just make one’s cheeks flush slightly.

“Heh.” Scarlett’s smile blossomed fully, and she chuckled, taking steps away from the doorway. With her back to the lobby and facing Renly, she took a few steps back. “Sir, you overestimate yourself.” The implication was that with Renly’s current fame and popularity, he wasn’t qualified to stir up rumors with her.(T/N – Ngl, I really like this version of Scarlett…)

Renly spread his hands, indicating his innocence.

Scarlett then noticed a small detail. Renly’s body moved away from the brick wall and stood up straight again, which could be understood as simply wanting to speak more comfortably. After all, Scarlett kept stepping back, increasing the distance between them. However, it could also be understood as…

Scarlett turned her head and happened to catch Rodrigo’s gaze. At this moment, Ryan was talking incessantly, and yet Rodrigo was looking out of the window, and his gaze was upon… Scarlett turned her head again and saw Renly Hall.

She stopped in her tracks, her smile faded slightly, but then it blossomed again. Scarlett carefully observed Renly, “Sir, although I have no idea what tricks you’re performing, I can assure you that I have no interest in participating. If I remember correctly, I belong to the Reynolds team.”

Renly felt a slight regret deep inside as his plan was detected, but he remained composed on the surface, “I thought you had enough trust in Ryan’s absolute strength.”

This statement made Scarlett burst into laughter without any hesitation, “That’s a good joke.” Ryan can be considered a decent actor, but he’s far from someone who can be described as having ‘absolute strength.’ Scarlett’s bold and direct criticism is something even Ryan can’t avoid.

After saying that, Scarlett turned around and gracefully walked back into the lobby, her figure disappearing behind the heavy glass door. The courtyard fell quiet again, leaving Renly by himself.

Rodrigo’s attention seemed scattered. Ryan was still expressing his views on the script, and his focus was on controlling the rhythm of the story. For thriller and horror films, similar to most popcorn movies, controlling the climax and creating the atmosphere was crucial. However, to Rodrigo’s ears, all of this sounded like nonsense.

Rhythm or atmosphere, those were the director’s responsibilities, not the actors’. Ryan’s understanding of his character seemed to be stuck in the “first act,” focusing on how to firmly grasp the audience’s tension and how to drive their emotions with unseen fear, like Alfred Hitchcock did… But when it came to understanding the character itself, or the profound meaning of the script, Ryan had no idea.

This disappointed Rodrigo a bit.

Without comparison, there is no disparity. After watching Renly’s performance, Ryan’s performance appeared shallow and straightforward. Indeed, Ryan can accurately express emotions such as panic, fear, and despair, which coincides with the initial concept in Rodrigo’s mind. There is no doubt that Ryan can excel in completing the task. However, Ryan’s performance lacked depth and layers, providing no help in extracting the essence of the story.

“Buried” possesses the potential to be outstanding, but it is currently seen as just an ordinary work, no different from other horror or thriller films.

Involuntarily, Rodrigo raised his head and glanced out the window, where he saw Renly and Scarlett engaged in conversation. With the entire courtyard in between, Rodrigo couldn’t hear their dialogue, but he could detect a subtle difference in Renly’s demeanor—he appeared more… unruly. His rough and effortless manner seemed at ease, captivating Rodrigo’s gaze.

Rodrigo didn’t have time to delve into Renly’s true personality. Instead the image of Paul surfaced in his mind, not the Paul trapped in a coffin, but the Paul before he went to Iraq.

Witty, humorous, and handsome, Paul could always win the hearts of girls. He was a member of the high school basketball team, a prominent figure on campus. He always indulged in life, freely embracing his youth until he met Linda—who later became his wife.

The early days of their marriage were blissful. They had their first child, bought a house in the suburbs, and their lives gradually stabilized. However, the 2008 housing market bubble unleashed a financial tsunami, wiping out all their savings from the bank. Their lives immediately fell into hardship. Arguments began, and they grew distant and unfamiliar. Life became difficult and arduous.

Choosing to go to Iraq was a forced and reluctant decision, but it also offered some space for their marriage.

Before the kidnapping, Paul and Linda had a heated argument. All the accumulated dissatisfaction and anger from the past few months erupted—the pressure of the mortgage, the bank’s demands, the hardships of distance, and their child’s education… One problem after another. They both wished they could tear each other apart through the telephone line, and after each delivered harsh words, they abruptly hung up.

In Renly, Rodrigo saw the entirety of Paul’s life vividly and specifically, three-dimensional and tangible. Fragments of the script began to feel real. Although the story of “Buried” was confined to a coffin, the world outside the coffin started to infinitely expand. The whole story became rich and profound.

Rodrigo’s inner excitement gradually grew, almost uncontrollable. He felt an impulse to immediately grab a camera and record every move of Renly, even to immerse himself in the filming of the movie right away. The passion for creation erupted like a volcano, and his every cell began to scream and shout.

“Rodrigo?” Ryan’s voice called, bringing Rodrigo back to his senses. “What do you think? If possible, we can revise the script and plan these scenes again, and then we can start shooting. I have enough gaps in the schedule in the next month to complete this project.” Ryan’s face lit up with a big smile, eagerly preparing to dive into this work.

Rodrigo looked seriously at Ryan before him. He hadn’t forgotten that Ryan was his first choice, and he had personally written the invitation letter. He also hadn’t forgotten that Ryan’s current fame is invaluable for “Buried,” as it would be helpful in all aspects of distribution, promotion, and release. Similarly, he hadn’t forgotten that Ryan had personally rushed from Los Angeles to New York, demonstrating his sincerity and dedication.

He has already made up his mind.

T/N – Scarlett is my current second favorite character, after Renly. The whole conversation of those two was really fun to translate and to read.

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