I'm awoken early in the morning by an annoying and incessant knocking at my hotel door. My first conscious thought after being so rudely awakened is something along the lines of goddamit Midge. Because really, who else could be this annoying? I slump out of bed reluctantly but only because I know the longer I keep her waiting, the longer she'll scold me. Once the door is opened, however, it's certainly not Midge that throws their arms around me in a crushing embrace.
"I can't... breath," I choke out amidst the circle of Henry's arms.
"Oh sorry man!" he exclaims quickly and steps away, "I've just been so excited to see you!" Henry Lao looks quite different from the last time I saw him. For starters, he's filled out his once lanky form considerably and from the slightly deeper tone of his voice and the lack of baby fat on his cheeks, I can tell puberty has certainly run its course.
"No, it's fine! I'm excited to see you too dude!" I make a show of looking him up and down, "You look... different,"
"I know right? My trainer's got me on this new diet and shit. We're hoping if I appear stronger in this role I'll be considered for more serious roles in later films!" He does have a point with that one. Henry's part in this movie is important, he plays my best friend, but it's also clear why they chose the Asian kid to play the geeky, nerdy scientist friend. Henry's told me all about the string of minor supportive parts he's played in the past, often as a nerd or teacher's pet, all of which are baffling to me, especially after getting to know Henry as a person. I mean, anyone who spends five minutes with the guy knows how loud, and energetic, and charismatic he is which only goes to show how great of an actor he is that he can pull off those other roles so well.
"Yeah, my trainer's got me on some similar shit. Since you've gotten me up, wanna grab some breakfast downstairs together? We can do some catching up."
"Oh actually, that's part of the reason I'm here. Midge sent me to wake you up and bring you down for brunch." Of course, Midge sent him.
"Brunch? What time is it?"
"Around 11:00 last time I checked."
"Damn, I must have been tired from the jetlag..."
"I thought you took a trai-"
"Nope! definitely jetlag! Now let's go downstairs why won't we?" Henry casts a skeptical look at my clothes and I remember I'm wearing pajama bottoms and a worn-out, old t-shirt, "After I get dressed of course!"
The foyer and dining area of this hotel is immaculate. All silk curtains and fine pottery and fancy couches that make you nervous to sit on. The producers rented out an entire wing of this place specifically for cast and crew so I don't have to be worried about getting swarmed but even still, some staff still look at me with an expression I've come to know as starstruck.
We find Midge sitting alone, sipping on what I'm sure can't be her first cup of black coffee. She's looking down at some documents in front of her until her eyes lock on us.
"Good morning sleeping beauty," she calls before looking back down at the papers, "You better be glad your career rests on that pretty face otherwise I wouldn't have allowed for the beauty rest."
"Thanks, as always, for the wonderful reminder. And to think, I had it in my mind that my career's success was owed to my skill!"
"Ha. Ha. Sit down." Henry and I pull out two chairs and take a seat. Midge doesn't make any move for conversation so instead, we talk amongst ourselves.
"Wonderful, amazing, a dream come true, but it could be better if a certain friend of mine moved there..."
I make a gagging noise and respond, "No way. I still haven't moved on from my vendetta against the entire city of Los Angelas."
"What's your problem with the place anyway?"
"Too many rich assholes."
"Says the guy from New York!" He scoffs.
"Hey! New York has broke assholes too!" Henry only sighs at my response. He just won't give up, will he? We begin talking about Henry's girlfriend back home but are interrupted when a server arrives. She places two menus on the table and asks what drinks she can get us.
"an Iced Latte with like, a lot of sweetener, but don't tell my trainer," Henry says with a wink to the girl. He's never been able to shake that sugar addiction, has he?
If I thought the server was flushed after Henry's wink, she's beet red when she turns to take my order, "I'll have some hot English breakfast tea," She quickly nods and scribbles down the order before walking away.
"Damn, I knew you had quite a few fangirls but not to this extent!" I can feel myself flushing at Henry's comment.
"Oh, you should have seen the crowd that greeted us at the train station yesterday!" Midge pipes up from her paperwork.
"Stooop guyss," I whine, "It's not like I asked for this!"
"You shouldn't be complaining, dude. What I would do for a group of fangirls screaming my name..." Henry sighs with a wistful look on his face.
"Trust me, it's much less exciting than it seems. On a different note, this is the longest brunch menu I have ever seen in my life," I say in an attempt to bring the conversation to a different topic. For a moment we mull over the seemingly infinite options of breakfast foods before Midge brings back our attention.
"I'm going to assume you forgot your schedule for today."
"That assumption would be correct." Midge doesn't look amused even though she literally predicted my shitty behavior.
"Well you've got a costume fitting at 12:30, stunt training at 2:00, and of course there's the full cast reading of the script at 4:00," she pauses before adding, "You have read the script, right?"
"Of course I've read it! I'm not that bad of an actor, Midge!"
"Then where's your script?"
"In a suitcase somewhere... I think." Midge sighs and rummages around in her bag for a bit before pulling out a giant packet and plopping down on the table in front of me. "There, now you don't have an excuse for not knowing your lines tonight."
"Thanks?" I pull the script closer and begin inspecting it.
Beside me, Henry chirps up, "They gave you the entire script? They only gave me my lines!"
"Yeah because you spoiled the movie last time."
"One slip-up and-"
"It was two slip-ups."
"Oh... yeah. I'm starting to see why they only gave me my lines," he admits with a chuckle before the server from earlier returns, drinks in hand. She asks for our brunch orders and Henry orders some extravagant waffles with quote a shit ton of sprinkles and whipped cream. When she turns to me, I ask for the classic Quiche with no bacon. Henry's head whips around at that.
"No Bacon? That's the best part!" he questions, agast, once the server has left.
"How many times do I have to remind you that pork isn't Kosher?"
"Ohhhhh yeah, I forgot about the whole Jewish thing."
I chuckle at that. Honestly, sometimes I do too. It's been years since I've been to a synagogue and at this point, I mainly only eat Kosher out of habit. But with work, it's easy sometimes to forget about everything else.
The three of us fall back into an easy conversation when I ask, "What's the schedule for tomorrow?"
Midge hardly looks up from her phone as she replies, "Not much, you've got some more stunt training in the morning and a voice coach right after lunch but the rest of the day you've got free," I feel a rush of excitement bubble in my chest at that, "I assume you'll use that time to practice lines, right?"
"Of course!" I reply, but really, tomorrow sounds like the perfect day to sneak off. First, I've got to get through today.