By the time I slink back into my room, it's already dark and I can feel the exhaustion settling over me like a fuzzy blanket. Today had been draining on so many more levels than one. First with the costume fitting and all those hands poking and prodding me all over with pins and measuring tape. Then with the stunt training and all those failed stunts. I think back on my pathetic attempt to do a backflip which ended with me on the floor and henry laughing down at my crumpled form. And finally, the cast reading which had easily been the most tolerable of the three.
I got to see people I haven't seen in a while like Orla. Orla Stack plays the main love interest and it's clear to see why with her cascading blond hair and sparkling green eyes. I've seen our fan determined ship name go viral on the twitter hashtags more times than once. Even Midge has hinted at a romance between me and her being beneficial for both our careers, but I don't like Orla like that. She's a very sweet and pretty girl but I've never cared much for dating other celebrities.
Along with Orla, there had been the legend himself, Tony Hemings who plays the main villain in the franchise. The guy still makes me a little starstruck every time I see him. I mean, we all grew up watching him star in some of the most iconic films of my childhood. Plus, he's a fantastic actor and wonderful to work with although he's often very busy and a little snobby at times.
Other than my two costars there had been a handful of side characters at the reading as well as the writers and directors of the movie.
Inside my hotel room, I plop down on my bed and immediately try to pass out even though it's only 8:30, but sleep does not come to me. Instead, my mind wanders over to the plot of the new Electric Pheonix movie. It's actually pretty interesting.
I play the superhero, the Electric Pheonix of course, also known as Max Miller. The previous movie had been all about Max becoming a superhero and discovering his powers. He'd grown up as a sickly kid with heart problems that progressed all the way into his teenage years but that all changed one night when he entered cardiac arrest during a hospital visit. The doctors immediately tried to administer a shock from the defibrillator to restart his heart and at the exact time they shocked him, lightning struck outside. From that day forward Max could control and create electricity and no longer experienced heart problems. He rose up from the ashes, from the grips of death, dawned not in fire, but electricity.
The rest of the first movie is him figuring his powers out while simultaneously trying to take down the infamous black web hacker, Agent Trace, with the help of his good friend Simon of course (played by Henry). Meanwhile, he has to maintain the semblance of normality to everyone else in his life while also pursuing his crush, Jessica. It's no wonder that the first film did so well with how entertaining it all was. I enjoyed filming that movie a lot.
But the success of the first movie puts so much pressure on this second one to do well. I can't mess up and risk the disappointment of so many fans.
I try to brush off the invasive and insecure thoughts quickly by remembering the script. It was really good. The writers outdid themselves. This next movie has the same gripping plot with Agent Trace making his return but it also shows Max going through a much more personal struggle. Being the infamous Electric Pheonix and a normal teenage boy is draining and he's running out of excuses to give people. Max has to grapple with the decision to either remain anonymous and have his life continue on its predictable path or tell the world his identity and risk changing his life as he knows it.
I lay on my back, staring up at the ceiling fan as it makes lazy circles that do little to circulate air and wonder. I wonder if I can channel Max's emotions properly. I mean, I've never had to face the challenges he does with how exposed my life and identity is to the public eye. Regardless I'll have to do it anyways. I can't mess up this film.
To distract me from the weight of the stress, I think instead of tomorrow, after all my lessons, when I'll have the afternoon free. A grin creeps onto my face at the thought of sneaking out into the city to explore. I've got a large pair of sunglasses and a hat that might do the trick to conceal my identity, but regardless I'm desperate for some fresh air.
It's then that a knock sounds at my bedroom door, causing me to mentally groan in exhaustion. Somehow I muster the strength to roll out of bed and crack open the door to peer at whoever is out there. Henry grins back at me, with a mildly amused Orla on his heels.
"What the hell do you want?"
"Are you in the market to have some fun?" He quips back and I'm about to slam the door in his face when he catches it with his foot, "C'mon Liam! Orla and I wanted to go check out the heated pool this place has and it would be much more fun if Mr. Popular joined us!"
I sigh before answering, "I don't know, man, I'm tired and-"
"C'mon Liam, It will be fun!" Orla cuts me off and I shoot her a deadly glare but still... they look excited and well I guess I can wait a little longer to go to bed.
"Let me change into my swim trunks," I relinquish.
Wading into the warm water of the pool is nice with how cool the night air is despite it being summer and I'm thankful the place is empty aside from us. Especially when Henry cannonballs into the water so hard it soaks my hair.
"Bastard!" I cry out and attempt to dunk him underwater where he has recently surfaced. Orla giggles from where she sits at the side of the pool, feet dipping into the water. Unfortunately, Henry has become a lot stronger than when I last saw him and he easily turned my attempt at dunking into an opportunity to grab me under my arms and launch me across the pool. I resurface just in time to see Henry's smug smile knocked off by Orla, who now throws herself onto his back and uses her weight to push him underwater. We all squeal with laughter and giddy excitement like kids as the water war ensues.
Afterward, we all wade tiredly in the shallow end and start talking about random things. The movie, our lives back home, how we started acting. That last question gets turned to me and I blink confusedly for a second.
"Liam," Orla repeats, "How did you start acting?"
"Oh sorry, I was spacing out there for a second," I rub a nervous hand behind my neck and think of the beginning of my acting career which feels like eons ago even though it was only 7 years, "When I was a kid I loved all things theatre. Singing, dancing, acting." Henry and Orla share baffled looks, "When I was ten I got on broadway playing Gavroche in Les Miserables,"
"Wow, I never pegged you for a theatre kid," Orla admits
"I still am one at heart, to be honest," I grin back at her, "After that, I was able to do some side roles in movies here and there but I didn't really get my break until they cast me as the Electric Pheonix." The two of them nod appraisingly and we move on to more pressing subjects such as Henry's favorite bakery back home.
Later, while toweling off, I remember the adventure I have planned for tomorrow and ask, "Would either of you guys like to go into the city with me tomorrow afternoon?"
"No can do, dude," Henry starts, "I've got a spa day planned for the second half of tomorrow." Of course he does.
"I'm sorry but I don't want to be spotted by paparazzi any time soon, and you know if they see us together they'll get all sorts of ideas."
"Yeah, I get that. Just figured I'd ask." to be honest, I don't mind going into town alone, I was mainly just worried about getting lost. We continue our chatting all the way up to our rooms and the minute I'm alone in my room, I chuck off the soggy swim shorts and curl up in bed, pajamas be damned.
Sleep comes quickly and deeply and in the night my dreams are filled with images of Max, the electric boy, being forced to show the world who he truly is, and watching them all turn away.