Douglas Bower was very unsure as to how he managed to get from Savoy Place on the edge of the Victoria Memorial gardens all the way to his penthouse on the fourth floor of the Savoy Hotel. He must’ve drunkenly teetered his way along the road past the Audis and Aston Martins, through the hotel lobby and up the famously exquisite stairs to his lodgings. Douglas had done almost all of this on automatic and he was standing over his toilet before he realised what he was doing. The light blue tinge of the toilet water became displaced by yellow piss but for a drunken man the aim was all right (relatively). The temporary moment of pleasantness that Douglas was experiencing as he relieved himself disappeared at one of the worst sounds to hear when one is alone: the sound of his door closing when he was sure he had shut it behind him when he staggered inside.
Euphoria turned to fear; he had forgotten in his drug-induced state to shut the door. He reached out to one of the glasses on the side provided by The Savoy and wielded it like a club. Douglas opened the door and given a second longer he would’ve glassed Golden globe nominee Nicole Freedland but instead his director turned and instinctively hit her star on the side of his face; forcing him against the wall as the glass smashed onto the carpet. Silence fell.
‘Shit Douglas, you could’ve killed me!’ Nicole stepped away in shock as she took in the smashed glass on the floor, Douglas’ bloody hand and his bruised temple as well as the pungent smell of booze that stank in the room like a dead dog.
‘I thought…you were…an intruder, a robber?’ Douglas pushed himself away from the wall and fell into Nicole’s arms. She was a strong woman, albeit quite small compared to him, but nonetheless she managed to support her leading man across the penthouse before lying him down on the sofa.
‘Douglas, I thought you’d stopped?’ She eyed the empty whiskey bottles left to rot on the kitchen table.
‘I have Nicole,’ Douglas panted.
‘That’s not what it looks like to me you bastard, you missed the premiere Douglas. This was our big moment wasn’t it?’
‘Do you know how long it’s taken me to get this project done Douglas? Four years!’ Nicole lay down next to Douglas. Neither of them was sure what feelings Nicole was feeling and which ones she was showing. Was Nicole feeling spiteful, honest or just tired?
‘That’s a long time,’ Douglas remarked.
‘We could win Oscars for this Douglas, do you realise that? Look at us? I’ve been directing for nearly twenty years now and all I’ve got to show for it is a Hollywood Star and a Golden globe nomination. Seriously! Anyone can buy a Hollywood star nowadays and the Golden globes that year were a joke. Then there’s you-’
‘-Then there’s me,’ Douglas nodded childishly.
‘Yes Douglas; eighteen years ago they said you were going to be the next big thing to come outta England and you moved to LA and you did B-movies and then you did TV and then you did proper films: Omega, The Journalist, Looking for Colours, the holocaust one – that was good that was – and you got four Oscar noms in 7 years. I don’t see your statuette?’
‘Never got one, the bastards in charge saw to that all right,’ Douglas said.
‘Proper bastards they were Douglas too,’ Nicole said, ‘but this time’s different ain’t it? The critics love our movie more than their own ugly spawn, you should’ve seen them at the end, this time we’re both gonna get our Oscars to put on our mantelpieces because I got you and you got me.’
‘That’s right,’ said Douglas.
‘Of course it is – it is all right,’ Nicole patted her actor on the shiny red cheek that a minute earlier she had smacked into the wall of The Savoy. She considered him for a long beat while Douglas looked up at the grand lights on the ceiling, ‘Douglas.’
‘Yeah Nicole,’ Douglas said and he turned to look into her brown eyes as if they were sparkling stars.
‘Your fly’s undone,’ she said and she got to her feet. Nicole Freedland scratched her nose which Douglas decided she didn’t deserve – a large growth in the centre of her face that was almost a mountain on its own. He looked down to close his fly but struggled to get it shut without jamming it against the inside strip of trouser. The moment had passed and his director retreated backwards towards the door, ‘you don’t need to come to the after party Douglas – you’ve drunk enough already. I’ll see you tomorrow at the press junket,’ she left and Douglas Bower was alone again.
‘That couldn’t have gone more tits up,’ Douglas said to himself and he reached for the television remote. He only had the patience to scroll through the first hundred channels: Jeremy Kyle repeats, Top Gear repeats, some shitty action film from the 90s and a football documentary. He turned it off with disgust and poured himself a cocktail.
‘I hate being me,’ Douglas said, ‘I could have been born in the thirties before camera phones and Facebook and Twitter. Then I could have died a couple of years ago before people went to the doghouse,’ he took a swig of his cocktail and cringed at the aftertaste.
‘If we don’t work together Nathan then all 3 of us will die in here,’ Douglas’ character told his fellow conspirators.
‘What’s the point Morgan?’ The man called Nathan replied, ‘the fuzz have got us figured out completely. They’ve got evidence man, evidence!’
‘And I like the fact that you are in with the three musketeers: all for one and one for; all shit when in reality this whole thing is about you Morgan. You and no one else you’d like to think, but it’s not like that Morgan. Me and Nathan have been dragged into this mire by you and you alone,’ the third conspirator, Scott said.
‘If it wasn’t for you two and your constant mistakes then I could be at home in peace and quiet!’ Douglas said through the prism of characterisation he had placed himself under.
‘No shit Sherlock, come on man…oh shit – sorry I’ve lost it guys.’
‘Cut it there guys,’ Nicole Freeland called from the other side of the set, behind the huge camera that was staring right into Douglas’ face. It was like being on Big Brother with the camera watching even the slightest move he made.
‘What was the line?’ BAFTA nominee James Lester asked as Nicole came over to debrief them.
‘It was…’ she pulled a huge slice of chunky script out of her pocket and opened to the appropriate page, ‘you say No shit Sherlock, but then again maybe you’d like to think of yourself as a Sherlock Holmes and saving us all with your cranium?’
‘Seriously Nicole, you want me to say that?’ Lester read over Nicole’s shoulder, ‘who writes this dribble? Hasn’t he ever been to screenwriting school?’ He shook his head.
‘Actually, James, he is a she,’ Nicole said and she walked off, leaving the three stars of the film to discuss the script themselves.
‘Are you that dumb James?’ Douglas asked Lester, ‘a nomination for the BAFTA rising star award doesn’t make you some kind of God. Nicole wrote what you so eloquently described as dribble,’ he followed Nicole off set. He caught up with her and saw that, although dignified, she looked very cold yet sad.
‘Nicole wait please, you know how much of a twat James is,’ Douglas said.
‘After 3 weeks filming with that prick, bitch please, if I were his mother I’d have to cry myself to sleep every night, terror.’ Nicole replied to show off her coldness with an expression that definitely seemed to be close to proving that looks could kill.
‘Yeah, actually I was just wondering if you wanted to go out sometime…get a bite to eat or catch a film.’ Douglas asked. Nicole sized him up; obviously considering whether or not he would be a match for her and if a director-actor relationship could work.
The man and woman kissed as if it were their sole purpose in life that night. Douglas was feeling so much warmth being generated from the embrace of their lips and it was unlike any kiss that he had had in his life. As they fell onto the bed in his apartment (just round the corner from the studios) he was suitably enlightened that this – between him and Nicole – was something special. The two of them could understand each other properly unlike they had with their previous girlfriends and boyfriends who perhaps didn’t have much of an affinity with their partner. A casual observer would’ve noted that the chemistry between Douglas and Nicole was flawless and that one could mistake them for acting out a relationship in a film. Douglas drew stick from his friends in the Hollywood circles for his weakness as a womanizer on screen and off screen. Even in one of his best films, Looking for Colours (in which he played a colour blind artist) his kissing scenes were wooden despite having one of the best looking actresses out there being available to play off of. Regardless, this gap in his acting ability had not been sighted by the legions of girls screaming at him and voting him sexiest man of the year in consecutive years (which earned him even more stick).
‘What do you want do next?’ Douglas panted at the next pause in their questionably violent snogging.
‘I think you know what Douglas,’ Nicole said, ‘but I’m afraid I need to edit the script that James Lester called dribble,’ Douglas’ fantasy twisted itself from his mind and pulled his consciousness back from the brink to push it back onto Nicole inside the huge stage at the studios.
‘Sorry, my mind was elsewhere,’ Douglas said.
‘I said that I need to edit the script tonight, we’ve obviously got some pivotal scenes coming up which must be perfectly scripted. If not then this film’s stuffed isn’t it? I don’t know how we are going to making this film any good when the dialogue’s worse than a dirty sex line,’ Nicole did spend the subsequent evenings working on the script to James Lester’s satisfaction.
The film launched well and went uphill from there. The critics loved it. The audience loved it. Harvey Weinstein loved it. It was no surprise therefore, that in the middle of January the phone call came through to congratulate Douglas Bower on securing a nomination for Best Actor at the Oscars, while Nicole had also received the nod for best director. Douglas knew that this year was going to be his time. Finally.