The Part

Author notes: This is eventually going to be about a young actress whose first role in a horror movie becomes all too real. Pay special attention to the last names of the characters, they are all directly from famous horror movies (either actors, as in Cara Curtis/ Jamie Lee Curtis, or characters, such as Jay Prescott after Sidney Prescott from Scream or Magnus Renfield after Renfield from Dracula. Kendall Burlingame, the main character, is named after Eliza Dushku's character Jessie Burlingame in Wrong Turn. Camera guy names, etc. (story begins)

Pre-shooting, Day 1, October

I just hung up the phone…I almost dropped it, actually. I was so excited my hand was shaking, and I could barely press the button to end the call. I still can't believe he called me back…I can't believe what he said.4

I got the part…I got the freakin' PART!5

God, I can't believe this! I'm so excited I can't sit still, I just keep walking around my house in a jittery daze, unable to think clearly. In every mirror I pass I see my own face reflected back at me, my eyes wide and glowing just like a little kid's, my mouth fixed into a huge goofy grin. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to shake me out of this today. Seriously, I feel almost like I'm floating. I'm THAT damn happy.6

My first movie ever, FINALLY…and I got the freakin' LEAD!7

Okay, so it's not exactly the best movie ever made or anything. If I'm straight up honest it's pretty retarded actually. It's a low budget horror flick. My character, Meredith Nancy, is a young woman who goes camping with friends, bodies start dropping, then disappearing, etc, etc, bottom line is her friends aren't really dead, they're part of a cult that's scaring the hell out of her until it's time to use her as a ritual sacrifice for some demon god or something. Don't ask me for the specifics or to make sense of it, I'm just the actress who gets to die at the end. Hope there's a lot of blood and gore so I can practice my "tortured scream," heh heh.8

So yeah, it's not exactly the next Citizen Kane or anything. It's basically like a knock-off of Scream, The Blair Witch Project, and Rosemary's Baby in one- it's called Deadly Deception, real lame Lifetime title. But who cares? It's my first ROLE, baby, and a PAYING LEAD ROLE in a MOVIE! Not a play or a five-second commercial that only plays at three am, but a real, actual movie that with luck might even make it to the movie theaters rather than straight to video. It's a start- some people are gonna see me, see Kendall Burlingame's name across the screen, and they might remember me. Can only move up from there, right? And hey, who knows, dumb horror movies can really advance your career sometimes. Look at Jamie Lee Curtis and Neve Campbell- isn't that where they started off?9

It's a total coincidence how it happened too. I'd been going to auditions for lame romantic comedies and indie flicks, just trying to get my foot in the door, basically. It wasn't like I seriously thought I'd get any of the parts, not when I'm still Miss No Name in the whole LA scene. But after the last audition, for some movie called, get this, Second Chance, its director, Martin Damian, looked me over really slowly, with this faint critical frown. I braced myself, just knowing the rejection was coming. And it was, of course, but right after the "You're not right for the part" speech I can practically recite from memory now, he went off onto a different track.10

"How old are you, Miss Burlingame?"11

"Twenty-two," I told him, wondering what it was he was about to get at- did he think I was too old to ever make a name for myself by this point? Or did he think I was lying about my age? I think I look my age, and can make myself look either younger or older with makeup, but it crossed my mind that maybe he thought I was underage.12

But that wasn't what was on his mind. Still looking at me intently, Damian asked me if I had ever heard of the director Magnus Renfield. When I said no, he kept looking at me, almost critically. I'm used to people looking at my body, but this was a long, sloooow scanning that sort of made me uncomfortable, honestly. 13

"I think, Miss Burlingame, that you are better suited for Magnus Renfield's work. I think he would be rather interested in you..if you will allow me to give you his phone number, perhaps you would be interested in setting up an audition?"14

I thought that was all kind of strange- how did he know if this Renfield guy would want me or not? Did he have some really specific preference for women's looks or something? It wasn't like I'm exactly rare in my physical features- long straight brown hair, brown eyes, 5'5 and 120 pounds, attractive and young. There were thousands of girls like me trying out for roles, which used to be kind of disheartening. But hey, who was I to question it, what could it hurt to give the guy a call?15

So I did, and when I told him that Martin Damian had referred me, he agreed to set up an interview. A few days and one audition later and the role of Meredith Nancy is MINE! So damn sweet. And yeah, I realize I can't go around saying stuff like that in front of all the other actors and Renfield and all, have to act like I'm a professional jaded actress type. Been there, seen that, etc etc, keeping up my so-far-nonexistent rep. But here in the privacy of my own apartment, I can squeal and dance around like a ten-year-old if I want and know no one is watching.16

I thought when I first showed up at the studio, which, I gotta say, wasn't exactly huge and new, that Renfield might suss me out like his pal Damian. But he didn't. He barely glanced at me, in fact; it was the way I read the script, ridiculous and cheesy as it was, that he had co-written it; all I have to say is I hope he's a better director than writer in response to that.17

He had me run through a few scenes, only reading my own lines, which was a little odd too. In all my other auditions, unless it was a monologue, another actor had always read other characters along with me. Finally he had nodded, his eyes narrowed thoughtfully, and told me thanks and that he would let me know if he was interested. And today, ten minutes ago- phone call!18

Renfield seemed like an intense, serious kind of guy when I met him- I don't remember him smiling at me more than once or twice. But hey, that's alright, I can be serious if I have to be, even amidst ridiculous fake blood and gore. And I gotta say, he's easy on the eyes for a guy nearing fifty- he's kind of got a Harrison Ford-ish look about him with the silvery hair and intense features. Not gonna be hard to be around him every day, that's for sure.19

Man, I gotta call everyone that remotely cares to tell them. Rick will be thrilled, he knows how hard I've been trying- we should go out tonight and celebrate, have a little kiss and cuddle session after, wink wink. I should call Andra and Monica and Jessie- everyone. Andra's going to be so jealous, she's barely even been able to find auditions. I bet she's going to find ways to shoot it down, make this sound like it's not really that big of a deal. Whatever- I know perfectly well that just means she's jealous, that it's just how she is. But nothing she says can bring me down right now, I won't let it.20

I just wish that Mom could be here to hear about it now…I just wish I could call her up and tell her about it. Or better yet, have her here with me, just as excited as I am. This was her dream, for me to finally reach my dream, and it hurts that she can't share this moment with me, after all the time and money and effort she sacrificed for me to get to this point. It's what keeps me from being able to be totally, completely happy…that Mom never got to see this, to celebrate with, to know that all she gave up to support me when I was growing up finally amounted to something- even if it is just a role in a really lame horror movie so far.21

You never know though…I'm not what you would call a religious person, and I'm not really someone who thinks a lot about spirits or an afterlife or God either. It always seemed more logical to me just to deal with the things that you know for sure are real. But I like to think that Mom is here with me, sometimes, or that she's watching, clichéd as that sounds. I like to think she knows what's going on with me, and that she knows I'm happy, I'm okay. I hope she does…and if she doesn't, well, no harm in hoping, right? 22

I'm going to go call Rick- I can't wait to see his face. I think I'm just going to tell him to come see me and then casually slip in the news. He'll be totally stunned. He didn't even know I was going to an audition…this will be hysterical.23

Well that didn't exactly go the way I expected. Rick came over, all right, but not until after ten pm. I pretty much expected that, he's pretty busy with the hours he's been keeping lately, but it was still kind of irritating. I had to eat without him, and I guess my anticipation had built too highly, almost to the point of impatience. So his response to me casually slipping into conversation as we sat cuddling on my couch that I had a lead role in a new movie was pretty disappointing.25

"So this Martin Damian just referred you to him? Had you ever auditioned for him before?" he asked me with a slight frown, not exactly the wide smile and congratulatory hug and kiss I had been looking for. "How did he know what this Renfield guy would be looking for? How do they know each other?"26

"Well, they're both directors, Rick," I replied, kind of startled at his not-exactly-overwhelmingly-supportive response. "I'm sure a lot of people in that field meet at different events, maybe film festivals or something."27

"It just sounds strange," he continued, tilting his head slightly as he looked at me, pulling back a little to meet my eyes. "And Renfield, he didn't have any others read their part with you? Did you see anyone else waiting to try out, or anything like that, going through their lines in another room? You weren't alone in there with him, were you?"28

I tried to think back, and the more I thought about it, the more odd the whole occurrence struck me. He was right…there hadn't really been any others around. In fact, now that I thought about it, I had never been the only one auditioning or waiting to audition in any of the other roles I had tried for. And I wasn't so sure that we weren't alone in the building at the time.29

But so what? That didn't necessarily mean anything. It was a small company, a low budget independent film, not a bustling, big movie studio. And Magnus Renfield certainly hadn't been inappropriate in any way. Believe me, fellow wannabe-actors and directors alike have tried to "seduce" me before, I can sense that sort of person's vibe. With Renfield it hadn't been there. What, was Rick seriously worried I was in danger or something- I was obviously here and fine. Or was he jealous?30

"Well, thanks for all the support, babe," I said lightly, but I really was sort of ticked off by what he was implying, or at least what I thought he was implying. "You know, you could act more excited, since this is only what I've been trying to accomplish for over half my life."31

"Look, I'm sorry, Kendall…I am glad for you, don't get me wrong," he said quickly, probably seeing in my eyes that I wasn't very pleased with his reaction. "But you have to admit it's a pretty strange occurrence. I'm sure it's legit, but you do have to be careful with things like that. There are all kinds of scam artists out there, or shady dealings in situations like that."32

"Rick Regan, honestly," I rolled my eyes, dismissing him; he's given me these talks before, and every time I'm more certain that they come three quarters out of his jealousy. "I can handle myself. If Renfield ever tries anything, it's not like I would let him go with it. And trust me, the man didn't seem like that at all. I doubt we'll be alone together while filming much in the first place, there will be all the rest of the cast and crew."33

"Well…congratulations, Kendall," he said, though he still didn't sound as happy as I would have liked. He pulled me against his chest and kissed me, but I knew he was still worrying. "That's amazing news, baby. You'll knock their socks off. How much do you get paid? What's the movie? What's the part- have you read the whole script yet?"34

Leaning back against Rick once more, I began to tell him what I knew…which was, the more I thought about it, not very much. But hey, he is NOT going to rub off on me and infect me with his pessimistic attitude. I'm sure I'll have enough of that once I'm working fourteen or fifteen hour days, probably screaming through most of it since my character is a female in a horror movie. Now is my time to just enjoy this. 35

But I really do wish he hadn't made me start questioning myself. 36

I met again with Renfield today for a while; he gave me the full script and spoke with me about my character. 'What character' is the question I had once I read the whole script, but hey, who am I to quibble over small details, right?38

Meredith Nancy, my role, is basically our typical paper-thin, girl-next-door horror movie chick, a girl too stupid to realize that she's friends with homicidal sociopaths. Seriously I'm going to have to add a lot of improv to make her more realistic, but I don't know if I should. Should I chance offending Renfield at this point? He did help create her… I guess I could always try slipping "my" take of the scene in while we're filming and see how he takes it. I know it's a lost cause to make her seem more likeable and intelligent without rewriting the entire character- or more likely, the entire script. But it can't hurt to give her a few cool lines here and there, right?39

Other than that, it was perfectly fine with Renfield, and I made sure to tell Rick later. Such a worrier, my man. I think he's loosening up a little, or deciding not to act as jealous or something, at least around me. When I was talking to him he smacked my ass playfully and said before he knew it, Rick Regan, distinguished and popular lawyer-in-training, would be reduced to "what's-his-name- you know, the loser boyfriend of that totally hot famous actress, Kendall Burlingame." 40

I know he was just messing around, but really, who knows? That could be true one day. Not that I'd ever think of Rick as a loser or "what's-his-name," or would want anyone else to either. But it could happen…who knows how the next ten years could go? 41

I asked Renfield about the other characters today and the actors that played them, when we would meet and start rehearsing. He said in two days we'll meet for our first "orientation," as he called it, and get to know each other, start going through the script. I didn't recognize the names of any of the other main actors in the film he listed, but then, I guess I didn't expect to. It's not like you expect Oscar winners to be in any movie like this. 42

Anyway, I met some of the camera men today too- Fred, Chuck, and Mike. They seemed like nice enough guys, friendly- I hope all the rest of the cast and crew are this easy to get along with. 43

Have to say there's one thing about the script that kind of worries me…now that I've read through it, I've seen the sex scene. MY sex scene. Before going off on this retarded kill spree, Meredith's boyfriend in the story, Alex, is supposed to have sex with her, to secure her trust in him or something. The script didn't go into explicit detail, but I AM going to have to be topless, wearing only underwear, and all over some actor I don't know. It's not that I can't do it, or that I'm freaked out by it. That's my job as an actress to get into it, obviously, as if I were my character. I'm just concerned that, cheesy as the rest of the script is, that this scene won't be done tastefully.44

I talked to Renfield about it while we were talking about my "character," and he promised that it wouldn't be. He said very little of my body would be shown, and that I would agree to which parts were. And he assured me that Sloane Jason, the actor who plays Alex, will be respectful of me and we would work together to figure out how to play our scene. I hope he's right about Sloane Jason. I could tell Renfield was sincere, but you never know about people you don't know.45

I haven't mentioned that bit of info about the sex scene to Rick yet. He's already so jealous, I can just imagine how he'd react if I told him I am going to be simulating sex with another man, practically naked. He'd go off about how they're trying to "exploit" me or something, which is code for "only I should be able to see your goodies." No use telling the guy it's not Kendall Burlingame they're going to be seeing, it's Meredith Nancy.46

Anyway, two more days until the job starts- sort of, anyway. Can't wait!47

Met the rest of the cast today, and we're definitely a good-looking bunch all together, I have to say. As far as everything else goes…well making this movie is going to be an interesting experience.48

Sloane Jason, the actor who plays Alex, Meredith's boyfriend- you know, the one I'll be doing the sex scene with- well, he's extremely attractive. Dark hair and eyes, goatee, tall but not freakishly so…I don't think it's going to be very hard to get in character with the guy. Not so sure how I'm going to downplay his looks whenever Rick sees the final product, though. What I'm not getting is why some more well known movie producer hasn't snatched him up by this point. We all know that looks matter more than ability in a lot of cases in Hollywood. Why else would anyone let Jessica Simpson or Paris Hilton anywhere near a mic or camera?49

He's actually pretty good as an actor, too, much better than I expected. When we were reading through the script, Sloane gave his incredibly cheesy character a subtle air of menace and suspense in the way he worded his lines…and that's just sitting in a folding chair in a circle, not even walking through the part yet. It really excites me to know he might actually challenge me and help me grow in my skills. He seems alright as a person too, quiet, polite, and with an intensity about him that's sort of like Renfield's. This one's a go-getter from what I can tell, probably pretty aggressive about getting what he wants even with all the quiet manners. Maybe that will make the sex scenes even better- okay, just kidding! Really, I was- I'm sure once we add in the stage directions and script and people standing three feet away with the camera in our faces, it will just be all in a day's work.50

The other guy is Jay Prescott, who plays Blake, Alex's best friend and the boyfriend of Amber, my character Meredith's best friend. Jay is a short-haired blonde, more talkative and jokey than Sloane. He always seems to be smiling; he's one of those people who doesn't meet a stranger, I guess. I think he might be ADD, or at least restless, since he's always shifting his body in his seat, tapping his fingers on his leg, not letting his eyes settle on anything for long. He doesn't seem to take acting very seriously at all, even for long enough to stay in character. Maybe that's the reason Renfield chose him in the first place. Jay IS Blake, his character, a typical class clown. 51

And quite the flirt too. Within fifteen minutes of meeting us he had already hit on me and both of the other girls in the cast. Tali seemed to encourage it if you ask me. I noticed she mentioned more than once that she wasn't looking for a serious relationship. But Cara seemed annoyed, maybe even angered by it. As for me, I didn't really care. The guy seems harmless.52

The other actresses were Tali Hardesty, a dark-haired, dark-eyed girl several inches taller than me, and Cara Curtis, a shorter, slim blonde. They play Amber, Meredith's best friend, and Cassie, the jealous fifth wheel that is secretly in love with Amber, to Meredith's hidden knowledge. I know, real soap opera mumbo jumbo, right? 53

Tali seems pretty nice though. She has a very wide smile, and she talks often and enthusiastically. I bet she was a cheerleader in high school. And if she wasn't, she should have been. She's also, like Jay, way touchy-feely. I think she squeezed my shoulder to emphasize something she was saying to me at least three times, and the girl's eye contact is a little overbearing sometimes. I mean, you CAN'T look away from her. To be honest, she seemed sweet, but she made me feel a little awkward.54

Maybe Cara felt the same way, because she was pretty quiet, and her voice was brusque, almost rude a lot of times. She sat in her chair pretty stiffly, making sure to keep her limbs from even brushing mine or Tali's beside her, so I guess Tali's easy, thoughtless touching made her uncomfortable. I don't know how the girl expects to be kissing and touching Tali in the movie when she can barely seem to stand touching her hand or arm, but I guess that's not my problem.55

Tali, from what I could tell from the script reading, isn't a very good actress. She puts too much emphasis on words, overacting and making it hokey. Cara, on the other hand, seems detached, which isn't really in keeping with her vengeful character Cassie. But like the previous observation, not my problem. Selfish as it sounds, maybe their lack of talent is a good thing, so Sloane and I can steal the show.56

Or else they'll improve once we're actually going through our parts and using props and special effects and stuff. That kind of thing can really help you get in the moment sometimes. Anyway, they're both gorgeous girls, so they'll look good on screen making out, and Renfield seems satisfied. And that's all that counts, right?57