To Make You Go Crazy
I look around the hallway of the top floor of the Petit Ermitage while I wait to be let into the suite. Venetian plaster on the walls. The door opens as I’m chastising myself for being able to differentiate between types of plaster. Standing in the door is a petite wisp of a woman bundled up in one of the complimentary robes. “Hi,” she starts with a shy smile. “It’s nice to meet you. Please come in,” she said gesturing into the room. Her voice is both foreign and familiar. I’d watched all her movies in preparation, but there’s a lilt to her voice cameras don’t quite catch.
“Thank you again for the interview. I know you don’t do this often. Or ever, for that matter.”
“Full disclosure – my publicist is making me. She told me I need to clear the air before the movies premiere. Her exact words were, ‘Go on the offensive.’ So, here we are.” An inherent calm permeated the space as she padded past the striped sofa. And there’s something out of place about her poise. She doesn’t seem like a woman in the midst of a potentially career ending scandal. “Would you like something to drink? The wet bar has anything and everything. Or eat? I can call down for room service.”
“No, I’m fine for now. Thank you.” I glance around the suite. The room is immaculate even though she’s been holed up here for a week without leaving. The only thing out of the ordinary is the fire going in the fireplace in the middle of July.
“Well, I’m going to fix myself a cocktail,” she says, reaching for the Tanqueray. As she pours, she catches my confused glance at the fireplace. “I can turn that off if it’s too warm for you? I just find fireplaces really soothing. Reminds me of growing up.”
“Oh no, it’s fine.”
“Well let me know if you change your mind.” She takes a seat on the loveseat with a rocks glass containing gin, a lemon, and lime.
“So would you like to dive right into the hard stuff, or work up to it?” I asked, hitting the record button, setting the device on the coffee table.
“I don’t have a preference.”
“You know, why don’t we start at the beginning – why you moved to Hollywood? From what I’ve read you moved to L.A. when you were only nineteen?”
“’Moved’ isn’t really the word I’d use. I, more or less, just took off. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing or where I was going. I just left.”
“I guess I didn’t want anyone to talk to me out of it. It was a spur of the moment decision. I was young, and very dumb. I had no business trying to take on Hollywood. But I wanted to try, and as cliché as it sounds, I felt like it was ‘now or never.’ I knew if I didn’t leave then, I never would. So I left,” she said taking a gulp of her gin.
“You landed your first role almost immediately, correct?
She nodded as she took another drink. “I had been here about a week.”
“So, your very first job – you worked with Charles Rois. He cast you as the lead, even though you’d never worked on a film before. Any idea why he would do that when they had A list actresses auditioning for the part?”
“Charlie has always enjoyed casting the unknown. He likes discovering people. I think it makes him feel…,” she said trailing off, looking at something I couldn’t see. “I think it makes him feel influential, to launch someone’s career. But, I didn’t sleep with him for the part if that’s what you’re alluding to. Though our affair did start shortly after we started filming.”
“2010? It started in 2010? I had no idea it had been going on for that long.”
“No one knows that. But yeah, we’ve been together for almost seven years now. Though he’s trying to spin the whole thing as a late night on set gone wrong, a moment of weakness.”
“How does that make you feel?”
“It doesn’t make me feel anything really. It’s not surprising. When a man carries on with another woman for the better part of a decade, he’s only thinking about what he wants. He’s only looking out for himself.”
“How did you think this would end?”
“I didn’t think about it. The end was inevitable, that much I knew. But I never thought far enough ahead to wonder what would do it. Though I will say, of all the possible ways it could have come to light, I never thought it would be an email hack. I had no idea he was stupid enough to write about it in an email. I didn’t even know he’d told anyone about us.” She swirled the ice in her glass before drinking the remainder of her gin. She walked over to the bar, grabbed the bottle, and placed it on the coffee table. “It’s been a rough week,” she said pouring another drink. “So where were we? The affair?”
“You’re being painted, for lack of a better term, as the villain or instigator, in all this. Any thoughts on that?”
She shrugged. “Society likes to blame women – for anything and everything – so again, not surprised. I’m in no way completely innocent. I knew he was married. But when men in power positions start affairs with young, extremely naive girls, I wouldn’t say the scales are tipped equally. So if I’m not crying victim, he sure as hell shouldn’t be.”
“How did you manage to carry on that long with no one knowing?”
“Well, I’m an actress so deception is almost like a reflex for me. And he’s a director, so he knows how to make people do what he wants them to do, and think what he wants them to think.”
“And it didn’t bother you knowing it wouldn’t ever go anywhere? You never wanted more?”
“No, it was enough to be young, and in love. I did love him for a time, at the beginning. The longer I’ve been here, the more I’ve learned, the more that love faded. But by that point it was such a habit. I didn’t even question what I was doing.”
“And while this was going on, you not only made a name for yourself in Hollywood, but also built a rock solid reputation. In my research I couldn’t find anything negative that’s been said about working with you.” She was nodding along while sipping her second drink. “Now all of that is on the verge of collapse.”
“Is it though?”
“Isn’t it?” I challenge. “Careers have ended over a lot less.”
She straightened her back as she set her drink on the table. “Here’s the thing,” she started, “everybody loves a good comeback. The same people who give praise, and build you up will be the first ones to tear you down. If you have the character to weather it, they’ll also be the ones to put you back on top. If they don’t, then that’s that I guess. My time is done. I can move on.”
“So just playing devil’s advocate here. Let’s say this ends your career. You’re okay with that? You won’t miss this?” I asked, gesturing to the extravagant suite.
“Maybe at first. I mean it’s not even noon, and I’m chugging gin, but I think after the initial shock of it wears off… This place-,” she paused, running her fingers through her curly hair, lightly shaking her head. “I think it would be nice to not have to actively work at being sane. And now that I think about it, back home I never would have had an affair with a married man. This place is enough to make you go crazy.”
“So you wouldn’t stay here?”
“No, a thousand times, no.”
“Any idea where?”
“Anywhere I wouldn’t have to get dressed up, and put on makeup to go get coffee, but no where in particular,” she said, covering her face with her hands, bending so she’s folded at the waist collapsed into herself. A few seconds later she sat back up, still covering her face. “I’m sorry, I need a moment,” she said as she made her way to the bathroom, closing the door behind her.