She should know that nothing is ever easy. Yes, dreams come true but there is always some price to pay. And sometimes this price really does matter.
Everything begins in May, sweet, busy, hot May in Arizona. There are lots of rumors concerning Ridley Scott's new movie they're shooting there. She knows it has to be them because, come on, Ridley Scott, Robert Downey Jr., Bryce Dallas Howard and her, each of them is able to create new rumors in Hollywood on their own, and here they are together, shooting a major movie, and you've got to count in the stormy relationship with her boyfriend, that one party, and two or three cups of coffee she had with Robert. She knows it's insane and she shouldn't do that, but Bryce leaves for Los Angeles, New York, London and Paris because of the huge Terminator: Salvation promo tour, and she feels a little lonely in Arizona and Robert is nice, and funny, and full of surprises, and she really likes his company. They're both professionals anyway, right?
It is late at night and she is out for coffee with Robert ('One free evening, Nat, don't tell me you don't need a good coffee.' Yes, she always does.) when her agent calls. For a moment she contemplates not answering it and switching the cell off, but she doesn't and thanks God for that.
"I just got offered a role in the new Rob Marshall's musical," she says after she finally hangs up. Robert chuckles and tells her she should accept it. "Why?" she asks, laughing, because she knows perfectly why. He says that her eyes are shining.
The script looks very promising, songs are great, her style, and she gets to play the piano, she likes that. Her agent gives her the script on the set during one of the breaks. She sits on the chair, her fingers traveling across the nearest table as if it was a piano, she's humming line after line, thinking that the music and the words are perfect and she cannot wait for this. The agent doesn't even have to ask, she just calls the producers straight ahead.
Bryce is back a few days later and they meet in a hotel restaurant the evening she's to be back on the set. Robert is amused; she looks at him, trying to make him stop, but it just amuses him more so she rolls her eyes, tells Bryce about the musical and takes out the script.
"It's going to be a great movie," Bryce says straight after she reads the title and Natalie looks at her, suspicious.
"How do you know?" she asks. Robert tries not to laugh, she kicks him under the table.
"Oh, come on, Nat! You, Christian and Gary? It just has to be a great movie," Bryce answers and the smile on Natalie's face disappears. Christian? Christian Bale? And Gary Oldman? Why didn't anyone tell her?!
"Christian? Christian Bale?" she asks, just to make sure before she'll kill her agent or make some other kind of mistake.
"Well, yeah," Bryce answers flipping through the pages carelessly. "Christian got the script when we were in London on…" she stops and looks at Natalie, it takes her a few seconds to finally get it. "You didn't know, did you?"
She just nods silently, trying to figure out how the hell she can pull out of it now. She doesn't really want to, she's always wanted to play in a musical and now she's not only in some musical but Rob Marshall's musical, and hell, she really does want to do that. But come on, Christian Bale and Gary Oldman? Yes, she's played with Gary before but she was so young and stupid back then, and she didn't have to sing with him.
She's trying to get out, calling her agent to say that she's changed her mind and doesn't want to play in the movie anymore. It can't be so hard to do, there's just the script and the songs she has, she didn't sign any contract yet and they still have time to find someone else. Bryce says she is out of her mind and she should take the role anyway, she tells her about working with Bale and assures her that there is nothing to worry about. She doesn't think so though, because this is Christian Bale and it really does matter to her.
She's still going for coffee with Robert a lot. He rarely says anything, just sits with her listening to her attempts to convince herself that she made a good choice. But it doesn't really work, she's sad and upset, and finally, one evening, she orders a drink instead of coffee and it can't be good.
Two weeks later she finally has a free weekend. She goes to New York. She's tired, tired of herself and perhaps a little angry. She just wants to spend one quiet day with her mother but then she gets this call from Ewan McGregor and she hasn't seen him for months. They meet in a little coffee shop they discovered one cold afternoon two years ago. She arrives earlier and reads a book when he comes in. She doesn't notice him, not before he stops next to her table and laughs. She looks up, getting ready to tell something funny as she always does but then she notices someone else, someone she didn't expect. Damn, she forgot Ewan made a movie with Bale.
She looks at Ewan with death threat in her eyes and she smiles to Bale her best fake smile, she says him it's really nice to meet him and she is really sorry they can't shoot this musical together, and hell, she knows somewhere deep inside it is true, she is really sorry and yes, she wants to sing with him, she is just too afraid and now she's sure she's had a crush on him ever since Equilibrium and these puppy scenes. Shooting any movie with him would be the worst thing she could do.
She says she'll think about it. Which is actually stupid but it is not really her fault. He's nice, really nice and it looks like he really cares about her being in this movie. Besides, look at his smile, can you just say no when he's smiling like that?
He has to go earlier because his wife and daughter are waiting for him, and for a moment she feels a bit guilty, she doesn't know exactly why but she does. He kisses her on the cheek and asks one more time, says that Gary really counts on her and Rob doesn't want to hear about anyone else. It makes her feel a bit proud and maybe, just maybe this is worth it?
"I'm not gonna sing with him," she says without conviction after Christian is gone.
"Of course," Ewan nods seriously but his eyes are laughing and he's laughing himself just a moment later so she just hits him in the head and joins him in laughter.
Six moths later she wants to kill herself for making the biggest mistake in her life. It's just one day on the set, one wonderful, perfect day and it's definitely enough. His character plays the piano. Yes, she read the script. Yes, she knew he would do it. Yes, she watched I'm not there and seeing him playing the guitar was enough for her. No, she didn't know this is going to be like this, like her holding her breath and… well, and wanting to kill herself. But come on, no one can really blame her, it's just his long fingers running across the keyboard, touching every key in a slight, careful manner, almost caressing it and it's not even enough, it's just too much for her and it's just first day on the set.
She starts dating some guy from the lighting department. He's really nice and he gives her real coffee every day but even for her it looks desperate. Gary is the first who notices what is going on. It's probably that she looks at Christian too often, she's really surprised nobody noticed it earlier. After one particularly hard scene, Gary asks her to dinner. Christian wants to go with them, saying it's a great idea and she's terrified, but Gary says something about remembering old days, missing her or something and Christian just looks at her in a strange way, shrugs and tells her he's next in line. Gary is good at talking but this time he's just nice and talks about their work on Léon, her career and something about their luck. He's not talking about her crush on Christian, just when he kisses her cheek good night he says she should take care of herself. Yes, she should and no, she won't.
One week later they're shooting the first kissing scene. And she knows this is stupid but she can't concentrate on the scene before the kiss and they have to repeat it over and over again until she finally asks for a short break. Rob wants to talk to her but Christian waves his hand and goes after her (yes, it is exactly what she needs, thank you very much).
"What's going on?" he asks softly and all she wants is to send him to hell. It's nothing, really, everything's perfect, I just can't play when you look at me like that, as if you could care about me and really would like to kiss me, not just because you have to. But you know, except for this, I'm totally perfect.
"Nothing," she lies, not looking at him because he is good with reading the eyes. "Really, I'll be okay in a minute."
He doesn't believe her, damn him, his fingers trace her chin, he lifts up her face, looks at her with his deep, dark, hypnotizing eyes and she can't look away. His face is a little closer, his lips almost touch hers, she can feel his warm breath on her cheek. His voice is lower and a little hoarse when he finally speaks. "Maybe we should try it before shooting." The voice in the back on her head tells her it's stupid, and it is, but she just nods and he kisses her softly, slowly, his lips warm and she's almost laughing because he tastes coffee, and it doesn't help, no, not at all.
"See, you can do that," he says after a longer moment when they finally have to take a breath. His voice is still a little hoarse and there is this surprising thought that it could bother him as much as it bothers her. She doesn't say anything, just smiles, nods and goes back with him on the set. They don't need to repeat the scene now but they do that just in case.
A week later she comes to a conclusion that this movie wasn't as bad idea she thought it was. She can kiss Christian Bale and nobody can tell her she shouldn't. She has to, it's in the script, right? It's the part of the story and nothing can change it. Sometimes they also kiss between the scenes or in the hotel before he wishes her good night and goes to his room. They call it 'practicing', avoiding each other's eyes after every additional kiss. She's not dating the lighting guy anymore.
But, as they say, all good things come to an end and there is the last day of filming. She goes back to New York for a while, spends days with her mother and nights with friends. It should be a good thing actually, to have fun, to be back to the real world, world without songs describing every piece of your dream life, without kissing different men and calling it 'practicing'. Okay, one man but it really doesn't matter, does it? One day she stumbles upon Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law and they end up having a really nice evening, maybe even too nice considering her gets home at six a.m. and for the first time in her life she is really drunk.
Three days later Ewan calls and asks how is it going with Christian. There is an uncomfortable silence and then she says "very funny" and hangs up. Three hours later he's at her place, apologizing and asking her to dinner. And he has this huge, sad teddy bear and she just cannot say no to him.
When she leaves New York to go to Paris on the set of another movie she's almost convinced she forgot about him. She has a lot of fun working with kids and there is so many things on the set, so many people around her she has no time to think about some married guy far, far away. Yes, in another Galaxy. She spends a lot of time with Penelope Cruz whom she's working with, she even tries to date but it's not going well. There is this guy from sound department, one of the extras, some Frenchman she meets in a bakery one rainy day. Everything seems to go well and she can even talk to him and about him when it comes to the promotion, she can make fun of him when he says he doesn't like interviews every time they have to do one.
And then she has this stupid panic attack just before the premiere. She's dressed in a blue Valentino dress and thinks the shade of blue should be deeper. Damn, she doesn't even like blue so much. Yet again, it's all his fault because he exists and there was that day on the set when they were sitting on the floor together and he told her he liked her dress, the blue one she was wearing in The Revenge of the Sith. She didn't think to ask which one.
Did she even mention she doesn't like blue? But he does and he's smiling when she's getting out of limousine. And this is enough, even if his arm is around Sibi and she's not smiling, not at all. She thinks she should feel a little guilty but she doesn't and she's smiling because the dress works even if it's not as blue as should be.
They are in Los Angeles and New York, Paris, London, Rome and she is wearing one blue dress after another, each of them more blue than the last. Her stylist says she should wear some other colors too. Maybe something red or yellow. She says she'll think about it. But she doesn't and Gary has way too much fun at her cost.
Finally, they are in Cannes. She really likes the city, and her new blue dress will look great in the theatre. Cannes is always full of surprises and one of them is that Christian arrives alone. He tells her she looks even more beautiful than the last time, as he always does, and she asks about Sibi but he apparently doesn't want to talk about it because he just holds her hand, kisses her fingers and they go to the theatre and she does feel guilty now, just a little bit, but still, and it's a good thing, actually.
They don't stay at the party too long. He says he's tired and she doesn't want to stay without him, so she comes up with some fictional migraine. They are living in the same hotel so he accompanies her to the room. They stay at the corridor and she's looking for the right words to invite him in but he's the first to break the silence.
"Remember that scene?" he asks, looking at her carefully, as if he wasn't sure what he was doing.
"Which one exactly?" she laughs. She blames on the champagne.
"The one in the old house," he starts and she gets it but lets him finish, "with this piano completely out of tune."
She nods. Yes, she remembers it very well. That was really hard to shoot because the piano was really out of tune and they both shuddered almost every time they were trying to use it. Even this famous first kiss did not take as many takes as that scene. But they did it and this is the most intimate scene in the whole movie, ending with the most wonderful song and a kiss and this almost erotic scene.
"I've got a piano in my room," he says. She smiles and wants to ask something but it's almost as if he was reading her mind. "In tune, this time," he adds. There is a short pause during which they are smiling nervously until he waves his hand impatient and finally asks. "Wanna try?"