When Stiles got word that not only had he been cast in his first lead role, but it was opposite Derek Hale, he shouted so loudly into his phone that his agent Lydia complained for weeks about her ringing ears. He shouted all the way to the kitchen, where it took his father three full minutes to calm him down enough for him to finally tell him the news.
Derek Hale was amazing, okay? He was the reason Stiles had become an actor. He had vivid memories of sitting in front of the television after his mother’s death, binge-watching the terrible soap opera that Derek had been on at the time. He had graduated from that to a sitcom, and from that to a science-fiction series, and had started getting his first big movie roles when he was sixteen.
When Stiles was sixteen, he had gone to the theater with friends, and come out in love with the man on the screen. Derek had taken what could have otherwise been a boring teen comedy cutie and infused him with so much pathos that it was palpable in the movie theater. His performance was so good that it earned him a Golden Globe nomination, even though the movie itself was mediocre.
It was at that moment, leaving the theater, that Stiles had decided to become an actor. Actors could make people feel things. He wanted to be able to do that, too.
So he started making videos to put on YouTube and taking acting classes. His father seemed a little bit skeptical that his hyperactive son would be able to focus on it well enough (“this won’t be like your trumpet lessons, right? Or your magic lessons? Or your – ”), but the classes actually improved his concentration. He auditioned for a small role in a movie based off a YA book the next year, and landed it, surprising himself more than anyone else.
Now there he was, twenty-three years old, and not only had he been cast as one of two main roles in the post-apocalyptic action movie of his dreams, it was alongside Derek Hale.
“Oh my God,” he said, when he had finally stopped hyperventilating. “He’s going to hate me. He’s so much more talented than I am. I mean. Have you seen him? Did you see him in the Inception sequel? Or, or that scene in the new Mission Impossible movie where he was trapped underwater and really, genuinely thought he was going to die? Or the – ”
“Son,” Noah said, grasping Stiles’ shoulders, “I have seen literally every moment of filmcraft wrought by Derek Hale, thanks to you. And I have also seen every moment wrought by you, and read the reviews of your last role. Something about bringing a depth and level of emotion into your character that set you apart from other actors?”
“Well, yeah, but Derek Hale was doing that when he was eleven years old,” Stiles said, but his nerves had dialed down a bit. His father was right. He was good at what he did. He just had to remember that and try to have some confidence, and he’d be fine. Plus, the script looks amazing. The movie took place in a world without magic – or so it appeared at the beginning. As the movie went on, it was revealed that the religious authoritarians had sucked the magic out of the world and were using it to protect their own safe havens. Stiles had to admit he was somewhat fascinated by the idea of a world without any magic at all, even though his own magical ability was – well, sketchy at best, although that was mainly because he didn’t have the focus for it.
It was several months before he actually met Derek, because although his role was one of the last to be cast, there was still plenty for the producers and the crew to do before filming actually started. In the meantime, he had plenty of training of his own to do – he didn’t exactly need to be buff as his character was described as ‘wiry but strong’, but he did need to put on some muscle. When they actually met, it was on location, in the Nevada desert. The sun was intense, but it was winter, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The crew had a magic user who had rigged up little patches of shade for them to stand in if it got too hot.
He had thought about – practically obsessed over – what he should say to Derek when they met. Should he tell Derek he was a fan? Would that make things weird? He was an actor, too, should he not have other movie stars he looked up to?
“Look,” Lydia said, tossing her hair as he gnawed on the question on the day before filming started, “if Mark Ruffalo can get moogly-eyed over Paul Rudd on the red carpet, I think you’re allowed to greet Derek Hale with ‘I’m a big fan, I really loved you in’ . . . whatever his favorite role of yours is. It’s fine to say it, just don’t make a big deal out of it.”
Stiles had to take several deep breaths before agreeing that this seemed like sound advice. So when he stepped into the Nevada desert and spotted Derek Hale sitting by his trailer, waiting for makeup to be ready for him, he walked over while reminding himself to be confident. “Hey, Derek – is it okay if I call you Derek? – I wanted to stop over and introduce myself. You can call me Stiles, nobody bothers with my real name.”
Derek stood up and shook his outstretched hand, his face set in an expression that was almost completely blank of expression. All he said in response was, “Okay.”
So hyped up that he barely noticed the lack of reaction, Stiles continued, “Sorry, I have to have just a little bit of a fanboy moment here. I wanted to let you know that I really loved you in The Last Judgment.”
He had dithered for almost an hour about which movie to use as an example. Nothing too obscure, because he didn’t want to look like a stalker. But nothing too mainstream, because he didn’t want to look like he had just pulled Derek up on the IMDB and picked a movie to watch. Derek’s role in The Last Judgment, a horror movie about the Anti-Christ, had barely been ten minutes long, but God, they had been ten amazing minutes.
Stiles felt a flood of relief when he saw a tiny bit of a smile crack Derek’s stoic exterior. “Thanks,” he said. “I think that one is underrated, personally.”
“Oh my God, I loved that movie,” Stiles said. “I’m generally not a big horror fan because they can have so much gore, but as a suspense thriller, that one was just,” he makes a ‘chef’s kiss’ gesture with one hand. “I haven’t done anywhere near as much action stuff as you, so, if I’m not performing up to snuff at any point, please tell me. Sugarcoat nothing.”
“Okay,” Derek said. He was quiet for a brief moment before he said, “You were in that latest Bruce Willis movie though, weren’t you?”
“Hah, yeah, but I was just the tech geek,” Stiles said, beaming. Derek had heard of him, or at least had looked him up after finding out who his costar was going to be. “Didn’t do any action work of my own.”
“You haven’t been in much,” Derek said with a faint frown.
Stiles felt a twist of nervousness in his stomach, and as usual, took refuge in talking way too much. “Oh, yeah, this is actually only my fourth role in an actual film, and I hardly did any TV work, not even commercials or anything. I didn’t get into acting until I was sixteen, so I’m way behind you in terms of actual hours spent on film. I know it’s a big risk casting a relative unknown in as big a role as this, but I guess they probably have your name for the box office pull, so hopefully they don’t need mine? I heard they auditioned something like two hundred people and I got called to audition three times, so in the end I must have done something that they thought was worthwhile – ”
He might have kept talking for several more hours in that vein, but someone calls out, “Hale, makeup is ready for you!”
Without ceremony, Derek said, “See you on set,” to Stiles before heading towards the makeup trailer.
Stiles finally managed to stop his monologue, although only in time to shout after him, “Looking forward to working with you!”
Derek didn’t respond, but that was okay. Stiles took several more deep breaths and said to himself, “Yeah, okay, that went well, that went great.”
An hour later, it was his turn with makeup, and half an hour after that, he was on set opposite Derek for the first time. They were shooting a scene from the middle of the movie, the one right after he and Stiles’ characters had met for the first time and joined forces in a precarious situation without even knowing each other’s names.
In the movie, Stiles’ character was the one who was battle-hardened and plagued by loss, while Derek’s character was the relative innocent who had just been ejected from one of the safe havens that harbored the rich and privileged. He spent the first half hour of the movie learning what he had to do to survive, before meeting Stiles’ character. Stiles initially had no time for him, but gradually warmed up to him over the course of the movie, until they finally worked together to fight their way into the safe haven and steal the artifact that they had been using to drain the area of its magic.
Lydia had remarked tartly that it was going to be a miracle if Stiles could act like he had no time for Derek Hale, but Stiles was a devotee to his craft and he was sure he could pull it off.
That was what he thought until Derek looked up at him, instantly transitioning from aloof actor into wounded bunny rabbit. “Thanks. I . . . I never would have survived if you hadn’t turned up.”
Stiles was so awestruck that it took him a moment to remember his line. Fortunately, he was able to roughly deliver, “Yeah, whatever,” before turning to stalk away.
“Cut!” Deucalion, the director, shouted. He frowned over at them before saying, “Stilinski, what was that?”
“Oh, uh,” Stiles stammered, feeling his face flush with embarrassment. “I just thought a bit of hesitation would hint at the, the softness that Solomon has under his skin, you know? Like, he’s a complete asshole in this scene, but we still want the audience to know he’s not a heartless SOB.”
Deucalion mulled that over for a minute, then said, “Let’s shoot it without and I’ll see which I like better.”
“Sure thing, boss,” Stiles said. They shot it again, this time without. Then they shot it a third time, with him hesitating but for a smaller amount of time, and then a fourth time with him hesitating a little bit longer, and then eighteen more times, all on slight variations. It was maddening, but Stiles understood why. This first moment between the two characters was absolutely crucial. It needed to be perfect.
“Cut!” Deucalion shouted again. “That’s the one. Nice work, both of you. Okay, we’re going to start rolling again at Hale’s next line.”
They got back in place, and Derek shouted, “Wait!” at Stiles’ retreating back, and they filmed the next bit of the scene. And the next, and the next, doing the scene over and over again until everything was as perfect as they could make it. The sun was setting by the time they were done, and Stiles was exhausted. He had always heard that the really good directors would spend an entire day on ten minutes of footage, but he had never experienced it before.
Even so, he was absolutely dying to spend more time in Derek Hale’s glorious presence. He couldn’t get over what a master of the craft Derek was. His performance was absolutely consistent, always spot-on. He could deliver the same line a hundred times and make it convincing every single time. Still, Stiles didn’t think he had embarrassed himself. Deucalion had been asking Derek to change his performance almost as often as Stiles, to see how he liked different deliveries of different lines.
“You wanna go grab a drink?” Stiles asked, practically bursting out of his own skin with excitement.
Derek looked around the Nevada desert. “Where?”
“Oh, uh, yeah, good point. I mean. You could come over to my trailer for a bit? Hang out? Or I could hang at yours? I’m sure your trailer is nicer than mine. Though mine’s not bad! I brought my xBox. I guess I don’t really have any of the sort of liquor werewolves really like, but I have plenty of soda and Red Bull – ”
Derek frowned at him slightly, then shook his head and said, “No, thanks. I’m pretty beat.”
“Right, of course. Good night! Rest up! See you tomorrow!” Stiles forced himself to stop talking before jogging over to his trailer (he had a trailer!) to call his dad and tell him about how everything had gone.
It wasn’t all roses, of course. There were rough days where Deucalion didn’t seem to like anything he did and he was sure he was going to be fired. There were days when it was pouring rain, days when various coworkers were in bad moods, days when he had a sore throat from so much talking, days when rigorous stuntwork left him sore and groaning. There was a day when he was allergic to a new type of makeup they used and spent the next several hours itching and puffy. There was a day when costume messed up and gave him a silver bracelet which made Derek’s hackles stand up every time Stiles came near him, and it took them two hours to figure out why. There were days that just flat out sucked. But he reminded himself every night that he was grateful to have gotten the role.
Once every week or so, he tried inviting Derek out for a drink, or to hang out, and Derek always responded with the same, “Thanks, but no,” with some sort of excuse. Stiles would think that Derek just hated him, but honestly, he never saw Derek interact with anyone on set. Every other member of the cast and crew who tried to approach him got the same politely professional brush-off. In fact, Stiles thought that the two minute conversation about movies they’d had at the beginning of filming was the most conversation he’d seen Derek have with anyone.
The only emotion he ever saw Derek show when he wasn’t on camera was annoyance. He got annoyed at other cast members if they weren’t being professional, at crew members if they hadn’t done what he asked, even at Deucalion sometimes. There was an exchange where Deucalion said, “I’m not here to be your friend,” and Derek had retorted, “Oh, someone told you what a friend is?” which Stiles sort of wanted to have tattooed on his chest. Derek could speak entire volumes with a roll of his eyes or the quirk of an eyebrow. He managed to be just as expressive off set as on it when it came to being five hundred percent done with other people.
Derek still had several days left of filming when Stiles filmed his last scene. He managed to say, “Hey, so, call me some time, don’t be a stranger!”
Derek gave him a funny look and said, “You know I’ll see you for the press tour, right?”
“Oh my God I get to go on a press tour!” Stiles burst out, practically hugging himself with glee. “Holy shit this is so exciting and I know you’ve done them dozens of times but holy shit I’m gonna be on a press tour with Derek Hale I am gonna cry – ”
Derek shook his head a little and said, “Calm down before you hurt yourself,” before heading back onto set.
“I will never be calm!” Stiles shouted after him, then put his face in his hands and mumbled, “Why did I say that? I mean, it’s true, but why?”
He got on the plane and went home and proceeded to tell his father absolutely everything that had happened on set, despite having e-mailed and Skyped with him frequently. He told his father so much about it that he was fairly sure his father zoned out halfway through the conversation.
“This movie is gonna be so good, though,” he said, to literally anybody who would listen. “The script was amazing and Deucalion was a super hard-ass but also amazing and Derek was – ”
“Amazing?” Lydia supplied, not looking up from the script she was reading.
A few months later, he saw Derek again for the press tour. He’d had no idea what to wear and been intensely glad that there was a wardrobe person there who gave him clothes to change into. He was even more glad that he saw this person before he saw Derek, who looked fantastic as usual. “Hey, good to see you again!” he said, trying not to gush.
“Yeah,” Derek replied, and okay, it wasn’t the most scintillating response, but at least it was a positive response.
The interviews were a weird experience. Stiles had already realized that a lot of Derek’s public persona was just a show, but to watch him turn on the charm and charisma like he had flipped a switch was just bizarre. He smiled at the interviewer like he was truly happy to be there, flirted a little if it was a woman of about his age, and generally looked into the camera like he knew he was melting the heart of anyone who watched the interview.
They answered tons of questions about their acting methods, about the script, about the setting. Stiles took every opportunity to mention how lucky he was and how amazing it had been to work alongside Derek and Deucalion and how both of them had taught him so much. Derek gave him a sidelong glance once or twice, as if wondering when this had happened, but didn’t say anything about it.
Towards the end of the day, a young woman working for TMZ started off the interview by saying brightly, “So, Derek! It looks like Kate Argent has snagged the lead in the Top Gun reboot. How do you feel about that?”
Stiles was mystified by this question. He knew who Kate Argent was, and that she had been on the same sitcom as Derek, but that was all. He glanced over at Derek and saw that the charming smile had fallen off his face. He said, in the same professionally civil tone that he often used on set, “I feel like it has nothing to do with the movie that Stiles and I are here to promote.”
“Okay, but you know that your fans are going to want to hear your opinion on this! A lot of people expected that she would be blacklisted after what happened, but to have her land this huge role – ”
Derek interrupted. “Do you have a question about the movie?”
“I have lots of questions about the movie, but before that I just want to know your opinion on Kate – ”
Derek stood up. “This interview is over. Thank you for your time.” He turned and walked off the set without another word. Stiles gaped after him, then looked at the interviewer, half expecting that she would start grilling him for his opinions. She looked just as startled as he was, and that gave Stiles the opportunity to scramble off his seat and follow Derek. He had no idea what was going on, but was very sure that he sided with Derek on whatever the issue was.
He found Derek already on his phone. “Hey, Boyd. I just wanted to let you know that I walked out of the TMZ interview because she wouldn’t stop asking me about Kate. They might release the clip or not, I don’t know. Okay. Yeah, I’m okay. Thanks.”
When Derek hung up, Stiles said, “Uh, everything okay?”
“Yeah. I just wanted to call my agent real quick and warn him that there might be some blowback.” Derek frowned slightly and said, “I hope it doesn’t mess anything up for you.”
Stiles felt a warm glow in his chest and stomach. “Nah, I’ll be all right. She probably didn’t even know I was there.”
At that, Derek gave a snort. “Probably not. I’m going to run and get a water before the next interview.”
“Okay,” Stiles said, still a little bewildered.
He had thought he knew everything about Derek Hale, but he was obviously missing something. Derek lived as private a life as possible for a celebrity, but there was plenty about him on the internet. Stiles knew he had grown up in northern California as part of a huge werewolf pack, that he was one of five children, that he had been acting since he was four years old. He knew that Derek’s parents and two of his siblings had died in a fire when Derek was eighteen – that had been big news at the time. He knew every scrap of detail about Derek’s acting career and education. So what was he missing, and how the hell had he missed it?
Once he got home for the day, he immediately set to the internet. It quickly became obvious how he had missed it – it was something that had happened during the three months of intense training he had undergone before the film. He hadn’t been on the internet much, being too tired at the end of the day to do more than channel surf before going to bed.
Two months before they had started filming, Derek had released a statement on his official blog to join the #metoo movement. It was about how Kate Argent had sexually harassed and assaulted him on the set of the sitcom they were on together.
‘I met Kate Argent when I was fifteen. She showered me with compliments and made me feel wanted, respected, in a way that I hadn’t been before. She told me what an amazing actor I was, and how she knew I would be famous one day. It was great at first. But then things changed. She would always be near me, would ask me to spend time with her when we weren’t filming, would make sexual comments towards me. It made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t know how to say no. She was older, more established, more talented (or so I thought at the time).
When she started inviting me to her dressing room, I said no at first. But then she started rumors around set that I was unprofessional, that I had made comments about other actors or crew members. I asked her why she was doing it and she said, ‘you know why’. Then she invited me to her dressing room again. This time, I said yes.
My parents noticed a change in me, noticed that I had started having a lot of anxiety, especially before shooting days. They kept asking me what was wrong and I kept telling them it was just stress. My mother asked me more than once if I wanted to quit acting, that they wouldn’t pressure me into it if I didn’t want it. I think they were always afraid of what happened to child stars if their parents pressured them too much.
I never told them what was going on. A few months later, I got cast in one of my first major movie roles, and left the show. They were happy that I was feeling better, and they never made me talk about it.
It’s taken me years to realize that what happened wasn’t my fault. That she was in a position of power over me, which she abused. She threatened to ruin my career doing what I loved if I didn’t do as I was told. And what the Me Too Movement has made me realize is that I probably wasn’t her only victim. So I hope that by speaking out, I can make a difference to any other actors, any other people, who have been in similar positions, whether Kate Argent was the perpetrator or not. I hope I can convince you that whatever happened to you, it wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter if she told you that you wanted it. You didn’t ask for it. Whoever you are, I hope this helps you find peace.’
Stiles snuffled a little as he finished reading. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t known this, and he realized now why Derek had been so standoffish towards people on set. In a way, though, he was glad he hadn’t known. If he had, it would have been too easy to make things awkward by bringing it up. Instead, he had treated Derek like any other actor – one he respected, even revered, but not as a victim or a spokesperson for a movement.
Now that he did know, he was even more furious about what the interviewer had said. A few moments later, it occurred to him that the worst part was that yes, Kate Argent sure as hell had bagged that amazing role less than a year after Derek had spoken out against her. Reading an article on the controversy over her casting just made him more pissed. Most of the opinions seemed to boil down to the fact that since Derek had been a fifteen year old boy being hit on by a hot woman, it wasn’t like he had actually been assaulted. Several people seemed to think that was because he was a werewolf, nobody could have forced him to do anything he didn’t want to do. He had probably enjoyed it, and now was just trying to get attention.
“Like Derek Hale needs attention!” Stiles shouted at his computer. “You absolute miserable wankstains!”
He had to take several deep breaths, glad he hadn’t made a big deal out of it when the interviewer had brought it up. He wondered if he should bring it up, maybe tell Derek he had read the post, but decided against it. Since he hadn’t said anything so far, talking about it now would be weird. Derek definitely didn’t want to talk about it, and Stiles wasn’t going to make him.
~ ~ ~ ~