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They say that birth order affects the personality of the child. In Timmy’s case, the description of the youngest born fits him to a “T.”  Often equal parts charming and manipulative, silly and funny, highly competitive, friendly and outgoing with a terrific sense of humor, occasionally displaying risk-taking behaviors. 

One of his mother’s earliest memories of Timmy was as a toddler trying to make everyone at the family dinner table laugh. He was a born entertainer. 

In elementary school this served him well, making friends easily and charming the teachers. By middle school, his constant need for attention was a distraction. He was called into the principal’s office often, getting scolded for his disruptive behavior. He took on the rebel personality of” Lil’ Timmy Tim”, the misunderstood rapper who just wanted to have a good time and party with his friends.  This front served him at least for a while. But the truth was that he was gifted. An IQ off the charts, a deductive, inquisitive mind that was frankly, bored at middle school. It wasn’t until he tested and auditioned for the performing arts high school that he started to find his place. The audition was unremarkable, but something about the energy and charisma of the baby-faced 14 year old charmed two of the admissions committee.  He was chosen as an alternate and luckily for him, a spot opened up right before his freshman year. That’s when things changed. He was surrounded by kids not unlike himself. Extroverts with developing talent. Some were incredible dancers, others could sing like they were born Broadway belters. A few possessed that elusive charisma and focus that would lead them to a path of stardom or obscurity and destruction. 

Freshman year was spent trying to find his way among the sub cliques in this elite high school.

There were the beautiful self-obsessed dancers who agonized about every morsel of food and real or perceived injury, the driven and nerdy but likable techs who often literally held the keys to the kingdom.  The confident and sexy senior girls who took a liking to Tim, making him their mascot and treating him like a sexless cutie who they could harmlessly flirt with and tease. Little did they know, they were fodder for his late-night wankings and fantasies.  The older kids who were acting majors fell into two distinct groups. “The Leads,” Timmy called them in his mind, the select few who could sing, who could dance, who had bone structure that didn’t quit. These were the top of the food chain at LaGuardia. In other high schools, it was the jocks, (or the brains, if you went to Bronx High School of Science) who ruled the school, but here, it was the Leads. These are the kids who got excused absences for auditions, who took a leave to do a guest spot on a TV show, who got modeling contracts and ended up in Milan for senior year.  Everyone else was a character, equally encouraged by the staff, but whatever glow they’d have in their future was earned, not given automatically due to confluence of genes and luck. 

Tim observed everything he could about The Leads.  Who they dated, how they walked, what music they listened to. He was obsessed. He looked around his class and tried to parse out who the leads would be - he had no clue. But what he did deduct after his intense study was that it wasn’t only looks. It was how they interacted, their focus and engagement. Even though their personas were not fully formed, they were acutely aware of their effect. These few elites realized that the more they intently focused on others, the more attention they got, it created this circle of admiration which fed on itself. Timmy witnessed it first hand when a senior Lead asked him how it was going and made an effort to check in on him. Tim became a devoted fan for life. 

He studied them. He aspired to be one of them.  Meeting Lola sophomore year didn’t hurt. They were friends first, in a few classes together, liked the same music and tv shows. When everyone started pairing up it seemed pretty organic. It didn’t hurt that her mom was one of the world’s biggest pop stars. He tried to be cool around Madonna.

 What impressed him most was the aura of fame that she carried with her 24/7. Even when she was just being ‘mom’ there was this slippery ease that made Tim ache with envy and admiration. He observed the bustle and intensity around their household and knew deep in his core this was something he wanted. The longing to be something extraordinary. 

As a young actor living in New York City, Tim booked his fair share of commercials and bit parts even before he attended LaGuardia. The seed was watered and planted by the time he was 15.  

 When the arc on Homeland came up, Tim was ecstatic. 8 episodes of work on one of the hottest shows on cable. The chance to work with Claire Daines and Damian Lewis on location in Washington was an immense thrill.   Finally, he thought, this is what I want, what I worked so hard in school for. 

When Damian recommended him to his agent Brian, things got ramped up to an entirely new level. Suddenly he was reading scripts that weren’t just NYU grad shorts.  Fucking Christopher Nolan!! Nevermind he hardly appeared in the final cut. At the time it was devastating, but he got to observe and befriend Mathew McConaughey on location. An experience he wouldn’t trade for the world. 

A series of films followed. Some good, a couple of awful ones, each time he picked up a skill, knowledge, self-awareness that he didn’t have before. Soon, all plans to attend college, to put his career essentially on hold for four years became waylaid. He was on a roll, nailing the auditions and getting better and better scripts. Somewhere along the line, he decided to model his career on a calculated mash-up of Leo and Daniel Day-Lewis. 

He didn’t really have time for relationships. Things with Lola petered out. He was always discreet though, and never spoke about her or her family to anyone. This was out of character as he usually said what came into his mind first. One can assume that the non-disclosure agreements he signed scared the shit out of him. 

The Lead that was kind to him freshman year had minor success on Broadway two years out of Julliard. They crossed paths a few times and started hanging out. He was gorgeous, funny, smart, and Tim was smitten. 

His sexual awakening came later than many of his peers, and he still wasn’t sure how he identified. If he had to pick, (and no one was pressuring him) he might say pan, but for now, he was just going to have fun.  And he did. The sex with his re-discovered crush was exciting and bordered on dangerous, as both of their rising stars were too nascent to be thrust into a preconceived category. Tim wasn’t fully invested, he was one step removed, observing how it was different from being with Lola: the feelings, the actual sex, the stealthiness of it.  This was, in fact, the first of many affairs he had, learning something new each time, enjoying himself but remaining slightly distanced. His conquests were varied: a Broadway casting director, a realtor in his Mom’s office, even one of the senior girls that found him so “cute” when he was a freshman. His drive to become a major star superseded any attraction he felt or any pressure he received to commit.  There were vapid ingenues, adorable 2nd ad’s, hunky teamsters and beautiful art department coordinators in his bed at different times. With each person, he learned more about what turned him on and how to be a better lover.  

One thing that never changed was his respect for his fans and growing cadre of followers. He still considered himself a fan, feeling it most when he was on the red carpet, the thrill of being introduced to Meryl Streep or Glenn Close. He loved the rush of hearing people call his name when he got out of the studio provided SUV.  He became known for being ‘fan-friendly’ and making an extra effort to connect with people that had waited in line to see him. So many photos, hugs, and lots and lots of eye contact. He vowed to never forget what it felt like to stan someone. 

2019 proved to be a turning point as he was on every list of the top ten rising stars in Hollywood. Scripts were pouring in, fan websites were being created daily.  He had his choice of young leading male roles, be it a studio picture, low-budget indie, or high-end streaming service production. Literally, hundreds of scripts passed through Brian’s office earmarked for Tim. 

He read the ones that made it past Brian’s second assistant, otherwise, he’d have no time for work. When The Brave was sent to him on location, he read it three times.

Chapter Text

When you work for someone who is demanding and fair, a perfectionist and not an asshole, it makes you want to do your best. Imagine an entire tribe of people coming together for a defined period of time and creating something out of nothing. The leader has vision and intensity, a drive and desire to create something new and just a little bit mind-altering. That’s what it’s like to work on a film with Armie Hammer. Called the greatest director of the next generation, he’s been compared to everyone from Martin Scorsese to John Ford. His films are all different: a fantasy imagined in an alternative reality where humans don’t exist; a coming of age film set in Chicago after World War 2, an epic trans-global journey of a group of misfits out to save humanity. These are just a few of the films for which he’s been lauded and applauded.

Of all the people surprised by his triumphs, his family is by far the most confounded.
In prep school, his success in track and field was the only arena in which he garnered attention. Although he had always been handsome, his natural proclivity was one of cautious diffidence. Never one to make friends easily, he was secretly drawn to extroverts who could pull the attention and allow him to get on with whatever he was doing.

Choate/Rosemary Hall was the quintessential bastion of New England’s WASPY elite. The school provided Armie with the start to a sterling education and an address book that would serve him for his entire life. His reserved persona was often misinterpreted by students and faculty as self-absorbed and snobbish which he never bothered to correct. Those that took the time to get to know him were rewarded with a loyal friend who possessed a wry and intelligent sense of humor.

Years later, countless classmates recalled that they ‘went to school with Armie Hammer,’ yet they barely exchanged the briefest of words. He didn’t participate in theatre activities, there was no hint that one day actors would clamber to work with him. He did, however, adore his literature classes, often delving deep in the bibliography of a particular author, exceeding that which was required by his classes. If you had asked young Armie what he was most proud of, his answer certainly would have been his 4:06 mile time. The Prep School Mile Certificate was the only framed item in his dorm room.

His good looks and natural shyness drew girls like bees to honey. There was never that acne-scarred stage of self-imposed awkwardness. He dated one girl in school, Sara, the popular outgoing daughter of the headmaster. He could virtually disappear when she entered the room, and he liked that. During their junior and senior years, they often went into the charming town of Wallingford to get a coffee or just leave the campus for a break. Half Moon coffee was their destination on the day that changed everything. Sara went ahead to order and Armie’s attention was caught by a flyer on the community bulletin board. Wesleyan University, located only 25 minutes away, had a weekly film series highlighting classic and not to be missed films. The intros were often given by their esteemed film faculty and tickets were available to the public. Armie noted the showtime on Friday, and the fact that they were showing Apocalypse Now, projected in 35mm. He was intrigued as he had never seen the film that critics hailed as a masterpiece.

He became obsessed with the screenings at Wesleyan. He loved the professors’ brief talks in the beginning. The small glimpse into film crit captivated him. He went every week, seeing the good, the bad, the mediocre. He looked at the list of classes posted in the hall and longed to take every last one.

When it came time to apply to schools, Armie had his sights set on Wesleyan. Never mind the fact that he got into Oberlin, Haverford, Dartmouth, and Georgetown. When the acceptance letter from Wesleyan came, his normal reserve was tossed aside, as he whooped and hollered down the hall of his dorm.

He was accepted as a film studies major contingent upon a grade of 85 or above in History of Global Cinema and The Language of Hollywood: Styles, Storytelling, and Technology. He took both of the prerequisites the summer before his Freshman year. Wrangling a landscaping job at Choate/Rosemary Hall that included housing, Armie got to stay close to Wesleyan and Sara too. They had a wonderful summer together before she went off to Duke.

Armie flourished in college. All the qualities that made him the aloof observer in prep school made him a treasured natural-born leader at Wesleyan. His insight and developing aesthetic was appreciated by his like-minded fellow students. Two years of attending Friday night film screenings helped to hone his sensibilities as did the classes in screenwriting, film history and cinematography.

A summer internship in Los Angeles put him in contact with professionals in the field. Working as a production assistant confirmed that he wanted to be where the action was: on set. After meeting director Ed Zwick at a party and asking him what advice he would give to a young director, Zwick told him the following: “Go, live life. Have adventures, travel, meet different people. You cannot expect to tell stories about the human experience without fully experiencing what it means to be human.” And although to Zwick, it may have been idle cocktail chatter, to Armie it was a mandate, the start of his quest to become the best director he could possibly be.

The pursuit began in earnest once Armie graduated. Armie took Mr. Zwick’s advice to heart, and passed up the offer of a development job in New York and he booked a one-way ticket to London. What followed was a year of adventure that couldn’t be replicated by grad school.
It certainly wasn’t out of the question. The American Film Institute was happy to defer his admission for a year.

He found a weekly apartment rental in Chelsea, off the Fulham Road, and proceeded to explore London on foot.

Armie spent hours at the Tate studying the paintings of Turner. He was especially fascinated by this quiet rebel who turned Neoclassicism inside out, by freeing his brushstrokes and his liberal unrestrained use of color. He truly felt that he was witnessing the birth of Modernism.

Armie visited the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the Naval War Museum.
He went to every possible West End show he could. He sought out avant-garde performances and poetry readings.

At a particularly trendy small music venue, he was approached by two startlingly beautiful women. One was a thin English model type with large eyes and shaggy blonde hair, the other, a round luscious Venus with olive skin and black hair. They were obviously together and openly affectionate. They had been shooting him conspiratorial glances all evening, and finally, they sought him out during a break in the music.

“Hey gorgeous, you look like you are flying solo tonight. Fancy a drink?” the brunette asked, her green eyes luminous in the dark confines of the bar. She was lovely, such a contrast to the pinched, thin-lipped girls he had grown up with. The blonde, with impossibly high cheekbones and creamy luminescent skin, stroked his arm and ask in a soft purr, “What’s your pleasure?” Armie had read about scenarios like this, mostly in his friends’ purloined Penthouse magazines.
“Um, Macallan rocks if you’re buying.” His confidence, mostly a front at this point, could lead one to believe that he was approached by strangers with libidinous intent often.

They made small talk, Armie telling them that he was on the equivalent of an American ‘walk-about‘ - not exactly a gap year, more like a year of opportunities. The women exchanged a private look when he mentioned opportunities and he picked up on it. “What?” he said, smile wide, canines grazing the corners of his grinning lips.
“Right. How do we say this without sounding like a pair of slags?” the blonde asked. “Screw it, Amanda and I want you to come home with us. Fancy a shag you gorgeous creature?”
Without speaking, Armie downed his scotch and put his arms around each of the beautiful women.

What followed can only be described as a Dionysiac repast. Sensual, spontaneous, and utterly mind-blowing. He had never been with women who were so in touch with what they wanted and needed. They used him in all the most delightful ways, he was there to essentially service them. All three made the most of the situation. Amanda and Beth were, when together, a sight to behold. He wasn’t sure if it was an enhanced display due to his presence but they lavished each other with such ravenous adoration that he found himself in a constant state of arousal. They took care of him with their mouths and their bodies, over and over until all three of them collapsed; a spent jumble of sore limbs and sleepy smiles.
Breakfast the next morning was good coffee, some toast, and cheerful kisses goodbye. Armie would never forget them.

Chapter Text

Another month in London and Armie was ready to travel the continent.  He goes straight to Berlin, anxious to find out about the burgeoning art scene. 

His first stop is Sammlung Boros, the repurposed bunker which houses the private collection of Christian and Karen Boros. Some of the art was incomprehensible to him, other pieces moved him to tears without explanation. He has that experience quite often in Berlin. Odd moments of beauty juxtaposed with urban fatigue and gloomy overcast skies

Armie is honing his observational skills. Something that will serve to make him the exceptional director he will eventually become.  He discerns a marked difference between London and Berlin. He notices people taking time out to sip a beer or go for a bike ride with no apparent destination. The vibe is funkier than London, with less emphasis on money and consumption and more of an unspoken insistence to enjoy the moment.  He sees a city that in some ways is avant-garde and utterly modern and in other ways is weighted heavily by its past. There is an undercurrent of decadence. He’s heard of the fetish clubs, the nightspots with themed parties where anything goes. But he doesn’t seek that out. Primarily, his desire is to visit galleries and listen to music or so he has convinced himself. 

He attends “ Ngorongoro II ,” a four-day exhibition of works by more than 150 contemporary artists held in a former ceramic studio in the north of Berlin. It is the cutting edge of a cutting edge scene. Some of the art is shocking, some incredibly ugly, but it is all unique and evocative and not commercial. Armie is excited by it and feels oddly liberated. 

Witnessing these varied forms of self-expression inspires and encourages him. Literally, anything and everything is possible. It is the closest he has come in his short life to a spiritual experience. In part, it’s Berlin, a city that is being reborn and Armie is witnessing the transfiguration. 

Normally, he is a bit of a lone wolf, enjoying his own company more than most others. But lately, he has started to feel a bit isolated. There have been so many compelling experiences but no one to discuss them with; he finds himself craving the simple act of sharing a meal and some conversation.  It is with this frame of mind that he enters the neighborhood beer garden- a small open pavilion with wide shared tables. He sits down and orders a beer. Not five minutes later a group of men and women enter and sit with him at the table. They are a rowdy lot, joking and happy to be out together. Their English is flawless and they welcome Armie into their group. 

As the evening progresses, after currywurst and spätzle, a few beers and a lot of laughter, he realizes how much he is enjoying himself and how he missed the simple company of friends. They exchange numbers and make plans to meet again.

The next time they get together, they decide to go out dancing. Ah, finally, Armie thinks, I get to experience some of that famous Berlin nightlife.

They decide to go to Blank: less touristy, better music, possibly a more liberal door policy than the infamous Berghain. A long walk down an old cement bunker throbbing with techno music gets Armie in the mood.  It’s a club known for continuous dancing more than random sex in the back room. It’s been so long that he has let loose, and even though he is self-conscious about his dancing, Armie is into it. No one is judging him; they are just one pulsing mob of humanity, sweating, moving, an altered state. They stay for a few hours. It’s so much fun.

Three of their group wants the evening to continue. So, Armie tags along to try to get into Berghain. This too is located in a repurposed warehouse, and is supposedly the hottest club in Europe. The buzz is that the music is hot, the outfits are hotter, and anything goes. 

His mind is blown. People are walking around in full leather fetish gear, women with no tops, people engaged in various sex acts in the back room, and dancing, and music, and alcohol. There is another club in the building, Lab.oratory. It is primarily a gay sex club and he’s heard it makes Berghain seem like Disneyland. Armie doesn’t think he’s quite ready for that scene anytime soon. 

He goes outside to give his ears a break and sits propped up against the graffiti covered exterior wall. He’s had quite a few drinks and is feeling no pain, although he wouldn’t say he was wasted. 

Obviously, he’s been followed, because when he takes out a cigarette, there is a young man ready with a light.  He is slim with clear almost colorless eyes. His hair is bleached white, his face chiseled and smooth. A small gold hoop adorns his nose.  He is young. He looks like some otherworldly nymph with a pouty mouth and a penetrating stare. 

He cups Armie’s hand as he helps him light his cigarette, and rakes his eyes over Armie’s 6 foot 5 inch frame. Armie blows out a thin stream of smoke and gazes at the alluring boy. He swallows and decides that whatever happens, happens. 

 Placing himself between Armie’s long outstretched legs he whispers, “Ich will deinen schwanz lutschen.”

Armie’s German is not fluent but the man is no fool, the look on this boy’s face is one of pure carnality. Armie nods his head and unconsciously spreads his legs wider apart. There is a hand on his zipper - no turning back now. The boy’s delicate palm brushes over his straining bulge and frees his aching cock.   The warm wet heat that immediately surrounds him elicits a groan, his head pressing against the sooty wall, exposing his Adam’s apple. “Fuuuuuuuk” he says, arching against the kid’s mouth, as he feels two hands grip his buttocks and pull him closer. His hands find purchase in the soft white hair. This is a first for him, a man giving him head. Actually, the first sexual encounter of any kind with a man.  It’s exciting. The taboo of outdoor sex, with a young man no less, the anonymity, and shit , the kid’s awesome oral skills combine to push Armie over the edge in minutes. As he zips up, he watches the young man wipe his mouth with the back of his hand and smirk a bit. 

“Nett. Groß.” He strolls away, looking at Armie over his shoulder. 

So this is what Rolling Stone meant when they said Berlin had an “unconventional party scene.”

Berlin is a turning point for Armie. The art becomes a living metaphor for him. Anything goes.   With the enthusiasm of youth and the advantage of a trust fund, he makes a vow not to limit his creativity or his life choices. 

He continues traveling, deciding that he has to see Bilbao and San Sebastian, as well as Valencia and Barcelona.  Calatrava’s monumental work in Valencia imbues Armie’s imagination with visions of a future he can now visualize. In an email to his former girlfriend, he describes the architecture as more cinematic than any film he’s ever seen.  

 It’s been close to 8 months that he’s been away. He won’t realize just how much he’s learned and changed until he’s back and can process all that he has discovered about the world, and himself. 

 

Chapter Text

The directing track at the American Film Institute is rigorous,  but Armie loves every second of it. There are two focal points of study- the aesthetic and the practical. Everyone works on a crew and everyone gets an opportunity to either produce, write, shoot, direct, edit, or design a project. As far as developing an aesthetic, the students are encouraged to see as many films as they can, attend lectures, immerse themselves in art, architecture, literature, and music.  

Armie graduates with a Masters in Fine Arts - his chosen field: directing.  He knows there are no guarantees. Many of the students spent their two years at AFI building a reel or developing a screenplay. Armie’s worldly enough to know that no one gets plucked from film school to direct a feature, or even a music video. He fully intends to work his way up the ladder. 

His first job is as a PA; xeroxing scripts, doing coffee runs, setting out folding chairs for production meetings. He observes everyone and everything, subtly checking out who holds the power at the table, who commands the respect and attention of the crew. Armie works long, crazy hours doing an impeccable job at even the most menial tasks. 

His competence does not go unnoticed. The production manager, an intense, compelling 26- year-old woman named Francisca sees Armie giving it 100% on a daily basis. She recognizes something in him that she also possesses: a drive to excel and prove to others that you’re worthy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes, and his deep rich voice makes her a bit weak. 

Frankie, as she is known by the crew, is smart, decisive, and straightforward. 

Only those who are bullshitters or can’t handle the truth, fear her. 

She gets hired on a feature film shooting in Los Angeles and asks Armie if he will come work with her.  She gives him the choice of either being the Key Set PA or offers to train him as a 2nd 2nd Assistant Director.  He doesn’t hesitate to take the job as 2nd 2nd. He knows the job entails wrangling talent and setting up the background extras. It also involves managing the production reports and supervising some of the production assistants.  Of course, he’s brilliant at it. 

  The hours are even longer as a 2nd 2nd. He is often at the set two hours before the call time, and usually, he is the last to leave. Frankie is right there in the trenches with him. She is in every way Armie’s equal. She may know more in terms of production and how things work, but their mutual respect and attraction make the transition to lovers somewhat seamless. 

She is a master teacher, pointing out the differences between the location manager’s challenges and the forces that work against the lead man in the set decorating department. She explains how the art department is constantly waiting on casting to get something they need for the graphic designer. He learns things that it would take years on set to learn, the interdependencies and subtle power grabs between departments.  

In bed, Armie is the guide, trying new things, finding out what turns him on and gets Frankie going. It’s the perfect antidote to the stress they both encounter during the day. And when they are both not exhausted, they mess around with light bondage, toys, and role play. Frankie is an enthusiastic and open-minded lover. 

 They are intellectually suited as well. When they have time, they are both avid readers and consumers of both high-brow and pop culture. They love trying new food - everything from LA street meat to pop-up guest chef food trucks. Underlying their connection is a true friendship. It’s love. And it’s glorious - based on trust, respect, and chemistry; they both realize how rare it is.  

Armie moves up to 2nd A.D., a thankless, heinous job that is basically putting out one fire after another. The 2nd is both indispensable and, if you are doing your job well, totally invisible. Armie’s main responsibility is creating the call sheet for each day - an interdepartmental Escher drawing that coordinates the movement of crew, vehicles, actors, and a million other minuscule parts.  Attention to detail, good communication skills, and the patience of a saint are all absolute requirements. Armie kills it. He’s so good at it, that within two years he becomes the most requested 2nd AD in Los Angeles. He ends up working non-stop on various projects, both with and without Frankie. A few keep him out of town on location for weeks at a time. Frankie gets it. It’s never been an issue before, but it’s rough. It’s not that she doesn’t trust Armie, she just misses him.  At some point, they both realize they’re spending more time apart than together. To both Frankie and Armie, their careers are just the most important thing right now. They agree to see other people and do what they have to do to make location shooting as bearable as possible. 

By the time Armie is 25, he’s ready to become a 1st AD. It’s a natural progression, supervising all aspects of production, the crew, and keeping the show on schedule.  It’s the #2 position on set: important, unforgiving and incessant. By now, Armie’s met a lot of important people in the business. He’s made friends and worked closely with the decision-makers and some very big stars. They all know he wants to direct.  A few have told him when he finds the right script he should let them read it. 

Two years later, the opportunity presents itself. An amazing script, written by a young woman who grew up in Missoula, Montana and found her way to New York City. It’s a highly personal journey but Armie imbues it with pathos and humor and an outsider’s astute observations. The performances, the camera work, the locations, all click and it is a gem. It becomes an indie darling, premiering at Sundance and getting bought by Lionsgate.  Armie’s great at the press junkets, bringing his enthusiasm and astonishment in equal parts to the interviews and post- screening discussions. 

After that, things snowball. Great scripts find their way to him, he gets a world-class agent, and he and Frankie start to work together again. She is producing now and the trust and respect they shared is still there. The romance is not.  The next film is an action buddy comedy with an edge. Anti-establishment and hysterically funny, written by two twenty-something stand-up comedians, it turns the genre upside down. Armie brings his ace storytelling skills into play and the relatively low-budget film becomes a box office smash. His casting of two unknowns in the lead roles was risky but proved to be the secret ingredient.  Hollywood loves a winner. The studios line up to give him their best scripts. Armie is efficient, hard-working, decisive, and compelling. He is on a roll. There is no stopping him.

The awards, the red carpets, the accolades all fade away, and it comes down to finding stories that speak to him.  

And that’s where we find him, calling his agent and tell him that he wants to direct The Brave.

Chapter Text

 

Armie’s phone buzzes with a text.  Timmy Chalamet is here. 

Armie tosses the script onto the coffee table in his office and goes out to reception to meet Tim. 

God, he’s unreal - is Armie’s very first thought. That face, those eyes, I’m fucked...   

Tim’s leaning across one of the PA’s desks, already making friends and giggling about something on her laptop screen.  When he realizes Armie has entered the room he throws his bag down and approaches him.

“Wow, man, like it’s really, really great to meet you. I’m a huge fan. Missoula is one of my favorite films ever. Man. This is such an honor. And you’re so fuckin’ tall.” 

Armie goes to shake his hand and Timmy somewhat inappropriately hugs him. At that moment, Frankie walks into the reception area and sees Armie’s WASPY reserve being severely tested. She tries to contain her laughter but some giggles leak out. She goes in for the save.

“Hi Tim, I’m Francesca, the line producer, everyone calls me Frankie.” They shake hands.

“Let’s go into my office,” Armie’s sonorous voice echoes a bit in the large reception area.  

Timmy’s bowled over. He didn’t think he had a physical ideal but when he sees Armie he realizes he does. He’s much more attractive than most of the leading men he’s worked with. He even gives the Hemsworth brothers a run for their money.  It energizes him, and he proceeds to go into full Timmy mode, unlike the director, there is no restraint.

“The script, Armie, man. The script.  It’s so amazing, where did you find it? I mean, I read a lot of shit  and this was just like ten times better than anything I’ve read in four years.”  Armie’s eyes crinkle up, and he nods his head in agreement.

“I get sent tons of scripts. In fact, I have someone on my staff whose only job is reading scripts and doing coverage. This one just really stood out. I’m glad it resonated with you.”

“I will do anything to get this role man. I mean audition, do a chemistry read, whatever. I just really, really want to work with you.  Daniel and Ansel both go on and on about how awesome and collaborative you are,” Tim says enthusiastically. 

Frankie stays for about ten minutes. “Guys, I have a shit-ton of work to do. Tim, it was great meeting you. Armie, don’t forget you have drinks with some people from MRC at 6. One martini can put the final 17 million in place.”  She knocks on Armie’s desk for emphasis and then leaves, shutting the door behind her. 

They talk for two hours about the script, about life, about the luxury of making films and creating new realities. Each, in turn, manages to put the magnetic draw aside.

They talk about art, about Europe, about music. For Tim, it’s like no other interview he’s ever had. 

Armie is one cool customer. Tim picks up on some thread of mutual attraction. He doesn’t let himself go there, but the undercurrent is strong and potent. Fuck. If Tim weren’t already attracted to men, meeting Armie would tip the scales. His talent, his looks, his intelligence, he is smitten. 

 

 As Armie assesses Tim and tries to picture him in the role, he thinks he might be just a tad too beautiful, too exposed. He knows that he is a good actor, some of his past performances were incredibly nuanced. His physical beauty is just not what Armie had in mind.  After two hours together, Armie is convinced that Tom Holland, his first choice is right for the role. He instinctively feels the metamorphosis the character has to go through will be in better hands with Holland. 

Armie has mastered that trait that some find so hard to do...he maintains a pleasant almost intimate facade that leads one to believe there is a strong mutual affinity.  Tim, whose instincts are usually spot on, has no idea that Hammer doesn’t want him for the part.  

Tim leaves the L.A. production office feeling like he really connected with Armie. He calls Brian right away. 


“Hey. How are you? Did you fix the water leak in the Upstate house? Good. Good. Yeah. It went really, really well. He’s...kind of amazing.  Yes. Super easy to talk to. I really like what he had to say about the character of Ohitekah. Will you let me know right away if they call with an offer?  Just so you know, this one is not about the money at all. I don’t want to risk losing it ‘cause of my quote, you know? Yeah, Yeah. I don’t think all their financing is in place. I overheard something the producer said.  Well, okay, yes, I’ll be patient. I really, really want this. Yeah. Ok, Brian. Talk tomorrow. Yeah. Bye.”  

He plans on staying in Los Angeles for a week, seeing friends, taking a few meetings that Brian gets for him.  Two days after being introduced to Armie he arranges to get together with his friend Troy at Erth Cafe- an old classmate from LaGuardia. Troy has been working a lot since he finished the Yale Theatre program. He’s a tall, nice-looking Asian man with whom Timmy has been friends with for over eight years.   

Tim buys the beverages, and Troy goes to look for seats. A few people recognize Timmy but in general, Los Angelenos are a pretty respectful bunch, especially at a hipster coffee place like Erth. 

He knows that Troy worked with Armie on his last film and pumps him for some information.  

 “What’s he like? I mean, on set.”

Troy sits and takes his latte from Tim.  

“Thanks. Well, I only worked for two weeks on the film but he’s really intense. I mean he rehearsed the hell out of the lead actors and spent a lot of time with all of us. He ate meals with the crew and basically anyone could talk to him about anything.  A majority of the key players have done like 4 or 5 movies with him. He’s the kind of person that you just want to be loyal to, you know?”

Timmy is an active listener, nodding his head, occasionally glancing down at his hands in order to fully concentrate on what Troy is saying. 

 “During filming, he has this odd, monk-like routine he adheres to: no meat, eats very little, no booze, no sex, meditates 2 times a day, drinks like a ton of electrolyte water. He says it allows him to fully focus and be totally present or some shit.” 

Tim looks up and breaks into a huge smile. 

“That’s amazing. The Aussies I work with were the total opposite. They got fuckin’ trashed after wrap, always there, bright and early at call though.”

“Are you up for The Brave ? Is that what this third degree is all about?” Troy asks goodnaturedly.

“Yeah, I mean, I think so? It’s a fantastic script. You know, young white boy gets captured by a Native American tribe, raised as their own, confronts his past on the battlefield.  It’s just got it all, and I really want to do it.”

“I heard that they made an offer to Q'orianka Kilcher for the female lead,” Troy adds. 

“Really? She was amazing in The New World . It figures: Terrance Malik is one of Armie’s heroes.”  Troy looks at Timmy and tilts his head, raising his eyebrows.

“You know me, Troy, I am always one to research. Of course I read everything I could about Armie before I met him.”

Troy nods, smiles, and looks down.

“What dude? What are you not saying?”

“Just don’t fall in love with him, man. I know you have a rep about getting with the people you work with. Don’t do it. I hear he keeps his private life really private anyway.”

Timmy cracks up. He knows about his reputation. At least half of it is hyperbole anyway. 

“Let me get the part first, then I’ll worry about fucking him.”

Troy shakes his head and smiles. “I hope you do Timmy, I really do.”
“What fuck him?” Timmy smiles.

Troy squeezes his arm and says, “No dude, get the part. I hope you do.” 

Three days later, Armie calls Tim directly and lets him know the role has gone to Tom Holland.  Armie is pleasant on the call, reserved and professional. He mentions that he is going up to Calgary in two days, and says he hopes one day they can work together.  Tim is stunned and devastated. He hangs up the phone and stews for the rest of the day, alternating between angry, frustrated and sad. 

The next day, Tim impulsively (against his agent’s strong wishes) goes back to the production office and tries to convince Armie that he has made a mistake.  He brushes by the bank of PA’s sitting outside in reception. Someone gets up to try and stop him and they fail. He is in Armie’s office with the door closed in seconds.  

“Uh. Tim, Hi. What’s going on?” Armie says, startled. 

Armie is shocked to see Tim in his office and stands up to go open the door. Nothing like this has ever happened before. The production coordinator sticks his head in and asks if everything is okay?  Armie nods and sits back down. He lets Tim talk for the next 20 minutes. Tim paces, gesticulates, orates, and then begs. In a perverse way, Armie is impressed. He’s never seen someone want a part so badly and be willing to risk everything to try and get it.  As Tim reaches the crescendo of his speech, Frankie sticks her head in. Her and Timmy lock eyes and they both smile, his genuine and open, hers more restrained, and a bit concerned.  

The conversation finishes with Armie telling Tim that Tom Holland has accepted the role and is coming up to Calgary to start training with the horses in a couple of days.    

As Tim prepares to leave, defeated, he attempts to do damage control for his impulsive behavior. 

“Armie. I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have barged in here to beg for the role. Now I feel like a jerk, an entitled asshole. I’m just gonna slink away and hope you forgive me.” 

Armie nods and doesn’t make a move to get up. Actors, he thinks. Most of them are so fucking self-obsessed. Tim’s no different. He waits a few moments to make sure Tim’s really gone and then goes to Frankie’s office.

Standing in her door frame, he waits until she is off the phone. 

“OK, that was truly weird,” Armie says, shaking his head. “Kinda pissed me off, him thinking he could just come in here and try and change my mind.”

“You gotta admire the balls though,” Frankie adds. “There’s something to be said for going after what you want. Anyway Armie, wheels up in 24 hours, You need anything done? Packing, house stuff?” 

Armie just shakes his head and returns to his office. 



Chapter Text

They have six weeks of prep scheduled in Calgary. The first month it’s just department heads and local production assistant help. Frankie has her work cut out for her. Hiring crew, securing stages, trucks, setting up location scouts, the list is endless and all-consuming. She is mostly concerned with the physical aspects of production and making sure everything is in place to execute Armie’s vision. So many little parts must combine for a hopefully smooth shoot.

The money, financing, and distribution fall into the lap of the four executive producers associated with the film. Once Tom Holland accepted the role, the money was guaranteed. In Hollywood, that’s what it comes down to. Can a name secure money and financing if there is no major studio attached? If so, that is real power.

Armie has his own priorities. He sets up two workshops with local acting groups. He has come to find that there are always one or two unpolished gems in every place he has ever shot. Sometimes it’s their faces, reflecting so much more than any script. Sometimes it’s a young person, uninhibited and genuine, who brings pure energy to the screen. Part of Hammer’s legacy is his discovery of unknown talent. It’s not a fluke, he works hard at it. It takes talent to spot talent and Armie enjoys the process. There are quite a few small parts for the members of the tribe the lead character is adopted into. Armie has done his homework and knows that Calgary is home to 33,000 aboriginal people, with a particularly high population of Métis, aboriginal people with mixed settler and First Nations ancestry. The Métis have their own language, heritage, and cultural identity.

In the original book the script is based on, the Native population were Sioux. Armie has changed it to Cree, and the setting to Montana, even though they are shooting in Calgary. It all comes down to production incentives and the Canadian dollar versus the American dollar.

Holland arrives and Frankie has found him a lovely rental house in Bel Aire. It’s as modern and luxurious as anything in Beverly Hills or Scarsdale. It’s actually on the market for $4,750,00 but the owners are happy to take the $30,000. a month that production is paying for the rental. It’s much too corporate and sparse for Frankie’s taste, but Tom wanted a gym, a screening room, and a swimming pool and this fits the bill.

It’s a 45-minute drive to the location. Tom will have a driver, so he can study his lines, sleep, whatever he wants while en route to and from set.

Armie has rented a much more modest one-bedroom home about 15 minutes from the location. He found it himself, ostensibly a glass cabin in the woods.

It suits him. He can get away here and yet be close to the reservation where they are shooting. It’s also insanely beautiful and restive which he needs while being immersed in the project.
There is a furnished apartment in downtown Calgary for Armie’s use while they are rehearsing.

Tom Holland calls the office when he is settled. He is fully psyched and onboard for the opportunity. Dinner plans are set. Just Armie, Frankie and Tom tonight, a relaxed intimate dinner.
They meet at Blink, in their back private dining room. It’s in a 19th century building in downtown Calgary. The restaurant has a delicious farm to table menu of local delicacies.
Tom is congenial and sweet. He is seemingly unaffected by his fame. Armie asks him if there are any areas of concern about his character, wanting to dispel any anxiety he may be holding on to. The accent isn’t an issue for him, he can speak a non-regional North American accent with little or no effort. He’s quite concerned about the wig he may have to wear, he’s not sure what Armie has in mind. He loves animals and is not afraid of horses, although he has not ridden. They have a horse trainer who is Native American and an expert in riding techniques of various tribes, so Armie assures him that it will be fine.

They continue chatting over coffee and arrange to meet tomorrow. Armie wants to go through the script with Tom and talk about what he calls the ‘emotional temperature’ of each scene. This is what Armie does. He spends massive amounts of time with his actors, figuring out things together, bringing the characters to life. It’s a process that elicits the best possible performances and bonds director and actor together.

Preproduction is going incredibly well until Holland can’t breathe. Literally. His lungs fill up and he cannot take a breath. The trainer, who has a full medical kit at the horse facility, injects him with an Epi-pen and possibly saves his life. Turns out Holland is deathly allergic to horses. The character’s relationship with his horse (and the many, many scenes on horseback) can’t be left up to the visual effects department. There is no way that CGI can overcome this kind of challenge.
Tom leaves the picture after much discussion and back and forth with the studio. Timing is an issue now, as they are a month out from shooting. The financiers submit a list of leading men they would be happy with. Tim is at the top of the list. Frankie calls Jeremy Irvine’s agent, (Armie’s second choice) and finds out he has committed to a Taika Waititi film. The pressure increases when suits from the financing partners show up.

Armie considers scrapping the whole project.

He is sitting in his office and texts Frankie to come talk to him.
She plops down on the couch and speaks without preamble. “I don’t understand why you are so reluctant to hire Chalamet. I mean, he really wants the part, he’s got a solid fan base, he’s studio-approved, and above all else he’s a great actor. What’s holding you back?”
Armie frowns. He knows for a fact his attraction to Tim will eventually bite him in the ass, and not in a good way. It makes him angry and somewhat defiant.
“I don’t know, he’s just too...um, beautiful, maybe. I just never saw the character like that. To me, Ohitekah was always a little less formed, less sculptural than Chalament, more ordinary I guess. Casting is my thing, Frankie. I feel like it’s being taken away from me, it’s not a compromise I think I am willing to make. Plus, I’m not over him barging into my office trying to get the part. So not cool.”

“Okay Armie, let me lay this out for you.” Frankie stands up and starts pacing across the front of Armie’s desk. “You have 22 people employed here right now. In a week you will have 125 people on your payroll. In 2 weeks there will be 175 individuals counting on you to keep them employed for the next 10 weeks. Every single one of these people has committed to you, to us. They have mortgages, they have kids in college, they have mouths to feed. Bailing on them because you didn’t get your way seems short sighted. Being forced to cast the incredibly talented Timotheé Chalamet isn’t a problem Armie. I say, make the best of a not so perfect situation and get on with it.”

Frankie is the only person who would ever speak to Armie like this. He knows that. Her undiluted honesty is one of the things he counts on.
He stares back at her. Intense blue eyes fixed firmly on her face. She briefly wonders if she’s gone too far. He nods. “Ok, let me think about this.”
Frankie takes that as her cue to go back to her office. The entire office staff watches as she leaves Armie’s office and crosses the room.
She turns around and smirks. “This, folks, is what limbo feels like. Stand by.”

Chapter Text

After much back and forth, Armie tells Frankie to call Tim’s agent and offer him the role.

Pre-production continues. The casting is completed, construction of the sets both on stage and at the reservation is well underway. The crew is a mixed one, department heads and keys are from the States, and the rest are from Canada. Frankie has assembled the best people available.
Gossip and rumors are the black market currency of any crew. When word gets around that Holland is out, unease spreads like wildfire. Work slows down as people confer and whisper trying to figure out what is going to happen. When four Armani clad studio people show up, the shit really hits the fan. People are worried that the whole show is going down. Finally, the head of the construction crew has had enough and he leaves set and drives into Calgary to the production office.
Frankie looks up from the forms on her desk to see Ted, her construction foreman standing in the door to her office. “Hey man, what’s up? Didn’t expect to see you here today. Is everything ok?”
“Frankie, as your friend, and also as someone who is in charge of a crew of 18 people, I gotta tell you, it’s borderline Mutiny on the Bounty out there. Everyone is anxious not knowing if they will be working tomorrow or not. I think you owe us an update.“
“I’m waiting on something Ted. Just one phone call and everything will be sorted. I promise. Trust me?” And, of course, at that moment, Frankie’s intercom buzzes with, “Brian Swardstrom on the line, Frankie.” She points at the phone and says, “This is it, Ted. Can you give me a minute?”

She takes the call, confirming with TIm’s agent that the deal will have most favored nations with Tom Holland, covering salary, travel, essentially all the contract points.

“Consider the paperwork signed Brian. I will get it back to you electronically and by FedEx. We don’t have the luxury of time, unfortunately. Yes. He will be met at the airport tomorrow. OK great.”
Frankie hangs up and exhales slowly…”Ted,” she calls out, and he appears at her door, “you can tell everyone Timotheé Chalamet has agreed to do the picture and we are full speed ahead. He will be here tomorrow, the production schedule is not delayed.”

“Excellent. Heading back to set now, I’ll tell everyone. Thanks, Frankie.”

Tim gets in late the next day and he is too tired for dinner with Frankie and Armie.
In the short time between finding out he got the role and flying up to Calgary, he purchases Herbert Lehmann’s book Nine Years Among the Indians as well the accounts of Margaret Handley Erskine and Mary Campbell who were both kidnapped and raised among native tribes.
He has a stack of books about life in the US in the1830s and is busy plowing through them when he gets a call from the horse trainer to set up their first meeting. In many ways, the horse is his acting partner in the film. They have to be perfectly in sync. He has riding experience from previous films, but those were either in full medieval battle gear or 19th-century frocks. This time, he’ll be riding bareback with only a loincloth. Like everything he does, he will throw himself headlong into it with passion and persistence.

Tim shows up at location the next day for a script read-through. He is greeted by cast and crew as if he were their savior.
A large tent is set up with folding tables and chairs, which will serve as the gathering place for meetings, meals, and respite from the weather.
At the read-through, Armie is distant and cold to Tim only. You’d have to be blind to miss it.

Frankie is having none of it. At the end of the reading, she walks out of the tent and puts her arm around Armie’s back, steering him away from the growing cluster of people who have questions for him.
“What the fuck Armie? Is this how it’s going to be for the next two months? You looking slightly annoyed every time Tim opens his mouth?” Armie levels Frankie with a piercing stare. “Leave your goddamn ego at the door. You are better than this. I really can’t keep having the same conversations with you over and over. And if you want to fire me, then do it, so we both aren’t wasting our time.” With that, Frankie gets in her jeep to drive back to Calgary. She is fuming. So, by the way, is Armie.

Armie’s angry in the way that when someone points out the obvious and you don’t want to hear it. He knows he’s being a petulant, petty ass. He’s slightly embarrassed by his juvenile behavior and realizes, logically, that Tim shouldn’t bear the brunt of it. He’s a control freak, as most directors are. And his lead has been handed to him by studio mandate. He fucking hates it and doesn’t like the precedent that it sets.

He’s smart enough to know that if he wants a decent performance from his actor, he’ll put his misgivings aside and try and give the script its due. And at the same time tamp down any untoward feelings that come up.

He starts to walk away from the tent and Tim catches up with him. “Hey uh, Armie, can we talk?”
Armie, without looking at him says. “Yes. Let’s walk and talk. C’mon. Lots of ground to cover.” They walk in silence for about ten minutes.
“I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to talk,” Tim says, earnestly looking up at Armie with his clear hazel eyes. “I think we have to clear the air or something, that read-through was majorly uncomfortable.”

Armie doesn’t answer. He breathes through his nose, his mouth a straight line across. Tim jumps in to fill the awkward silence. “I know I wasn’t your first choice, I mean, I probably wasn’t even your second choice, but I wanted to tell you, I’ll give it everything, man. Everything. Please, just give me a chance to show you.”
Armie nods his head almost imperceptibly. “Let me show you something, Tim.”

They’ve now walked about a mile from base camp where a stand of trees obscures the view. There is a small path that slopes downward through the evergreens. Tim follows Armie on the narrow footway until the trees stop at the edge of an emerald-colored lake. Bald mountain peaks jut majestically skyward. It’s so spectacular it almost seems like a translight found on a soundstage somewhere. Tim gasps. It seems enchanted, he’s never seen anything like it.
Under his breath he murmurs, “Is this real?”
Armie nods. “I know.”

Nature’s splendor works its magic and dissolves some of the unspoken tension between the men.
“This is extradordinary. Why is it so green?” Tim asks, bending down to scoop some of the water out of the lake.
“The color of the lake is created by sunlight reflecting off a white layer of marl on the lake bed. Marl is a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate, deposited during the Ice Age.”
Tim cracks a huge smile and turns his head to look at Armie. “You’re like freakin’ Bill Nye.”
Armie smiles back.
“You have to admit, Tim, the script lends itself to incredible visuals. I was torn when we found this location because, initially, I wanted to shoot the entire story so that it looked like an Edward Curtis print. I was considering only using a range of Sepia tones. But, we would have lost out on this incredible view. Somehow, this view is not the same without the dynamic color range. Thankfully, Caleb, the cinematographer talked me out of it.”
“Who is Edward Curtis? I don’t know anything about him,” Tim asks, as they start to walk on the path that leads around the lake.
“Don’t get me started,” Armie says, shaking his head.. “I am somewhat obsessed with his life and talent. He was an amazing photographer and ethnologist who documented Native American life. His photography is breathtaking and his work is absolutely epic. So much of his legacy has been lost due to mishandling and an ugly divorce. There is a very dramatic film just waiting to be made about his life. I have a book for you when we get back to Calgary.”
“Cool, he sounds amazing.”
“Caleb agrees with me that there is a visual throughline we can utilize in the film that pays homage to Curtis.”

The ease and flow of their conversation surfaces again, not unlike Tim’s initial interview for the film. Only this time, Armie isn’t maintaining his slightly detached aura. The tension between them has eased considerably.

“I have some questions about my character. Is this a good time to bring them up?” Tim asks, the seriousness of his tone shifting their talk into another realm. Tim has a multitude of questions about his character, his motivation, his pain, his wounds. Why he takes certain risks, how he endures the physical and emotional trials he is put through. Armie has some of the answers, but some of the questions will rely on Tim’s instincts and obvious intelligence.

Tim’s anxiety from the read-through is quickly fading. They continue to walk around the lake. The loop is just short of three miles, an easy flat hike.

One of the leads in the movie is a ‘two-spirit’ character whose name is Nadleehi. (Nadleehi in Navajo means one who is transformed or one who is in a state of change.) The part will be played by trans actress Nicole Maines. In native culture, two-spirits were considered a distinct and separate gender - one that combined and balanced both male and female essences. As such, their worldview and experiences were unlike those of the binary genders. They were therefore seen as extraordinary, possessing a sacred quality.
Armie is committed to telling the story of the two-spirit role in Native Culture and feels like his film is the perfect vehicle.
“Two-spirit people were often the social workers of the tribe. They were peacemakers, matchmakers, baby-namers, and mediators, just to name a few of their roles.” Armie leaps over a stream that empties into the lake, reaching to Tim to help him across.
“Ah, this is interesting because in the script it is implied but not overtly stated that my character and Nadleehi are involved in some way. I saw a spiritual connection but I wasn’t sure if it was expressed physically. Is it?” Tim queries.
“Well, what do you think Tim? Are they involved?”
“I think somehow it would have some physical expression, yes.”
“Why don’t you spend some time with Nicole and see how it goes? I think together, you can figure out how far it should go.”
“Well, I’m up for whatever serves the film and Ohitekah’s journey.”
They continue on the lake path. Tim is pleasantly surprised about the apparent degree of collaboration and how open Armie seems to be.

When they reach the head of the trail they walk the final mile back to base camp. Tim’s phone populates with text messages and missed calls as he comes into range of the AD’s trailer. He’s guessing they have a cell signal booster there. There was something insanely zen about not being connected to the outside world for the two hours of their walk.

Armie peels off, raising his hand, a cursory goodbye. He is completely in his head. This kid. Not only is he gorgeous and charismatic, he’s insightful and incredibly well-spoken. I have to get a handle on this. He gets in his Range Rover and takes off.

Some of Tim’s friends have checked in, there is a text from Frankie about dinner, and, of course, Brian wants to know how it is going. Tim sits on a picnic table and starts to answer some of the inquiries.

The 2nd AD approaches Tim hesitantly and apologizes for not having his personal trailer on location yet. “It won’t be here until we start shooting. Most rehearsals and meetings will take place in town for the next few weeks, the director just wanted everyone to see the incredible location. Do you want to use the AD trailer? Or…”

Tim smiles and says, “No, it’s cool. Do you know where my driver is? I think I want to go back now.” On cue, Len the driver appears and holds up the keys. “I’m ready for ya, let’s go.”
Tim spends the 40 minutes in the car chatting with Len, getting to know him. In actuality, they will spend more alone time together over the course of the film than anyone else. Len is a native Calgarian, born and bred. His family owns a ranch and when he is not working on a film, he is essentially a cowboy. He is quietly good-natured, a considerate listener, and a great counterpart to Tim’s manic energy. The hours for Len are long and unforgiving. He’s up at least an hour before Tim and doesn’t go to bed until his actor is safely home. He’s essentially on call 24/7 and his discretion and professionalism are required for this kind of job.
Tim likes him immediately. Before saying goodbye, they exchange cell phone numbers.

Frankie, being the thoughtful and thorough producer she is, has had a PA stock Tim’s gargantuan refrigerator with food and beverages. A basket of snacks and nuts is on the counter. An entire folder of menus and restaurants that deliver is also there.
Tim has a PA assigned to him for the duration of the film. He always feels weird having someone close to his age to order around. It’s why he stopped employing his friends on set to be his assistant. But at certain times it is necessary, especially when they are shooting. There just isn’t enough time in the day to get stuff done.

The house he is staying in is over the top. He can’t fathom why anyone would need this much space. The gym and screening room are nice but totally unnecessary. He assumes correctly that this is just left over from Tom Holland. He thinks it might be terribly lonely here by himself. He texts a request to his friend Will to come visit. Maybe he can sleep in his trailer on set. All he needs is a comfortable bed, a shower, and a fridge.

He makes plans to have dinner with Frankie and Armie at a restaurant called Bridgette Bar, soon to become the crew hang and favorite restaurant of the production.

After a luscious meal of Maple Barbeque Rainbow Trout with smoked potato for Timmy, Shrimp and calamari over creste rigate pasta with capers and pine nuts for Frankie and cauliflower roasted with fennel and harissa sauce for Armie, Frankie excuses herself from the meal to complete some work she has at the office. “I’m really sorry you two, I have to get some stuff done tonight. I hate to eat and run but I have to. Armie, the bill is taken care of. Talk to you in the morning.“

Tim looks at Armie’s spare meal and raises his expressive eyebrows.
Armie’s eyes follow and he grins. “Yes, I know. A meal fit for a squirrel. When I start a production I stop eating meat, stop drinking, stop eating dairy. It’s weird, but it puts me into a hyper-focused place. Stop shaking your head, Tim,” he says with a warm chuckle. “Seriously, it’s taken me years to figure out what works for me. I also drink copious amounts of electrolyte water. This regime is the only thing that saves me from being a complete wreck by the time I get to post-production.”
Tim takes a minute to think about what Armie has said. “It reminds me of an elite athlete in training. I guess it’s pretty much like a marathon, huh? Do you eschew sex as well?”
Armie glances at Tim and only says, “I have to draw the line somewhere.”
Tim shakes his shiny curls and smiles to himself.

Armie uses this segue to tell Tim about his past with Frankie and what a unique and special friendship they have. He makes no mention of his current love life. Tim shares about the experience on his last film, good and bad. He talks about the pressure of being in the public eye and how he has always wanted to be famous. He has no regrets, he would just like to be able to switch it on and off. (He is very aware of nearby dining tables and their covert photos and notice of him and Armie. It makes him a tad jumpy.)
They say good night at the restaurant and Tim feels like it is the end of the best first date he’s ever had.

Chapter Text

Armie has assembled a cast of A-listers. It seems everyone who is anyone wants to work with him.  Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, a slew of Native American actors with whom Timmy was not familiar, and his love interest played by Q'orianka Kilcher.

They have two weeks of rehearsals scheduled, a real luxury. The cast assembles at a refurbished warehouse on the outskirts of downtown Calgary. Armie runs them through a series of exercises meant to break down their defenses and open them up to their fellow cast members.  Tim is trying really hard to establish a rapport with both the person playing his love interest and Nicole Maines.  He realizes it takes a bit of time and repeated exposure. He watches the easy intimacy Armie displays with cast members: jokes, warm hugs, active listening. Every day he falls deeper under his director’s spell. When they are physically close - It’s intoxicating, Tim feels knocked off center by his attraction. . 

As far as Armie’s concerned, it doesn’t even take a day and Timmy has charmed all of them.     Everyone has literally fallen in love with him in just a few hours. Tim tilts his head, he looks people in the eye, he asks them leading questions…and they’re gone.  

Armie observes this but knows it’s all surface, congenial actor bullshit. He thinks that he has yet to excavate the many layers that embody Timothée Chalamet.  In order to get the performance he wants, he has his work cut out for him. He will have to break through the facade that Tim as an actor presents. He’s not sure how, but the opportunity always presents itself during the course of filming, the director in him has learned that much. 

They are not shooting sequentially. Almost no film does that, because of locations, weather, and availability.  The early scenes of the film with the kidnapping of the toddler were shot when Tom Holland was still on the project, sort of a pre-shoot.  Now the meat of the story is being broken up into days and weeks of an intense production schedule. Long summer days work in their favor. Tim has been training not only with horses but also with weights and cardio. The result turns his lean body sculpted and strong. Tan, too, as fits a young brave.  The first few days of shooting involve Tim and other young men playing war games, riding, and cavorting. 

There are 6 young men swimming nude in the emerald water.  The cinematographer is using a long lens - so the boys are in sharp focus as their backs are turned to us, showing off their bronzed and lean torsos. The background is a blurred emerald jewel. 

The warm tones of their bodies contrast sharply with the astonishing hue of the water. 

Their physiques are discernable, but it is not prurient.  Tim is in work mode, he doesn’t let himself be affected by the beauty of some of the young braves.  And they are extraordinarily beautiful. It is a closed set, and since the sound is not synched, the crew is minimal. Armie, the cameraman, an assistant, a grip to set up the changing tent, and a medic, just in case. No wardrobe, no makeup and hair; it is a perfect first shoot day, simple and pristine. When “cut” is announced, a 2nd AD emerges from the grove of trees with a stack of towels for the actors. 

Tim approaches Armie shyly with just a towel wrapped around his body.  “So do you think you have what you need or are we going in again?” Armie bites his lip; to the observer, it appears he is deciding whether or not they have the shot, but what’s actually going on is much more interesting. Armie is profoundly affected by Tim’s near-naked proximity.  His reaction is pure instinct and without precedent.

 He turns away to consult with Caleb.  Clearing his throat he tells Tim and the other young men, “That’s a wrap.”  The boys dress in a portable dressing room and ride back to base camp in an 8 seater electric utility vehicle.  Tim rides back with Armie in his golf cart. 

“How’s it going with Nicole and Q'orianka?” Armie asks, squinting into the sun behind his Ray- Bans as they drive west.  Tim is momentarily distracted by Armie’s profile and misses the question. “Um, what?” He says, coming back from his quick little Armie daydream. 

“I asked how it was going with Nicole and Q'orianka?”  

“Oh, well, okay. We’ll figure it out. They’re both really nice. I’m not really feeling the connection yet. But I am sure I’ll get there.”  

Armie smiles.  “Yeah. I hope so Tim, the whole fucking picture is kind of riding on that.”

In the story, Tim falls deeply in love with a Native girl from another village.  One of the key points revolves around Ohitekah’s choice to either return to his birth family or stay with Kaya, essentially an act of radicalism and love.  Their chemistry is a crucial element. Tim texts “Q,” as he has nicknamed her in his phone, and makes plans to hang out over the weekend. They both love vintage clothes and Calgary has an abundance of excellent thrift shops. 

“We have one more week of afternoon rehearsals and then production goes full speed ahead.  Caleb and I are going to use the mornings to get some 2nd unit landscape shots.” Tim takes that as a directive to make it happen,and soon. 

As is often the case on location, time just melts away. Tim has spent a lot of time with “Q” and they get along well. It’s not an epic love match by any means.  She is certainly beautiful and sweet but that magic chemistry is just not present. Nicole Maines is incredibly bright and intriguing. Tim feels like they have a strong connection. He can’t wait to see what she will do with the character of Nadleehi.

The first week of shooting has its ups and downs.  The village set is flawless, the production designer has recreated an entire Native American community down to roaming animals and incredible lodges covered with animal skins and sod.  It’s laid out so that there is a 360-degree shooting angle; no area is off-limits. Armie is thrilled with the way the dailies look, all the establishing shots and atmospheric coverage is flawless. 

Unfortunately, due to scheduling, the intimate scenes between Timmy and Q'orianka happen pretty early in the scheme of things.  During rehearsals, Armie was sure that they would find their personal comfort zone and really connect. It’s not happening.  

Friday, after lunch, He finds Tim at one of the long tables under the tent. He gently asks if they can go to Tim’s trailer.  Tim’s stomach roils in apprehension.

Armie puts his arm around Tim’s shoulder and says, “I just came back from looking at yesterday’s dailies,” concern overriding his usual congenial tone. 

Tim flashes him a serious look.  “How bad is it?”  

“I wouldn’t say it was bad. It’s just not what you and I talked about in rehearsals. There’s no spark or desire. It’s not flat, just uninspired. I know you are capable of so much more.”  

They enter the trailer and Tim sits on the couch. Armie makes himself comfortable in the leather club chair.  He looks at Tim waiting for a reaction. 

Timmy’s hand grasps the blanket laying across the couch, knuckles going white with the effort. “Shit, man, Armie. Fuck. I really wanted to….” He’s so upset he can’t finish his sentence. “Damn it.” 

Armie blows out a breath through his mouth, puffing his cheeks, exaggerating the exhale. “Yeah, I debated whether I should talk to you about this now. It’s only the first week. I knew you’d be upset.” 

He reaches over to stroke some curls back from Tim’s forehead, trying to get him to look at him, an uncharacteristically intimate gesture.  Finally, his luminous eyes look up and lock onto Armie’s. 

Shaking his head, he murmurs, “I’m sorry.” 

“Tim, don’t worry. I have full confidence in the director that he’ll be able to extract an excellent performance from his actor.”  

Tim rolls his eyes at Armie’s attempt at humor.

“Listen, this afternoon is relatively light for you, just a few scenes with the council of elders and you’re done. I don’t even really want you to see the dailies. I think it will make you self-conscious. See how you feel at the end of the day,  if I wrap at a decent hour, you can come over for dinner and we’ll talk.“ Timmy nods his head in agreement, still looking down, bothered to his core. 

Armie’s joking around and easy-going conversation with Timmy belies his grave concern. The kissing scene he witnessed at lunch was as flat as a dead fish. Tim was awkward and uncomfortable, swallowing Q'orianka’s mouth in the most unsexy way possible.  His actions were stiff and blundering, at odds with his graceful ‘young brave in love’ character. Armie is worried.

The day wraps at the scheduled time. Things are going very well aside from the obvious.  

Armie texts Tim:  Dinner at my place? I promise to not make some vegan nightmare. 

Tim texts back: Yes what time?  Does Len know where your house is?

Armie: 7. 25 Carraig Ridge 

Tim:  OK See you then. 

The late afternoon sun paints the mountains in hues of pink and orange as he steps out of the car.  Len rolls down the window, “Do you want me to wait? Or do you want to text me about 20 minutes before you want to leave? Either one is fine.” 

“I’ll text you, Len. It shouldn’t be too late.”  Tim waves goodbye and walks a few steps to the front door.  The house is a glass cabin. There is barely any delineation between the outdoors and the indoors. It’s rustically modern, if that’s even a thing. 

Armie answers the door barefoot with a wooden spoon in his hand. Van Morrison is playing on the Bluetooth speakers. “C’mon in. I’m just making some pasta and a salad, I hope that’s ok.”  Tim smiles as he looks around. 

The place is small but perfect for one person. It’s minimalist but not coldly sparse.  

Armie brings him an oversized glass of red wine. “Let’s eat outside. Once the sun drops, it will get cold. But the glow from the mountains is amazing.” He moves the slider open, and Tim brushes by him to walk to the patio. They sit and sip their wine.

“I fell in love with this place right away.  I sleep so well here. It’s just the crickets, an occasional wolf howl, and me.” A few minutes pass and  Armie goes to get his flawless pasta and salad. Tim has the fleeting thought that it seems almost unfair that one man could appear so perfect. 

They share another glass of his lovely wine.  Both are relaxed and not overly stuffed from dinner.  

As they watch the sun dip below the horizon, the air takes on a sudden chill and they move to the living room, a small intimate space with a 180-degree view.  Tim wishes with all his heart he was here under different circumstances. They settle in on the couch to enjoy their wine. 

Armie’s defenses are down.  Whatever pull he’s felt toward Tim since their initial meeting is no longer being so expertly repressed.  It’s the wine, the setting, Van Morrison singing softly in the background. And it’s Tim. He’s unreal: thoughtful, beautiful, brilliant. 

Armie reaches to touch him, letting his thumb graze Tim’s jawline.  At first, Tim is startled, his eyes widening, not daring to hope that this is an affectionate caress. He swallows, his mouth dry, his heart rate speeding up at an alarming rate. There’s no mistaking the softness in Armie’s eyes. Dare he hope that what he sees reflected back is something? His mouth falls open, tongue wetting his plump lower lip. Armie is staring at his mouth, blue eyes riveted with laser focus on the younger man’s face.  Tim takes a deep breath, stomach swooping with anticipation. 

“Tim. What are you feeling right now? Tell me, articulate it…” Armie’s soft voice manages to bring him to the surface of his lust haze. 

“What? What am I feeling? What do you mean?”  He feels like he is being called out.  

“Is your heart beating fast, do you feel energized…?” Armie asks gently. 

It dawns on Tim that Armie is doing something they used to do at LaGuardia. It is a ‘feeling-tone’ exercise, creating an intense emotion that you can call up later and use in your scene. 

“I was feeling pretty turned on actually, but now I’m pissed. I see what you’re doing Armie.”

Armie maintains eye contact with Timmy.

“I’m acknowledging it, that there is something between us. It’s real and authentic. I feel it too. I need you to remember this feeling. Use it. Recall it.”  

Tim wants to be angry at the manipulation but Armie’s revealing something also.  


“Do you want to make sure I know how to kiss as well?” Tim says with a slight edge to his voice. 

“Well, the dailies failed to convince me of that fact so…” Armie says with a smirk, not expecting Tim to lean over, grab his jaw and kiss him firmly and squarely on the mouth. Tim doesn’t let up, using his tongue to press for entrance, pulling slightly on Armie’s hair. Armie’s shocked but immediately capitulates to Tim’s insistence. 

They break away, catching their breath, chests heaving. And now it’s not Tim taking Armie by surprise, it’s Armie going in for another round, holding Timmy’s face like a precious work of art. His warm mouth seeking connection, gently joining their lips, softly kissing him, gingerly deepening it, pressing the weight of his body against Tim’s.  

Tim is overwhelmed. He’s never had such a strong physical attraction to someone combined with the utter trust and admiration he has for Armie. It threatens to pull him under. 

In no way did he expect tonight to turn out this way. 

Armie is surrendering to weeks of holding back his unexpressed desire for Tim. Somewhere in his brain, he knows this is a bad idea. He won’t let himself catalog the many reasons, he wills himself to enjoy the closeness and impermissible allure of his star.  

Tim throws his head back, curls brushing the top of the couch. Armie’s right there, his nose under Timmy’s jaw, scattering kisses up and down his neck. Tim arches with arousal, the stiffness in his jeans presses against Armie’s leg. 

“God, Tim. Let me see that gorgeous cock,“ Armie’s raspy voice is barely above a whisper. Tim groans but shimmies out of his jeans in record time. They both look at the contour of his straining erection against the black cotton briefs.  Armie brushes his hand along the firm ridge of his hard-on. A low moan encourages another pass as Tim’s mouth falls slack. Armie’s thumb works the head, cotton darkening from the leaking tip.

They kiss again, this time not fighting for dominance, just hungry yearning.  Somehow Tim’s briefs end up on the floor, Armie’s large hand strokes him while his tongue hints of other places he’d rather be. It’s not long before Tim spills, cumming hard. Armie holds him tight as he climaxes, nose tucked under his ear, suckling him, mumbling endearments. 

Even in his post-orgasmic haze, it doesn’t escape Tim’s notice that Armie is fully clothed and Tim is as vulnerable as he has ever been.  Armie continues to kiss him, stroking his face, licking into his mouth. 

 Tim pulls slightly away. “Let me get you off, please Armie. I mean seriously, it’s not fair.”  He goes to unzip Armie’s jeans and is stopped in the process. 

“No, Tim.”  Armie holds both of his hands, squeezing them affectionately.  “It’s not the right time. I can’t lose my focus.” Tim doesn’t know if he’s being rejected or put off. He’s confused and hurt.

 

”You’re so distracting, I could really…”  Armie abruptly stops talking, and takes Timmy’s mouth in a bruising kiss, trying to express what he can’t find the words for.

Timmy’s head is spinning.   No wonder Armie stopped this. We both could get swept away completely. Maybe it’s better to take it slow. Reluctantly Tim ends the kiss, disentangling himself from the all encompassing warmth of Armie’s body. 

 “Where’s the bathroom, Armie?” Tim asks, as he surreptitiously searches for his jeans. Tugging them up, he hops in the direction Armie has pointed to.  Armie chuckles to himself, this goofy side to Tim is a welcome distraction. 

Once inside the bathroom, Tim texts Len.  I’m ready. 

 

Chapter Text

Tim returns to his palatial residence bound and determined to make Armie proud of him.
The scenes that shoot the next two weeks are incredible. Without being fully conscious of it, Tim channels all of his feelings for Armie into his screen time with Q’orianka.

Blaming camera problems, Armie reshoots some of the previous scenes that had fallen flat. Chalamet nails it. The authenticity and connection displayed on the screen will provide fodder for fans, tabloids, and social media for years.

Armie watches the dailies. His mouth goes dry. Heat spreads from his collar bone up through his cheeks. He knows he is in trouble. The inevitability of what he has created strikes him squarely between his eyes. Thank Christ he's alone in his dark trailer. The 72" screen reflects back at him what will be, at his own direction, his demise.

He takes a moment to compose himself. With extreme effort he schools his features into a cheerful grin and seeks out his star.
“Tim, I just saw the dailies and you and Q were amazing. I feel it, I see it, the love and the connection. It totally is there. Thank you.”

The worshipful look he gets in return generates a frisson of anxiety that nestles right next to his heart.

 

Armie continues to be warm and congenial with Tim just as he is with the rest of his beloved cast and crew. He hosts dinners, jokes around, lots of hugs and arms across shoulders, and crinkly eyed smiles. But their night is not repeated. Tim hints and then outwardly requests more time with Armie, but he is very expertly declined and Armie avoids another one on one dinner.

Tim figures the way to get Armie’s attention is to double down on his performance and just give it his all. And he does, delivering a tour de force that will cement his star in the firmament.

Tim is frustrated and confused. He knows what they both confessed that night, he doesn’t understand Armie’s reticence, nor does he want to ignore it. He can’t fathom how Armie can compartmentalize so completely.

The opportunities for sex during the shoot present themselves often to the young star. He eschews most of them, although a quick makeout session and handjob with a gorgeous horse handler relieves some of the tension he is carrying around.

The 12 weeks all but vaporize. Tim’s frustration level is so high. His impulsivity gets the best of him and, on the eve of the last day of shooting, he has Len drive him to Armie’s home.

Tim practically runs to Armie’s front door.
Len picks up on Tim’s anxiety and doesn’t ask if he should wait, he just does.

Another surprise visit from Tim elicits a similar response to the previous visit at the production office in Los Angeles: shock and annoyance. Armie has assiduously avoided being alone with Tim. Now, this option has been taken away.

Armie stands in the doorway, seeing Len’s car idling, he motions Tim inside, ever aware of appearances.
“Is everything okay? I thought today went well. What’s going on Tim?”

“Armie, I think I have waited long enough. I need to know what’s going on.”

“What do you mean? I don’t understand,” Armie says, genuinely confused.

“With us, Armie, Jesus Christ. I’ve all but fallen in love with you this summer!”

“Us? There is no us, Tim. There’s the movie, there’s Ohitekah. We’re working, bringing the story to life. I can’t do this now.” Arms folded tightly across his chest, Armie’s body language tells Tim he’s completely misread the situation.

Armie sees the crestfallen expression on his young star’s face and tries to repair some of the damage but it is too late.

“Tim, you know I think you’re incredible. You’ve done an amazing job, I couldn’t be happier. You’ve carried the entire film. It’s such an accomplishment. Whatever happened between us, it was in service to the film.”

The phrase “ in service to the film” will haunt Timmy’s dreams. Tim is devastated. He leaves a broken man.

The next day he barely speaks to anyone, filming some exterior shots that don’t require close- ups. He leaves his wrap gifts for the cast and crew in the office, not even saying goodbye to Frankie. He catches an early morning flight to New York, the next day.

Only Len sees the quiet despair on Tim’s face. He hugs him after pulling Tim’s suitcases from the car.
“Tim, it was a genuine pleasure getting to know you this summer. You’re a really good guy. If you need a friend...you know, someone to talk to…”
“Thanks, Len. Thanks for everything. I mean it.”
Tim turns and walks away from Calgary, from Armie, from The Brave.

Chapter Text

When a principal actor wraps a movie it’s a big deal. Usually, the 1st AD announces it and says something like, “Ladies and Gentleman, that’s a wrap for Timothée Chalamet,” and people clap and whistle.  This time, there is nothing. Tim has slipped out like a wraith, leaving everyone puzzled and a bit sad. They’ve spent the summer together; not one person understands why he wouldn’t bask in his moment of glory and give out final hugs on a shoot that went supremely well.  Correction, there is one person who understands and who is, in fact, to blame. 

They complete the final day. The weather has been incredibly cooperative and they’ve wrapped on schedule and on budget. The Armani suits cluster around Frankie offering congratulations. 

Armie stands to the side ruminating.  For some, budget and schedule are just as important as making a good film.  That’s what you get when suits run the studio, not filmmakers, thinks Armie.

The “suits” approach the director, offering praise and respectful handshakes. They are a bit intimidated by true talent in the flesh.  In private, they will each take partial credit for the success of the film, truly believing it could not have been made without them. Armie knows all this but plays the game flawlessly. 

Armie is distracted, he can’t wait to get in the editing room and start honing the cut.   

On location, the editor looks at the script supervisor’s logs and Armie’s notes from the dailies and pieces together a rough cut. Usually, it’s too long and somewhat disjointed. But the director will get a sense of what he has and what needs refinement.  

Armie’s process is somewhat unique. He looks at the rough cut 6 or 7 times and makes very, very detailed notes about what changes he wants. He also has an extraordinary memory when it comes to specific moments captured by the camera. Frequently, he will ask the editor about a take he didn’t use, and ask to see it inserted. More often than not, his instincts are spot on and his choice is the superior one. 

Armie attends the wrap party, drinks and talks with everyone. He thanks the local production assistants and the Academy Award winning DP equally. On the surface, he is congenial and warm. Walking around holding a tumbler of scotch and a cigar, he is the picture of a generous host. The crew gift from production is a pair of ropers, locally made boots that native Calgarians wear. 

The absence of Timmy is felt but not spoken about. He’s such a large presence that one can’t help but notice he is not there. There are questions posed to “Q.” Did she break his heart? Did he leave early due to some argument? She is as puzzled as everyone and quite hurt by Tim’s sudden disappearance. 

 Frankly, it casts a pall on the whole proceeding. But people party on, knowing that most of the tightly knit friendships forged on location will not continue. It’s just the nature of being on a crew. When you come together for an intense period of time to accomplish a task, the bonding is quick and deep. It’s hard to maintain when you’re halfway across the continent working on yet another show.  So the party is tinged with a bittersweet sadness.

Armie sees Frankie by the door and stops to speak with her.  “So he left without saying goodbye to you also?” Armie says, not needing to call out who he is speaking of. Frankie nods her head. She and Tim had forged a nice friendship over the two months. She knows something happened but can’t quite figure out what. Armie is disinclined to reveal his colossal blunder. 

Regret lies heavy in his mind. He’s sure that he should have handled the situation with Tim differently, not sure of how though. Another time, another set of circumstances...he might have given in to the draw he felt. The problem is that he did, he started something he couldn’t finish.   He grimaces, his self-reproach evident and overpowering. 

Caleb, the cinematographer, finds him and drags him to the front of the room for a few words. 

“The crew wants to hear from you, Armie. C’mon. You’re the reason we are all here, ya know.”

Armie puts his ‘show face’ on and grabs the microphone. The applause is thunderous. “Thanks, everyone. I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be able to work with you:  the best crew and the finest cast ever assembled. And Calgary, the most majestic of locations. It’s been an amazing summer. I can’t wait to see all of you at the cast and crew screening. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”  He holds up his glass of scotch and toasts, “To you, to The Brave.”

The next morning, Armie leaves his glass cabin in the woods and flies back to Los Angeles to start the editing process in earnest. The office is at a facility about 3 miles from his home in the Los Feliz area. He appreciates the luxury of sleeping in his own bed, getting his favorite food sent over from Little Doms, and working without interruption. 

He asks to see the rough cut projected.  He is alone in the screening room, a tiny light on the fold-out desktop where he is taking notes in his exquisite penmanship.  The experience of seeing the film on the big screen, albeit not a final cut, is profound: little things Armie missed while looking at takes on his iPad.

 He marvels at the way Tim’s eyebrow arches, the sun glinting off of his narrow shoulders, his lean muscular thigh clutching the flank of the horse.  And he sees the subtle intensity of the portrayal, as the character faces challenges, Tim’s performance gains momentum and confidence. It is an arc that defines masterful drama.  The nuances are there beyond any direction Armie could have given. The gentle intimacy with Nicole Maines, acceptance and reverence, bordering on sexual, but never quite crossing the line.  The intense passion with his love interest Q'orianka Kilcher practically melts the screen. At one point, Tim throws his head back, opens his mouth, and appears to approach ecstasy. Armie groans and unconsciously palms himself.  It’s too much. Armie sees all that Tim has brought to the part. Any misgivings he’s had about the casting have vanished. Even he, as the director, is a bit overwhelmed. 

He stands up brushing his hand through his closely cut hair.  He hears the crackling of the intercom. “Do you want me to pause the film Mr. Hammer?” says the assistant editor. The interruption has the effect of bringing him back down to earth with a jolt.  Armie doesn’t look up, he continues to pace the room, waving his hand in the air, “Carry on...carry on.” The film continues, the camera practically licking Tim’s body with the most exquisite close-ups, his eyes phosphorescent in the glow of the campfire. When Tim’s tongue sneaks out to lick his lip during a scene when he is sharpening his knife, Armie’s soft exclamation of Jesus is uttered into the empty screening room.

The narrow focus of the camera is why this viewing experience is so powerful. On set, between takes, there are a million distractions: questions being asked, problems being solved. Both Caleb, the director of photography, and Tim, never seem to lose that central point of interest. When it is all strung together, the end result is staggering. 

Armie has a few notes.  He seems to remember that there was a flirty preamble to one of the kissing scenes in the reshoots he did.  He also has some selects from the 2nd Unit shoot that are missing from the cut. But right now he has to get out of the screening room, go for a run or something. He feels like his head is going to explode. He doesn’t really understand what he is feeling. 

When he returns to the editing room after his run and a shower, he does it with a clear head and a bit more of an objective eye. The editor pulls up the missing shots and Armie reviews them. He finds the take he is looking for when Tim first kisses Q. Usually, the camera stops right at the end slate, and that is that. The selected take plays on the computer and Armie hears his voice call “cut,” but the camera continues to run. Tim pushes his face right into the lens and says, “That was for you,” and winks. Then the camera shuts off. 

Armie feels like he has been hit in the solar plexus. He can barely breathe. It becomes clear to him, at that moment, that Tim’s entire performance was an act of love.  The enormity of that realization is overwhelming. 

He is back in that place he was before he went for a run, took a shower, and cleared his head. He feels slightly dizzy, his stomach flipping.

He continues working with Steve, his editor, late into the night. He doesn’t want to go home to his empty house and deal with these random feelings that keep coming up. 

But as he goes through the cut, refining, choosing moments, he realizes he can’t escape his feelings. Is it just warmth and gratitude he feels when he sees Tim give it all on the screen? Or is it something more? Is this what love feels like? The realization that if you have to continue existing you must have this person in your life, that it’s imperative...that they are everything.

Finally, at 2 am, Armie pulls his chair away from the editing console and rubs his eyes. 

“Steve, man, I appreciate you hanging in with me tonight, I just needed to get a handle on this thing. Make sure I had everything I thought I did. Go home. I’ll be back around 11 tomorrow. Sleep in dude.”


The editor, used to Armie’s intensity, smiles and claps him on the back.  “I think you have a movie here, Sir. It’s coming together.”





  

<

Chapter Text

Tim doesn’t waste any time when he leaves Calgary. He’s on the phone with Brian with a ferocity that belies his broken heart.
“You know that project in Serbia? The one with Matthew Goode and Michael Shannon? Can you check and see if they still want me?”
Brian’s puzzled response makes Timmy grimace. “But when you read it you said it was a watered-down Bourne film.”
“I just want to stay busy, Bri. You know, idle hands…”
“Yeah, I know. Last I heard there was an offer out to Ryan Gosling, let me check.”

Timmy’s feelings alternate between sadness, embarrassment, and anger. He’s never really had his heart broken. Sure, there were rejections in high school, girls that were only interested in being friends. There was also a distinct misreading of mutual attraction in a club situation which is better left untold, more humiliation than heartbreak. But this. This feels like he’s been mortally wounded and he’s still walking around.

The hurt lays in his chest like a taser, zapping his heart when he thinks about Armie. What stings the most is that someone he respects, believes in, didn’t think he was worthy of loving. That’s the self-esteem crusher. The more he ruminates, the sadder he gets. Under the sadness is anger. The feeling that he was manipulated, led on, used. He was seduced. Armie wielded his power against him, he can’t let go of that. Was he lying when he said he also felt something? If he was, then that’s all Tim needs to know. Armie is a bad guy underneath all of it. He can almost live with that. Just write it off as being conned by an expert.
Somehow, whether it’s his ego or his instinct, Tim doesn’t think Armie is that evil.
And so, the feelings spiral around: devastation, anger, sadness, in a loop that feels like it will never end.

He’s mortified that he left the show without saying goodbye. He vows when he feels better he will call Frankie and thank her for all the kindness she showed him. His co-stars were terrific. He knows he will have to patch stuff up before they do promo for the film. Oh, God. Promo for the film. He can’t go there. He needs distance, exactly why he called Brian straightaway.

He stays in Manhattan, lying low with some buddies. They just let him be, not questioning his somber mood and negativity. That’s the thing with old friends - they can just hang - you don’t have to put on a show for anyone. He gets high, he orders in, he waits for Brian to call with something that’s going right away. He has a few pictures lined up for the new year and he had originally thought he wanted a break after The Brave. Now, he wants to stay busy. Finally, finally, Brian calls with an offer. Ryan Gosling pulled out due to scheduling issues and they are ready to hire Tim for one of the main roles. He doesn’t really care about the intricacies of the deal, he just wants to disappear for three months.
And so, he boards a plane to Belgrade to do a middling high-budget action picture, something he swore he never wanted to do, just to get away from his thoughts and his broken heart.

 

Steely resolve and instantaneous decisions are Armie’s bailiwick. He can commit to a course of action or an editorial choice when it comes to his work. In his personal life, specifically where he is now, he can’t get out of his own way.
The walls of the editing room feel like they are closing in on him. Claustrophobia has never been in issue but the pressure in his head and his chest make him feel like exploding.
The incessant viewing of the rough cut has cemented what he thinks are his feelings for Tim. Now, what to do? Has he ruined any possibilities that may or may not exist? Is he even thinking clearly?
He calls Frankie.
“Hey. How are things? Did you enjoy your week in Sayulita?”
“Armie!! Yes. It was amazing. Slept, drank great Margaritas, and swam in the sea. Just what I needed after spending the summer getting your ass out of trouble. I have to assume you spent the last few weeks in the editing room.”
“How well do you know me?” Armie chuckles. “We may have a movie, Frankie. If you are up for it I would love your opinion.”
“Yes, of course. I can come over this afternoon. Have you heard from Tim? Did you solve his sudden disappearance?”
“This afternoon would be perfect. Nope, haven’t heard from him.”
“Ok. See you then.”
Armie hangs up. He can never keep anything from Frankie. He sees a confession and some sort of recrimination ahead.

Armie gives her the usual disclaimers: temp music track, rough sound, missing dialogue, and then he shuts up and lets the movie play on the large screen.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees her scramble for a kleenex as the last scene plays. That’s the confirmation he needed...he nailed it. Frankie, who was there, who has read every iteration of the script, was still moved by the story and the performance. The lights come up and her big brown eyes are wet. She sniffles and looks down. “God, Armie. It’s so freaking good. Tim’s incredible.”
Armie nods. He’s a bit overwhelmed with Frankie’s reaction. He has no words.

“There’s no place where the story lags, where I lose interest. How long is this cut?” She inquires.
“1 hour, 56 minutes. I left in a bit more of the second unit landscape shots than I intend on using. I have to give the suits the illusion that they have input when they ask me to cut two minutes out. I’ve learned from experience, it’s easier this way.”
Frankie shakes her head and grins. “God bless Tom’s allergies I guess, huh?”
Armie gives Frankie a small smile in return.
“Why the everloving fuck aren’t you running around screaming from the rooftops about this piece of art you just directed? It’s goddam brilliant, Arms. Fuck!”

“I, um think I screwed up.” Armie sees the back of the assistant editor’s head through the projection window and knows the intercom is on. “Frankie. Let’s get out of here.”

They pile in Armie’s car and drive to Larchmont Village, just a few minutes away from the editing room. It’s the shopping district for the rich area of Hancock Park; populated with coffee shops, a bagel place, and the best pizza west of New Haven, Connecticut. It’s 4:30 pm, too early for dinner, and the lunch crowd has come and gone. The grab a small table in front of Village Pizza, ordering a large pie with half sausage and half meatball.

“Spill it, Hammer,” Frankie says, as she looks at him over the lip of her iced tea.
He can’t make eye contact.
“I don’t know where to start.”
Frankie is both surprised and concerned, as Armie’s demeanor is massively out of character.
“The beginning is usually a good place, Arms,” she says, squeezing his hand over the table.

He takes a breath in, and lets it out slowly. “Timmy and I had a thing,” he begins. “Well, not really a thing, but something.”
Frankie doesn’t react, just nods her head slightly, trying to stay neutral and available to her friend.
“The attraction was there from the first day he met with us, but of course I didn’t do anything about it. Eventually, my resistance broke down and we fooled around one night about halfway through filming. I’m afraid Tim interpreted it as a seduction to improve his performance. I can see how it may look that way. But, what I’ve come to realize is that it is so much more than that.”

“Fuck Armie, this sucks. Is that why he left with nary a word?”

The server brings their tantalizing pizza but neither one reaches for it.

“Well, I may have said something truly awful that haunts me on an hourly basis.”
Frankie looks at him questioningly.
“I told him ‘whatever happened between us, it was in service to the film.’”

At this, Frankie can no longer remain neutral and supportive.

“What a dickhead thing to say. Oh shit. No wonder he hightailed out of Calgary. Fuck. Damn it. I knew something went down, I just couldn’t figure out what happened.” She pauses, realizing that her outburst isn’t helping the situation, but at least it’s brutally honest, something Armie has come to rely on.
His eyes are wet, and he’s looking down, pizza untouched, remorse lying like a shroud over her best friend.
She takes a moment.
“You’re hurting too I guess, huh?”
“Regretful, ashamed, hopeless, I am feeling all of those things.”
“OK, eat your pizza and you are gonna figure out how to fix this.”
Armie looks at her with watery blue eyes, as miserable as she has ever seen him.
“I really fucked up, Frankie, I don’t know how to fix this.”
She can’t bail him out of this one; he has to make his own amends.

 

All in all, it takes Armie an astonishingly short 3 weeks to get a cut that he is happy with.
The studio has very few changes and decides to submit it to Sundance. They make the September 16 deadline with hours to spare.
The film is accepted and, in fact, a deal is made to have its worldwide debut there. Armie’s next month is filled with mixes, telecine sessions, visual effects reviews, and scoring.

Frankie contacts Brian to set up an ADR session with Tim, remotely from Belgrade. It’s a contractual obligation, just like the film promo, so he can’t refuse. Tim handles the session professionally, as does Armie.

Via satellite, with a room full of technicians, is not the place to patch up the rift in their friendship, so no personal words are exchanged. Timmy fine-tunes the replacement dialogue in a few takes and, within the hour, Armie has all he needs. He says thank you and the session ends.

Armie hires Hans Zimmer to score the film. The setting and the story beg for Zimmer’s lush music to enhance the narrative arc of the movie. He sends Armie some key thematic pieces and they are on the nose. The soundtrack magnifies the emotional impact of the film by a factor of ten.
Zimmer has time the first week in October to record the score in London. Armie flies to Heathrow and settles in town for a few weeks. Watching the London Symphony orchestra play live against the projection of his film is a profound experience. Zimmer is a perfectionist, and the musicians put in exhausting 12 hour days.
The stunning cinematography combined with the sweeping score leaves a staggering emotional impact.

 

Now, the need to see Timmy and heal the rift feels more pressing than ever. The ache he carries with him is exacerbated by repeated viewings of the film. He makes the decision to set up a private screening for Timmy in Serbia. Frankie handles the details: booking the movie theatre and contacting Brian. She agrees to keep the fact that Armie will be delivering the film in person a secret.

The two hour and forty minute flight from London to Belgrade feels like an eternity. He’s feeling vulnerable - people are staring at him. It may be due to the fact that Serbia Air has only one class and it’s not ideal for a six foot five giant hunk of a man. And, honestly, Armie has no idea how handsome and godlike he truly is. It’s the flipside to his occasional maddening lack of self-awareness: the absence of vanity and conceit.

He lands in Belgrade with his heart in his throat, both dreading and anticipating his meet-up with Tim.

Chapter Text

Armie’s trying to recall if he’s ever been this nervous.  Never before a race in prep school, that was just adrenaline. Premieres are stressful, but not like this. His body feels like it is barely tethered to the earth, his blood has turned to acid, sparking as it circulates under his skin. He can barely swallow around the lump in his throat. 

Armie walks into the Tuckwood cinema and asks for the projectionist. A lanky guy with a flannel shirt and shoulder-length hair ambles down the side staircase and waves at Armie hesitantly. Armie hands him a drive containing the film as well as a digital key that will unlock it for one showing only. Armie decides to wait in front of the theatre for Tim’s car, as his apartment is only 10 minutes away, and he should arrive any moment. 

Armie changes his mind and walks inside the brightly painted lobby. He paces. 

He goes to sit in the theatre, he figures he’ll just casually stand up when Tim walks in.  But wait. He has to piss. He gets up to go to the men’s room and walks smack into Tim. 

Tim backs up, putting up his hands. “No. Um. No. I am not doing this. No.” He turns to exit the theatre. 

“Wait, Tim. I’ll leave. Please.”

“I can’t. I can’t sit here and watch the film with you Armie.  I won’t.”

“Yeah. Okay. I’ll leave. I get it.” 

 Armie turns and walks out of the theatre into the rainy Belgrade afternoon.  He has no intention of leaving. But he certainly doesn’t want to make Tim feel uncomfortable. He’s already done that in spades. 

Tim feels ambushed, but proud of himself for standing up to Armie.  He can’t get his head around why Armie would come all the way to Serbia just to show him the film. And he was just starting to feel normal.  He sits down in the center of the large auditorium and slinks into the plush velvet seat, waiting for the lights to go down. 

The film opens around a campfire, a lone panpipe plays a haunting eight-note melody. The camera finds the hero Ohitekah as he gazes into the glow of the flames.  As if recalling his youth, the green of our hero’s eyes fades to the verdant glow of Emerald lake and joyful calls and shouts of six young braves. The music morphs from a somber dirge to an uplifting,  sweeping motif. 

As the story skillfully unfolds, we come to learn of the trials that the young man has to overcome. The devastating loss and the all-encompassing love he experiences at a young and impressionable age. He is faced with choices and decisions that no individual should be forced to reckon with.  The journey is fraught with danger, loss, and abnegation. Nature with her relentless beauty and unforgiving cruelty reflects back to us the inner turmoil of our courageous hero. As a viewer, we come to both identify with and admire the complex person that is Ohitekah. He represents both the highest ideals and the basest desires that we grapple with while negotiating all that it is to be human.  And in the final scene, when we realize that he is meant to offer up the ultimate sacrifice, we are devastated, and yet remain in awe of his endurance and fortitude. 

It’s exhausting and uplifting. The film is a visual poem supported by a luxuriant soundtrack that is destined to become a classic. Tim’s performance is stupendous. There is just no other way to describe it.  

As the film ends, Tim finds himself weeping uncontrollably. He’s moved beyond words, beyond coherent thought.  He’s crying because he feels he will never be in anything this good again. He’s crying because it’s so goddamn perfect. He’s crying because he finally understands why Armie did what he did. 

Armie sits on a hard wooden chair in the corner of the projection booth. Occasionally, he stands to stretch his legs and peer into the dark theatre to see the back of Tim’s head. When the film is over, he puts his hand on the projectionist’s arm and holds him back from turning up the house lights.  He watches Tim weep, holding his hands over his face, his shoulders visibly shaking. 

If he didn’t know it before, he knows it now. He loves him. 

He has to tell him. 

He has to come clean. He has to apologize for hurting him and making him doubt himself. 

As the lights come up, Armie watches Tim stand and look around the empty theatre.  He takes the drive from the projectionist and dashes down the back staircase, out to the side of the theatre and walks around to the front. The rain has stopped but a cold greyness seems to permeate the lagging afternoon. He leans against the building underneath the marquee and waits for Tim. 

Tim opens the door of the theatre, not surprised to see Armie casually angled against the exterior wall, gazing across the street at the non-stop flow of traffic. 

“Um. Hi.”

Armie turns to look at him, blue eyes boring right into his very core. 

“So. I guess we should go get a coffee or something,” Timmy says hesitantly. 

“I don’t know about you, but I need a drink.” “Yeah.” Tim gives a dry laugh. “I could use one too. The only place I know close by is an Irish pub.”

“Works for me,” Armie says as he hunkers down in his parka, thrusting his hands in his pockets. Tim pulls a cap out of his pocket and jams it down on his curls. Without saying a word he takes a left and heads south down K neza Miloša, the main drag, populated with office buildings, storefronts, and apartment blocks. They don’t speak. 

The Three Carrots looks like it was moved from St. Stephens Square, Dublin right into the heart of Drocol, Belgrade. Tim finds a quiet booth, and Armie orders two whiskeys and two beer chasers. 

As Armie waits for their drinks, Tim fidgets in his seat. He takes his cap off and shakes out his curls.  He feels both better and worse. Better, because on some level his faith in Armie is restored. He feels like  Armie the director always saw the bigger picture. Whatever he said or did was justified by the amazing film he just saw. He keeps telling himself that. He internally edits: at least 80% of it is justified, 20% was pure manipulative bullshit, but it was for the sake of the film, it will be okay.   Because he can never hide anything, Armie sees Tim’s internal conflict as he approaches the booth with their drinks.  He sits across from him and slides the drinks over.  

Armie raises the whiskey tumbler and says “To Timothée Chalamet, an amazing performance.” 

Tim nods his head, a heated blush crawling up his neck. He looks up at Armie through his messy curls and purses his lips. He, too, raises his glass and says, “To Armie Hammer, who knew what he was doing all along.” 

That toast hits Armie squarely in the gut. He’s not sure if the toast is sarcastic or genuine. 

Amie looks down at the waxy wood table and sees this as his opening.  

“Well, um. I feel like I owe you a thousand apologies.  I...I wasn’t honest with you. I wasn’t honest with…” 

Tim interrupts him.  “Stop, Armie. You don’t owe me anything.  I get it now. Why you did what you did. Why you said what you said. I totally get it.  It was childish of me to leave set so abruptly. I know I am impulsive. Will you forgive me for confronting you in your own home? “



Armie is taken aback. He was ready to grovel, to confess everything and Tim has turned the tables on him. 

“No. I came here to apologize to you. To ask for forgiveness. During the course of editing, I realized some things.“ “Stop, Armie. Really. I’m fine. Especially now that I have seen the film. Let’s move forward.  What’s the release schedule? Did you get into Sundance?”

The moment of opportunity has passed. Timmy is over it and ready to move on. Armie feels sick. He feels like he blew his one chance for happiness. This is what he deserves for being such a dick. 

 Armie answers Tim’s questions and tries to ignore the cracking of his heart.  Tim is all business, talking about his schedule and his upcoming projects. 

This is good, I can do this, thinks Tim, as he and Armie look over the sparse food menu. 

“They have a cheese platter and chips...I could use something to buffer this whiskey and beer.”

Armie nods and starts to go order it from the barman.

“I got it,” Tim says jumping up, seemingly anxious to create some space between them. He leans over the bar and then goes to the men’s room.

Armie can’t think clearly. He came to Serbia with an agenda. To declare his love for Timmy, to finally come clean and now, it appears it would be inappropriate to do so. He’s thrilled that Tim likes the film so much, but it seems any feelings Tim had for Armie are a thing of the past.

Returning to the table, he sits down and asks Armie for advice.  “So there’s this Serbian production designer that’s super talented. I’d really like to help him, but I don’t know if it’s cool to encourage Neno to come to the states. I mean, we kind of have a thing and I don’t want to make any promises that I can’t keep.  What should I do?” 

Armie’s last vestige of hope gives way, and he replies with some half-hearted answer. Instantly realizing that the warning to stay away from people you work with is highly ironic. He checks his watch and looks back at Tim. 

“I’m catching a late-night flight back to Los Angeles from Tesla airport. I need to leave in about 

forty-five minutes. Let me just text my driver.”

They continue to make inconsequential small-talk for the next half hour, as Armie’s heart crumbles inside his chest. 

Little does he know, Timmy is fronting.  His mask of care-free indifference is pretty much flawless. The line about the production designer is a huge exaggeration. 

They say goodbye in the front of the pub, warm ‘bro hugs’ are the extent of their contact and both leave heartbroken and hiding it. 

In the car to the airport, Armie starts to second guess himself.

He knows what’s at stake: he would be putting the success of the film at risk by declaring himself to Timmy, but he feels like he is dying inside. 

He instructs his driver to return to Belgrade.  

The Onyx luxury apartments look like any upscale building in any European city. Armie asks the driver to wait, not holding any hope that his confession will turn the tide. During their conversation in the pub Tim had mentioned that he was ensconced in the penthouse, chuckling that, in a nine-story building, the penthouse didn’t really offer any extraordinary views of Belgrade. 

Armie enters the building and takes the elevator to Tim’s apartment.  He knocks on the door, his heart pounding thunderously in his chest. A small pulse can be seen throbbing at his jawline, his mouth set with grim determination. It seems to take a millennium for Tim to respond. 

Timmy answers the door, his confusion evident. 

“Tim, I have some things to say. Please hear me out.”

Tim nods and opens the door wider, inviting Armie in. 

There are clothes, books, headphones, scripts, and other assorted things spread all over the apartment. It’s a certified disaster area.  Tim clears some stuff off the couch and makes room for them both to sit down. 

“I needed to tell you…” Armie hesitates, “I didn’t get a chance in the pub….”

Tim nods, eyes large, he says nothing. 

Armie is uncharacteristically nervous, looking down at the carpet. 

“From the moment I met you in my office, I was taken with you. I have never been so attracted to anyone before. It terrified me. I couldn’t imagine that your talent could come close to how you looked.  When you came on board the picture I tried my hardest to push all those feelings aside.

I succeeded up to a point.”

Armie takes a deep breath and looks up, finally, at Tim. 

“I was given the gift of witnessing your metamorphosis from a young, quirky, and beautiful boy to a savvy, self-possessed, and in-demand leading man. It happened before my eyes. But I still don’t know if it was you who was reborn or if it was a matter of me coming to realize exactly who you are and what you are capable of. Tim, I fell in love with you during the shooting and editing of the film. I guess that’s what I came here to say.”

Tim is gobsmacked. He saw none of this coming.  

Armie takes his silence as rejection. He stands up and heads to the door, wondering, regretfully,  if he can still make his flight back to Los Angeles. Like he was just an hour ago, he remains heartbroken.  If this is just a fraction of what Tim felt at the end of the movie, he understands why they are in this dark and unforgiving place. 

 

Tim remains on the couch. It takes him a full minute to mull over what Armie has said. By that time, Armie has already descended in the elevator.  With his heart slamming against his thin chest, he takes the stairs two a time racing down to try and stop him from leaving. Tim opens the door to the lobby and catches him as he’s about to exit. 

“We wasted so many days.”  

Armie stops and turns. Not completely sure what Tim wants to do, he stands there, arms wide, palms up. Tim slams into him, reaching up to grab the back of his head and pull him into a fierce kiss.  Armie reaches around Tim’s thin frame and envelops him in a solid hug, continuing the kiss, deepening it.  

“Text your driver. You’re not leaving.”

Armie presses Tim up against the wall, holding his head gently in his palms, and kisses him all over his face. It’s sweet, almost reverential. He can’t believe he gets to do this.  Tim’s arm snakes against the wall frantically searching for the elevator call button. He wants to take it upstairs but doesn’t want to stop Armie. He hooks his leg around Armie’s waist but they are both saved from public indecency by the

bing

of the elevator.  

The quasi-privateness of the lift allows them to continue. Timmy’s arms reach inside Armie’s jacket desperate to feel his skin; he’s met with soft cashmere and it’s almost enough. He presses his cheek against Armie’s warm, wide chest. Armie tips Tim’s chin up with his long index finger and presses a firm kiss to his mouth. He yields to the gentle pressure, melting against Armie’s solid frame.  A low, husky moan escapes from Armie. He is so hard, and he’s sure Tim can feel him pressing against his leg. They arrive on the ninth floor and tumble into the hallway. 

Tim left the door open in his rush to stop Armie.

“Seriously. Text your driver.”

Armie pulls the phone out of his jeans, struggling, as they are quite tight, now. 

“Thank you, I have decided not to go to the airport Viktor.”

A big thumbs up confirms that the driver got his message. 

Tim smiles and reaches for Armie’s hand. He is walking backward,, pulling his soon to be lover into the bedroom. The unmade bed smells completely of Timmy. Too many pillows and soft cotton sheets welcome them like old friends. Clothes come off and chests are pressed together. Full body contact doesn’t feel like enough. Tim keeps reminding himself to breathe as Armie worships his thin, winter washed, alabaster frame. Warm, soft kisses litter his torso, large careful hands encircle the pale softness of his perfect bottom.  He feels encased in the most perfect way possible. He wants to be taken, to give himself over to this warm fuzzy giant.

“Uh. God. Armie. Want you,” he breathes into his lover’s neck. 

“How Timmy, how do you want me?” Armie’s rumbling voice echoes into his very bloodstream. 

Tim answers without words as his slender fingers find Armie’s swollen cock. His thumb brushes the velvet length and he scoots down the bed to replace his fingers with his mouth.

Armie’s on his back, totally at Tim’s mercy. 

“Oh god. So good.” 

 

Soft lips and wet tongue lave Armie’s hard cock ruthlessly. The older man groans in ecstasy, bucking unchecked deeper into Timmy’s throat. 

“Fuck Tim, Jesus.”

And Tim takes it, pulling off and then swallowing him, again and again, bringing Armie so close to the edge. 

“Don’t stop, baby. Finish me off, fuck.” Armie grits out, his wrist covering his eyes, legs splayed wide. Timmy swallows him down one more time, using his tongue to press the tip as his lips tighten around the shaft. 

Warm cum spills into Tim’s mouth, as Armie groans, unable to form coherent words. 

Tim wipes his mouth as he sits on his haunches looking over Armie’s beautiful body.  He places a soft kiss where Armie’s thigh meets his groin; his spent dick twitches. 

“Rest up, Hammer. I need a minute in the bathroom and then we’re going for round two.”

Chapter Text

Timmy slips into the bathroom to clean himself up for what he hopes is going to be more sex with Armie. He’s quite grateful for the bidet which shows up in every European bathroom he’s ever been in. This is what he’s wanted since the first day they met: to have Armie, to be had by Armie.  

 

Tim starts to think about the power dynamic between the two of them. If he’s completely honest with himself, he too has been guilty of playing the ‘star card’ a few times to get his way.  A wave of regret courses over him when he thinks about how he used his innate charisma to get parts, charm producers, even seduce clothing designers, in a way. 

 

The move Armie pulled was ostensibly more overt, yet until they discuss it, his motives remain unclear.  Based on recent events, Tim is unwilling to assign Armie with a pre-motivated, cynical seduction. He has a sneaking suspicion that what appears to be Armie’s strong control over his emotions slipped momentarily and he tried to cover in an awkward and most hurtful way. 

 

But now it feels so much more than a sexual conquest or a showmance.  Tim knows there are things to discuss, to understand. But, all he can think about is that gorgeous intelligent man who he wants to fuck him, to finish what he started 3 months ago.

 

He completes his intimate ministrations and brushes his teeth for good measure. 

When he returns to his room, his heart does a bump seeing this big warm hairy man lying on his white cotton sheets. He’s on his back, covers strewn over his mid-section, snoring softly. Tim is momentarily dazed with desire, lust curling in his tummy, his cock thickening just gazing at what’s lying in his bed. 

“Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” he says under his breath, but evidently loud enough that Armie stirs. 

He opens one blue eye and a smile plays on his lips. 

“Round two already? You insatiable little beast. C’mere.”  Armie scoots up, positioning his back against the numerous pillows littering the headboard. His arms reach out and Tim crawls up the bed, predatorily stalking the object of his desire. 

Armie’s large hands encircle his slender back, folding him into his warm torso. A sigh escapes Timmy, his entire demeanor morphing from jungle cat to nuzzling kitten. 

Armie bends down to kiss him, tongue tracing his plump lips, his hand now cradling the back of Tim’s head.  Armie deepens the kiss as Tim molds to him, signaling an unconscious capitulation of control. 

Armie starts in on his neck, licking, sucking, deep inhales that send shivers down Tim’s back.  He can’t get enough; he wants to devour him - absorb his very essence. He takes his time savoring every freckle and the various textures of Tim’s body, using his tongue to map the landscape. And when he finds a spot he particularly likes he stays there, savoring, kissing, and driving the younger man absolutely insane with want.

“You’re killing me,” Tim says with a rough whimper. “Oh god,” as he pushes his now rock hard cock against his tormentor. Armie is relentless, moving south, tracing Tim’s hip bones with his lips, sneaking his hand under Tim’s body and cupping his firm, round cheeks. His skin is porcelain come to life. The contrast between the two men astonishes and excites Armie beyond words. He is so aroused he takes a minute to catch his breath.  

His fingers start exploring, touching, caressing, and investigating, followed by his tongue.  Tim, at this point, is emitting a series of animalistic whines, incoherent mewling sounds that only spur Armie on. He finds yet another spot that intrigues him and wields his tongue like a weapon, opening Tim up, confirming his surrender. Armie continues eating Timmy out until he feels him reach for something. A small plastic bottle of lube lands somewhere near Armie’s face. 

“Subtle, Chalamet,” he says with a laugh.

“I want you. Now. Inside me. Don’t make me wait any longer.”

“Don’t want to hurt you, kid. Here, let me…” He pops the cap on the lube and gently preps Tim.  

 

Armie stretches out on the bed, now parallel with the object of his affection. 

“Kiss me, you gorgeous boy.”

 

Tim moans into Armie’s mouth, falling onto his back and bringing his knees up.

Armie is right there, gently joining them, patiently bridging the last barrier that has kept them apart. It’s an oddly emotional moment for both of them. For Tim, it’s some physical pain fused with the culmination of soul-wrenching longing. 

For Armie, it’s months of pent-up desire and self-denial, giving way to truth and connection.  

“You okay babe?” he asks, speaking into Tim’s neck, as his hips press them together.  He’s holding back, the desire to plunge into his lover making him grit his teeth and restrain himself. 

“Yes, god you’re fucking huge. Gimme a minute.”  

Tim forces himself to relax, to breathe through the momentary discomfort. 

He arches up, silently encouraging Armie, meeting him more than halfway.

“Ah, yes. Now I’m good.”  

Timmy’s lush velvet heat feels like nothing Armie has ever experienced. 

 

Tim kisses his clavicle, nips his neck, runs his nose along the straining tendons. 

“Oh shit, right there, fuck...that’s it,” as obviously his prostate is grazed, sending Timmy somewhere near the stratosphere. 

 

Armie ups the pace, approaching a friction that puts him a little too close to the edge. He slows and moves Tim to his side, knowing that his full body weight has to be a lot.  This angle allows him to get even deeper, causing him to moan into the back of Timmy’s neck. It also lets him jerk Tim in sync with his thrusts. 

 

The delicious pressure of Armie fully seated inside him while his large hand expertly strokes his aching cock puts Tim right at the precipice of ecstasy. He warns Armie with a whispered, “So close.” 

“Fuck Tim, you feel so good, come for me baby, give it to me.” The timbre of Armie’s deep voice whispered into his neck coupled with his impassioned touch sends him tumbling into the abyss.  Armie pursues his own release, pulling out at the last second, and covering Tim’s delectable bottom with his come. He flops on his back, the crease of his elbow covering his eyes, his hand sticky with Tim’s release.

 “Jesus. I’m dead.” 

No response from Tim. He’s in a fetal position curled in on himself. His glistening ivory back exposed like an abalone shell.  Armie curls around him, licking the perspiration from the top of his spine. He presses close to Tim. 

“You Ok?” 

“Mmmm, that was just...can’t talk.” 

Armie smiles to himself and places small, sweet kisses on Timmy’s neck.

A few moments later he extracts himself from the bed and strides to the bathroom. 

 

While peeing, he sees a large unopened gift basket of high-end bath products and a loofa sponge on the granite countertop.  Spying some English Pea and Freesia bath oil he decides that a warm, soothing soak might be just what they need. 

He runs the bath and pours in a few capfuls of the pungent oil; the room suddenly smells like a botanical garden in full bloom.  Steam rises from the oversized tub. 

 

Armie walks into the bedroom to check on Tim. Bending close, he hears a whisper. 

“Can’t move. That was amazing...just, oh my god.”  

“If I picked you up and carried you to the bathtub, could you handle that?” Armie asks, gently stroking back Tim’s curls. “Or do you need to stay in bed longer? The tub is massive, it will take a while to fill.”

“C’mere.” Tim reaches for Armie, pulling him down with little effort.  They kiss softly, tender touches and reverent glances. Things have changed. It’s all different.   

 

Tim pulls away gently. 

“Carry me to the bath? You don’t have to do that.” He peels himself out of the bed and gets a helping hand.  

The warm scented air hits Tim like a fuzzy blanket. “Together right? We’re gonna do this together,” he says looking up as he climbs over the edge of the tub.

“Yes, scoot up front, I’ll get behind you. 

Armie reaches over and turns off the tap. The water is hot but not scalding. Tim sinks in with a moan.  He stretches out luxuriously and then remembers he has to make room for Armie when he feels the nudge of a knee behind his back. Armie bends down to kiss him, as he steadies himself while climbing in.

“Mmmh. This feels great.”  

They nest each other, getting used to the womb-like intimacy, acclimating once again to newfound closeness. 

Tim leans back against Armie, successfully letting go of his inherent edginess. The warmth of the water seeps into his muscles. He briefly wonders why he hasn’t availed himself of the tub before this.  Gentle nips on his neck send unwanted shivers down his spine and Armie laughs. 

 

“Sorry, not sorry,” Armie says with a deep chuckle. Tim’s curls press back against his neck as he angles for another kiss. They settle in silence. 

 

“Tim, can I bring up something I feel needs to be talked about?” It’s somehow easier for Armie if he can speak to the back of Tim’s head, at least for the initial entry into this necessary conversation. 

“I need to come clean about what I said and did during the filming of The Brave. I am still trying to understand my actions but it haunts me and it will continue to, I fear.”

There is silence, so Armie continues. 

“I lost sight of my own objectivity. Emotionally, I think, I had transferred all of my feelings for you onto your character. When you came for dinner that night, I was not thinking clearly, and I will regret my actions forever. I let real-life feelings bleed into the sacred relationship between the actor and director. I betrayed your trust. And when confronted, I denied your experience. As I say this stuff out loud I am in disbelief that we are even speaking... and yet here we are.”

 

Tim clears his throat. “Well, um. I was hoping we’d have more unexamined lust before we got into this.” A dry chuckle lands in awkward silence. 

 

“But it is so much more than lust for me, Tim,” Armie interjects, pulling Tim’s shoulder back, making fierce eye contact.

 

Tim’s gaze returns to the bathwater, head forward, thoughts tumbling out. “I have been back and forth about this. I fell for you so hard when we started the film; your ideas, your skill as a director, all the trust you had created with your cast. I mean, I admit, when I first met you I couldn’t believe how gorgeous and charismatic you were in person.”

Armie presses his nose into Tim’s neck again, uncomfortable with the compliments. 

 

“When we had dinner together I thought it was the start of something, but I presumed that we couldn’t have a full-blown affair up in Calgary.” Tim bites his bottom lip, considering whether or not he should continue. “I guess, the most hurtful thing you could have said to me was that our sexual connection was purely in service to the film.  And you did.”

 

Armie bows his head and presses it to the top of Tim’s spine, letting out a muffled cry of anguish. 

“But, when I finally saw the film...was that only today? It all seemed ok on some level. It felt like my personal suffering was nothing, that it was a sacrifice worth making. Is that weird?” 

Tim takes a deep breath and leans back against Armie. 

 

Armie thinks about what Tim said. 

 

“No film is worth your suffering. Nothing justifies the way I made you feel. Here’s the thing I keep coming up against, Tim.  How can I earn back your trust? And I am not talking about working together again. I am talking about something much more important.”

 

He grabs the loofa and starts to gently scrub Tim’s back. Tim leans forward to give him more access. 

“Mmmh, nice.”

 

Tim really thinks about what Armie asked.  How does one gain back trust so willfully thrown away?

The bathwater grows tepid and the longer the silence continues the more despairing Armie becomes. Tim leans back against him seeking warmth and feels Armie’s rapidly beating heart disclosing the older man’s anxiety.  He turns to face him. 

“What? Why does your heartbeat feel like it’s going a million miles an hour? We’re in a warm bath, relaxing.”

 

“You haven’t answered me, Tim. I just…” Armie presses his lips together in a frown, eyebrows pinched together - a look of utter distress. 

Tim stands up and grabs one of the towels stacked by the tub.

“C’mon, let's dry off and talk.”

 

They end up sitting cross-legged on the bed, Tim in an oversized hoodie and shorts, Armie in  PJ pants and a borrowed sweater. 

 

Tim leans forward, knees hitting Armie’s. 

“I think there’s a bigger question here. It’s not about what you can do to earn back my trust, it’s  what are you afraid of?”

Tim continues.

“It was fear that held you back when we had dinner at your house in Calgary.  It had to have been fear when you told me that any intimacy between us was,” Timmy makes air quotes, ‘ in service to the film. ’ “All your actions beg the same question - What are you afraid of?” 

 

Armie stares back at Tim. This is the crux of it. All summer he’s pushed his feelings away, downplayed his attraction, avoided intimate situations. Why? Is it his family’s expectations? Hollywood pressure? His own reluctance to define his sexuality?

Sitting across from Tim, the catalyst for all his panic, he has no answer. 

“I could give you some trite response like I didn’t want to be distracted or I was confused, but the answer is - I don’t know.  All I do know, Tim, is that it took me this long to realize that you mean everything to me. I have very deep feelings for you.”

 

Tim presses his lips together, holding back a smile. “That’s a start,” he says, rocking back on the bed. Armie goes in to attempt a tickle. Tim leans away. “ My heart’s on the line here and it appears yours is also. It’s too important, I gotta know.”  They gaze at each other, the artic blue warmed by the viridescent green. Armie’s hoping to find some answers there, Timmy’s looking for some reassurance.

 

Some time passes. Armie looks down at the comforter and starts to speak.  “Loving you, committing to you, would mean the end of our lives as we know it. You are a public figure, and to some extent, so am I. Our privacy would be gone. There are those that would denounce us and our work, vilify our love. It might limit your opportunities, marginalize my career. I don’t know if I’m strong enough.”  He looks up at Tim, somewhat relieved to speak his innermost fears.

 

“I’m not gonna argue with you. All of those things may happen. I’m glad you distilled your feelings down to the essence of what it is.” Tim smooths the bedcovers and then wraps his arms around himself. “I guess the question you have to ask yourself is: can you live with walking away from me? Will it all be worth it?  I really want you to be sure Armie because I will not put myself through this again. I know what my answer is, and it’s not contingent on yours. It stands. I want to be with you, to figure it out, to possibly have the big love of my life.  It’s worth it to me.  The trappings of a successful profession lose their meaning when your heart is alone.”

 

That’s a revelation to Armie. His concern, couched in personal terms, was mostly for Tim’s burgeoning career. He has enough money; if it all stopped tomorrow he could support the both of them.   There’s teaching, writing, mentoring, all fulfilling possibilities. He thinks about walking away from Tim and the dread far outweighs any pain caused by judgment from those he doesn’t know or care about. 

 

Armie stretches, groans a bit, and stands up.  “You’re right. I can’t do it.”

 

Tim looks up at him, leaning back on his arms, his expression a bit shocked.

 

Armie looks down and is quick to reassure him.  “No, no Tim. There’s no way in hell I can walk away from you.”

 

“Fucker.”  He pulls Armie down on the bed with surprising strength.