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Another Night in Hollywood

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FADE IN:

INT. NOEL’S APARTMENT - MORNING.

NOEL MILLER, a short, racially-ambiguous, and good-looking man, is pacing in front of a full-body mirror in an apartment that screams “organized mess.” His button-up shirt is tucked into his pants, his shoes are laced, his hair is combed, and he is positively sweating bullets.

~

“‘Hey, you know I didn’t mean it, Elsie. It was an accident, I swear--’ Wait, no. No. ‘Hey, you know I didn’t mean it, Elsie. It--’ Agh!” He throws his script to the ground in frustration. Nothing sounds right. When he tries it subtle, it sounds like he’s not trying at all, when he really puts effort into it, he’s trying too hard.

Why does he care so much, anyway? He’s not gonna get the part. Benjamin’s probably supposed to be some sort of heartthrob. Classic white boy, soft hair, cute face, jock-in-high-school-type. Someone like Noah fucking Centineo, not the hardened and angry man staring back at him in the mirror. Sure, his agent said he was perfect for the role and got him an audition spot because of it, but he already can picture the dude who’s gonna get the part. And he doesn't look a whole lot like him.

~

INT. CODY’S APARTMENT - MORNING.

CODY KOLODZIEJZYK (KO), a short, blonde, and well-built man, is sitting on his couch with a bowl of cereal. He’s surrounded by pizza boxes and is watching The Office. A lavender candle burns a few feet from him. If you look closely, there’s a slight tremor to his hands as he lifts the spoon to his mouth.

~

The scent of lavender fills his lungs. It’s supposed to calm him down, but it doesn't. He should probably look over his lines. He internally shrugs, assuming he got them all down. Why is he so nervous? He got this. This part was made for him. A college football coach? He literally swam competitively in college. He knows the basics of the world of college sports. Not to mention, his dad knows the producers. Got him the audition and everything. This is essentially in the bag. The only thing to wonder, really, is who his co-star is gonna be.

Someone famous? He thinks hopefully. Fuckin’...Emma Stone or some shit.

He knows deep down that’s unlikely. The movie is an indie rom-com, much to his disappointment. It’s low budget and likely to do well with critics, but it’s certainly not a career-defining role. They’re looking for up-and-coming actresses to play the female lead - a lit professor at the fictional university - so it’ll probably be some plainly attractive stage actress. Whatever.

Suddenly, his phone buzzes. The alarm on his screen reads “AUDITION!!! DON’T BE LATE AGAIN, ASSHOLE.”

“Shit,” he says aloud, and then leaps from his spot on the couch. He grabs his keys, his ketchup-stained script, earbuds, and his backpack before dashing out the door.

~

INT. WAITING ROOM - DAY.

Dozens of YOUNG ACTORS occupy a scarcely-decorated waiting room, all carrying scripts and dressed like they’re going to church. Some sit calmly in the plastic chairs, scanning their lines over eyeglasses and sipping on coffee. Others pace nervously, animatedly practicing by proclaiming their love to the air. NOEL enters and stops dead in his tracks.

~

Fuck. There are way more people here than I expected.

Don’t panic, Miller. Just don’t.

You’ve rehearsed this. You’re fine. Calm down.

“Name?”

A tired-looking woman behind a desk interrupts his panicking.

“Um, Miller. Noel Miller.”

“Great. They’ll call when they’re ready for you.”

He collapses into a chair next to a man with AirPods in and closes his eyes.

Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out--

“You good?”

Noel almost jumps at the sudden interaction. The man next to him is now staring at him with an expression more bemused than concerned.

“Um--yeah, just nervous, I guess.”

“Nervous? For this?”

Noel gives him a side-eye. “Yeah. And you aren’t?”

“Not really.” He shrugs. “Been to a lot of these recently.”

“Oh. I’m just getting back into the game.”

“Huh.” The man looks at Noel’s jittery leg and laughs. “Calm the fuck down, seriously. It’s not that deep. This is LA. A new movie is being cast every week.”

“Not that deep?” Noel barely hides his shock, realizing this guy is the textbook definition of a fuckboy. “This is like, everything to me.”

He laughs that stupid laugh again. “This indie rom-com about college professors is everything to you? Must be pretty lonely.”

“If you’re not taking this seriously, what are you even doing here?”

“Dad got me in.” He shrugs. “Sounded fun.”

This, Noel realizes, is the kind of guy I’m gonna lose this part to.

“Well, this has been a fun talk,” He says bitterly. “I’m gonna look at my lines. Noel gruffly turns to the page, but the words seem to blur together as the blond continues speaking.

“Gosh, I should probably do that, too. I haven’t looked at them for like a week.”

Noel doesn't reply.

“Eh, it doesn't really matter. I do my best work when I’m going off a whim. Rehearsing can be overdone, in my opinion.

“I didn’t ask.”

“Sheesh. Well, so-rry.” He crosses his arms. “Someone’s really leaning into the role. Got the fuckin’ anger problem down--”

In an act of what was certainly divine intervention, the receptionist calls a name in that instant.

“Cody K...Kolo...dz...?”

“That’s me. Cody Ko.” The guy springs from his seat and waves in her direction.

“You can go on in.”

“Thanks.”

“Good luck,” Noel feels the urge to say.

“Good lu--” Cody turns around. “Isn’t that bad luck in acting?”

He turns to his script. “That’s the point.”

“Well, fuck you.” Cody laughs, apparently unperturbed, and walks confidently through the door.

While Noel really should be preparing, he’s suddenly become invested in this guy. His cockiness, his greasy script, his smile, it all pissed him off. More than anything, he hopes he bombs this audition. That Noel can’t see what’s happening in there - foggy windows prevent that - but he finds himself neglecting his lines and just waiting, waiting for this idiot to walk out with his tail between his legs.

He’s in there for twenty minutes, longer than any of the other names that were called. Even the other actors begin to notice. What’s worse, you can hear laughter coming from the room - the casting directors are fucking laughing.

Great, so he’s a standup comedian now. Just perfect.

When Cody finally reappears, the room falls silent, quietly assessing him. He slows as he closes the audition room’s door, noticing the interest and clearly reveling in all the faces eyeing him up and down. He pauses, locates Noel’s face in the crowd, gives him a shit-eating grin and a thumbs-up, and promptly exits the room.

Noel scowls. So he nailed it. Of course he nailed it.

“Noel Miller?”

And of course he has to follow that asshole. Great, just great. He’s gonna lose another role to a greasy white boy living off of daddy’s money.

~

EXT. AUDITION BUILDING - DAY.

CODY hurries down the sidewalk.

~

I really hope he doesn't think I’m just a greasy white boy living off of daddy’s money, Cody thinks, wiping the sweat off his forehead. Why did I come off so shitty?

He really didn’t mean to belittle the guy so much. He seemed worried, and trying to make the experience seem smaller was just his method of helping. I mean, that’s what he would’ve wanted to hear. That rehearsing crap, he was just trying to tell him it seems like he’s done enough, that he has nothing to worry about. It’s clear, though, that he got off on the wrong foot.

Why was he suddenly such a douche when talking to him?

He knew. It’s because the second he walked in, the second he saw the guy, he thought, that’s him. That’s Benjamin. He just exudes the right energy - stoic, determined, dedicated. And, well, the face didn’t hurt either.

Probably a good thing he ragged on him right before his audition. Threw off his game, probably. Won’t be able to impress directors with a mindset like that. Because Cody needs this. He really, really needs this. And he just killed his audition. So there’s celebrating to do.

~

INT. AUDITION ROOM - DAY.

NOEL stands nervously in the audition room. He faces a long table, behind which are seated THREE WOMEN. A large black camera, controlled by a CAMERA OPERATOR, is trained on his face.

~

“Hey there, you must be Noel.” The woman on the right greets him with a smile, but the other two remain stone-faced. Do you have your--?”

“Yes, right here.” He hopes they can’t hear the shaking of his voice as he hands them a folder of information. “I think that’s everything.”

“Perfect. So, I’m Amelia. I’m the casting director. This is Aleena, she’s--”

“The director, I know.” Noel nervously interrupts as Aleena raises an eyebrow and taps a finger on the table. “I’m a big fan of Adam’s Daughter.

“Thanks.” Aleena doesn't smile, having heard that a thousand times that day. What she doesn't know was that Noel is the only one who meant it.

“And this--” Amelia gestures towards the final woman “--is Kelsey, our screenwriter. She’s gonna be on set a lot. We want her to be a huge part of the final product.”

“Hey, Kelsey. Nice to meet you.”

“Likewise.” She doesn't even look up from her sheet of paper, which she is furiously writing on. He hopes it’s something good.

“So, as you know, today’s the monologue audition. If you pass this round, we move on to chemistry auditions - you’ll audition along with the shortlist of girls we have for Elsie.”

“Yep.”

“So...camera’s right here, do with that what you will. Lauren, you ready?”

The lady behind the camera nods.

“Okay, take it away.”

Noel takes a deep breath and mentally counts down - three, two one. “Hey, you know I didn’t mean it, Elsie. It was an accident, I swear…”

FADE OUT.