Scene 29

byclownprince2008©

6 am table readings. What kind of director organises table readings at 6 am? And for only 5 scenes. Needless to say, me and my co-star looked like crap. Which is hard to imagine considering my co-star is the beautiful Natalie Portman. She could barely keep her eyes open. I took a peanut from the bowl on the table and threw it at her. She bolted wide awake in her seat and looked at me.

'We starting?' she asked.

'Nope. Our wise and brilliant director George is late.'

'What? These early sessions were his idea!' she said rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

'Late night?' I asked.

'Early night actually. Shitty hotel bed,' she said dreamily.

'I don't actually think the hotel's all that bad.'

'Oh no, I'm not staying at the same place as everyone else.'

'Ah I see, A-lister gets her own expensive hotel suite,' I smiled.

'You win a Golden Globe, you get the presidential suite at the Hilton.'

I paused before saying, 'With a shitty bed it seems.'

Natalie shrugged and then laughed before grabbing her coffee mug. We were filming an as yet, un-named romance film in Sydney, Australia. Natalie is the star of the piece and I'm playing her husband. Which suits me fine because my agent keeps telling me this could be my big break, I get a free trip to Australia and I get to see Natalie naked as part of a love scene we're filming. Our director George Wynn thought it'd be a brilliant idea to start up production ridiculously early each morning due to the amount of dawn filming sessions the film required. It seems like a good idea and it probably is, but half the crew still hates him for it. Luckily for most of them, this particular morning session only required Natalie and I to be at the table.

He came in about half an hour late. By then even I was pretty much asleep. This time it was Natalie's turn to throw peanuts at me. I bolted wide awake.

'Not so funny when it happens to you is it?' Natalie laughed.

George sat at the head of the table and said. 'Ok, we're reading through scene 27 through to 39 this morning. Natalie, Jim, you guys know the scenes at the beach house?'

We both nodded. George read parts of his script quietly to himself. There was silence in the room. Natalie and I looked at each other. Neither of us really liked the awkward way in which George works. It's not too uncommon for him to leave an entire table of the cast and crew silent for 5 whole minutes as he reads the script to himself. And the man obviously doesn't know how to manage actors.

'Anything in particular about the scenes you wanted to talk about George,' Natalie asked after about a minute.

'Um, are you still up for the nudity?' he said abruptly.

I raised an eyebrow, Natalie seemed somewhat surprised and looked at me for a moment. I think she didn't feel completely comfortable talking about it in front of me despite the fact I was going to be in the scene with her.

'Yes, if you think it's necessary for the film I'll do it,' she said shyly.

'It is.'

'How will it be filmed?' I asked curiously.

In all honestly, I was more interested in how much of Natalie I'd get to see rather than how the scene would look. Natalie and I have struck up a pretty good friendship during our 2 or so weeks on set so far but having said that, she's been curiously quiet about our love scenes.

'One camera, limited crew. Long shots, unbroken. It'll be easier that way one we get into editing. Anyway, I expect scene 29 and 31 which are the scenes in which you guys are in bed to clock up at about five minutes in all.'

'Five minutes?' Natalie said somewhat shocked.

'Yes, is that a problem Nat?' he asked.

'It's just that the scene is a total of 2 pages in the script, I didn't expect to be showing skin for that much time,' Natalie said surprised and somewhat annoyed.

'I want the love scene to be very passionate, very candid. This is an intimate moment between husband and wife. A relationship that's very important to the overall plot,' George said without looking up from the script.

'The actual sex scene doesn't go on for the whole five minutes does it?' I asked, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically.

'No. Two minutes tops,' George said flipping through the script once more.

'Wait, then why am I naked for the rest of the three minutes?!' asked Natalie in a rather annoyed tone.

'Husband and wife are in bed discussing their future after they enjoy a little romp in the bedroom. Of course you'll be naked. And not to make you uncomfortable Nat but the studio is all for having Golden Globe winning Star Wars actress Natalie Portman nude. They think it'll help us at the box office. Show off that cute body of yours and make us a few extra million.'

Natalie shot him a furious glare. I smiled on the inside at George's phrasing. Even though I wouldn't tell Natalie, it was this "romp in the bedroom", as George so interestingly phrased it, that was a major motivation for taking the role. George seems also very interested in the scene much to Natalie's dismay. I've noticed that she doesn't like the casual and at times sexist way he talks about the up coming scene.

Anyway, for about 30 more minutes, Natalie and I read through lines and made corrections where needed. Actually, George made most of the corrections and basically changed scene 28 completely. George didn't bring up the love scene again and Natalie was more than comfortable to stay mute of the subject. Which of course proved to be somewhat of a problem with that scene coming up in about 2 days.

When we finished up it was a bit past 7 o'clock, I was keen to get back to the hotel and rest up some more before I was due on set at noon. As I was walking out onto the studio lot, Natalie ran up to me.

'Jim!'

'Yeah?'

'You due on set today?'

'Yeah, at about 12:30 I think, studio 10. Why?'

'I was hoping we could talk about scene 29, our um...'

She trailed off. I smiled. Here's a girl so shy she doesn't even want to say "sex". She just looked at me and I at her. Eventually I just said,

'What about it?'

'I was wondering if we could talk about it after you finished for the day. I don't exactly feel comfortable talking to George about it.'

'I completely understand. When are you free?'

'Not until about 5 in the afternoon. I'm on set all day by the bay. Can you come to my hotel room? The Hilton, room 138.'

'Sure thing.'

'Great! Anyway I gotta go. Mustn't keep George waiting.'

'What scene are you filming?' I asked.

'Swimming by the bay.'

'He'll enjoy that,' I muttered under my breath as I walked away.

Little did I know Natalie's hearing was pretty damn good. She chuckled before grabbing me by the arm and pulling me back.

'You think George has a crush on me don't you?' Natalie asked smiling widely.

I smiled. In all honesty, I don't think George has a crush on Natalie, I know he does. But for her sake I decided to phrase my thoughts more tastefully.

'Put it this way Nat, George is a big Star Wars fan.'

Natalie laughed as she walked away. 'Room 138,' she reminded me.

'138,' I repeated.

***

I was on set later that day with the Assistant Director and a bunch of extras. When people say that Hollywood is a glamorous and exciting industry, they forget to mention the 3 or so hours you could spend on set doing a shocked and surprised look while on a phone. Luckily for me, this A.D. and I were old friends from college. It helped to have him there to hold off boredom.

'What else do you need Tom?' I asked.

'Sorry Jim, go from "where did this happen"? The lighting was all fucked.'

I picked up the prop phone once more as the Grip adjusted the light. Tom yelled "action" and I faked sincerity and shock. This was a smaller filming crew. Most of them were out by the bay filming on location with George and Natalie. Meanwhile I was left here repeating the same lines again and again and again. I had to say the line again for another 10 takes before Tom yelled,

'Cut! That's a wrap people. Good work.'

The crew disbanded quickly as I walked over to Tom who was watching the scene over again on the monitors. We were friends in college but only became acquainted again recently when we found ourselves working together on several other projects before this. In fact, Tom was one of the main reasons I got the role.

'Listen, I have to give George the update on everything in about an hour but you wanna get a drink afterwards?'

'Hotel bar at 9?'

'Actually, I was thinking straight after I'm done here at about 5. I'm going out to dinner with my cousin and her husband afterwards. They came in from Melbourne to see me.'

'In that case I can't, I'm meeting Natalie.'

'Woah, hold up! You don't mean Portman do you?' asked a very surprised and somewhat doubtful Tom.

'We're in Australia Tom. You really think Natalie Ross from College is going to fly over from Boston to see me?' I asked.

'Why are you meeting up with Miss Portman?'

'We're discussing scene 29.'

Tom thought about it for a moment before asking, 'The fight at office?'

'No you idiot!' I said before lowering my voice. 'The sex scene.'

This got Tom's attention. He turned his away from the monitors and swivelled around in his chair to face me.

'Discuss,' he asked giddily.

'What's to discuss? She's naked, I'll be naked and we'll be pretending to be fucking. She just wants to go over the scene before we do it on Thursday.'

'You think you can control yourself?' Tom asked wryly.

'What do you mean?'

'It's Natalie fucking Portman Jim. You have to be filming a sex scene with her for what will be a good hour or so. Not to mention the moment you get a hard-on, she'll either be very turned on or disgusted by you.'

'Huh, haven't thought about that.'

Tom slapped me on the back and turned off the monitors and packed up some of the gear. I stood there thinking about it. He continued, obviously taking great joy in the situation.

'And the question then becomes, are you willing to take advantage of the situation if she is turned on. You know, unnecessary touching and squeezing here and there.'

'You've thought about this a lot haven't you?'

'I'm just saying. The worse thing you could hope for is if Natalie asks you over and then sets ground rules for the scene. It completely ruins the experience. You'd be too focussed on not pissing her off than taking advantage of the opportunity. I know several actresses who have done that in the past.'

'You? How do you know? You're an Assistant Director.'

'I'm privy to a lot of gossip. Just like right now for instance. My advice Jimmy is this. Be on the look out for any signals she may give you. The three scenarios that could come of this are number 1, you guys are very professional and treat it like any other scene. Number 2, you use this as a springboard to a booty call later on. Or number 3, she gets all pissy from the having you feel her up and files sexual harassment charges.'

'Thanks for the advice,' I muttered.

***

I arrived at Natalie's hotel a bit past 5 o'clock. I knocked on the door for a good minute until Natalie opened. She was dressed only in a yellow bathrobe. Part of me was thinking how beautiful she looked, another part of me was bitter as her hotel room was obviously much more expensive than mine.

'Sorry Jim, I was in the shower. Come on in,' she said happily.

'Is that a signal?' I muttered under my breath.

'What was that?' Natalie asked once more impressing me with her hearing.

'Nothing, I was thinking how nice room is,' I lied.

'You should've been part during the Star Wars shoots. They put us in an even more expensive hotel downtown. Pretty much everyone too, not just the actors.'

'This isn't your first time in Australia then?' I asked.

'No, all 3 Star Wars films took me here. I love it here. It's pretty much like back in the States except everyone seems to have much less of a fuck you attitude than the average New Yorker.'

I laughed and moved to the window and admired the view of pretty much the entire city. The fact it was near sunset bathed the room in a reddish tinge. Unlike the movies, there was no view of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge or Opera House. Natalie broke my train of thought and said,

'Listen, make yourself comfortable. Order up if you want to, it's on Universal Studio's dime. I'll be right back, have to put something on.'

There was a long leather couch in the middle of the room. I sat down threw my jacket onto it and approached the bar. Her suite even had it's own bar. I poured myself a glass of scotch and sat down. After an overly long time, Natalie finally came out the bedroom wearing just an ordinary white tank top and tight fitting black pants. And here I was half expecting something more revealing. She came over to the longue and sat down next to me and flipped open the script.

'So, scene 29,' she started nervously.

'Scene 29,' I repeated.

She laughed slightly. 'You're not going to make this easy for me are you?'

I looked at her, smiled, took a sip of scotch and put it down on the coffee table before saying.

'Ok, The sex scene. You want to set ground rules I suppose?' I asked.

Meanwhile I could just imagine Tom shaking his head disapprovingly and saying "no ground rules Jimmy". Natalie meanwhile seemed to have no idea what to say.

'Ground rules? No. Ok, it's just that.....I don't want to create a.....um..... situation between us where you're afraid to touch me or afraid do anything too overly sexual during filming,' she said choosing her words carefully.

'Right, we're both professionals and anything we do is for our art,' I said, half not believing the bullshit that was spouting out of my mouth.

'Right. Although if you could cover up certain body parts from the camera it'd also be greatly appreciated,' she laughed nervously.

I stayed silent not knowing what to make of that last sentence. I almost asked "cover you up with my hands?" but decided against it. There was an awkward silence momentarily with neither of us not knowing what to say. Eventually, she just blurted out.

'I'm sorry, I'm making this whole thing a bit awkward. I just don't feel completely comfortable with doing nudity on film.'

'You've done it before haven't you? Hotel Chevalier, Closer,' I asked whilst not wanting to seem like a complete expert on the topic.

'I personally asked Mike Nichols to delete my topless scene from Closer and I was a nervous wreck while filming Hotel Chevalier. Let's just say I had a lot of martinis before the camera's rolled.'

'Then why did you agree to do it for this film?' I asked.

'I don't know. I always think I'm up to it but when it comes time to shoot the scene.....my shy and prudish side takes over.'

She just stopped talking and went silent. Her candidness surprised me. I didn't know what to say so after about 30 seconds of silences, I just said.

'So do you wanna go over the scene? The dialogue I mean.'

'Yeah,' she said, relieved to change topics.

Natalie reached for a pile of manuscripts sitting on the table and threw a copy of the script to me. We flipped to the scene and Natalie started reading her lines. Needless to say, the Thursday night filming session was going to be interesting.

***

Here's how it went. Night time shooting at the beach house. My character, Matt, is in bed reading. The wife, Amber, is coming out of the bathroom half naked wearing only her panties and a shirt. We're discussing some crap about Amber getting a job in the city. It's actually some of George's better work but needless to say, I wasn't focussing on the dialogue all that much. George wanted to film the scene in one long take like he always does. Which means we'll be repeating this scene countless times from beginning till end. This obviously suited me just fine. Unless most shoots, there was as little people on set as possible. I counted only seven people including me and Natalie. When George yelled action, we were a go. Natalie walked in from the bathroom and I took my shirt off and climbed into bed pretending to read.

'I don't know if I should take the job. I'm so comfortable right here. The big city just isn't for me,' Natalie said.

I had the luxury of having the script right in front of me. George didn't mind since my character was suppose to be reading anyway, so we just disguised the script as a magazine.

'What are you talking about, you lived in Los Angeles before you came to Australia,' I said.

Natalie sat down on the bed and said,

'I came here for you. And if I were to take the job, I'd have to move into the city which means I'll most likely only see you on weekends.'

'Amber, you moved countries for me. I'll move into the city with you if it means being able to see you 24/7. Because if I stay here and you go to the city, you know I'll just end up missing you,' I said as I threw the script away, leaned forward and kissed her.

The boring part was over. We kissed for a long time until the George moved the camera and gave us the signal to move to the next stage. Natalie took her shirt off and leaned back against me. I slid my hands through her arms and cupped both of her breasts. From what I could see, they weren't big but were a perfect fit for a girl of her stature. A great pair, firm, not too small and not too big. Natalie said a few more lines of dialogue. I wasn't even listening. I just cupped her breasts in my hands and massage and squeezed them. I said my last line and we were done talking.

I slowly eased Natalie down onto the bed and looked down at her briefly. Absolutely beautiful. I couldn't stare for long because we had to continue kissing. I ran my hands over her smooth thighs. It was right about now that I could feel my penis growing quite hard. It was also now that I realise that as nice as it was to be able to feel up Natalie Portman for ages, it was also going to be torture. I started kissing her flat belly and slowly moved up and kissed the bottom of her breasts.

I looked her in the eyes for a moment and saw she was looking directly at me. I couldn't read her expression. We just looked into each others eyes. It's a curiously feeling, stripping a woman of her clothes and pretending to make love while 5 other people look on. I pulled the shirt over her head and threw it onto the floor. Natalie slid her panties down her legs as I took my own pants off leaving us both naked. I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her onto me while I lay down on the bed. Per the script, Natalie got into position and then proceeded to lie on top of me. I could feel her warm, smooth skin against the length of my body. For a moment, I just froze. I could even feel her pubic hair against my groin. That was when I realised my hard-on was pressing right up against her.

We kissed once more as I ran my hand over her back and teasingly grazed her breasts. Natalie then pressed her groin against mine. I could feel her vagina against my dick. I looked at her once more. She smiled for a split second. I interpreted that as a sign and quickly moved my left hand to her breasts and clutched it. That wasn't part of the script I can tell you that much. It was unbearable at this point. I just wanted to fuck her. Natalie cried out in pleasure over nothing. I know she was just following the script but it was torturing me. I had to have her. The fact she was a good actress didn't help. An onlooker would've been convinced we were fucking the way she was going. But we weren't.

I don't know why I did what I did next but it happened anyway. The script just said she was suppose to straddle me as we fucked. Her on top, me on the bottom. But without warning, I grabbed her by the waist and pushed her back down onto the bed. It took her by surprise. She gave me a confused look momentarily but played along. I stopped kissing her and moved to suck on her nipple. She moaned softly. This time I was convinced it was a genuine expression of pleasure. With one hand, I played with her other nipple. I moved my other hand down to her legs and pretended to line up my penis. In reality, I began stroking her vagina. I started kissing her lips again. I opened one eye and could see a look of utter surprise on her face. I ran my fingers along the length of her opening. I could feel the heat emanating from in. I wanted nothing more than to fuck her right now. But even I knew that would be taking it too far.

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