This month’s theme is all about Hollywood – screenplays, adaptations, film options and all that fun stuff.
I’ll confess – the closest my writing has gotten to Hollywood is me fantasizing about Jay Hernandez starring as the sexy Cuban resort employee who takes Aline’s breath away in my first novel, Fashionably Late.
Though my writing hasn’t had any brushes with the silver screen (or any kind of screen for that matter), in the seven years I spent living on the tiny but very glamorous (sometimes) Grand Cayman, I’ve had quite a few. From Jessica Alba in her Dark Angel days to pre-Mariah Carey Nick Cannon (then engaged to Victoria’s Secret model and Cayman Islands native Selena Ebanks), we had our fair share of glam moments. But there was one particular moment that blew the rest out of the water, so to speak.
Courtesy of the home-grown Caymanian talent, director Frank E. Flowers, the tiny 8-by-22-mile isle was transformed from a sleepy Caribbean retreat for the old and moneyed to the set of Haven, a movie starring Zoe Saldana and yes, Orlando Bloom, for many glorious months of filming.
During that time we all had our ten-seconds-of-fame stories, tales (some tall, for sure) of being awoken at 6 am to the shouts of “Ready… Set… Action!” outside our windows or of being extras posing as drugged out partygoers, bouncers, or hotel receptionists.
Sadly, yours truly never got to be an extra on the set, or serendipitously ran into Orlando at the beach. But something very interesting happened when Orlando and co. were back in town a full year after filming had wrapped up to promote Haven at a splashy, glitzy affair at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman…
The Ritz cocktail lounge was only slightly more crowded than it usually was on any given Friday night, but there was definitely something different in the air… It reminded me of an article I’d once read recounting a sighting of Julia Roberts at a Montreal diner where the patrons were stunned to be seated in the same eatery as the star, but had the class not to mob her – the only evidence that she was there was the almost palpable feeling that everyone was holding their collective breath.
This is exactly how the Ritz lounge felt like that night with Orlando in jeans, a t-shirt and a lopsided fedora over his tied-back hair, sitting on the same sofa I’d plopped into on so many other evenings, surrounded by a modest-sized entourage.
Of course we all gawked while trying hard to pretend we weren’t doing just that. My brave friend asked if she could take a picture with him (the response: “If I said yes, luv, it’d never stop”) while I hovered within spitting distance of the man.
The festivities continued at a new club that had recently opened and where – it’s important to note – a certain bartender worked, one who had once had a very serious crush on my sister.
Orlando and his party occupied the VIP lounge located on the second floor, the entrance of which was guarded by a pair of bouncers.
My sister, our friends and I were happy to boogie on the first floor, and not in any desperate state to try and sneak up to the second. At a late stage in the night (or wee hours of the morn, rather) my sister slipped away under the pretense of getting a drink, and I didn’t see her for the next twenty minutes, at which point the first words to spill out of her mouth in one continuous stream were: “DoyouwannameetOrlandoBloom?!!!!?”
Turns out her bartender friend had asked her just the same question when she walked up to the bar, dragged her up the staff-only stairs to the VIP area, and thrust her in Orlando’s face. And left. My sister assured me Orlando was a perfect gentleman about the impromptu introduction, said hi, while she was momentarily star-struck and couldn’t think of anything better to say than ask him his opinion about the situation in the Middle East. Apparently this threw him off (I wonder why…), and he stumbled his way through a scripted answer but the ice was broken. They chatted, and twenty minutes later, my sister remembered that she’d left us waiting downstairs.
She apologized and said she had to get back to her friends.
“Why don’t you bring them up here?” he asked, graciously.
“Because there are two bouncers at the VIP entrance.” She said.
“Just say you’re with me.”
At which point she cocked an eyebrow and retorted (or so she maintains): “Yeah… I’ll just say I’m with Orlando… Right.”
Turns out Mr. Bloom has a sense of humor. He accompanied her downstairs and instructed the bouncers to let her, and anyone who came with her, back up when she was ready.
And that’s when she came to get me. Had it been someone else, I would have been a bit skeptical at thought they had somehow cozied up with a celeb in the span of 20 minutes, but if you knew my sister, you would have believed her too when she dragged you past the bouncers, up the stairs, tapped Orlando on the shoulder and said: “this is my sister, Nadine.”
What’s the protocol in these situations? What do you say? He was very nice and normal, and instead of “I love your work” or “so nice to meet you” I asked him if he was planning to do any diving while he was in town to which he replied he would love to but wouldn’t have the chance. We shook hands, and I wished him a pleasant stay in the Cayman Islands.
And that’s how I met Mr. Orlando Bloom. Not very glam, not as exciting as having your novel optioned, but there you have it.
Nadine Dajani is the author of two novels - Fashionably Late and Cutting Loose. After spending 7 glorious years frolicking on the beaches of Grand Cayman (and occasionally working and writing) she now calls Toronto home. She's currently working on her third novel and wondering what possessed her to move back to Canada. A version of this post appeared on www.nadinedajani.com.