WRIT LARGE: Ch 8, Part 3
In this part, the group discuss which actors would play the member of the game in their own Netflix originals, then Tuah and Putera invite everyone to accompany them to Genting’s resort as their guests when they leave the next day.
I find myself picturing everyone seated around this table in our own Netflix Original, starring in this very scene, and wonder who would be chosen to play me. I know instantly that I would choose Michelle Krusiec to play Leann – she is a stunning and charming actress, and I can already see her with Leann’s mannerisms. Olivia is a little trickier. It should be someone with an air of being cheeky as well as glamorous, playful, but serious when required. I have someone in mind, an actress with an impish upturned nose. Where have I seen her? And then I recall watching an episode of Doctor Who, the actress who played … what was her name … the doctor’s sidekick. Jenna Coleman.
I wonder if I have spoken aloud because I find that I am grinning to myself when Tuah asks which actors we think should be chosen to portray him and Putera.
“Oh, I know,” says Olivia raising her hand and practically jumping from her seat as though we are in school. “Henry Golding could play you, Tuah, and for Putera … Dave Franco.” She is grinning.
Tuah nods. “I like that. Henry Golding is a great guy.”
“Oh my god, you know Henry Golding?” she asks.
“We met on a couple of occasions.”
“I have met him also,” adds Leann. “You remember Crazy Rich Asians? I found myself somewhat inadvertently involved in the filming of some scenes.”
“I am so jealous,” says Olivia. “Not only because you got to meet Henry Golding, but to be involved in filming a movie. It would be my dream.”
I ask if – purely between us – she would give up her current highflying role to be an actress.
“Not an actress,” she says. “I was never any good at drama, I always ended up giggling through the serious scenes because I felt so ridiculous. No, I would kill to be a screenwriter. Well, not kill exactly, but you know what I mean.”
“Why do you not learn screenwriting?” asks Leann.
“You could study in your spare time,” says Cathie. “I trust Bernard allows you some leisure time.”
“He does,” says Olivia, “not that I always take him up on it. But anyway, I have studied screenwriting. My brother-in-law is a screenwriter too.”
“Then you are wasting your talents,” says Tuah. “Your screenwriting talents as well as your poker skills.”
Olivia laughs. “Maybe you can persuade your chairman to let me get involved in his biopic,” – she winks at me – “as Lucas is so against the idea.”
I suggest that her surprise news could be a gamechanger in the decision and that I have never seen her quite so animated, apart from when she was trying to avoid getting wet in Jurassic Park.
“I still have to pay you back for that one, Lucas,” she says.
I tug on my lapels and say that I think she already has.
“Seriously though,” says Olivia, “it must be the most incredible job to work on a movie set.” She glances around at everyone and her eyes widen. “I mean … no disrespect to you guys, you all obviously love your jobs, but, personally, I love movies as much as I love books.”
Leann gasps. “And you said that out loud while sitting next to an author.”
“Lucas understands, don’t you?” She doesn’t wait for a response. “Take for example, the people who choose which songs are included in a movie’s soundtrack. How do they do that? How do they watch a piece of footage and think, ‘I know exactly the right tune for this moment’? Don’t you find that fascinating?”
We all agree that we do. I suggest the music from Jaws as an immediate example. Whoever chose the tune for the night-scene when the three men are on the boat waiting for the shark to appear, cannot possibly have known that years later, those two beats would instantly prompt that one word: Jaws, and irrational fear in the hearts of so many.
“And some of them are so random,” says Olivia, “songs that I have never heard of, but when you hear them in context with a scene, you just know nothing else would have created the same vibe.”
Putera nods. “A musical director.”
Olivia stares at him. “A musical director? Seriously, is that the job title?”
One of the IHG employees laughs. “What do you think it should be called?”
“Oh, something glamorous,” says Olivia, staring at a tall glass swan on a windowsill. “Like a movie sensory expert, or a sound-vibes coordinator.”
“Your passion is exciting,” says Putera. “You must promise never to lose it.”
I wonder if Putera is attracted to Olivia. Whenever I have glanced at him, he has been studying her face, which I assume to mean that he was trying to gauge the level of her hand. Maybe there is more to it. If Olivia has noticed Putera in that way, she has certainly kept it close to her chest.
Olivia’s winning streak does not dissipate as we return our attention to the game. They have all had a few drinks by now and the bets increase drastically, which means that Olivia and I now have a sizable stack in front of us. I have no idea how she manages it, but she hasn’t once folded a hand, and has won each round she has played. I am inclined to deliberately lose a few rounds so that the other teams can recuperate some of their losses, but not so Olivia. She is still playing to win.
We take a break and Tuah and Putera leave the lounge to make a business call. Olivia is in conversation with the IHG employees, and I take the opportunity to sit with Leann and Cathie on the sofas. Both ladies look relaxed and comfortable.
“How are you feeling about your additional project?” asks Leann.
I tell her to ask me in the morning.
“How long are you staying?” asks Cathie. I say that I have already stayed two nights longer than planned and that I don’t wish to take advantage of Bernard’s generosity.
“Oh, he would never have suggested that you stay as long as you like if he didn’t mean it,” says Cathie. “Enjoy some downtime, while you can.”
I am grateful that the evening seems to have broken down the barriers between us, and speaking with both women now, it is difficult to picture what created the barriers in the first place.
When Tuah and his companion return, they bring bottles of champagne and eight champagne flutes. “Ooh, what’s the occasion?” asks Olivia.
“I have been speaking with Lim Kok Thay, and he has agreed to our suggestion,” says Putera with a glance in Olivia’s direction that is so brief I wonder if I imagined it.
“We want you all to travel to Malaysia with us tomorrow,” says Tuah. “You will stay at Genting’s resort for the rest of the week, as our guests of course.”
I don’t know what to say. I cleared my diary for my return to Sydney, so I wouldn’t have to reschedule any appointments to accommodate this impromptu trip. And why not? Everyone else here seems to be able to travel at the drop of a hat; maybe I should remind myself that this is what I work for, the moments to enjoy living.
“It is a fantastic and generous offer,” says Olivia. “I wish I could travel with you.”
“Oh, but you can,” says Putera. “We spoke to Bernard. He will be joining us there also and has confirmed that you should accompany us.”
“Really?” Olivia glances at me and I nod. It somehow feels as though she has been the glue that has brought us together tonight, and the trip without her would be dull in comparison. “Oh, wow, then yes. Thank you!”
“I wish to speak with you regarding your screenwriting,” says Putera. “Whilst we are in Malaysia. I hope you will find some time for me.”
“Wow!” she repeats. “I … yes.” She shrugs and we all toast Olivia with champagne as she is the undisputed Doubles Poker champion this evening.
When we finally get a moment alone, I ask Olivia if she is okay. She seems a little overwhelmed and has been quiet, while everyone else has been growing rowdier.
She smiles at me. “I’m fine,” she says, “really, just a little … well … I never expected to come to Singapore with Bernard and now, to be travelling to Malaysia with you all, it’s just … I can’t wait to tell my mum.”
I mention the old wives’ tale about being lucky at cards and suggest that she has absolutely nothing to worry about. She is such a likeable, bright, effervescent character, that love must follow her around like Cupid with his bow.
“Effervescent?” she says, sampling the sound of the word. “I’ll take that, thank you. But you have no need to worry about me, Lucas, it was all a ruse.” At my obvious confusion, she adds, “A poker ruse, you know, if everyone around the table takes pity on you, they won’t want you to lose.”
Tuah and Putera are close by listening to our conversation. “You are so … clever,” says Tuah.
I suggest that ‘cheeky’ might be a more appropriate description.
“We will not stop until we have headhunted you to work on our screenplay.”
“Cheers to that,” says Olivia.
The characters in this story keep getting more likable and dynamic. I love that. I also enjoyed their conversation about musical selections in film. Some of my best friends were music majors and we have literally had these conversations.