Opening Night Jitters by Lbilover

Written for the 10th anniversary of the premiere of the Fellowship of the Ring. It's not really intended to be slashy unless you want it to be. Draws heavily on Not Alone's 'Journey with Frodo' post about the premiere, along with some things Sean has said in recent interviews and a couple of write ups of the premiere that I read.

Sensing he was part of something huge and life-defining, something that could emblazon his name on the honor roll of movie greatness forever, should have been reassuring. But Sean was scared shitless. Months of exhausting slogging, six days a week of twelve hour days, had removed his capacity for perspective. He wanted to trust in what he’d sensed ever since his agent told him about the role in Peter Jackson’s planned trilogy based on a book he’d never heard of yet intuitively knew was Big, but he couldn’t.

If it proved to be for naught, all those early mornings in Feet, he didn’t think he could bear it. He’d put so much on the line to play Samwise: moving his family to another country, giving up opportunities for other movie roles with the consequent financial uncertainty, gaining a shitload of weight. As an actor he was philosophical about failure. It went with the turf. But he couldn’t be philosophical about Rings. Failure would crush him, grind him under its heel into powder.

Sure, the buzz was great, the early reviews glowing. But you never knew. Until the metaphorical curtain was raised and the show began, you never knew. The list of epic disasters loomed large in Sean’s mind. Remember Heaven’s Gate? Ishtar? The public had to love and embrace Peter’s vision of Middle-earth. It wasn’t the critics but the fans, the geeks, who would ultimately determine the fate of Rings, and whether it would enter the pantheon of immortals or live on as a trivia question about greatest movie bombs.

Outside the Odeon, thousands of people were gathered in the bitter December cold. Making his way along the red carpet, Sean found the entire thing surreal, especially the chants of ‘Rudy’. Sean hadn’t even been aware that the film was known in the UK. And hearing them, while flattering, only ramped up the pressure. Would he forever be defined by a film made when he was twenty-one years old? Or would the audience accept him and his faux British accent and embrace Samwise, too?

Inside the theater, the media were waiting, cameras arranged in a semi-circle. Sean went from station to station, hearing the same mind-numbing questions repeated over and over, finding it impossible to dredge up anything new or interesting to say. Impossible to say what he really wanted to, “Give me some peace and space, man. My life’s on the fucking line here, can’t you see that?”

Just as another microphone was stuck in his face, a whirlwind in chocolate brown silk descended: Elijah, and he grabbed Sean’s face and kissed him exuberantly on the cheek. It was a blessed interruption and the strained, forced smile Sean wore turned genuine. They mugged for the camera for a few seconds, holding onto each other, then Elijah was pulled away.

But it was enough. That had been no random, impulsive demonstration of affection. Elijah had known that Sean needed a hug, because after sixteen months of living inside each other’s skin nearly 24/7, he could read Sean like a book.

What are you worrying about? Sean thought as he answered the reporter’s questions, his mouth on autopilot. If anyone should be worrying it’s Elijah. He’s the one who has to carry the film, it’s his name that’s at the top of the credits. But instead of worrying about himself, he’s worrying about you.

He understood then that Rings’ success was a foregone conclusion. Because at its heart was that incredible, exuberant soul whose wide smile when he jumped up from under a tree and looked straight into the camera was going to light up not just the screen but all of Middle-earth, making it real for generations to come.

Sean had overheard Ian McKellen talking to one of the reporters about the tattoo he'd gotten, that indelible symbol of the bond of friendship and fellowship forged among the actors over sixteen months of the hardest and most rewarding work any of them had done. Well, what was fellowship if not faith that the result of their labor of love, yes love, was a movie that would live on not only in the pantheon of greats, but in people’s hearts?

The interviews were over. It was time. And Sean was ready.

Watch out world, he thought humorously. Here comes Rings.