On page 87 of the screenplay the actor died. Again.
He had been in 37 feature movies but he had survived none of them. In ‘Reminiscence of rape’, his first role, he had been ‘second victim’ and killed off before the opening credits rolled. His stature as an actor had steadily grown since, but one through-thread remained. Whatever role he played, he didn’t make it to the fade-out. Even in the Academy Award winning ‘The word not uttered’ he died of cancer.
That in itself had been a respite of sorts, since usually he would be beheaded, drowned, stabbed, shot, strangled, poisoned, or – in one instance – kicked to death by a zombie horse. As an actor he was always on the lookout for versatility, but as he’d discovered, there are only so many ways in which one can shuffle off a mortal coil.
“Listen,” he therefore pleaded the director, “this role is amazing. Some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. There’s just one problem. I die.”
“That’s why I hired you,” the director said. “Nobody croaks the way you do. It’s your calling card. Your one defining feature. The way you slumped over and writhed in agony in ‘Text M for Murder’ still haunts me.”
The actor pleaded some more, but to no avail. He seemed burdened with death for the rest of his career. He’d never made his peace with that. But he did now. He died. Magnificently. And he’d die again, in another 53 features. He’d become an internet meme and only once, as a stunning twist, he’d make it, only to be killed in a post-credits tag anyway.
But when he died, for real, the papers did not go with ‘actor, dead at 72’. His obituary instead read: ‘actor’s legacy will live on.’
Did you enjoy this story? Then why not try the 101 stories in 300 words or less in YOU’RE GETTING SLEEPY, THE HYPNOTIST’S APPRENTICE YAWNED.