I remember the first time I saw her. She was a tiny little thing, only about eleven years old, her raven hair in two long pig tails. She was wearing a pair of bright yellow galoshes and bright pink shorts. It was very hard to miss her. And she had made sure we couldn't. She was the youngest member of the cast, but hardly easy to miss. She was opinionated and loud. Borderline annoying to my eighteen-year-old self. It was funny, the way they introduced her to the cast.
We were all sitting in a restaurant, getting drunk on a Friday evening after a long day of fight rehearsal. Dom and I had already tried to chat up the waitress, unsuccessfully, might I add. Orlando and Viggo were about halfway through their second bottle of wine when Pete came in, followed by Fran and another woman. I didn't see the girl until the rounded the large planter at the center of the room. Even though we were technically off for the night, I immediately straightened and sobered up a bit upon seeing Pete.
He greeted us like he normally did, jovial and bright but with a hint of nervousness. He introduced the other woman as Alessandra Petros. She was a thin, small woman with pale skin and warm blond hair. Her brown eyes shined with excitement and nervousness. She spoke with a bit of a Brazilian accent and had a sort of exotic air to her. The girl behind her was quiet, with big green eyes and the same pale skin. She didn't really speak. She just looked around at us all, almost as if she were surveying us and saying, "You all are idiots."
It was funny, thinking back to the first time I saw her and seeing her today. She had grown quite a bit, but she was still petite. She had that stop-you-in-your-tracks beauty. She'd matured a lot over the years, mostly in front of the camera. She was one of the few members of the cast whose career actually took off after Rings was over. Sure Dom had Lost and Orli had Pirates, but for the most part, our careers had remained dull. As an actor, you never want to be bored. It means no one wants you anymore. I don't think she was ever bored.
Right after Rings, she began work with Orli on Pirates, and then went right into Cold Mountain after that. It was like she never stopped. And she had grown up before our eyes. It was like she'd done one film after another. She wasn't like those stereotypical child stars who appear for a few years then burn out. No, she stayed and shined brighter in each film she was a part of.
I remember the first time I saw her after we had wrapped filming. It was for the first premiere of Fellowship of the Ring. It had been about three months, but I could already see her changing. She had gotten taller. Her hair had been in dreadlocks for Pirates, and she was carrying it well. She was in those early teen years, when rebellion was rampant. Then I didn't see her for another nine months until the Academy Awards. She appeared beautiful and sun-kissed. It was the first time I can remember feeling her effect on me.
The years that followed kept us apart. And she kept changing. But I was always able to catch a glimpse of her in magazines in the check-out aisle at the store or on T.V. as I flipped through the channels. I saw her again when I went out to visit Dom in Hawaii when he was doing Lost. She was beautiful in an island way. Her bright green eyes lit up when she saw me. It was her birthday while I was scheduled to be there, so Dom surprised her with me. For some reason, seeing her face light up like that brought me extreme happiness. It was the first time I had seen her in front of the camera since Rings, and DAMN she was good. That trip was over before I had wanted it to be.
Time continued to pass and she moved around the globe, filming. From movies to television, she was always guaranteed a role. She was in such high demand. It was almost enough to make me jealous. As a fellow child actor, I had experienced the fading stardom most other kids do. Even after Rings, I still didn't get many roles. It's not like I'm just looking for attention or trying to be in as many movies as possible. All I'm saying is if I worked as much as she does and if I made as much as she does per project, I could afford to live on the moon.
But the fine line of it all is that, right now, seeing her in front of me, I can't take my eyes off of her. She's radiant. It's hard to still see her as that annoying little girl who I used to hide from in New Zealand. All I see is this beautiful creature that makes my palms sweat by just being in the same room. We had all come together to film this tenth anniversary thing with Katie Couric. Memories and stories from production were at the tips of our tongues. It was the first time since the entire cast, including Karl, Miranda, David, and Bernard had been together since filming because not all of us were available for premieres and publicity.
The room was buzzing with voices and production crew running about. From my assigned chair, I could see her getting her hair touched up. The long black tresses hadn't changed much over the years. They were just as much her signature as those kelly-green eyes of hers . Then she turned and made her way over towards me. Our eyes met and she smiled that million-dollar smile. It was just as popular as Julia Roberts' is. I stood automatically, getting my mic pack caught on the back of my chair and yanking it off, resulting in my being pulled back down into the chair and looking like a complete fool. But all she did was smile and I felt it all wash away.
I heard the producer or someone say she was to sit next to me. I groaned internally. I had just made a fool of myself in front of her and now I had to sit for three hours. Goodie.
"Isabella, switch places with Elijah, would you?" a producer asked. She looked up and smiled before turning toward me. I stood, making sure I was leaving, mic pack attached. As we sidled past each other in the tight interview space, I caught a whiff of her perfume and I damn near died from ecstasy.