Eclipsed Take 119 – His mum should really have been here to see this

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This post today (no.119) concludes a story about how a kid danced his way from Billy Elliot in the West End all the way to Hollywood and overtaking his ‘celebrity’ dad along the way.

I am the ‘celebrity’ dad and my eldest son, Tom, is the kid – and it finally happened last night when his film, The Impossible premiered in LA.

The red carpet in tinsel-town was always the place I envisaged that this story should end. The ‘battle’ between father and son would finish and the Eclipse would complete. But I don’t feel like I am in the darkness. I am delighted to be ‘eclipsed’ and that I can be here in Hollywood to conclude what is an extraordinary story, even if I say so myself.

Because this all happened to Tom without a drama lesson to his name let alone a stage school. When he took to the stage of The Victoria Palace Theatre in London in the role of Billy in Billy Elliot the Musical, it was his first ever speaking part in a play. He had never even been cast in a school play before, and now he has been long listed for an Academy Award in the category of Best Actor.

Just as strange, when Tom was spotted for Billy, he had no formal dance training at all. He was 9 years old and had done only some rudimentary street dance classes and that was it. At his first audition, he was one of hundreds of hopefuls but his lack of dance experience was plain to see and the assessors quickly called a metaphorical ‘next’ – so lucky then that Stephen Daldry happened to be there as well. Because he spotted something in Tom that he liked and wanted to nurture. On behalf of Tom and from me, ‘nice one Steven, and thank you’.

‘The kid can’t dance? So what. He can act. So teach him to dance.’

And they did and because they did, I am now sitting in the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills writing this now. Today we fly back to London at the very front of the plane after what has been a fitting end to this story. It’s not all glamour I might add.  As Tom and I are sharing a room – and as he is still asleep and I don’t want to wake him, as you can see, I am sitting in the bathroom tapping away.

And since I am thanking people, I really should scroll back to when Tom was a baby – when this story really started when his mum spotted that he could dance – even before he could walk. I’m not joking. He was in a bouncer at the time and I gave my wife’s observation scant consideration.

I’m telling you Dom, he can dance. He has a sense of rhythm.

Tom was the first of our four boys and I put this unusual observation down to a first time mum with infatuation myopia. And even if he can dance, so what? How many people can make a living as dancers? It will make school discos less traumatic than mine were and nothing more.

How wrong I was and me being wrong over and over again is one of the many recurring themes throughout Eclipsed.

A story that has really been a fluke with events conspiring in its favour and makes me wonder if it has been fated all along.

From a YMCA in London to an LA red carpet – without any planning – creating a true life story as interesting as it is surreal and comic once the hinge of my endeavours in film and show business are factored in as well.

In my writing this story, there is little place for my opinion about my son and his career to date. As proud as I am of Tom, I am mindful of being self-absorbed and boastful. No one wants to read a story by dad banging on about how clever his son is. I certainly don’t, not least because I have three other sons who are all equally special and important to me.

The facts are plain to see and as they are, they paint a picture on their own.

This blog and the book I am about to finish writing is what and how these things have happened and to a certain extent, why. Readers can watch the film and watch my stand-up and make up their own minds about the output and billing of this tale’s two protagonists, Dominic and Tom Holland. Or should that be, Tom and Dominic Holland? Which is my point, you can decide.

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Speaking of eulogising over our kids, California as you probably know has very strict smoking laws. No smoking is tolerated at all unless it is in a private residence. Not even in public can the Californians smoke – but it seems that there are no limits to the smoke that can be blown up the ass of a 16 year old whose first film is about to be released.

On this four day trip alone – and already chronicled here in Eclipsed – Tom has met in order – Tom Hooper (dir of The Kings Speech and Les Mis), Eddie Redmayne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Reece Witherspoon amongst others and now I need to add James Bond to the list.

Yesterday at a luncheon for The Impossible at the Ivy at the Shore on the beach at Santa Monica, Tom bumped in to Pearce Brosnan, who like many of the people above, had just seen the film and I am loathe to write here what they said. Save to say that Pearce was incredibly generous and gracious. He signed off by saying that he hoped he might get to work with Tom one day before hopping in his muscular Aston (what else?) and I had to restrain myself from taking a picture.

At this luncheon I was delighted to be seated next to Jackie Collins – another instance of coincidence in the lives of father and son which occur throughout Eclipsed.

You see, I have met Jackie before. I say met, but it was only very fleeting and she only said three words to me – You’re so  funny.

Yesterday, without embarrassing her, I quickly gave Jackie the chance to recognise me and of course she couldn’t. This was at least 15 years ago and my prompting her with the three words she had uttered was no help either, so I enlightened her. It was on The Clive James Show at the BBC in White City. I was the guest before Jackie and she had watched my interview on a monitor and said those words to me as we passed in the green room afterwards. An episode in my life I was unlikely to forget but understandably less formative and memorable for her.

Over lunch we discussed books – as you do, two seasoned best-selling novelists that we are! Jackie has a new blockbusting, door stopping, thumping new novel due out in Feb – and in fact so do I. My first novel for 10 years is being published as an ebook in Jan. (I didn’t bother to submit to publishers)

I said to Jackie as we parted – “Jackie, you’ve written more books than I’ve sold”. She laughed and repeated those three words to me and I laughed as well. How strange to be where I am and suddenly I am reminded of Eclipsed and how I am able to have lunch in California with one of the world’s biggest selling authors.

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From there, Tom and I got ready for the Premiere last night. It wasn’t as exciting at Toronto (the first ever red carpet in Sept this year) or in London just gone – but it was no less special.

Ewan McGregor and Noami Watts were ever present and on hand to take Tom’s hand as they have done for years now. At dinner last night, Ewan told me that he has never made a film like this before. A film that took six months to shoot and has been two years in post-production and in that time, everyone involved has become very close. More good fortune for Tom having Ewan and Naomi as his on screen parents. I don’t know many film stars. Actually, I only know two – and I can’t imagine meeting two kinder and more adjusted people than Ewan and Naomi. Tom has a special friendship with the director, JA Bayona and one of the real privileges for us in this whole process was getting to become close friends with the Belon family, whose real life story inspired this film.

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I have enjoyed writing Eclipsed as much as I have watching it unfurl. No project has ever consumed so much of my time and effort but endeavour is another theme running through this whole story. Whether Tom is talented or not, what is without question is just how hard he has worked and he deserves the success he is enjoying now and for however long it lasts.

I am pleased and proud of the ebook that will be available soon – at no good bookshops.

Twenty years of my life against five years of Tom’s, it is a story about a family and for my family. Like all things in my career, I have high hopes for it.

The ebook has been a pleasure to write by a dad as bemused as he is proud and if nothing else, it can serve as a thank you to a great many people. To my boys of course but also to my wife, without whom this story just would not have happened.

Nikki was right all along. Ou son could dance and now our job as parents is to keep those tapping feet of his on the ground.

Eclipsed is over – and this site will morph in to a general site and blog.

If you see the film, I hope you enjoy it and that this site or the ebook will put it in to context for you.

Thank you to all of the people who have followed since the beginning, particularly those who have helped me spread its word. You know who you are, thanks again.

31 Comments

  1. Lynne Mendoza December 11, 2012
    Reply

    I shall really miss this story, but completely understand that it needs to end somewhere (and there’s no sign of Tom’s progression halting in the near future!).

    I’ve loved following this amazing tale (as you know), and I look forward to it enjoying a life and success of its own. It deserves it. I’m no believer in fate, but this has really challenged that…!!!

    Next up – time to see the bloody marvellous Dominic Holland, back on stage, making us laugh ourselves silly. Book the Bedford in Balham please (not like I’m lazy or anything…).

    • Dominic December 11, 2012
      Reply

      thank you Lynne – you have helped shape the forthcoming book and you know I’m grateful – actually doing a one man show in Dulwich this w/e if you’re around

      • Lynne Mendoza December 12, 2012
        Reply

        Miles just noticed that! Hope to see you there. Will email you later.

  2. Andrea Gracía Iniesta December 11, 2012
    Reply

    Precious take, really. He would beg him to write the blog, but probably turn out to be useless. Many graces for this magnificent blog.

    • Dominic December 11, 2012
      Reply

      thank you Andrea – the blog had to end somewhere – but Tom’s crazy life continues which you can follow easily enough – and my blog will continue but of a more general nature I guess, not too sure myself yet

  3. Ricardo Montero December 11, 2012
    Reply

    I have been following your blog for only three months, but I have to say that I am really going to miss it! It ends with the quality, simplicity and personal humour with which you have written all your stories. I think that it is us who have to thank you for sharing a part of this story which we know makes you proud and really happy. Please be assured that I will read the ebook when it comes out. Hope Tom continues improving as an actor with equal or better projects as The Impossible. Best regards, Ricardo

    • Dominic December 11, 2012
      Reply

      Ricardo, you write very well and I enjoyed your comment, thank you

  4. Salvador Sánchez December 11, 2012
    Reply

    Tom is indeed VERY talented, and I want to wish him the best.Here in Spain we’ve been lucky to be the first country to enjoy his brilliant performance, even if…..
    (well, I’m waiting for the DVD to come out, so I can hear his real voice in English) 🙂

    Also, I’d like to think that some of the goodness that his character displays on the film comes from his real personality…Good Luck to you all!

  5. Lisa Frost December 11, 2012
    Reply

    Dom I have enjoyed every moment of reading the blog to find out what is happening next, Tom is an incredible young man but you also are a fantastic writer to of put all of this together. x x x x Lisa x x x x

    • Dominic December 11, 2012
      Reply

      cool lisa – speak anon, loads to tell that I can’t write here

  6. Kirsty Whiteoak December 11, 2012
    Reply

    I am going to miss the eclipsed but I will still watch all the videos that u put on youtube

    • Dominic December 11, 2012
      Reply

      thanks kirsty – a regular contributor that you’be been

  7. Janine Cook December 12, 2012
    Reply

    Dom fantastic last installment of Eclipsed felt emotional reading it ! Can’t wait for the ebook and hope its does brilliantly well done ..

    • Dominic December 12, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks Janine – the Cooks have been fab – we owe you big time for Tom’s school – speak anon, dom

  8. Steven King December 12, 2012
    Reply

    This is not the end…just the end of the beginning. You have obviously done a fine job of raising your talented son(s) and I just want to thank you for allowing him(them) to do what he does. I shall always be an interested fan and will follow whatever route this blog takes. Thank you for giving this inside look at a journey no one could expect or predict and making it entertaining along the way. And lastly thank you for your personal kindness to me and Dave for allowing us to witness the end of eclipsed, it was truly once in a lifetime experience, well until his next movie that is.:)

    • Dominic December 12, 2012
      Reply

      it was lovely seeing you Steven – I am heartened that you so enjoyed being there and that Dave got to meet Tom – where were you. Just so you know, I am back at home now (tom went straight from airport to school) – and I have just turned my machine on to show Nikki your amazing photos – which I will do as soon as reply to your comment.
      They are fab. Tom and I looked at them in the airport – they are very special to us – so thank you…

      • Steven King December 12, 2012
        Reply

        I met Tom at the nov screening so I held back. I can NOT claim credit for those pics, those are from David Barker who’d you know better as Billy Whiz, I was only the deliverer.

        • Dominic December 12, 2012
          Reply

          please thank him for me – from all the Hollands

      • Dave Ferguson December 13, 2012
        Reply

        Thank you so much for allowing us to share the end of “Eclipsed” with you and Tom. It was a pleasure meeting you both.

        • Dominic December 13, 2012
          Reply

          our pleasure dave – glad you had fun

  9. Brad December 12, 2012
    Reply

    Dom,

    This section of Take 119 sums it all up for me:-

    In my writing this story, there is little place for my opinion about my son and his career to date. As proud as I am of Tom, I am mindful of being self-absorbed and boastful. No one wants to read a story by dad banging on about how clever his son is. I certainly don’t, not least because I have three other sons who are all equally special and important to me.

    I have read every Take since the beginning and all the time I have felt your groundedness in the whole beautiful story unfolding. It was never about Dom v Tom – it has always been about the love a father has for his family.

    In 2008 I witnessed Tom’s 2nd show as Billy in London and so wished I had the opportunity to say Thankyou to him for a great experience. The same applies now only I do have the opportunity to say thankyo Dom for the great experience that has been Eclipsed.

    God Bless and best wishes to you and your awesome family

    • Dominic December 12, 2012
      Reply

      Hey brad – youve been a big supporter and your comments have kept me going mate – the blog will continue in some form but I feel some relief in calling an end to Eclipsed – do keep coming and thanks again

  10. Sandie Kirk December 12, 2012
    Reply

    I’m really going to miss your takes – I have found them fascinating and emotional. My whole family is looking forward to the UK release and will watch with no small amount of unjustified pride in having the teensiest connection to the Holland family. Good luck to Tom and to you too x

    • Dominic December 12, 2012
      Reply

      Sandie, thank you for this – very kind of you to have followed along – the blog will now morph in to something more general I guess – and then I have a big jan coming up with new novel, book of eclipsed and first stand up dvd – everything crossed – one of them needs to fly…

  11. John Dodds December 12, 2012
    Reply

    Having dipped in and out of Eclipsed since its early days, it would be churlish of me not to finally comment. I’ve enjoyed the humanity and humour of every post and look forward to where you take things next.

    • Dominic December 12, 2012
      Reply

      good man john, thank you – the ebook is better – and more complete – but I guess I would say that – Tom’s stuff to come will be obvious – mine less so but Im working on it…

  12. Louise Holden December 16, 2012
    Reply

    Dear Dominic.I loved reading Eclipsed..It made me laugh out loud and even shed
    a few tears.Good luck to you both in the future.x
    P.s. I went to Primary school with you….not so many years ago!!

    • Dominic December 16, 2012
      Reply

      wow – this is hilarious – you even get a mention in the ebook – along with your sister Janice…
      thanks for getting in touch Louise, you’ve made my day.

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