This post today (no.119) concludes aÂ story about how a kid danced his way from Billy Elliot in the West End all the way to Hollywood and overtakingÂ his â€˜celebrityâ€™ dad along the way.
The red carpet in tinsel-town was always the place I envisaged that this story should end. The â€˜battleâ€™ between father and son would finish and the Eclipse would complete. But I donâ€™t feel like I am in the darkness. I am delighted to be â€˜eclipsedâ€™ 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 butÂ his lack of dance experience was plain to see and the assessors quickly called a metaphorical â€˜nextâ€™ â€“ 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’.
â€˜The kid canâ€™t dance? So what. He can act. So teach him to dance.â€™
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. Itâ€™s not all glamour I might add. Â As Tom and I are sharing a room â€“ and as he is still asleep and I donâ€™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 â€“ when this story really started when hisÂ mum spottedÂ that he could dance – even before he could walk. Iâ€™m not joking. He was in a bouncer at the time and I gave my wifeâ€™s observation scant consideration.
Iâ€™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 observationÂ down to a first time mum withÂ 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 reallyÂ been a fluke withÂ eventsÂ conspiringÂ in its favour and makes me wonder if it has beenÂ fated all along.
From a YMCA in London to an LA red carpet â€“ without any planningÂ â€“ creating a true life story as interesting as it is surreal and comic onceÂ 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 donâ€™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 writingÂ is what and how these things have happened and to a certain extent, why. Readers can watch the film and watch my stand-upÂ and make up their own mindsÂ about the output and billing of this taleâ€™s two protagonists, Dominic and Tom Holland. Or should that be, Tom and Dominic Holland? Which is my point,Â you canÂ decide.
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 â€“ 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 â€“ and already chronicled here in Eclipsed â€“ Tom has met in order â€“ 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.
You see, I have met Jackie before. I say met, but it was only very fleeting and she only said three words to me â€“ Youâ€™re soÂ funny.
Yesterday, without embarrassing her, I quickly gave Jackie the chance to recognise me and of course she couldnâ€™t. This was at least 15 years ago andÂ my prompting her with the three words she had utteredÂ wasÂ no help either, soÂ 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 â€“ 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 â€“ and in fact so do I. My first novel forÂ 10 years is being published as an ebook in Jan. (I didnâ€™t bother to submit to publishers)
I said to JackieÂ as we partedÂ â€“ â€œJackie, youâ€™ve written more books than Iâ€™ve soldâ€. SheÂ laughed andÂ repeated thoseÂ three wordsÂ to me and I laughed as well. How strange to be where I am andÂ suddenly I amÂ reminded of Eclipsed and how I am able to have lunch in California with one of the worldâ€™s biggest selling authors.
From there, Tom and I got ready for the Premiere last night.Â It wasnâ€™t as exciting at Toronto (the first ever red carpet in Sept this year) or in London just gone â€“ but it was no less special.
Ewan McGregor and Noami Watts were ever present and on hand to take Tomâ€™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 donâ€™t know many film stars. Actually, I only know two – and I canâ€™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.
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 butÂ 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 â€“ at no good bookshops.
Twenty years of my life against five years of Tomâ€™s, it is a story about a family and for my family.Â Like allÂ things in my career, I have high hopes for it.
The ebook has been aÂ pleasure to write by a dad as bemused as he is proud and if nothing else, it can serveÂ as a thank you to a great many people. To myÂ boys of course but also to my wife, without whom this story just would not have happened.
Nikki was right all along. Ou sonÂ could dance and now our job as parents is to keep those tapping feet of his on the ground.
Eclipsed is over â€“ 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 theÂ people who have followed since the beginning, particularly those who have helped me spread its word. You know who you are, thanks again.