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Boulevard of Broken Dreams

August 8, 2011 by · 2 comments

Erin Chandler

Photo: torbakhopper

The boulevard of broken dreams is never quite as glamorous as the painting of a handsome James Dean in his long navy coat walking through a colorful puddle. He looks disgruntled but clean and healthy. The real boulevard of broken dreams isn’t so appealing.

My friend Sean looks a little like James Dean, or Christian Bale. But Christian had his Hollywood moment, is still having it. Sean hasn’t been so lucky.

When I first met Sean he was auditioning for my play. He sat in front of the theatre with his ipod in. He was tall and good looking and fashionably disheveled. He was polite and jumped up and got the door as I struggled with my scripts and keys. He stood out immediately. His audition was wonderful, natural, full of passion, humor, sadness, angst. He walked up the stairs to where I was sitting, gave me a firm handshake and a confident smirk and thanked me. He was the most charming of the actors that read that day.

Two years later Sean came to my house in the same sweater he wore to the audition, he was too thin and chain smoking, talking erratically. He talked about doing a play with Val Kilmer in Santa Fe and how he hoped to get him signed on to do a movie he was producing called Chicks with Swords, the cinematographer was “a German guy”, “a genius” and “totally down to earth and cool.”

Then there was the parasite scare, he thought he had bugs… turned out he was taking too much adoral and had gone nuts. He was never a drinker or drug taker when we did our play but somewhere along the line he began to take Adorol… or speed, then downers like clonopin. He got thinner, more intense and less creative. The last time I talked to him he was living in his car with two cats and driving up to Toronto to work on some ‘project’.

Harris, a pretty girl in my acting class, ran naked down a street in West Hollywood one sunny summer afternoon. Then she jumped off a building into a pool and broke her neck. After the accident she went a little blind because she stared straight into the sun for an hour. She survived and is in a sort of spiritual haze. She says it was the best thing that ever happened to her.

Chris had quite a few breaks in the ‘business’, she’s the voice many cartoon characters on the big and small screen. She went insane and ended up on her own roof in the Hollywood Hills after a morning of drinking white wine and snorting crystal meth. The cops had to coax her down and she was committed, just like her mom had been years before in the Midwest somewhere. Chris is one of the funniest comedians I’ve ever met.

Then let’s see… there’s the resume guy, who… unprompted let’s everyone know, “I’m going to Alabama to do this Billy Bob thing, then I’m back here and then in two days, I’m off to the desert for a Toby McGuire vehicle. Then I have ten days in Hawaii on a music video… it’s all good.”

Oh yeah… and the very handsome actor from La Poubelle, our local Beachwood Canyon bar. When I first met him he was on a TV show, playing twin brothers, one was a psychotic murderer, the other was a ladies man. That turned out to be his biggest break. We had a little fling and a dramatic goodbye wrapped naked in blankets on the balcony of my pink stucco house under the Hollywood sign. Ten years later he walks up and down the same street, stopping into La Poubelle for a cranberry juice (he still doesn’t drink), on a break from studying his lines for tomorrows audition. He’s older now, and thinner, still handsome but there’s a strain in his manner, desperation, a worried look that his time may have passed.

When he walks down Hollywood Blvd, he wears the same long coat as James Dean does in the picture, he probably doesn’t even know that. It’s probably never crossed his mind that his very existence depicts the cliché of that famous image.

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