Living in L.A.: Celebrity encounters and The Code of the Angeleno
There are several perks to being a journalist. One of one of them is interviewing individuals at the top of their fields.
I’ve interviewed professional athletes, Grammy Award-winning artists and state officials. It’s easy to become star struck, but it’s hard to ask questions with your jaw on the floor. So, I channeled my inner Angeleno.
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, I learned the unwritten rule of how to behave during a celebrity sighting: remain calm and carry on (that may be from something else, but it’s pretty close).
It’s about suppressing your inner fan and respecting the rights of others. Some times are much easier than others. Often my inner fan was jumping up and down and screaming, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I’m talking to you! This. Is. Awesome!”
The key is maintaining composure, at least externally.
While I have mastered this as a journalist, friends worried that after leaving the business and moving to L.A. my inner fan would start winning. Their concern centered on a chance encounter with a favorite actor and whether my composure would hold or if I’d be on the 10 o’clock news with a restraining order in hand.
I understand their concern because I do have a strong admiration toward certain actors, among them Nathan Fillion.
I first encountered Nathan as the wrong Ryan in “Saving Private Ryan.” But by the time the shelling stopped and the body count ended, I honestly didn’t remember Minnesota Ryan.
No, I, like countless others in the ‘verse, associate Nathan Fillion with Captain Malcolm Reynolds on the epic, and yet short-lived, “Firefly.” For a kid who grew up with “Star Wars,” this sci-fi space cowboy drama was perfect. I finally had a Han Solo my own age.
I lost track of his new works while living in China – but I did improve my understanding of Chinese, which helped with parts of “Firefly.” Upon returning to the states in 2011, I caught an episode of “Castle” and was hooked. I binge watched the first two seasons to catch up.
Nathan has a major following on Twitter (myself included) and is a cosmic force at Comic Cons around the world. Aside from looks, I believe a big part of his drawing power is his down-to-earth attitude. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he comes off as a great guy. (People I know who have met him confirm this notion.)
His charity work with Kids Need to Read and his birthday mycharity.org water fundraiser allow fans to interact with him while helping tackle issues in a fun way. He also has helped raise funds for Operation Smile by auctioning off some “pretty cool stuff” at Nerd HQ with Zachary Levi.
Watching Nerd HQ videos, Nathan shares behind-the-scene stories of his various TV shows and some of his life events. His affable nature endears him to his fans; fans who are very vocal on Twitter.
Living on the West Coast it is difficult to avoid spoilers from East Coast fans live tweeting “Castle” episodes along with Nathan.
While Nathan is the major reason I started watching “Castle,” the well-crafted dialogue that flows at breakneck speed was a close second. The “Castle” writing crew has created and followed a well-establish story arc that gives viewers catch phrases and visual cues. The word “always” became Castle’s “As you wish” and a swing set became the place where key moments happened.
Watching episodes with Castle and Beckett on the swings, it appeared to be a real location and not somewhere on the Paramount Studio backlot. This of course woke up my inner fan who enjoys meandering around L.A. in search of production venues. (Note: This is not a Code violation because it’s a house, a bench, a tree. No invasion of privacy has been committed.)
Upon moving to L.A., I decided to find the park not just for me but for all “Castle” fans. OK, mostly me.
There are many websites that tell where filming was and is taking place. Googling “Castle,” “swings” and “park” brought up a plethora of sites.
Once I had my destination, I punched it into the GPS and headed downtown. The good and bad of finding a location is the same as finding out how a magic trick works. It’s pretty cool, but dang it, now the illusion is gone.
The park has a playground and plenty of park benches, but there are no swings in the grassy area. (They are brought in by the production crew as needed.) However, it was still a great outing. I bought a sandwich and enjoyed the afternoon.
A website had noted that there were two live “Castle” locations that day. One was conveniently located on my way home.
You never know what you’re getting on location, it could be the second unit shooting random cover shots, or it could be the first unit with principle cast members.
As I drove along South Hill Street, I noted a film crew ahead on left.
I clicked into cool Angeleno mode. No big deal, filming happens here all the time. As I approached the area, I snuck a peek across the street and caught a glimpse of Nathan Fillion.
My outer Angeleno continued to drive by as if I see him every day; my inner fan was screaming, “Pull the car over. Now!”
Trying to explain to myself why pulling over when there is no “over” to “pull” to was not easy. A compromise was reached when I spotted a public garage.
As I walked back, there were a handful of others milling about. This section of downtown L.A. often doubles for New York City. Park a couple NYC yellow cabs in front, pull out a hot dog vending cart and voilà.
Across the street, I heard “action” and watched Castle make a purchase from the cart, followed by “cut.” This happened several times with minor changes in mic and camera location.
After a few minutes, a lady several floors up in the building the crew was filming in front of screamed out, “Hey, who famous is down there?!”
I shook my head. She doesn’t know The Code.
After about 30 minutes, things were wrapped.
My inner fan wanted to watch the crew break things down. The Angeleno in me wanted to get back to the garage, validate my parking and get home.
The drive home consisted of stereotypical traffic. People who glanced my way might have wondered why anyone would be smiling while sitting in traffic.
What they couldn’t hear was my inner fan saying, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe it. That. Was. Awesome!”
All they saw was an Angeleno practicing The Code.