The Start of Everything
A few days later.
“Dad, what are you saying?” Chen Shuang He furrowed his brows. “Giving Qu Ling’s role to Li Yu and not Ning Ning, why?”
He didn’t say the final sentence…Are you being idiotic again?
Chen Guan Chao took a sip of coffee. ”I have another role for her.”
Chen Guan He looked down and his eyes widened with surprise. “Father, you want to reshoot this movie?”
“Yes.” Chen Guan Chao placed his coffee cup on the coffee table in front of him. There was an old script beside the cup, he looked at it and said, “I want her to play the Phantom!”
On the cover of the script were four big words —- Phantom of the Theater.
Chen Shuang He felt suffocated. Although both were Chen Guan Chao’s movies, <<Ugly Girl>> and <<Phantom of the Theater>> had very different status. Frankly speaking, <<Ugly Girl>> was but a simple movie with a straightforward and relaxing plot, the roles weren’t complex. It was mainly being made for Valentine’s Day this year.
But <<Phantom of the Theater>> was different, completely different……
“Just because of that one audition of her?” At first Chen Guan Chao was here to fight for the injustice against Ning Ning, but now he was acting a little weird. “I admit, her performance at the audition was not bad, but who can prove that wasn’t a flash in the pan? Moreover, the role of the Phantom is very complicated, it is a lot more complicated than Qu Ling. I don’t think she would do well with it!”
“In the beginning, I also saw Ning Yu Ren this way.” Chen Guan Chao said.
Chen Shuang He was at a loss for words.
“My life’s biggest failure, is ‘Phantom of the Theater’.” Chen Guan Chao reached out and touched the old script cover. He slowly said, “My biggest mistake, was to chase Ning Yu Ren out of the cast. Now I want to make up for this mistake… I want to give Ning Ning a chance, to see if I’m wrong again, if the world was wrong again. She actually has a talent, talented like her mother……”
The fingers at the side of Chen Shuan He’s body slowly curled into a fist. His heart told him, Why always look at them when you’re not willing to look at your actual wife, your actual child?
“… Then, I want to quit <<Ugly Girl>>.” Finally, Chen Shuang He uttered coldly, “If she is the Phantom, then give the male lead’s position. I’ll act as Lu Yun He!”
This argument was not known to Ning Ning. Chen Shuang He had his pain, she also had hers.
Water was running from the tap of a washstand. In front of the mirror was Ning Ning, but the reflection in the mirror was the face of Qu Ning’er, looking at her coldly through the mirror. Ning Ning closed her eyes then opened them again, the reflection in the mirror was still herself.
When Ning Ning first saw this, she was so shocked she fell to the floor. As time went by and it happened over and over again, her reaction mellowed. Maybe it was the same as the singing dog. When Qu Ning’er was burned to ash, she was stuck to Ning Ning’s body. When the rage and hate that belonged to Qu Ning’er grew within Ning Ning, Ning Ning was no longer human, but a monster.
A knock came from behind her, Ning NIng turned off the tap and shouted, “Coming.”
Ning Ning opened the door. Cui Hong Mei who was wearing a new leopard coat arrogantly asked, “Why so late?”
She was about to walk in, but Ning Ning pushed her out.
Cui Hong Mei took a few steps back and looked at Ning Ning with a bit of surprise, “What are you doing?”
“This is my house, my house doesn’t welcome you.” Ning Ning said coldly.
Cui Hong Mei stared at her for a moment, suddenly took a phone out and pointed it towards her then laughed coldly, “Come on, let your fans look at how you treat your grandmother. Hit me, scold me, repeat what you said just now, let everyone know how unfilial you are!”
The air Ning Ning breathed out was ice cold. She felt a hand, a hand that belonged to Qu Ning’er, reached out from behind her, controlling her right hand. She grabbed her grandmother’s phone over then turned it towards her, she laughed with a childlike innocence and cruelty, “Just bring it, I also feel that it’s time to let everyone see what you are like, hit me, scold me, tell everyone what bullshit agreement you want me to sign, tell everyone how you made off with all the savings your daughter accumulated throughout the years, you didn’t even leave her any money for her medical treatment!”
This was the thing that was troubling Ning Ning the most.
Ning Yu Ren spends a lot of money every year, if it was when she was still acting, then it would be a very normal expenditure. What was weird was that her spendings remained the same after she retired. During the days she was hospitalised, the time she needed money the most, Ning Ning was surprised to find out that she had no money in her bank account! She only laughed at it when Ning Ning asked her about it. Where did she spend the money on? Whom did she give it to? After some consideration, Ning Ning could only think of her grandmother.
“What nonsense are you talking about!” All of a sudden, Cui Hong Mei shouted at her angrily, “Didn’t she give you all her money?”
Since she was getting on the years, the shouting made her cough two times. After she caught her breath while grabbing her chest for quite some time, she gritted her teeth and said to Ning Ning, “She’s like this, you’re also like this. She used to be very obedient, one day she suddenly stops listening to me, when did it start……”
She fell silent for a moment before she slowly spat a name of a film out, “Yes, everything started from <<Phantom of the Theater>>……”
After she finished, it was like she suddenly understood something and looked at Ning Ning with an extremely complicated gaze. Envy, disappointment, agony, regret, abhorration… Finally she laughed, an extremely weird laugh. “I know where she spent the money at.”
“That’s enough.” A male voice suddenly interrupted Cui Hong Mei.
Ning Ning’s gaze followed the voice, she saw that it was her manager Li Bo Yue who had arrived.
He was an elegant and very well-dressed man. This world probably did not have a man who was more suited to wear a suit than him. In fact, Ning Ning felt that he was basically born wearing a suit! Furthermore, he walked majestically, his smile was proper, his words were influential and motivational…… he should not have been involved with the show business. He should have taken part in the elections!
Li Bo Yue stood in front of Ning Ning and made an elegant posture inviting Cui Hong Mei to leave. “Please leave, otherwise I will call security.”
This time Cui Hong Mei didn’t continue to be a nuisance. She looked at Ning Ning again, then left with a weird smile. Ning Ning ignored her, she also didn’t believe anything that was just said. She brought Li Bo Yue into her home, Li Bo Yue shivered the moment he walked in, “Why is it so cold? You didn’t turn on the heater?”
It was already the coldest time of the year, ice were hanging off tree branches, but the heater in the room was not switched on which made it felt as cold as a tomb .
Ning Ning walked into the kitchen quietly and poured two cups of water. She took one cup and drank as she sat on the sofa, Li Bo Yue looked at the water that didn’t seem to have an ounce of heat then raised his head to look at her “What is up with you?”
“I feel I am still Qu…..” Ning Ning swallowed the three words Qu Ning’er and switched them up with another name, “Qu Ling.”
“You have not come out of character?” Li Bo Yue asked.
At that moment, Ning Ning really wanted to confide in him. To tell him that she saw someone else in the mirror everyday. How she was not able to take hot showers, not able to drink hot drinks, furthermore she couldn’t light any fire. The moment she saw fire she would start shivering out of fear. But Li Bo Yue did not have this kind of time and patience. He took out his phone and made a call, after he hung up he said, “I have made an appointment with a psychiatrist for you, this weekend at 3pm, I will send you the name and address later. Now let’s talk about work.”
Ning Ning leaned forward and looked at him. Upon hearing this, she slowly leaned back onto the sofa then raised her hand and laughed reluctantly before saying, “Alright.”
Li Bo Yue opened his briefcase and tossed her a pile of scripts. Before she had a chance to look at them he put both his hands in front of his lips and smiled, “Want to listen to my opinion?”
Ning Ning paused as she opened the first script, “…Please speak.”
Li Bo Yue reached out and kept all the scripts that were given to her, as if it was just a formality. He gave her the power to choose, but the final decision lied with him.
“You don’t need to look at these.” He tossed the pile of scripts aside, smiled at Ning Ning and said, “Your performance at the audition has gone around, the roles offered to you now are the same archetype. Evil girl, ugly girl, bad girl, if you have to act as one of these roles, why not pick the best one?”
“Which is the best choice?” Ning Ning asked.
“It’s this one.” Li Bo Yue pushed a long prepared script from one end to the other end of the coffee table towards Ning Ning.
Ning Ning picked up the script and read its name.
“Phantom of the Theater.”
1911 French author Gaston Leroux published the novel <<Phantom of the Opera>>. The story narrated a strange and thrilling love story that happened in a Theater in Paris, a “ghost” fell in love with the new actress Christine. Not only did it secretly taught her how to sing, but also helped her to get the position of female lead, committing several murders in the process.
This story had been adapted many times, it was hugely successful in musicals and movies. The young Chen Guan Chao created his first script <<Phantom of the Theater>> based on this story. In order to cater to the local market and local audience, he made daring changes to the original script. The theater was changed to the Republic, western opera was changed to chinese opera and the biggest change was that—— the phantom was to be a woman.
This story was about a phantom that fell in love with a new opera singer, Lu Yun He. Mot only did the phantom secretly taught him how to sing, she also helped him to get the position of male lead, committing several murders in the process.
As a legendary famous director’s first self-written and self-directed film, the results in the end were unsatisfactory. Not only were the changes in the plot ridiculed, the performances of both the lead actors were insulted by the public. Maybe the blow was too big, thus Chen Guan Chao decided to leave the movie industry ever since, only returning three years later. This time he was not to be an actor anymore, he switched over to being a director.
“I have received reliable information, Director Chen intends to reshoot <<Phantom of the Theater>>.“ Li Bo Yue leaned over and looked at Ning Ning, his eyes burning with the flames of ambition. “There are three candidates for the Phantom, you are one of them. The other two are big names that would make you shiver once you hear them, but it’s alright. Director Chen favours you the most, and I will also help you!”
Compared to his exuberant ambition, Ning Ning could only think of one sentence, the sentence Cui Hong Mei left her with.
“Yes, everything began with <<Phantom of the Theater>>…”