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Take a break from the hectic news of Hollywood with our weekly look into the world of "what if". Fresh fan fiction happens weekly here at Cinema Blend on Short Story Saturday. This is our latest short story entry... "Raging Blastoise, Starring Robert De Niro". It's written by Rich B. Knight whose first book The Darkness of the Womb is now for sale on Amazon.
Robert De Niro stood before a green screen holding a Pokeball. He wore an unzipped, blue, mesh jacket and a backward hat. In front of him was a tennis ball dangling from a string.
"Okay, Robert," Peter Jackson said. He leaned back in his director’s chair and talked with his hands. "Throw the ball as hard as you can, and make sure you say the line with passion this time. Go all out."
Has it really come to this? He wondered. This is worse than Rocky and Bullwinkle.
"Cut, cut, cut!" Peter Jackson said. He sliced the air with his arms as he threw them back and forth. "Take five, everybody." He dusted off his pants and walked over to his star.
"Is everything okay, Robert?" Peter Jackson asked. He put his hand on the Academy Award winner’s shoulder and looked at him with cheery eyes.
"Yeah, Mr. Jackson, it’s just—"
"Peter," Peter Jackson said. "Or Pete. No need to be formal."
"I’m sorry, Peter. It’s just that…well."
He looked at the dangling tennis ball in the distance.
"I don’t know what I’m really supposed to be seeing here. Is Justin Bieber sick or something? Couldn’t we just get his understudy to stand in for him?"
"Did you read the script, Robert?"
"Yeah," De Niro said. He squinted, wrinkled his brow, and offered an open-mouthed frown. In other words, he made the De Niro face. "Of course."
"Okay. Then you know that Justin isn’t in this scene then. You’re going up against a mega pterodactyl. Can you visualize that for me, Bob?"
Mr. De Niro didn’t like being called "Bob" by anybody but his good friend, Martin Scorsese, but he nodded anyway.
"Sure, sure," he said.
"Good," Peter Jackson said, "Then visualize it." And even though he lost a ton of weight during the filming of King Kong, he still waddled like a penguin back to his director’s seat. Old habits die hard, apparently.
Robert De Niro raised the Pokeball again. He stared a hole into the tennis ball and really tried to envision a "mega pterodactyl" in front of him. But try as he might, he just couldn’t see it. He didn’t even see the tennis ball anymore. Instead, all he saw was his career going down the toilet. Sure, he had some stinkers behind him, but this might be the very worst. He never thought something like this would be in the cards after he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Silver Linings Playbook, but he was back to doing crap again. He just couldn’t help himself. Crap was in his blood.
That said, the more crap he did lately, the more he had visions of Orson Welles on his deathbed. Mr. Welles went from making Citizen Kane to playing a voice in an animated Transformers movie at the end of his career.
What if I died tomorrow? Robert De Niro thought. The last role of my life would be in some stupid kid’s movie.
"Cut!" Peter Jackson shouted again, startling De Niro. He waddled over to the esteemed actor again, and his eyes weren’t so cheery anymore.
"Like it or not, you signed on for this picture. Now, I know what you’re thinking."
De Niro remained silent.
"You’re second guessing this role because you think you’re too good for it, don’t you?"
"Now, I never said that," De Niro said, pushing the air.
"You didn’t have to. It’s written all over your face."
De Niro tried to relax his expressions, but it was really hard. He was so used to making "the face" in all of his movies that he really wasn’t sure what his real face even looked like anymore.
"Look, you have two options here," Peter Jackson said. "One is to just flat out quit. Doing so would put me in a bind, though. I didn’t have anybody else in mind when we were casting for this role. You were my first pick."
De Niro raised an eyebrow.
"And what’s the other option?" He asked.
Peter Jackson held De Niro’s shoulder again and shot his index finger at the suspended tennis ball.
"The other option is that you can act the hell out of this scene and get a legion of fresh, new fans to check out your classics. I’m talking Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Raging Bull. Legacy, Mr. De Niro. Legacy. Just think of all the new fans you’re going to get starring in a movie like this."
"Starring?" De Niro asked.
"Of course you’re the bloody star! What’d you think? Justin Bieber was the face of this movie? Nobody is going to give two craps about Justin Bieber once they see your performance as Grand Master Saito, leader of the Elite Four. All their tiny, little bug eyes are going to be watching you, Robert, and do you know what you’re going to say when you’re on that screen in front of them?"
Robert De Niro had stars in his eyes by this point. He saw this in a whole new light. He could do nothing but benefit from this role. He knew that now.
"What?" Robert De Niro asked.
"You’re going to say, ‘GO, BLASTOISE! I CHOOSE YOU!"
And he pointed directly at the tennis ball.
Robert De Niro threw the Pokeball so hard in that direction that he nearly pulled his back out. The red and white circle missed the tennis ball completely and hit the green screen background. It made a "chock!" sound when it hit the wall.
"Great work, Robert," Peter Jackson said, slapping De Niro on the back. "Real capitol stuff."
When he waddled back to his seat, he smiled at De Niro. But internally, he sighed.
Actors, Peter Jackson thought.
"Let’s take it from the top again," he said.
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