The cameras were rolling and everyone was silent on the set. No one dared to speak or even breathe loudly. They all knew how difficult and expensive that scene was, so they wanted to make sure that everything went perfect on the first and, hopefully, only take. Heavy rain was falling, as predicted, and everyone seemed ready to go. The scream of “Action” had to be repeated into walkie-talkie because no one could really hear anything. The first ones to move were the cars, then the extras running from one place to the other. And then, the leading man appeared.
He walked into the center of the square and waited there, in silence, with a red rose in his hand. Everyone was counting, without making any noise, until ten. Ten seconds was the magic number fro the leading actress to appear on the far end of the square. She would then run into the arms of her lover and they would kiss. That was how the scene should have gone but not how it actually went. They waited ten, fifteen seconds and then a whole minute but no one appeared on the far side of the square. Soddenly someone did appear but it wasn’t her.
The person was her assistant. She was escorted by the nurse they had on set, as she was bleeding a little from the head. She had a very nasty purple circle and a cut. Production was halted. The woman got nearer and they heard her scream “She’s out, she’s out!”. What she actually meant was that the star of the movie had run away from her trailer by knocking her assistant unconscious. Apparently she had caught her off guard and struck her with some sort of glass bottle she had around. The director couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Of course, production was halted for the day. The “money shot” would have to wait as the actress was essential to the success of that scene and of the whole movie. Every single person that worked in the movie had to look for her: around the set and in every single cornet of the city they could think of. What made things harder was the fact that they didn’t really talk the local language so it was very difficult to speak to anyone or make themselves be understood. So they had to cut her face from magazine or other places to make sure they knew who they were looking for.
But no matter how many people got involved, finding the woman they were looking for proved exceedingly difficult. They had to halt the production for another day and the company that was financing the film was not happy at all. Each day they did not work was a day thrown to the garbage, along with thousands or even millions of dollars. The permit to film on that square had been very hard to get and now they would have to get another one, if they found the actress and if that government allowed to close the square off a second time.
For the producers the money aspect was a disaster. But it got worse when the magazines and the entertainment industry learned of the disappearance of their leading actress, Valerie Ríos. She had been the face of so many amazing movies, she had even been nominated for several awards as, one of her first ever performances, had captured the hearts and minds of every single person in he world. She was one of those girls whom everyone knew was going somewhere. She had a lot of potential and a charisma that few other girls had.
In every single magazine article, they wondered about why and how exactly she had escaped. That was a major thing because the production insisted that she hadn’t fled or anything but rather “stepped out” of the set. The media however preferred to say she had run way and they had a very nice way of explaining that by running interviews with her assistant once and again and again. Of course, the woman was fired because she wasn’t supposed to be telling gossip about people on the film, but once she had talked it was much too late.
After the third day, the production company decided that it was for the best to shut down production and put the movie away for an indeterminate amount of time. As the movie was almost finished, they couldn’t just replace her. And the scenes had to be shot in such a way that people would noticed right away if they used some kind of visual effects aid. They had to shut it down, which was a very hard decision because of all the problems that brought, especially relating to payments and so on.
Valerie went from being one the promises of the industry to be universally hated all over the globe. Every single person thought it was at least disrespectful to have done what she did, leaving her job out of the blue and hurting someone in the process. There were even some that advocated for her to be sent to jail once she was captured. Yes, they were already considering her a felon, a criminal and there were many voices putting pressure on the police for them to actually look for her as someone who had done something wrong.
But the thing was that, once the assistant was checked by professional in the police department, they determined that the way she had been struck in the face didn’t really coincide with someone with the strength of Valerie striking her with a glass bottle. Many experts considered all the options but it was the assistant that, after considerable pressure from all sides, decided to confess Valerie hadn’t done any of that. It was her who had done that to herself to make the scene more violent and to ride onto Valerie’s fame and mistakes.
People’s love for Valerie returned briefly after the assistant’s confession but it didn’t lasted long because there was no one to actually receive all that love. Many people wanted her back. Not only the companies she had something to do with but also many of her peers in the industry. None of them could understand why she had disappeared like that and it was even more of a mystery to imagine where she could be hiding. No one seemed to know anything at all.
Her family was also harassed for many weeks. Many were sure they knew everything about their daughter’s plan and thought they knew where she had gone. But the truth was her family was devastated. Every time cameras arrived to their home, the mother would start crying because of how hard it was for her to confront her daughter’s disappearance. As far as she knew, her daughter could be dead. They really had no idea and it was a great thing for them when the media stopped dropping by and the hype around the news went down.
A year passed and the executives in the studio decided they sue Valerie, even if she wasn’t there to pay. It was the only real way they had to try to make up for the huge losses they had because of her disappearance. It wasn’t and exaggeration to say that because of her, the company was having some serious financial problems. Many saw them as too permissive and as the real reason why she had left filming. Some even thought they had mistreated her somehow and that’s why she had decided to leave in such a strange way.
Suing her, of course, didn’t amount to nothing. The production company decided to actively pursue other projects and the year following Valerie’s mysterious disappearance, they released a movie that was universally loved by the audience and the critics. The movie was so good that it won every major award that season and the studio soon forgot everything that had to do with their past production. They were able to make huge amounts of money, enough to pay the many debts they had acquired with insurance companies and so on.
Valerie never resurfaced. From time to time, people would say she was alive. Some said they had seen her in a remote beach in Thailand and others claimed she was working as a waitress in a café in Florence. Some men even confessed to have been her lovers but they were soon uncovered as liars. Nobody was ever found and no real account of where or how she managed to escape without being noticed was ever found to be 100% accurate and possible. She became one of those movie legends but for all the wrong reasons.