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Performance In a Leading Role - Interlude

TV: Purple Sherlock
Title: Performance in a Leading Role
Author: MadLori
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Length: 7,000 (this chapter)
Genre: AU, romance
Warnings: None
Rating: PG-13 (this chapter), NC-17 (whole work)
Beta: tzikeh
Summary: Sherlock Holmes is an Oscar winner in the midst of a career slump. John Watson is an Everyman actor trapped in the rom-com ghetto. When they are cast as a gay couple in a new independent drama, will they surprise each other? Will their on-screen romance make its way into the real world?

Chapter 1 -- Chapter 2 -- Chapter 3 -- Chapter 4 -- Chapter 5 -- Chapter 6 -- Chapter 7 -- Chapter 8 -- Chapter 9 -- Chapter 10 -- Chapter 11 -- Chapter 12 -- Chapter 13 -- Chapter 14

[from Late Show with David Letterman, aired on Tuesday, November 22]

Letterman: My first guest tonight is an Oscar-winning actor; his new film, To a Stranger, opens next Friday. Please welcome Sherlock Holmes!

[The audience cheers wildly. Paul and the band play a jazzy rendition of “Sharp Dressed Man.” Sherlock enters, looking just a tad nervous, wearing a well-cut gray suit and a deep-cobalt-blue shirt that’s open at the throat. Wolf-whistles and shouts come from the women in the audience. He shakes hands with Dave and sits down. The camera pans over the audience to show that most of them are standing and cheering enthusiastically, but there are a scattered few who are still seated, not applauding. Sherlock smiles, uncertain what to make of this enthusiastic reception. Dave makes a gesture toward Sherlock and the audience cheers anew. Sherlock half-rises and waves again, then sits. The audience calms.]

Letterman: Welcome to the show! This is your first visit.

Sherlock: Indeed, yes, it is.

Letterman: So!

Sherlock: So.

Letterman: What’s new?

[The audience laughs. Sherlock chuckles. A fresh wave of applause]

Sherlock: Oh, not much. The usual.

Letterman: I know you’re here for your film, but we do have to talk about that thing.

Sherlock: What thing would that be, then?


Letterman: Oh, you’re going to be like that, are you?

Sherlock: Haven’t you heard? I’m difficult to work with. [he smirks a bit]

Letterman: I might have heard something about that. [laughter] You know, through the grapevine. We’ve never been able to get you on the show before.

Sherlock: It was nothing personal. I’m rubbish at these sorts of things. But this is an important film, and it means a great deal to me, so I want to do everything I can to support it.

Letterman: I saw it last night and I gotta say, I was blown away. Blown. Away.

Sherlock: Thank you.

Letterman: Paul cried. Didn’t you, Paul?

Paul: Like a baby. Bawled like a little baby. [laughter]

Letterman: It’s true. It was the ugly crying too, not just a little tear on the cheek, you know?

Sherlock: Well, I apologize for the ugly crying. One likes one’s crying to be elegant and graceful.

Letterman: Mine never is. I cry like a teen girl for that Justin Bieber fella. [laughter] But it is a fantastic movie. It’s a really personal story, you know?

Sherlock: It is, and it’s a universal story, a human story. One of the things that interested me in the project was that Molly Hooper, our screenwriter, had written a story about a gay couple that wasn’t about being gay. It’s a story that could be about anyone. There is no distinction, we’re all people who love and grieve and suffer and struggle, and it doesn’t matter if we’re gay or straight or somewhere in-between.


Letterman: But making the film turned into quite a personal experience for you.

Sherlock: [sighing] You’re just going to keep bringing it round, aren’t you?

Letterman: I’m a nosy talk show host, that’s my job.


Sherlock: So it is.

Letterman: So how’d you get involved with the film?

Sherlock: My agent asked me to take a look at this script because the screenwriter had written it with me in mind.

Letterman: Really?

Sherlock: Yes, that was very flattering. I read the script and I thought it was brilliant. I told him I’d do whatever I had to do to be in this film. The fact that it was about a gay couple was incidental, by the way. That had no personal relevance for me. Not then, anyway.

Letterman: So you weren’t—I mean, before this film.

Sherlock: That’s hard to say. I’d only ever dated women. But if you want the full truth, I’d never really met anyone who I was strongly drawn to, woman or man.

Letterman: Then you and John got to be friends during the film?

Sherlock: Yes. It was all very unexpected. I’m not exactly known for being quick to make friends.

Letterman: That’s the second time you said something like that about yourself. I gotta say, you seem like an okay guy to me.


Sherlock: Well, thank you. Perhaps I’ve mellowed. I think it’s fair to say that John has been a good influence on me.

Letterman: He’s really excellent in this film.

Sherlock: Yes, he is. It was an honor to share a screen with him.

Letterman: It’s something different for him, isn’t it? No offense to him.

Sherlock: Oh, he’d be the first to agree. He’s known for other sorts of films. I admit that when we started shooting, I didn’t know what to expect from him. It’s such demanding material. But then when I realized how good he really is, and what he’s able to do–honestly, I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the rest of the world to see. There are going to be a lot of people who doubted him eating their words.

Letterman: We’ve got to take a break now, but we’ll be back with more with Sherlock Holmes.

[applause, commercial break]

Letterman: Welcome back, we’re here chatting with Sherlock Holmes; his new film, To a Stranger, opens next Friday. Now, Sherlock, we gotta talk about this big news of yours.

Sherlock: I know; it’s all right. I’m ready.

Letterman: This is your first time speaking publicly since this news broke.

Sherlock: Yes, it is.

Letterman: You gotta know that it was a big shock to a lot of people.

Sherlock: I think that’s an understatement. I know everyone’s probably seen the video of me going a bit mental at that Variety screening.

Letterman: You didn’t seem mental to me. More like you’d just had it, you know?

Sherlock: Well, I had, I suppose. Having to hide like that does something unpleasant to you. And it had only been a few months for us. But this wasn’t the plan.

Letterman: You mean, for it to come out now.

Sherlock: John and I always meant to go public. We knew we couldn’t hide forever, but we had decided to wait until next spring, at least. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Letterman: John’s been on the show half a dozen times over the years.

Sherlock: Yes, he says hello. He also said to tell you that if you’re too mean to me he’ll only go on Leno from now on.


Letterman: Well, that'd be just as much a punishment for him as for us.

[more laughter; Sherlock smirks a bit]

Letterman: Is he here? Did he come with you?

Sherlock: No, he’s at home. He’s got appearances of his own to do. The run-up to a film’s release is a very busy time.

Letterman: So getting back to me being nosy about your personal life…. [laughter] But it’s not just me, you know, everybody’s dying of curiosity.

Sherlock: I know. Really, it’s a very ordinary, boring story of the sort that happens every day. People meet at work, they get to know each other, they fall in love, and all the rest of it.

Letterman: Well sure, it’s boring when you put it like that. [laughter] When you make it sound like just another day at the office!

Sherlock: It isn’t boring to me, of course. I’m the one living it. But there’s nothing extraordinary about how we met.

Letterman: So, you became friends while you were making the film.

Sherlock: Yes, close friends. That was all there was to it until a few months ago, last September. I’d been in a play in London, and I hadn’t seen John all summer. He showed up at the closing night of my show, and…well, there you have it.

Letterman: Was it a big dramatic moment?

Sherlock: Actually, it was. What can I tell you, we’re actors. We do love our dramatic moments.


Letterman: So things are all good with you now?

Sherlock: Yes, very good. I find that I’m rather stupidly happy.

Letterman: Stupidly? [laughter] Why stupidly?

Sherlock: I keep thinking that this can’t possibly be my life, and someone will come along and tell me there’s been some awful bureaucratic error, and someone else’s happiness got assigned to me by mistake, and take it all away.

Letterman: Oh, I don’t think that would happen. You know those bureaucratic errors never get fixed.


Sherlock: Then I’ll just trundle along and hope no one notices.

Letterman: Well, all our best. John’s a good guy.

Sherlock: He is, he’s fantastic. I’m afraid I’m quite besotted.

[scattered ‘awwww’s from the audience]

Letterman: You brought a clip for us, yes?

Sherlock: Yes, indeed.

Letterman: Can you tell us what’s happening here?

Sherlock: John’s character, Mark, has just learned something unpleasant about Benjamin and they’re having a bit of a row.

[the clip plays. It’s quite dramatic: Mark is coolly furious while Benjamin is flustered and caught off-guard. The audience applauds when it’s over.]

Letterman: It really is a fantastic film. It’s gotta win a bunch of Oscars. I’d recommend it to anybody.

Sherlock: Thank you. We hope it’ll be very successful. What I hope most of all is that people can put aside all this drama about John and me and focus on the film itself. The film is important; it’s got something to say. We’re just a couple of British chaps shacking up. Not terribly interesting.


Letterman: Gee, I don’t know. Might get some argument on that. [laughter] I’m just a guy behind a desk, what do I know. But I think people are interested.

Sherlock: Unfortunately, you’re probably right.

Letterman: Anyway, the film is To a Stranger, it opens next Friday, December 2nd. Sherlock Holmes, everybody!

[mad applause and cheers]

[from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, recorded on Wednesday, November 23, to be aired on Monday, November 28]

Ellen: My guest today is one of my favorite people. He’s been on the show many times, he’s made us laugh and fall in love with him over and over again in his movies. We’d scheduled him on the show for today to talk about his new film, To a Stranger, but last Friday something pretty historic happened. Take a look.

[a clip of the Variety screening plays, beginning with Sherlock’s outburst and John following him off stage, then cutting to them reappearing and joining hands]

Ellen: I’m sure most of you have seen this clip or heard about this, it’s been all over the news for days and days now. I asked John if he’d be willing to spend the whole show with us today and take audience questions and he said he would, so we’re going to have lots of time to talk to him and for you to ask him what’s on your mind. I don’t have to tell you that this is all pretty unprecedented, and it’s exciting for a lot of people, including me, to see someone have the courage to be open about who they are and who they love. So let’s bring him out now, ladies and gentlemen, our good friend and one of my new heroes, John Watson.

[John enters, waving, to wild cheers and applause. He is sharply but casually dressed in jeans, a hunter-green turtleneck and a camel tan leather sportsjacket. The chorus of Pink’s “So What?” plays as John walks to the stage. He and Ellen embrace. She bumps his hip in time to the music and he plays along: they do awkward Ellen-dancing for a few moments as the song plays.

So what/I’m still a rock star/I got my rock moves/and I don’t need you/and guess what/I’m having more fun/and now that we’re done/I’m gonna show you.

The audience claps along and dances at their seats. Finally Ellen and John sit down, the music stops and the audience quiets down and takes their seats.]

Ellen: It’s so good to see you!

John: You too, Ellen. Good to be here.

Ellen: You’ve been busy!


John: Intentionally and unintentionally, yes, quite busy.

Ellen: So, I guess…welcome to the club!

[John laughs, as does the audience; they burst into applause and cheers again]

John: Um, thank you.

Ellen: Did you get your membership card and welcome basket? Someone should have been by with that stuff by now.

John: Oh no, actually, we’re not out of the thirty-day probation.

Ellen: Oh, that’s right. Mandatory waiting period. Too many people were coming over just for the welcome basket. [laughter] I hear there’s some really good chocolate in it.

John: Really? Cor, I’ll look forward to that.

Ellen: I feel like I ought to say congratulations, too, because, well…

[A very artistic, editorial picture of Sherlock looking particularly gorgeous appears on the big screens behind Ellen and John. The audience cheers and whistles and whoops. John turns bright red and laughs, but he is not looking away. The audience calms down, but John is still looking. Ellen looks at him, to the audience, and back at him. Laughter.]

Ellen: John?

John: [jumps a little] Sorry, I went somewhere else for a moment. [laughter] Yeah, that’s…that’s a good one.

Ellen: He’s a looker.

John: But honestly, these photographers. They always shoot him all serious and brooding. I wish they’d ask him to smile now and again. He’s got such a lovely smile.

[scattered ‘awww’s from the audience]

John: I sound quite smitten, don’t I?

Ellen: Aren’t you?

John: I suppose so.

Ellen: Did you see him on Letterman?

John: I did, yes, of course.

Ellen: He sounded rather smitten himself, take a look.

John: Oh, God.

[Ellen’s monitors click over to Sherlock’s appearance on Letterman the night before]

Letterman: So things are all good with you now?

Sherlock: Yes, very good. I find that I’m rather stupidly happy.

Letterman: Stupidly? [laughter] Why stupidly?

Sherlock: I keep thinking that this can’t possibly be my life, and someone will come along and tell me there’s been some awful bureaucratic error, and someone else’s happiness got assigned to me by mistake, and take it all away.

Letterman: Oh, I don’t think that would happen. You know those bureaucratic errors never get fixed.


Sherlock: Then I’ll just trundle along and hope no one notices.

Letterman: Well, all our best. John’s a good guy.

Sherlock: He is, he’s fantastic. I’m afraid I’m quite besotted.

[the clips ends. John looks a little overwhelmed.]

Ellen: See, there now.

John: I admit I was a bit stunned to hear him talk like that. But, um…’stupidly happy’ is a fairly apt description.

[the audience awww’s a bit more and applauds.]

Ellen: Unfortunately, that’s not the whole story.

John: No, it isn’t.

Ellen: How are you coping? I’ve been through this and I wasn’t nearly as famous when I came out as you and Sherlock are, I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you since last weekend.

John: It’s been crazy, it really has. We’re lucky, we have a really fantastic manager and publicist who’s helping us stay sane, and who’s sort of standing between us and the giant tsunami of everyone who wants to make sure we know that they hate us or love us or whatever else they want to express.

Ellen: How’s it been, hate-versus-love wise?

John: You know, it’s hard to say right now. There’s the usual segment of people burning our DVDs and shrieking that we’re going to hell, but that was always going to happen. In terms of the rest of everyone, nobody seems to know what to think.

Ellen: Well, this has never happened before. Nobody as famous as the two of you has ever come out, and definitely not as a couple. I mean, he’s an Oscar winner; you’ve been in three of the top ten grossing romantic comedies of all time.

John: [nodding] Yes. That’s what we kept talking about before all this happened. The fact is that there are a lot of people in the closet in Hollywood. The unfortunate truth is that there are legitimate reasons for them to stay there. The fear of coming out is not unfounded. People’s careers have just ended.

Ellen: Mine did. But I was a comedian and I had a sitcom. I wasn’t at your level.

John: There are other actors who are out and still have careers.

Ellen: But nobody who was a big-time leading man like both of you are.

John: I don’t know how this is all going to shake out in the end. Perhaps neither of us will be able to keep being leading men.

Ellen: I think you will.

[applause and cheers]

John: Thanks, but either the audiences will come see us in films after this, or they won’t. Either they’ll accept us in dramatic and romantic roles, or they won’t. Our team has been very supportive, but a lot of people are telling us that we’ve just committed professional suicide.

Ellen: You and Sherlock released a statement, but it was pretty bare-bones. This is the first time you’ve spoken publicly about your relationship.

John: Right.

Ellen: Everyone has to be asking what happened, though. Watching Sherlock in that clip from the screening, it’s heart wrenching. He sounds like he’s at the end of his rope, like he just can’t take it for one more minute.

John: Yes, he was at the end of his rope. I’m still struggling with that, because I didn’t know. He didn’t let me see how much it was bothering him. We had a plan to wait, and he went along with it for my sake. He wanted to go public from the start.

Ellen: Why did you want to wait?

John: [hesitated] This film is very important, not just because it’s a fantastic film with something to say, but also because of what it could do for both of our careers. We’re both coming off some lean years and some disappointing films. Sherlock’s got a lot of respect to fall back on, but for me, this is a chance to really reinvent who I am as an actor. Getting this part was an opportunity of the kind I never thought I’d get. I want the film to be judged on its own merits, and to have the chance for it to help me make some positive changes in my career. [he shakes his head] But when it came down to it and I finally saw what it was doing to him, I just couldn’t. My career is not more important to me than he is. Nothing is more important to me than he is. [John looks away for a moment. He clears his throat and blinks back tears] Sorry.

Ellen: No, it’s okay. It’s really tough, hiding who you are. I did it for years, and Portia did it too. I know there a lot of people who are still hiding.

John: In a way I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to talk about this. I was never in the closet. I never had a relationship with a man before I met Sherlock and neither had he. We had only been keeping our secret for a few short months.

Ellen: I don’t think there’s a minimum amount of time you have to be in the closet for it to start doing bad things to your head.

John: No. No, there isn’t.

Ellen: We have to take a break now. When we come back, we’ll talk more with John Watson.

[applause; commercial break]

Ellen: And we’re back with John Watson, star of the amazing film To a Stranger which opens next week and which we’ll talk about later, but who’s been making headlines these last few days since the news broke about that he’s in a relationship with his co-star, Sherlock Holmes. Is that how we’re phrasing it, John?

John: That’ll do.

Ellen: I only ask because on Letterman, Sherlock said you were “shacking up”.


John: [also laughing] I know. I can’t leave him alone for one day, can I?

[more laughter]

Ellen: I definitely want to talk about this movie, but can we talk first about how all this happened? You haven’t said much about that yet.

John: I’d never met Sherlock before my screen test with him last winter. I knew of him, of course. I’d seen his films. I was a little intimidated, honestly.

Ellen: He’s intimidating.

John: He can be, yeah. I’m the sort of chap who likes to get along with people, but he’s more about the work. He’s not out to be Mr. Congeniality. He made that pretty clear. I knew that he had his doubts about my being cast in this role. A lot of people did. To be fair, there isn’t much in my past work to make people think I could handle a part like this. I knew I could do it and I was eager to prove it. I might have been a bit defensive. So we didn’t exactly hit it off immediately.

Ellen: How’d you end up friends?

John: We had a bit of a row, actually. But out of it came the fact that he wanted to make this film great, and he’d come to respect me as an actor, so we started cooperating more. We got to be close mates after that.

Ellen: And that’s all it was?

John: At the time, yes. After the shoot I came back here and he went off to London to do a play.

Ellen: When did things change between you?

John: [thinks for a moment] They had already changed, actually. When we said goodbye at the end of the shoot, I already knew that something was there. But things get a bit emotional during filming sometimes, and I didn’t know if it was just getting caught up in the moment or what, so neither of us said anything. I had a rough summer, and I know now that he did, too. We weren’t in touch and it was awful. Finally I said to hell with this, I flew to London the night his play closed.

Ellen: That’s like something out of one of your movies. [laughter] No, it really is! Flying off to surprise someone and make a dramatic confession.

John: I suppose it is, yeah.

Ellen: Had you struggled with your sexuality in the past?

John: This may sound strange, but I hadn’t ever really given it much thought. A lot of people experiment, I’m no different in that regard, but the question never really came up. I dated women, none of them terribly seriously. I was attracted to them, but I was never able to make a real connection. I never expected to have anything like this with Sherlock. I hoped we’d get along well, I thought we might be friends, but I couldn’t have predicted this.

Ellen: But you were open to it when it happened.

John: Yes. I guess that says something, right there. But how could I not be? How could I ignore what I was feeling, and what he was feeling, just because he – well, he came in a differently shaped tin than I was used to?


Ellen: Especially when the tin looks like this.

[another image flashes up on the big screens from a different photoshoot of Sherlock looking dashing and handsome; audience whistles and cheers]

John: [laughing] Stop doing that!

Ellen: So, this all comes out, and then what? Pandemonium?

John: More or less.

Ellen: It must be pretty overwhelming.

John: Very much so.

Ellen: You guys have been on every news site and every magazine.

[as she speaks, magazine covers flash on her big screens behind her. People’s cover shows each of them at different red-carpet events with a large headline reading “Sherlock and John In Love.” More gossip mag covers along similar lines appear. The cover of Time shows one of the unused photos from the EW photoshoot, their faces side by side on a dark background, with a single word headline in massive point size: “OUT.”]

John: Yes, we have. I wish this weren’t considered so newsworthy. It shouldn’t be, no more than any other couple going public.

Ellen: But the question everyone’s asking is, what happened while you two were offstage?

John: Yes, everyone is indeed asking about that. [smiles]

Ellen: Oh, I see. Not going to tell us, are you?

John: Did you really think I would?

Ellen: No, but I’m contractually obligated to ask just in case. [laughter]

John: Without going into too much detail, let’s just say we talked about what had just happened, and why, and decided what was going to happen next.

Ellen: All right, fair enough. We need to take another break, when we come back we’re going to talk about this film. We’ll be right back with John Watson, everyone.

[applause; commercial break]

Ellen: We’re back with John Watson, whose new film, To a Stranger, opens on Friday. Now, John, I saw this film the other night. I have to say— and I am not just saying this because you’re sitting here–it was one of the best films I’ve seen in years.

John: Thank you so much.

Ellen: And there’s nothing about it that screams “big-time film,” you know? It’s essentially a small story about two people.

John: That’s one of the reasons I think it’s so successful. It is a small story, the kind of story that happens every day to ordinary people, and our characters in the film are just that. They’re ordinary men who go through something together.

Ellen: And the fact that they’re gay isn’t the whole point of the story.

John: No, it isn’t. There is a lot of value in films that portray the things that are unique to gay life. The difficulty of coming out, of dealing with homophobia, of facing the risk of AIDS, of family rejection and society’s intolerance. But at the same time, gay people aren’t defined by being gay. Gay people also have work stress. They have money troubles. They have sick family members and conflicts with friends and relationship stress and landlords who are jerks. I think there’s also value in a film that shows two gay men who are navigating those kinds of problems, the sort that anyone has, gay or straight.

Ellen: I’ve read that you shot the film mostly in sequence, is that right?

John: Yes, that’s right.

Ellen: Did that make a big difference?

John: I think it did. Ang chose to shoot the film in sequence so that Sherlock and I would be getting to know each other just as our characters were.

Ellen: I know you’re probably already sick of being asked about this, but…

John: Yes, the sex scenes, I know.

Ellen: I read that they were originally much more explicit.

John: Let’s just say that we shot a lot more than ended up in the film. That isn’t unusual. I think that the scene we shot ended up being somewhat out of step with the rest of the film, so it was trimmed.

Ellen: It’s still pretty racy.

John: It’s frank. It’s realistic. I don’t think it’s any more than we’ve seen a hundred times in scenes featuring a man and a woman.

Ellen: Was it strange for you?

John: Well, I’ve shot what feels like a hundred kissing scenes. Not quite as many bedroom scenes, but my fair share. Sherlock has done more on-camera bedroom work than I have. By the time we got to that day, we were pretty comfortable with each other, and we’d built up some trust. It really wasn’t any different than shooting a similar scene with a woman. You’ve got to be in it together, and know that it’s just as awkward for your co-star, and you have to trust each other and be there for each other if you’re going to be able to really let go and perform the scene the way it needs to be.

Ellen: Did you bring a clip to show us?

John: Yes, indeed, I did.

Ellen: What scene is this?

John: It’s Benjamin and Mark’s first kiss, actually. I’m on the phone in the park and talking to Benjamin, and well…you’ll see.

Ellen: Okay, let’s take a look. To a Stranger.

[the clip plays. John is onscreen for most of it, as Mark listens to Benjamin and they discuss the change in their relationship. At the end of the clip, Benjamin appears and they kiss. The audience applauds at the end of the clip.]

Ellen: Congratulations on this film, seriously. I urge everyone to go see it, it’s fantastic.

John: Thanks so much. We’re proud of it.

Ellen: Now, it’s not a secret that there a lot of gay actors and actresses in Hollywood who are afraid of coming out because of what it’ll do with their careers. Are you afraid for your career?

John: Of course. I don’t know if I’ll still have one.

Ellen: Why do you think it’s been so difficult for people to keep their careers after coming out?

John: Well, I think studios fear that audiences won’t accept me in a role where I have to kiss a woman, for example. Which is a legitimate fear. Now, straight actors have played gay men before, and that didn’t seem to be a problem. And no one seems to worry that an audience won’t accept, for example, Angelina Jolie kissing Clive Owen when they all know that in real life she’s with someone else. An actor is not their character. To me, this is the same. But it’s not the same to a lot of people. At least, that’s what the business is afraid of.

Ellen: There are plenty of roles where you wouldn’t have to kiss anybody, though.

John: Maybe. But studios are very afraid of risk, and this is just one more element of risk that’s now attached to me.

Ellen: What would you do if your career was over? Have you thought about it?

John: Yes, of course I have. Sherlock and I have talked about that a lot. I’d hope that it wouldn’t get so bad that I’d be down to taking my juggling act on the road to the local Rotary Club.

Ellen: Oh, you juggle?

John: No, not really.

Ellen: So I’m guessing that the act isn’t so great.


John: [laughing] It’s pretty terrible. To be serious about it, if Sherlock and I found that Hollywood was no longer a good place for us, we’d probably go back to London. The British film and television industry is much more accepting. So many beloved British film, theater and television icons are gay. Stephen Fry, for example—he’s practically the patron saint of the British entertainment industry. It might be easier for us to earn our keep there. All I really want is to be able to support myself and my family by doing the work that I love, and to be with Sherlock.

Ellen: We’ve got to take a break, when we come back, John will take audience questions.

[applause; commercial break]

Ellen: We’re back with John Watson, star of many beloved movies and the upcoming drama To a Stranger, one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. Today we’re talking with John not just about his new film but about his relationship with his co-star, Sherlock Holmes. They’ve pretty much made history by acknowledging in public. Now we’re going throw it out to you guys for your questions.

[the microphone is passed to a young woman]

Guest #1: Hi John, my name is Lisa.

John: Hello, Lisa.

Lisa: [giggles a bit] I have to tell you, you’re one of my favorite actors. Rewind is one of my best comfort movies. Did you know when you made it that it was going to be such a big hit? Are you still in touch with Rachel Weisz?

John: Thanks for the kind words, first of all. And of course, we always hope that every film we make is going to be a big hit. I have to admit, I had a good feeling about Rewind when we were making it. I got on quite well with everyone in the film, especially Rachel, we had a really good time during the shoot, and everything seemed to click. It’s a fun, romantic story. I’d never really done a film of that genre, and it turned out it fit me rather well. So well that I did almost nothing else until---uh, now. [laughter] I am in touch with Rachel, actually, we’ve kept in pretty close contact. I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like, but we do speak on the phone every couple of months.

[the microphone is passed to a middle-aged woman]

Guest #2: Hello Mr. Watson, my name is Debbie.

John: Hi, Debbie.

Debbie: I just want to say I wish you the best, and I’m sorry it has to be so hard for you just because of who you’re with. [applause]

John: Thank you. I’m sorry, too.

Debbie: I know there have been a lot of mean things said by radio hosts and people on TV. Have you had anyone confront you directly?

John: Unfortunately, yes, I have. Not as many as I feared. Most people won’t approach me and come right out with it, it’s more that I can see them giving me the side-eye, you know? Or a dirty look, or talking behind their hand. That’s not so bad, at least I can ignore it. I have had a couple of people call me rude names, and one woman came right up and wanted to know how I dared show my face in public.

[distressed murmurs from audience]

Ellen: What did you say?

John: I told her she was under no obligation to look at me.

[laughter, smattering of applause – the microphone is passed to a new guest]

Guest #3: There’s been a lot of Oscar talk around To a Stranger already, a lot of it about your performance. What do you think about that?

John: I think I better not say anything, it’s bad luck. [laughter] No, seriously, there has been some Oscar buzz for the film, which is very gratifying. If I were to be nominated… [he shakes his head] I’d hardly ever dared to imagine that such a thing would ever happen to me. I think Sherlock definitely deserves a nomination, as does our screenwriter, our fantastic director, and I hope that the film itself will be recognized. I won’t deny that it might be nice to have a matched set of his-and-his Oscars on our mantelpiece. [laughter] I’m not predicting anything, but one does have fantasies about such things.

[the microphone goes to a fourth guest, a twentysomething woman, who seems nervous]

Guest #4: Um…hi, Mr. Watson. I’m Cheryl.

John: Hi, Cheryl! You can call me John, by the way.

Cheryl: Okay, John, I…um, I’m sorry, but I just have the biggest crush on Sherlock.

[laughter and applause]

John: [laughing along] That’s okay. Me, too! [more laughter]

Cheryl: He hardly ever goes on talk shows like this. So this is my big chance to find out what he’s really like.

John: Oh, gosh. Well, you’re right, he’s not much for talk shows. He thinks he’s crap at them, although I thought he did very well on Letterman. [applause] What’s he like? [he pauses, thinking. He takes a breath, opens his mouth, then nothing comes out. Laughter.] He’s brilliant, but he can’t cook. If I didn’t make him eat, he’d live on tea and chocolate biscuits. He’s not much for sport, but he’s very competitive. He is very uncomfortable with kids, but they adore him because he talks to them like they’re adults. He has a very dry sense of humor. He can be arrogant, but he isn’t proud. He doesn’t discriminate, he treats everyone the same. [everyone is quiet; John has gone a bit serious] I have absolutely no idea how we ended up together, but he changed my life when I was looking the other way.

Ellen: You’re very forthright about this.

John: Maybe I’m trying to make amends. [he hesitates] I was the one who wanted us to keep it quiet, until a more convenient time. [he shakes his head, like he can’t believe it himself.] Convenient. I let Sherlock think that his feelings, that our relationship, was less important than the PR around a film. It might have been the right decision logically, but emotionally it was all wrong. That’s what this business can do to you. Sometimes I think we’re all emotional cripples. That’s not a gay or a straight thing, it’s a public-figure thing. We talk about our partners like we’re recommending them for a job, have you ever noticed that?

Ellen: I have, actually.

John: What is that? Why do we talk around it? In our statements and in interviews like this, we say things like “she’s a fantastic person” or “we’re getting along great” or my personal favorite, “we look forward to this new stage of our lives.” Why do we throw euphemisms at our relationships? It’s like we’re afraid for the rest of the world to find out that we have real feelings—that we get sad and scared and excited and depressed and euphoric, that we fall in love, too. I decided before I came on today that I wasn’t going to do that. I love Sherlock. I’m not going to soft-pedal it because someone, somewhere might be uncomfortable. I’m not ashamed. I’m proud.


Ellen: [looks a little choked up] I gotta say—I’m pretty proud to be sitting here next to you, John. [she reaches out for his hand; he grasps hers and squeezes it.]

John: Thanks. I’m glad to have this opportunity to lay my cards on the table. I couldn’t ask for a better place to do it than on your show, Ellen.

Ellen: I would have loved to have you both on the show together.

John: That could have been interesting, yes.

Ellen: Maybe some other time, when you’re not promoting a film.

John: I’d enjoy that. I can’t speak for Sherlock.

Ellen: Let’s call him and ask!

[cheers and applause]

John: [laughing] You want to just ring him up?

Ellen: Sure, why not? What’s he doing right now?

John: I’ve no idea. What time is it?

Ellen: [to the stage manager] Do we have his phone number? Yeah, let’s give him a call. John, would you like to do the honors?

John: No, this is all you.

[a photo of Sherlock appears on the smaller screen between their chairs]

Ellen: Okay, and we’re…are we? Yeah, we are. Calling Sherlock Holmes. See if he’d like to come on the show.

[the phone rings and rings]

Ellen: Uh-oh. He isn’t picking up. We might be getting kicked to voicemail, folks.

[the phone stops ringing and goes to voicemail]

Sherlock: [sounding very put out] You’ve reached Sherlock Holmes. If you don’t know what to do next, I weep for the gene pool and your presence in it. Try not to ramble, include any and all relevant information, and for God’s sake don’t be tiresome about it. [the tone]

[audience laughs; John is rolling his eyes a little bit]

Ellen: Hey, Sherlock, it’s Ellen DeGeneres. We’re taping my show and I’m sitting here with your charming fella, we’ve been having a good chat. We were just talking about the possibility of getting you on the show as well, the both of you at once. John’s been telling us some hilarious stories about you, haven’t you, John?

John: Oh, hilarious, yes.

Ellen: I think my studio audience might like to say hi. Everyone, say hi to Sherlock, on one, two three…

Entire audience: HI, SHERLOCK!

Ellen: See, they’d want you to come on the show, too. We’re all big fans of yours around here. Talk to you soon! [she hangs up]

[cheers and applause]

John: [shaking his head] You are going to get me in so much trouble.

Ellen: I’m good at that.

John: Because that’s what I need in my life right now, is a little more upheaval.

Ellen: I was afraid you might be getting bored. You know, I like to mix it up.

John: Ah yes. Boredom. Sometimes I miss it.

Ellen: Well, John, I’m really bummed about it but we are out of time. [audience makes disappointed noises] But it has been truly amazing having you here.

John: It’s been great to be here, Ellen. Thanks for having me on.

Ellen: I have to say again, congratulations on this film, it is really extraordinary and I expect whole heaps of Oscar nominations.

John: I just hope it does well so that somebody hires me again.

Ellen: I’m sure that it will. And let me say that I know that you didn’t do what you did to make a political statement, but you’re an inspiration to a lot of people. I’m a little in awe of you right now.

John: I’m just a guy trying to have a normal relationship.

Ellen: Good luck with that, then.


John: Yeah, I think I might need it.

Ellen: John Watson, everybody!

[mad applause and cheers]

Next Chapter


( 107 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 19th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
Where the meta is so meta awesome that I'm completely meta-stunned.


Here, this is the internet, have it.
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
i'm pretty much flailing w/ glee JUST like that munchkin, and i've only glanced at this chapter. wheeeee!!!
Sep. 19th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
That was just ADORABLE
Fantastic! Just fantastic!

There were some really cute moments and the way both of them describe their relationship seems believable. Well done!

Sep. 19th, 2011 02:18 am (UTC)
"You’ve reached Sherlock Holmes. If you don’t know what to do next, I weep for the gene pool and your presence in it." How I want that for my answer machine xD
Sep. 19th, 2011 05:01 am (UTC)
(no subject) - sethra2000 - . th, 12:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - madlorific - . th, 12:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC)
Aaaaaah!!!! SO AMAZING! I love the things that they say to one another! it's so charming and perfect and adorable. I actually had to sit back and calm myself before I could continue reading. It's so cute. I think the two of them on Ellen would be kind of hilarious, but I think Sherlock would be uncomfortable.
Of course, John could just bend him over and kiss him to snap him out of it,... :)

This was just lovely and perfect and I loved it. Have I said I loved it? :) Yay!
Sep. 22nd, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
I debated having Ellen bring Sherlock out as a surprise, but it's too soon for them to be doing the cutesy gay-couple appearances.
(no subject) - shinkonokokoro - . th, 12:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
[mad applause and cheers] indeed. Marvelous. Thank you!

Sep. 19th, 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
Better and better and better. This was a wonderfully done bit. I've never enjoyed a fic the way I'm enjoying this. And I include Human Interest and Two Crows Joy in that.

Hmm, I wonder if any talented artist out there (see first comment) would take a shot at that Time Magazine cover?
Sep. 22nd, 2011 04:29 am (UTC)
Thank you! I must say I've rarely, if ever, enjoyed writing a fic as much, either.
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
Hahaha! Another excellent chapter and I thought your voices of Letterman and Ellen were great. You really gave them a lot of great lines.
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:41 am (UTC)
*applauds madly* Utterly delightful.
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
[mad applause and cheers][mad applause and cheers][mad applause and cheers]
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Yes! - my two favorite talk show hosts (perfectly presented) in addition to a fabulously written Sherlock and John. Brilliant add to a lovely, all-around amazing work in progress. I absolutely love the journey you have created for these two men.

Now I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment of "The Marvelous and Inspiring, but Slightly Scary Adventures of Sherlock and John: Road to the Oscars and Beyond..."
Sep. 19th, 2011 02:55 am (UTC)
SO MANY EMOTIONS! SO. MANY. EMOTIONS. I can't stop crying and this chapter is a cute chapter. I think finally broke my cry box. You are brilliant by the way.
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
brilliant, amazing, squee, omg, fantastic, please pick any superlative and apply liberally.
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
I am still flailing like that bebe at the top of the comments and seriously wondering how on earth you got so wonderful at this... But my guess is that old chestnut of practice, practice, practice.
Seeing as my little ones adore Ellen as Dorrie in Finding Nemo, I was wondering if she and John would at some point talk shop about his voice work... But I forgot to put it in your Tumblr ask box before this latest bit if awesomeness showed up. Oh well...
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
After the disappointment that was the Emmys this has really brightened my day.
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:20 am (UTC)


Sep. 19th, 2011 03:23 am (UTC)
I'm genuinely sad that this isn't a movie that I can go and see. ):

Edited at 2011-09-19 03:24 am (UTC)
Jun. 19th, 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
Seconded. So hard.
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Oh wow. This is just so incredible. I could completely see and hear both interviews perfectly. You got the tone of both hosts and their shows down cold and it all feels so real. It's just amazing.

OMG calling Sherlock. *weeps with laughter* I *so* want his answering machine message! LOL
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
I think I'm in love. (With you, this fic, these boys...) <3333

You absolutely nailed the late night/daytime talk-show formats; I feel like I've just indulged in an episode of each!
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
Saw the note on tumblr. Yes, the meta is. . . becoming its own bloody tautology. :))
So very glad that you posted, and I absolutely LOVE this. It brings the tempo down a little bit from the Rockstar-fueled insanity, and fits so precisely in the rhythm of awards season release deadlines/the press junket build-up into nominations. I love that in a dry transcript format: I'm still seeing the movie in my head.

Sep. 19th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
Thank you for your faithfulness. I desperately needed this tonight. I was sitting there this afternoon thinking, what is the most amazing thing that could happen tonight? And I chose, update of Lori's fic, and here it is. magic.

As others have said, the voices are dead on. I'm originally fr. Indiana so I actuallly watched Letterman's morning talk show that was local when I was a little girl. You have his voice so perfectly. I think he and Sherlock woudl be mates as much as L allows because neither of them suffer fools gladlly or are comfortable with their celebrity.

Ditto for Ellen. Loved her since her early stand up work when she had a modified she mullet. You've got the whole rhythm of the show down and you strike me as someone not prone to watch daytime TV so I applaud the research required.

Esp. loved John's descr. of Sherlock which was off the cuff (I hope Irene didn't coach to that degree) and so accurate and honest but loving. I cried a little at that part and then I was like, Oh, John is moved too lol.

Thanks for giving me my best case scenario for the day. Hoping someone does the same for you.
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
p.s. thought it was such a wise way to advance the plot without screwing with the pacing and a clever POV outside their world.

You are so smart! I'm not even worthy to have this one my friends page, let alone read it.
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC)
This fic is so good that you could seriously write like 10 chapters of your characters on talk shows and it would still be completely gripping. Oh my God, when this is over I might cry.
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
oh, yay! this was fantastic as usual - I loved getting some earnestness from our boys on live tv, since it's so rare in hollywood. they're really not holding back and I love it! and Sherlock's voicemail message was pretty much the best thing ever :D
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:46 am (UTC)
I'm so happy for the both of them right now :-D
Even though this is a fic LOL
Sep. 19th, 2011 03:54 am (UTC)
This was so fantastic. I really wanted to congratulate Sherlock on his appearance on Letterman. I was so proud of him! This is how emotionally invested I am in this fic.

It's Gerty from tumblr BTW. This is supposed to be my secret identity but I fail at that. :)
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( 107 comments — Leave a comment )