I am a writer. I want to be a successful writer. So, naturally, my heroes are writers. As a film enthusiast as well, my biggest heroes are screenwriters. And probably my biggest hero of all is Terry Rossio, whose writing credits include Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek, Aladdin, and - most inspirationally for me - Wordplay.
Back in September, I went on an epic road trip across Western USA with nine friends. Before we left, I sent Terry Rossio an email about an unrelated matter, and mentioned in passing that we were visiting the States. So he INVITED US TO A HOUSE PARTY. Now, technically, we weren't available. According to our itinerary, we would still be in Las Vegas when the party was happening in LA.
Screw the plan.
My wife and I decided to temporarily leave the group behind and fly to LA, returning the next morning - and damn the cost. Getting flights and a hire car would have cost two dollars more than a package that included flights, hire car and a room at what turned out to be The Worst Hotel In Los Angeles. That's right, they actually paid us to stay there.
But nothing took away from the nerves and excitement we felt that day. It felt surreal driving through Santa Monica, knowing that we would be here again in three days with eight other people, and turning off into the beautiful Topanga Hills.
We found the address and crawled up the winding two-mile driveway. (At least it felt that long.) And there it was. In Terry Rossio's own words, "the house that Pirates built." My heart was racing. I felt thrilled, intimidated, proud, nervous...
The best possible thing happened: we were too early. Terry and his partner Jocelyn (top of her field as both a surgeon and a film producer - some people are just... more, aren't they?) were still setting up. So we helped them lay out chairs and canapés, and we chatted to them about how they were still in awe of this beautiful house after more than two years of living here. We chatted to them as normal people about normal things.
People started to arrive, so we let Terry act the host and we snooped around the house a bit. There was no-one there more famous than Terry - it was a launch party for Turbo Dates so there were lots of writers and publicists and distributors.
A few things about the house stuck in our minds. The plaque commemorating the $960,000,000 box office gross of At World's End. The handwritten note of gratitude from Gore Verbinsky (just lying around - Terry is a trusting man!). The mix CD from Johnny Depp. The Upper Hot Tub (yes, there was more than one hot tub).
The party passed its peak and eventually we said our goodbyes, asking Terry for a photo before we left. We went to sleep that night with glorious satisfaction.