March 3rd will forever be engraved on my memory as a very special day. I attended Emerald City Comic Con. However, this is not what made it special. In fact, I’m not much of a convention goer and though I’ve been to numerous sci-fi and fantasy conventions over the years, it has always been as a performer or vendor, never an attendee. As I walked around, there was all the glitz, crazed excitement and fantasy one would expect from such an event. Make believe becomes reality – a concept that gave me reason to pause.
It’s easy to get caught up in the play and it begins to feel that nothing is as it seems. But amidst the overwhelming sense of stepping into an alternate reality, my heart was touched by a moment of undisguised truth. It started weeks earlier when I learned, much to my incredible delight, that my favorite actor would be appearing at the convention – Jeremy Renner himself! The excitement soon turned to anxiety over how to act appropriately in front of him (not wanting to appear like some hero-worshiping nut case). The nerve-filled days ticked by until I found myself at last standing in front of him to get an autograph.
Though there were several great pictures to choose from for autographing, I had decided to ask for an autograph in the very first printed copy of my very first novel (Night Hawk). It is a book I reserve for the names of those who are very special – those that have touched my life and inspired me in some way. My parents’ names, of course are there, but now it was Jeremy’s turn. Out of respect I didn’t launch into an explanation and instead stood with heart pounding as he looked at the open book. “Night Hawk.” Yes, he noticed and mentioned the title and in as poised a manner as I could, I told him why I wanted him to sign the book.
For years I have viewed Jeremy Renner through an alternate reality – through the make believe that makes up the movie world. I saw through a screen different characters – portrayals of other people – and for all the brilliant work in giving depth and soul to these characters that first drew me to Jeremy’s amazing talent, none of it was as special as when the characters were stripped away in my mind and I saw the genuine human being behind all I admired. In that brief moment, I could see in his eyes that my honest words of respect had touched him. I saw the soul of someone caring and real.
I spend so much of my life in the make believe. As a writer, my mind keeps me partially living in a world of my own creation alongside characters outside reality. At times it’s exciting but it can also be lonely. Night Hawk is filled with fantasy but, like many of Jeremy Renner’s characters, amidst all of it there is a heart and soul that is very real. I have experienced how storytellers – whether actors, writers or filmmakers – can be easily thrown by the audience into the alternate reality of their characters and stories they share. But I hope people remember the true person behind each portrayal. There is a soul behind every story. I consider myself blessed to have been given the chance to see without screens, lines and characters, the simple beauty of the real person of Jeremy Renner.