(And don't think I'm not nervous about showing this to you... Is there such a thing as Writer's Fright?)
Here's my article on TJ... It should be live either later today or tomorrow on blog.scripped.com
but I thought you all might like a little preview.
I hope. EEP.
Stoopid Writer's Fright.
I’m sitting in the Imperial Theatre, comfortable ensconced in a violently pink overstuffed chair, surrounded by a small horde of young do-gooders, all eagerly awaiting the onstage debut of their co-hort.
I look off into the wings as the curtain rustles and a girl peers out, scanning the packed house. Seemingly searching. The do-gooder next to me spies her, and moves to let loose a giant wave.
“Remember Digby,” I say. “Theatre behavior.”
“Right,” he says, settling back against the lurid cushions. He looks over again at the girl scanning the audience, squirms, looks over at me, and then bellows out “WE LOVE YOU ALEXANDRIA! REMEMBER! TJ SAYS HAVE FUN!!”
The girl smiles, nods, and disappears backstage. Digby avoids my gaze for a moment, then turns to me and says “I had to yell. How else was she going to hear me over these chairs?”
Laughing, I look back to the stage. The girl is peering out again. She looks at me. “Are you OK?” I mouth silently to her. She nods.
“5 minutes to curtain!” comes the call, and she disappears.
If you’d told me six months ago, that I’d be sitting here tonight, about to watch Alexandria take the stage, I wouldn’t have believed you.
See, when I met her? She wasn’t speaking.
Not to anyone.
Not a word.
I help run a youth group out in my particular corner of the ‘verse. (FYI? Corralling a bunch of marauding do-gooders is a LOT of fun.) My team and I barge around the town, committing random acts of awesome, and manage to meet at least twice a week at my Treehouse for planning and massive sugar and grease ingesting festivities.
Ellie, (aka The Brain aka The Girl Who is going to Cure Every Disease Known to Man) arrived at the Treehouse first, with an unfamiliar face in tow.
“Hey there trouble!” I said. “Who’s this?”
“This is my new friend Alexandria! She loves horses. I think. She has them all over her math binder. I wanted to bring her to the meeting and show her Habenero! Is that OK?”
“Of course it’s OK Ellie.” I smiled at Alexandria. She smiled back at me but didn’t say a word. “My name’s Chandler. It’s nice to meet you!”
I moved to the cupboard, pulled out Habenero’s favorite treats, and went back to the girls. “Take these to him,” I said, pressing an apple cinnamon bar into Alexandria’s hand. “He’ll be your bestest friend for life.”
She took the bar and the girls left for the barn, Ellie doing all the talking.
I saw Alexandria again two weeks later at our team’s pizza night. The doorbell rang, and there she was, flanked by an impeccably dressed, incredibly intimidating older woman, who I would later learn was her grandmother.
“You must be Chandler. I’ve heard a lot about you. Thanks for having Alex,” she sniffed, cautiously examining the “No Humans Allowed” sign on my front door.
“No problem! Everyone’s in the living room. Go on in.”
Alexandria went into join the group, without a word of goodbye. I followed her in, and watched as she came to a sudden full and complete stop, staring at the TV. She paused for a moment, and then sank to a seat in the middle of the group. She watched the action unfold for a moment, turned to Ellie, and then I heard her voice for the first time…
“Is this… Is this ‘Aliens in a Spaceship??”
“SHHHH! Nobody speaks while Hodgins is speaking!” replied Ellie.
“I LOVE HODGINS!” said Alexandria.
Then a quiet whisper from Ellie. “Have you seen ‘Validation?”
And they were off. A room full of instant BFF’s, chatting away about TJ Thyne for the rest of the night.
An hour later, Alexandria’s grandmother re-appeared at my door.
“How did things go?”
“Oh fine,” I said. “She’s been chatting with everyone all night. She’s quite the TJ trivia queen.”
“I’m sorry. Did you say Alexandria was…chatting?”
“Yup,” I said. “Once you get her going on Jack Hodgins, you can’t slow her down.”
I watched as the venerable woman’s eyes filled with tears. Not entirely sure what to do, wondering what social blunder I’d made, and almost entirely flummoxed I asked her to come in for hot chocolate.
(Hot chocolate fixes everything… right?)
She sat across from me at my kitchen table, my TARDIS mug clashing with her beautifully tailored suit.
“I’m sorry,” she said again. “It’s just… talking?”
She looked into the living room and nodded, seeing the scientists of the Jeffersonian do that voodoo that they do so well.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Alex and her mother used to watch BONES together every week.”
And then, over dark chocolate and marshmallows, I heard the story of Alexandria. Bright, brave, and funny. Loves math, horses, canoeing, and U2.
And her mom.
It seemed Alexandria had never known her father, instead raised by one of the strangest women ever to stomp across the planet. They were the best of friends, with an amazing relationship.
And, in the space of a second it was over. A drunk driver smashed into their car on the way home from a midnight movie.
Alex’s mother died at the scene.
And Alex stopped speaking.
Until that night. Her grandmother looked in on her charge, having a great time with her new friends, munching kettle corn, and hoping against hope that Jack would make it out of that buried car.
The episode ended, and Alexandria came into the kitchen, sporting a fire engine red wristband.
“What’s that?” asked her grandmother.
“It’s a Team TJ wristband. I’m an official member now. Everyone wants me to join!” she said.
“TJ… That’s the actor all over your bedroom door, isn’t it?”
Alexandria nodded, pulled on her boots, went in to say goodbye to her team, and immediately found herself the recipient of a massive group hug.
She left, flushing furiously to a chorus of “BYE!” “SEE YOU!” and one very effusive “VALE, LACERTE!”
Over the next few months, Alexandria became a huge part of our group, helping to organize fundraisers for Habitat for Humanity, and putting together one of the most fantastic dessert parties I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.
(MEMO TO COLE: I’ve never seen anyone so little eat so much. How did you put away an entire pan of Nanaimo bars without exploding?)
When Alexandria told us she was going to try out for a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” we all barged along to the audition for moral support. (See: Loud Cheering from Rear of Theatre)
Not surprisingly, she got the part.
And now, after months of rehearsing and TONS of hard work, here we all sit, watching as the curtain rises and the young thespian flits on to the stage. Naturally, her teammates remained totally calm.
“WOOOO! GO ALEXANDRIA!” shouts Kaylee.
“WE LOVE YOU ALEX!” yells Andrea, as Ellie violently pokes everyone within arms reach, pointing at the stage, saying “That’s MY friend!”
She was amazing.
The curtain fell. Alexandria got more applause than the rest of the cast combined. And, as we headed out the theatre doors, off to invade the local ice cream parlor, each one of us sporting our fire engine red team wristbands, I leaned over to Alexandria and told her how terrific she was.
“Thanks Chandler. Hey, what kind of ice cream do you think TJ likes?”
“Hrmm… Well, Hodgins is always searching through mud for clues… Maybe Bay of Fundy Mudslide?”
And, as we munched our double scoops, Alexandria still in her fairy wings I felt incredibly lucky to be a part of something so special.
To Alexandria: I’m going to have to go get myself a new thesaurus, as I have no words left to tell you how PROUD I am of you. Thank you for letting me tell your story.
To the Kids of Team TJ: I am ridiculously proud and honored to be your Captain. Now, who’s got my cotton candy machine? Bring BLUE to the next meeting!!
To TJ: Cornball, simple, but so heartfelt… THANK YOU. You sir, are aces.
Q&A With TJ Thyne
Hello Chandler & Gang!
Wait, wait, wait...you are telling me, somewhere on this planet, there is a "team TJ?!" Woohooo!!! Go team go!!! That puts a big smile on my face.
I hear you all have some questions for me. So, without further ado...
Hi TJ! Bones is such a great show! (I got the last season on DVD for my birthday!) I was wondering how much research goes into the experiments that you do on the show. What have you learned about forensics that surprises you? - Alex - Age 15
Hello Alex! First things first, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! I LOVE that you got a BONES DVD for your bday gift. That's amazing. OK, to answer your question...quite a lot goes into the research of our experiments. First, the writers come up with the idea in the writing room, then have writing researches who go to work getting it as accurate as can be. Then it gets passed back to the writing team to have a final go. After that, it moves to the director, who slides it over to our in-house Forensic Anthropologist research guide on set. She has a go with it, getting it as real as possible. Back to the director, then on to the production team who go about creating the actual experiment: Then each department is brought in Location, Props, special effects, etc. And everyone has a say and a go with the experiment. Finally, we actors show up. We now do our own research, confirm things with our tech advisors, walk through it all with the director and special effects team, and if/when we feel good and solid on it, we shoot it, and shoot it, and shoot it again. And that happens per episode per experiment. Lots of times we are pretty accurate with them, but other times (because in the end this is TV and we are entertaining) we know it's far-fetched but go for it anyway. I always love the experiments. its fun to do. What surprises me that I have learned about forensics? that they actually use flesh-eating-beetles to clean bones in certain labs. Bleck! Thanks Alex for asking a question.
Which episode of Bones was the most fun to make? Which one was the hardest? (I have a bet with my sister that it was the one where you and Dr. Brennan were trapped in the car...) - Katy - Age 14
Hi lovely Katy! Yup, you got it, my favorite Bones episode of all the seasons was "Aliens in a Spaceship", the one where Brennan and I are buried in the car together. It was the hardest as well, but we loved every second of shooting it. I liked it so much because it really gave my character JACK a chance to be completely open and honest with Doctor Brennan. He was badly hurt and stood a good chance of not making it out alive. But they put their brains together, and with the help of the team, survived. It was a tough week of shooting, but Emily and I dove in and had a great time. I wish they could all be as intense as that. Thanks for asking Katy!!!!!!
Hodgins is such a whiz with the gadgets in the lab! Do you have a gizmo you can't live without? - Brandon- Age 16
HI Brandon! Thanks for asking. Yeah, Jack LOVES gadgets! The more the merrier in his mind. He could play with tools and toys all day long. As for me, my simple gadget that I can't live without would be my cell phone. Ha. It's always in my pocket. I even convinced the prop department to get Jack the same phone that I have, so I can have it on the set with me at times. Haha. I keep it away in my pocket, but as soon as we are sitting around, I'm out and researching things on line, or texting, taking pictures of the cast...I just love it. Love that such a small little device can do so much.
'Bones' is my favorite show EVER. I've read all of Kathy Reichs' novels, at least three times each. Who are your favorite writers? - Melissa - Age 15
WOW!!!! Melissa, I can't believe you are 15, and watch BONES! Not to mention read Kathy's Novels! I am VERY impressed! 3 times each?! Woah! You've read her books more then I have!!! She's a great writer! I'm a big fan of hers. Some of my favorite books that I read this summer are: "Devil in the White City" about the Chicago world fair back in the late 1800's, "ROOM" Ooooh!! That was REALLY good! told in the perspective of a little boy. "Pandora's Bottle" really fun book! Inspired by a real life event where an extremely rich man paid 1/2 a million dollars for a single bottle of wine, the author takes liberty with the story and writes a fiction about who such a man would choose to open and share the wine with. Lots of fun. Of course some of my favorite books "Blindness", "To Kill a Mockingbird" and anything from Shakespeare or Ernest Hemingway. "A moveable feast" is probably my monthly favorite. I just picked up 4 more books to read when I get to set over the next couple weeks. YAY for readers! Yay for Melissa!
What's the best part of playing Hodgins? - Digby - Age 12
Hi Digby, I love your name! Okay, best part of playing Jack Hodgins...he's fearless. Nothing seems to worry or scare him. He leaps into things first then realizes how deep he's in. I love that! A great character to play. 12 years old! Wow, that's young to watch Bones right?! Don't the bodies creep you out?! Probably not. You are probably a lot like Jack Hodgins...fearless.
Hi TJ! I was watching TV with my Dad and couldn't was totally surprised to see you in his favorite show! He loooooves 'Titus!' Was it a fun show to work on? What's Christopher Titus like in person? - Kaylee - Age 14
Hi Kaylee! Wow, TITUS! that was a REALLY fun show to make. I use to shoot a lot of 1/2 comedy shows: Friends, Dharma & Greg, Jesse, Home Improvement, etc. Titus was one of my favorites. here's why. I'm from the theater originally. It's where I started acting. and...sometimes...for us theater actors, it gets a little tedious to have to constantly stop while shooting. We are used to a through line of story telling. So when you are shooting TV shows, normally they shoot, then stop, then shoot, then stop, for every scene, every angle. WELL, Titus was a lot like me, he liked the through-line. SO, he devised a way to shoot his TV show straight through, no breaks! We would finish a scene and literally run to the next set to shoot the next one, then run to the next set to shoot the next one. Every 1/2 hour comedy is 22 minutes long (with 8 minutes of commercials) most of the time it takes hours and hours to shoot 22 minutes. but with Titus, it took exactly 22 minutes! we would reset after we did the first 22 minutes, load in another audience, and shoot it all 1 more time. If we needed pick ups, we'd do it after. SO great! so fun! just like theatre but on TV. and Christopher Titus was a very cool guy. thanks Kaylee
My name is Amanda and I wanted to tell you that you are my all time favorite actor!!! I would love to know more about 'Validation.' It's such a beautiful story! (I smile all day every time I watch it.) Can you tell me more about it? - Amanda - Age 14
Hello lovely Amanda! One of my favorite names. All time favorite actor?! WOW!!!! Thank you!!!! Ah, Validation!! My dear friend Kurt Kuenne and I went to college together at USC. He was making a short film called RENT A PERSON and I came in to do a 1 scene part for him of a photographer on a bus who takes a picture of a couple who work as bathroom attendants together. The film was lots of fun. After shooting it, a year or two went by, and Kurt said "TJ, you are one of the most positive people I know. You seem to always put a smile on people's faces. Remember that little part you played as the photographer in Rent-a-person? I'm going to make a whole short-film just about that character. And he's going to be the most positive person imaginable." He wrote it, and I produced it with him along with lots of our friends from college. and alas, that is Validation. I love that you like it so much. I am very proud of it. Kurt and I, and the whole team, made 2 other movies after Rent-a-person and after Validation. they are called "Slow" and "the phone book". They are also black and white shorts. We also finished a feature film Kurt wrote and we shot it 2 years ago. We are waiting to see what will happen with it. It pays to get together with like minded friends and create wonderful projects. thanks Amanda!
I read that you like to cook! I love to cook too! What's your all time favorite thing to make? (And... would you share the recipe?) *insert winning smile here* - Leia - Age 15
Hello Leia! I actually love to EAT more then I love to cook! So when I meet people like you that love to cook, I love to try their food! ha, I do enjoy cooking, but only so I can chow-down after. That's great that you are a chef at such a young age! do you watch TOP CHEF? that's one of my favorite shows. My all-time-favorite food is my Mom's lasagna, but I can't tell you the recipe, because she won't tell me! but I'll find out one of these days! keep cooking!
I’m going to be in my very first play this summer and I'm NERVOUS. Do you have any hints on beating stage fright? - Alexandria - Age 14
Hello Alexandria! Great name. All these great names. FIRST PLAY?! AMAZING!!!! Which PLAY?!!! Oh the best thing you can do, is just breathe deep (not to deep where you get light headed, just enough). And to know that you worked hard and you know this. Then, the important thing is to just be. Really. Just allow yourself to drop into the character, go out on stage, and tell the story. How? Remember what the character most wants. Remember that there is no guarantee they will get it, so you'll have to listen and be present with each other character, hearing it all for the first time. Stay in the moment. and if you get nervous on stage, breathe, and touch something on the stage. Yup. While you are acting, ever so gently (without anyone knowing the difference) just touch something on the set. It'll remind you where you are, and to stay grounded and present in the now-of-now, and not in your head. Finally, remember, your character feels what you feel, so if you are nervous, that's fine! Maybe your character is nervous as well. So let them be nervous. The more they go about getting what they want, the less nervous they will feel. PS: have fun!!!!
You've played so many different kinds of characters... Is there any type of role you'd like to play that you haven't tried yet? - Cole - Age 14
Hi Cole! Oooo, I want to play an action star!!!! How fun would that be!!!! I need someone to write me a great action-star movie. You up for the job?! Yeah I think it would be great. Some quiet loner, who is really a kick-butt assassin, who gave it all up, but is now forced to bring out his abilities to save the most unlikely person. Fun! Here’s hoping you get to see me in that role some day Cole! Thanks for asking that!!! Gets me excited to do it!
OK, so this isn't really a question. I just wanted to say thank you. My name is Ellie, and I love science class! I want to be a biologist when I grow up. Hodgins shows the world that science is super cool, that being smart is SUPER cool, and if I could I'd give you a giant hug for being so incredibly awesome! QUEEN OF THE LAB! - Ellie - Age 14
Ah, hello Ellie, my queen! I'm so happy you like science class! And I love that you want to be a biologist when you grow up! We need great young minds like yours in the field. Science rocks. And being smart will get you further in life then anyone could ever predict at 14. So good for you for already knowing that! Work hard. Really hard. Make sure you play too. It's important to have balance. Love what you do, and do it like gang-busters! Yay Ellie! I return to you a virtual hug.
Thank you Team TJ!!!!
Great questions, and so much fun "chatting" with you.
I wish you all the best.
Life is grand!!!!
Minds are like parachutes. Just because you've lost yours, it doesn't mean you can borrow mine.