She is a party girl. She’s not a party girl. She is a workaholic. She’s a free spirit. Now that Twilight is ending, she can take her career any way she pleases. She is smart, and she is a woman we love.
She’s telling a story with a punchline, building up to something. But I stop her. It only seems right. Ashley Greene is about to make a joke about the setting of the movie Butter, an indie comedy she stars in with Jennifer Garner and Hugh Jackman, a film at least tangentially about competitive butter-carving, set in Iowa but filmed for some (visually unjustifiable) reason in Shreveport, Louisiana. She’s leading up to an anywhere-but-here joke about the Midwest. Her teeth shine, her hair falls straight and true on the nape of her neck, her glance tilts a bit downward. She knows people in Los Angeles regularly pleasure themselves with dopey jokes about flyover states. It feels like she’s about to let herself be just a little bit mean. And she wants to tell a story.
I put up my hand to stop her. “Listen, I should be fair,” I say. “Before you go any further: I live in the Midwest. I flew in from Indiana last night.”
With that, Ashley Greene flops her long, fragile-looking hand over her mouth and gently barks out a laugh at herself. “Oh, my God,” she says. “That’s great.” She tilts a finger, pointing to me then to her, back and forth, laughing at the look-what-I-almost-got-us-into thing. “Me, too,” she says. “I’m from Florida!”
What the? “No, no,” I clarify. “I said Indiana. Green-castle. Twenty-five years.”
“Well, I’m from Florida!” she declares. And, truth is, somehow the simple joyous force of this incongruous assertion makes us peas in a pod in that moment. She drops her anecdote, leans against the table, gets just a little closer, and I can smell her shampoo. She has her finger twirling the inside rail of her large hoop earring. She left Jacksonville when she was seventeen. A year later, she had a leading role in Twilight, traveling enough that she can now say pretty clearly “I don’t really live here.” Again with the finger, pointing this way and that, meaning: this place, this neighborhood, this city, Los Angeles. She touches the end of her hair, flicks the silky weight of it over her shoulder, and looks in like she’s sharing a secret.
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