While I plot my next move, I wanted to share a quick couple of things. A lot of people have recently commented on chapters with new evidence that I hadn’t seen before, including this:
Big fan of this series. I follow Rob’s younger sister’s private insta (I went to school with her BFF) and I just wanted to share some screenshots in case they’re at all useful. I went through all 900 of her posts and those are the only ones that seemed relevant, but I’ll post again if I notice anything else that seems useful.
The first link is a picture from a family BBQ in LA, August 2017.
As you can see, Rob’s cousin is in the background on the left. He has been seen at a few other events with Rob. Who’s the person his cousin is talking to? Well, that looks like none other than our good friend Nathan – that t-shirt is very similar to the one Nathan wore when he was papped at JFK airport in January.
The other two pictures also show Nathan at private Hennings family events. This is not at all conclusive in any way, but interesting none-the-less. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually invite my colleagues to my mom’s house.
Though, Nathan does seem very friendly in this regard too, so maybe I’m wrong. Check out this recent GQ piece about him:
An Everyman in Hollywood
By Olivia Salinger
Nathan O’Donnell has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. We meet on a crowded street corner in Upper Manhattan. He’s swaddled in a velvety maroon scarf and lambskin jacket. I almost don’t recognise him until he asks, “Olivia?” in his distinctive, husky rasp, and pushes up his aviators. It’s just gone four, and the cold chill frosts his breath in the air when he says hello.
If I didn’t know any better – and if he didn’t have that gorgeous English accent – I’d mistake him for one of the swarthy New York dads bringing their children home from pre-school. O’Donnell is handsome in a familiar, boy-next-door-grows-up sort of way. He isn’t styled and groomed like most metrosexual celebrities. There’s an earthy realness to him, from the rough, un-gelled hair to the unbleached, crooked teeth.
I find that I’m unexpectedly star-struck by him. I’ve interviewed dozens of A-listers and celebrities for GQ, but this feels different. More personal. Nathan O’Donnell was born in Brighton, England – like me. We went to the same secondary school, only four years apart. I’ve grown up hearing tales of his rise to fame and subsequent escape from our hometown. Even as a teenager, his charismatic presence and homely, everyman appearance stood out.
Up until my senior year, a poster from the school production of LES MISERABLES hung in the Drama department foyer, with O’Donnell’s scowling, dark-haired Valjean front and centre.
The minute we settle down in a secluded, out-of-the-way restaurant – “I know a place,” he reassured me as we walked there – he pulls off his backwards baseball cap and asks, “Shots?”
Well, how can I resist? We order the first of many drinks, and my wild night with Nathan O’Donnell – that will take me out into Queens to meet his holidaying sister for cocktails, via a dance competition on the subway – begins. I will not ask even one of my prepared questions.
Nathan has a bulldog called Ernest (He scrolls through a series of adorable photos on his phone, commenting “He’s a rascal, but he can get away with anything with those eyes.”); an apartment in LA (when I ask what his aesthetic is, he furrows his brow and answers, incredibly seriously, “Dog hair and beer signs, probably.”) and a vintage sports car that now lives at his mum’s house in Brighton and “has only worked once in the fifteen years I’ve had it”.
These are the only facts I learn about him in the first six hours of our interview. The rest of the time, we are playing pool.
O’Donnell’s rise to fame was slow, and then very, very fast. After a career of quiet bit-parts in British BBC TV shows and low-budget action movies, a serendipitous casting in the pilot of NBC’s Loch & Ness shot him to the big leagues last year. He moved out to LA from the UK to play the role, a gamble that paid off big-time. He’s now a household name – as long as the household includes a teenage girl, or, as his sister puts it later that night, a “yummy mummy – he’s a big hit with those.”
I get the feeling that his fame is something that he could take or leave without it having any abject effect on his level of happiness. When I ask how long he’s been acting, he has to look up the dates on his Wikipedia page to check.
“I’m still convinced they only cast me in Loch & Ness because I already had the sideburns,” he jokes.
The role of werewolf Fang is, indeed, incredibly hairy. When I ask if the hair is all real, he answers, “I’m not going to spoil the magic by answering that.” However, I can answer for him, based on the evidence provided during a 3am dip in his hotel’s pool: no. His chest is appealingly bare of hair in real life, which lets his well-toned abs take the spotlight they deserve.
I can’t tell you what his workout regime is, because I forgot to ask – just like I never asked about his ex-wife’s recent tell-all interview with Life & Style, or what it’s like behind the scenes on Loch & Ness. What I can tell you is that he thinks I should write more longform essays about private spaceflight – an interest of mine – and that he’ll give me the number of a high school buddy of his, B, who knows someone at NASA.
“B moved out to LA with me,” he says, with clear affection in his eyes. “I’d probably have given up on acting if I hadn’t wanted an excuse to stay in London with him as my housemate.”
When I check later, B1 – who is also an actor, albeit not as famous as his housemate – has fifteen mutual friends with me on Facebook, all from Brighton. Nathan, who still uses a Nokia phone, does not have a profile on the site.
He speaks rarely but smiles often. He’s recognised twice during our time together, and both times he poses for pictures, listening to his fans talk in a careful, respectful manner. He feels genuine and real in a way that isn’t often found in actors. When you talk to him, it feels like he’s paying complete attention.
As I get progressively drunker, I talk more and more about myself. O’Donnell and I are both single, from the same town, and nearly the same age. A few times, I forget that this is an interview and not a date. He’s touchy-feely, especially when we’re playing pool, and every time he touches my back or squeezes my knee, I’d be lying if I said my heart didn’t flip over a bit.
Then he asks me if I want to meet his sister.
“Isn’t it a bit too soon?” I joke. “We just met.”
He grins at me, warm and goofy, and holds out his hand for a high-five.
When we finish our fourth beers, Nathan flags down a taxi. He’s visiting NYC for a press tour, but his confident manner when waving down a cab – something I, a Brit who has lived in NYC for over a decade, have never done – charms me.
In the backseat of the taxi, on one of the rare occasions when I manage to persuade him to talk about himself, he rolls his eyes in self-deprecation and cuts himself off every few minutes. When classic rock comes on the radio, he leans forward and says ‘Tune!’ At one point, he quotes a line of Hamilton. He grew up performing am-dram theatre and knows the lyrics to “more musicals than I would be willing to name”.
Would he ever act in a Broadway show? I ask.
“Absofuckinglutely. But I can’t sing for ****.”
This is his first profile for a magazine, and it’s obvious. He catches himself a few times, telling me not to quote certain remarks. He’s had media training, but he admits that it doesn’t come naturally to him. At first, he plays with my recording device, flipping it over and inspecting it, warily readjusting its angle on the seat. When I reassure him that I’m not going to make him look like an idiot, he relaxes visibly.
“My publicist was convinced I would say something that would ruin me,” he admits.
His sister – who is making a stop in NYC at the end of a trans-America road trip in an ancient campervan – has the same wavy hair and blue eyes as him. When we say hello, Nathan’s English accent thickens noticeably.
“We’re a bit tipsy,” he tells her, in a loud voice that makes that obvious, if she hadn’t guessed already.
“You’ve had the O’Donnell initiation, then,” she says, approving, and gets a mason jar of homemade sloe gin out of the footwell of the campervan. We sit outside, catching up on hometown gossip, while Nathan lounges on the ground.
His sister tells me, over a very potent glass of the liqueur, that he’s always been the same. Nothing about him has changed since he became recognised-in-Starbucks famous. I believe her.
We eat chips and dip while he tells me a long, involved anecdote about soccer that, honestly, I still don’t understand, even after listening back to the recording.
When we leave, I’m given a jar of the gin. On the way back to Manhattan – he takes the subway with me back to my apartment – I find my head resting on his shoulder. His distinctive mix of gentlemanly English courtesy and chilled-out frat boy vibes is a heady combination.
At my stop, he gets off to walk me home. He pauses to listen to some buskers, and ends up moon-walking with them on the tiles. He kisses me on the cheek at my door, inviting me to a party the next week that I definitely won’t be able to get to (it’s in LA).
“How did I do?” he asks, when I thank him for the interview. “Did I nail it?”
“You crushed it,” I tell him, truthfully.
“Boom.” He fist-pumps, then saunters off into the night, tugging his baseball cap low down over his brow. ●
This journalist is definitely in the fandom, you can tell, right? If Nathan introduced her to his sister, perhaps Nathan going to Rob’s cousin’s BBQ isn’t a huge sign they’re dating, after all. Perhaps Nathan and Rob are just friendly people, who invite their friends everywhere? Who knows.
Acknowledgement of this Essay
Yesterday someone let me know that an audience member asked Rob about this essay during a panel at this weekend’s ComicCon.
Fan: Yeah, hi. My name is Kady, I’m from Nebraska. My question is for Rob.
Rob: Go ahead, Kady.
Fan: I wanted to know if you’ve heard of gottiewrites?
Rob: I can’t say I have . . .
Fan: It’s an essay being posted online that proves you were a fan of the show when you were at college. They’ve found a LiveJournal account they think is yours – silentwakes. I was wondering if it was true?
Rob: [pause] Sorry, that’s not me. I wish it was though! I’d love to have a cool secret past online. [turning to moderator] Can we get the next question?
Fan: Sorry Rob! Thanks!
Erm . . . thanks for the shoutout Kady, but I wish you hadn’t done this. Judging by the footage, Rob was made very uncomfortable by the question. Please leave him and Nathan out of this. Stop telling them about this, both on the internet or in real life. They deserve their privacy. Constantly pointing this stuff out to them does not help make progress on this case, it just makes drama.
(And obviously this isn’t proof of anything – he’s an actor, he’s good at lying! He could still be @silentwakes.)
My next chapter isn’t quite ready yet, as I’m still adding in all the new info that’s coming in, but it should be up within the next few days. In the meantime, you can still buy me a coffee. My part-time job is barely covering the gas I’ve used driving around LA this month. I can’t see myself getting a better job any time soon (probably because when I’m asked where I see myself in ten years, I always want to say ‘watching Rob and Nathan get married on a beach in Hawaii’.)