She’s like a ghost ... it’s strange

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

ount­less words have been writ­ten about Markle, but there is so much more to her story. Her child­hood and teenage years were sur­pris­ingly shel­tered. She was doted upon by her par­ents, par­tic­u­larly her fiercely pro­tec­tive fa­ther Thomas Markle, an award-win­ning Hol­ly­wood cin­e­matog­ra­pher who worked, al­most ob­ses­sively, to help his daugh­ter be­come an ac­tress. As a re­sult, she was a bit of a late de­vel­oper in the ro­man­tic stakes.

Sonia Ar­dakani — mother of Suzy, her best friend at high school — says de­spite her stunning looks Markle didn’t start dat­ing un­til well into her teens. “(Meghan and Suzy) were very good girls and they would find other ways of hav­ing fun,” she told me. “They were in all sorts of dif­fer­ent clubs, and they liked to do things like horserid­ing in the park, skat­ing and bowl­ing.” Right: Markle and ex hus­band Trevor En­gel­son. Far right: Ice hockey star Michael Del Zotto, She was of­fered three schol­ar­ships af­ter grad­u­at­ing, but turned them down to study the­atre — and nd in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions — at North­west­ern rn Univer­sity in Illi­nois. A girl from LA, and the daugh­ter of a mixed-race mar­riage, she found thee town pro­vin­cial and faced prej­u­dice. Her saviour was a flam­boy­ant larg­erthan-life African-Amer­i­can, Lar­nelle Quentin Fos­ter, now 35, who also as­pired to act­ing. They be­came con­stant com­pan­ions. “She was also quirky — and al­ways smil­ing. I never saw her mad,” Fos­ter says. His par­ents also adored Markle, par­tic­u­larly his mother, who clearly hoped they might set­tle down to­gether. As much as he adored her, though, Fos­ter could not coun­te­nance mar­ry­ing Markle — he’s gay. Did Markle know? “I’m pretty sure she was. But I didn’t tell her out­right be­cause I wasn’t ready then.” Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from univer­sity, ea­ger to broaden her hori­zons and learn Span­ish, Markle spent sev­eral months as an intern at the US em­bassy in Buenos Aires. Al­ready a com­mit­ted fem­i­nist, with a strong so­cial con­science, at that point she was un­sure whether or not she wanted a ca­reer in the shal­low, chau­vin­is­tic Hol­ly­wood en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try. If any­thing, she was think­ing then that she might be­come a pro­ducer. A brief trip home to Los An­ge­les changed all that. Markle at­tended a party where she fell un­der the ad­mir­ing gaze of an act­ing agency man­ager. The next day, he watched a stu­dent film she had made. “Stick me with me — you’re go­ing to make money,” he told her. Hawk­ing her­self around the stu­dios was a de­mean­ing task, though. Fos­ter, who’d also beaten a path to Hol­ly­wood, saw how his friend was forced to com­pro­mise her high-flown ideals.

“She started do­ing that ‘suit­case girl’ thing on Deal Or No Deal,” he re­calls, re­fer­ring to a for­get­table in­ter­lude when Markle was a glam­orous gofer on the game show, wear­ing five-inch heels and a re­veal­ing red dress.

“That was just funny,” says Fos­ter. “But it was just one of those things she needed to do to make money. It takes a while to get a movie or TV job.”

A suc­ces­sion of sim­i­larly uned­i­fy­ing roles fol­lowed on the TV soap Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal and crime show CSI, with Markle of­ten ap­pear­ing in scanty lin­gerie. Then there was a 30-sec­ond part in a box-of­fice turkey called A Lot Like Love. This time, she wasn’t even named in the cred­its, which listed her only as “Hot Girl”.

That was in 2005, the year she be­gan dat­ing En­gel­son. Pre­cisely how much in­flu­ence he had on her early ca­reer is open to debate. How­ever, as he was al­ready mak­ing his name in Hol­ly­wood, he must have used his in­flu­ence to help her progress. With his sandy hair and square jaw, in his younger days En­gel­son did not look un­like Prince Harry. But their per­son­al­i­ties and, of course, their back­grounds are light years apart. The son of a wealthy, Jewish or­tho­don­tist from Great Neck, an uber­af­flu­ent town in Long Is­land, En­gel­son is a brash, go-get­ting New Yorker. ast year, in a pod­cast in­ter­view, En­gel­son — whose com­pany has pro­duced movies star­ring Bradley Cooper, San­dra Bul­lock and the late Robin Wil­liams, and rep­re­sents Trainspot­ting writer Irvine Welsh — de­scribed how he “hus­tled” his way to suc­cess.

Hav­ing started out as a lowly pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant, he was so im­pressed by his bosses’ cushy life­style that he set out to em­u­late them, he said in the re­veal­ing, foul mouthed in­ter­view.

“They were great at what they did, but they didn’t look like they were work­ing that hard and they were mak­ing a bunch of money, and they had the cutest girls on set,” he rasped.

En­gel­son soon moved on to work for a ma­jor lit­er­ary agent, but his prospects suf­fered a ma­jor blow. He was fired, he ad­mits, for us­ing his em­ployer’s let­ter-headed notepa­per to pitch his own ideas. It might have fin­ished lesser men, yet at just 24 he set up a com­pany called Un­der­ground Films and be­gan sign­ing writ­ers.

“‘I’m a gi­gan­tic believer that all this shit can come to an end to­mor­row, and you gotta take ad­van­tage of the ride.” His phi­los­o­phy clearly ap­pealed to the com­par­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced Markle, who was just 24 when they met. Friends say she was be­sot­ted with him, for­ever hug­ging and kiss­ing him, and call­ing him ‘Trevity-Trev-Trev”. Markle moved in with En­gel­son, shar­ing the tiny, yel­low bun­ga­low with a postage-stamp gar­den, just off Sun­set Boule­vard, that he still calls home.

Had she re­mained a bit-part ac­tress, they might still be liv­ing there to­gether. But in 2010 — the year they were en­gaged — Markle au­di­tioned to play the role of Rachel Zane, a so­phis­ti­cated, New York le­gal as­sis­tant, in a new ca­ble net­work se­ries, Suits. She landed the part. Hav­ing strug­gled for recog­ni­tion for al­most a decade, she was thrilled. En­gel­son ap­peared to share her de­light, hail­ing the suc­cess of his “badass fi­ancee” on Face­book. But then she jet­ted off to Toronto to film where, af­ter the TV se­ries was suc­cess­fully launched, she sud­denly be­came a big fish in what was a rel­a­tive show busi­ness back­wa­ter.

For Markle, it was in­tox­i­cat­ing. She found her­self min­gling with any vis­it­ing A-list celebri­ties and politi­cians ea­ger to be as­so­ci­ated with her fame and al­lure. Swept up by this se­duc­tive new world, no won­der the prospect of a five-hour flight back to Trevor and their lit­tle yel­low bun­ga­low in LA seems to have lost its ap­peal. Mean­while, other pow­er­ful and at­trac­tive men were clam­our­ing around her. Among them was Britain’s most el­i­gi­ble bachelor. And the rest, as they say, is his­tory

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.