We’ve all heard the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” but it’s not every day that we get to see these words in action.
Dan Fogelman of Los Angeles, California, is the producer of the emotional ABC drama “This Is Us.” Even though he’s quite famous in his own right, Dan shared a story on Twitter about meeting a celebrity and the life-altering effect that brief encounter had on a dear friend.
Like most of the civilized world, Dan was excited to watch the premiere of the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” The popular drama is based on the “Song of Ice and Fire” series of books by British author George R. R. Martin, so Dan decided to share his personal encounter with his fans ahead of the show’s return.
Dan describes a night about a year ago when he was with his friend Alex Hanan, one of George’s biggest fans. The two were meeting in New York City to see Bruce Springsteen’s show, and both were giddy with excitement. Alex’s excitement was about to ratchet up another notch, though.
“He’s talking a mile a minute,” Dan tweeted. “While waiting outside the theater, he has spotted George R. Martin. He says he’s going to go talk to him. I beg him not to. He hangs up on me.”
Dan works with celebrities every day and knows how little most of them enjoy being approached by overzealous fans in public, but Alex refused to listen and rushed over to shake the hand of his favorite author. Dan describes his friend as “larger than life,” “handsome and charming as hell.” He’s obsessed with “Game of Thrones” and “bursting with energy as always” by the time Dan arrives.
“He tells me he approached George. Got a picture. And, somehow — miraculously — got George R Martin’s cell phone number. George was with his wife and told Alex they usually go for pizza after a show. Alex says to him: ‘maybe we will join you’ and I chuckle at his chutzpah.”
Alex and Dan finished the Springsteen show and loved every second of it, but the minute it was over Alex pulled out his phone and texted George. “And to my absolute shock… George R Martin writes Alex back!” Dan wrote. “He tells us to meet them at a local pizza joint.”
Dan remained convinced that George wouldn’t show up, but to his amazement, he and his wife soon entered the pizza place and they spent a few hours chatting. At the end of the meal, George gave Alex a Westeros coin that left the superfan speechless.
This entire story has been a sweet trifle of fandom and unexpected kindness, but then Dan reveals why that night means so much to him.
Alex had been fighting stage 4 lung cancer since 2014. He had blogged about his journey with a painful honesty for years, yet the night he met George and his wife he looked as healthy and vibrant as always. George had no way of knowing that Alex was ill; he’d been kind because he is naturally kind by nature — to everyone.
For the next year, Alex never stopped talking about “his night with his hero.” The meeting quite literally made his life complete. Dan says that watching the show premiere is bittersweet for him now because Alex is not there to watch it with him, but he shared the story for a bigger reason.
Dan is convinced that Alex will be watching the new season of GoT from heaven, “spoiling every single reveal for everyone up there, driving everyone nuts.” After thousands of fans responded to his story he was even able to unearth the picture that Alex had taken of himself and George that wonderful night on Broadway.
Many other commenters chimed in with their own tales of George’s kindness over the years, but the larger story remains: we simply never know what someone is going through just by looking at them. Alex appears to be in the prime of his life in this photo, yet in reality, he had terminal cancer. This story reminds us that it’s better to cover all bases and be kind to everyone you meet! You just never know when a simple moment of human interaction might change someone’s life forever.
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