Hating the paparazzi

Bella Swan expressing herself to the paparazzi.

Kristen Stewart took the words right out of my mouth.

The Twilight star says in a recent interview she and most actors feel isolated by their fame.

She tells the new issue of Loaded magazine that famous people aren’t seen as approachable by…well, the rest of us…and as a consequence they spend a lot of their time being very lonely.

Not that the average person, seeing them surrounded by flashbulbs and adoring crowds on the red carpet, would think so. When the studios are packaging and presenting them, they appear to be people who have it all, who live the perfect lives we all want.

“Actors become so isolated. It’s like people aren’t allowed to talk to us. Like if you’re a big star, or whatever, if you’re like a famous person, it’s kind of lonely. Like people don’t want to talk to you.”

She goes on: “You’re just constantly thinking about what other people are thinking about you. I think it’s people who want to be movie stars – and this is such bullshit – but the life really is a huge driving force in so many actors and actresses. Solely. And they won’t be happy at the end, because they’re not doing anything for themselves, everything is for someone else.”

I was struck by how much this sound like Welsey Shaw.  There’s a scene in my novel—which is going out into that mysterious place called Agentland right now—where she quotes a mantra from her therapist, the one stabilizing force in her life. “My therapist constantly warns me against confusing fame with love,” she says. “He tells me that fame isn’t love, that love comes from someplace else.”

This is a riff of a quote from Claire Danes, who once said, “I think people confuse fame with validation or love. But fame is not the reward. The reward is getting fulfilment out of doing the thing you love.”

But Stewart takes it even further. She talks about the need for validation and approval in ways I’d have thought, if I’d put it into Entertaining Welsey Shaw, would have been too over-the-top. Apparently nothing in Hollywood is over the top.

“I’ve seen people hire a friend. Literally, like, you hire someone. They’re your assistant but then lines start to blur and now they’re a co-worker, an associate, an employee, my friend, my sister, somebody that I’m attracted to.”

Wow. Friends for hire. Maybe that’s something for the sequel.

In the same magazine, another superstar actress, Keira Knightly, talks about her own issues with fame. She claims all the trappings of celebrity—she’s married to a hot-shot Britush rocker—don’t impress her, and says hubby handles it better than she does even as she says it’s different for men: “I think it’s a very different thing for male bands, male folk. They get adulation on stage and they might get a couple of people outside, but they’re not dealing with a media that is obsessed with female celebrity.”

I’ve written about Knightly before. She seems to keep herself distant from fame and its distortion of reality, going so far as to “hang out” in places like coffee shops and cafes watching other people, so’s not to get out of touch or find herself in a bubble. Again, this is straight out of my novel. I’m glad I seem to have hit the nail on the head, at least as far as how some celebrities handle their fame. There are those who will always live just for the spotlight, even though they have precious little to offer it (won’t name names, but I can think of a whole family of daughters that does this, driven by a very business-minded mom whose very life is a TV show taunting you to keep up with it). The difference between people like that and Knightly and Stewart is enlightening.

Knightly was asked in the Loaded interview about the first time she realized she was famous. She said, “Luckily it was so long ago that I can’t remember what it was like when it happened.” But, “I’m still alive and I’m not a drug addict so it must have been all right.”

As Stephen Sondheim might say, I’m Still Here.

Read more about Kristen Stewart’s interview here. And read about Keira Knightly here:


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