Sunday December 16, 2012
Nice guy George Clooney
BIG SMILE NO TEETH
By JASON GODFREY
He thought he would be cool and smooth, up close with two top stars. Then his knees started knocking and the room closed in ...
AS a model/host/writer (I don’t exactly know what I do), I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of different people, some of whom even fall into the celebrity category. Which can be fun but has led me to one singular conclusion: I suck at meeting celebrities.
I thought myself the kind of guy that would be unfazed by the cult of celebrity. Sure, I love movies as much as the next popcorn-munching slob, but I’d never really cared about the actors’ private lives, who they’re dating, what their kids are smoking, or what they had for breakfast.
Nope, I believed I was better than all those girls screaming until their knees gave out in those old black and white clips of the Beatles arriving at a stadium, or really just about anybody who enjoys Justin Bieber enough to actually listen to his music by choice.
This belief would be tested the day I had to interview Tom Hanks. Moments before going into an allotted 10-minute slot to talk to him about his then-new film, Larry Crowne, I sipped coffee, a slight swagger in my stride as I explained to my director that meeting celebrities meant nothing to me.
About six and a half minutes later I introduced myself to Tom Hanks as none other than Tom Hanks.
Or, at least that’s what it reads like on paper. The following is an actual transcript:
Hanx (as he likes to be known in the twitterverse): Hi Jason, I’m Tom Hanks.
Brain Dead Idiot (my moniker around famous people): ... Tom Hanks...
Yep. I said that. And immediately followed that by staring at him as he smiled politely and then somewhat uncomfortably, until I rubbed my eyes like my head was going to erupt and apologised for being flustered. And yes, I said the word flustered.
Those screaming Beatles fans don’t look so silly anymore.
I had completely under-prepared for the moment, assuming that I would be unaffected by meeting someone I’d known on screen since I was a kid. It was surreal. This would not happen to me again.
This summer when I booked a commercial in Milan, the rumour was I’d be working with an A-list actress, so I was surprised when “she” turned out to be none other than George Clooney. Yeah, the rumour was right about the A-list part but pretty much had every other detail wrong.
Again I would be getting up close and personal with a celebrity, but this time it would be different. For one, this time I knew what to expect – the feel of my knees knocking, the closing in of the room around me – and I wouldn’t let it get me flustered or use the word flustered.
And second, I wasn’t a host interviewing a star; I was an actor who happened to be on set with another actor who happened to be George Clooney. See? No big deal. Right? Yeah!
When GC (as he was referred to on the call sheet) got on set, he seemed every bit the nice guy he was on screen, approachable and friendly but that didn’t give me permission to act like a total amateur and gush over him and then take hundreds of photos with my smart phone that I instantly would post on Facebook. No, I had integrity.
Even when he was sitting across from me between scenes I resisted the urge to introduce myself and tell him I loved Three Kings. No, that was an amateur move. I wouldn’t do it.
Not even when I had to drive a car beside him while he was on a motorbike and as the director paused to talk to one of the precision drivers and GC turned to me, leaned across his bike and extended his hand and said, “Hi Jason, I’m George,” did I flinch.
Nope. I shook his hand, didn’t introduce myself as Tom Hanks and went on to discuss the scene.
Smooth. Professional. That was me.
So when a third actor came on set and was star-struck to see GC, even waving to him between scenes, I could only shake my head. Poor guy, I thought as the actor giggled when GC gave him a little wave from off camera. I even gave a knowing laugh when, between shots, the actor ran over to introduce himself. Amateur, I thought. I had kept up my veneer of calm in the face of celebrity, I had conquered my fear and come off as a pro.
When the shoot wrapped and GC was finished, nice guy that he is, he went around thanking the crew as I watched from afar, maintaining my professional distance. When GC got to the actor who had been excited to the point of perpetual giddiness, he shook his hand, addressed him by his first name and thanked him for the great job he’d done that day.
I stood watching, my professional facade holding on the outside but on the inside a million tiny voices screamed, “NOOOOOOOO!!!!”
“George Clooney just thanked me and shook my hand,” the even-more-elated actor pranced over and told me. “Wow!”
“Yeah,” I stared daggers at him. “Awesome.”
There’s a moral here and I think it goes something like, be yourself when meeting celebrities or pretty much anyone, even if who you are is a wobbly-kneed, pre-teen who is prone to using the word flustered, because at least you’ll get a handshake and a thank you.
In any case, that’s strike two with meeting celebrities for me but celebrity number three had better watch out because when we cross paths I’m going to be all kinds of awesome, either because I’ve learned or because I don’t have any terrible left.
Jason Godfrey can be seen hosting The Link on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 706).