Friday Face/Off: Actors and their private lives

Lydia (carried on sending Wesley Snipes fanmail even after he went to prison)
Personally I couldn’t give a shit about what A-listers get up to in their own time. What they do off screen bares no consequence to how they appear on it. So what if Christian Bale is a raving lunatic? If anything, it made him more convincing in American Psycho. Did Kate Winslet’s recent real-life heroism stop her from letting Jack drown in Titanic? No. I think our culture of celebrity-obsession detracts from what cinema is all about – the films. If we spent less time with our noses buried in Heat and more time judging films on their own merits we might all be better off.

Beth (never got over that thing with Mel Gibson)
I also share your hatred of Heat, I couldn’t care less who celebrities are dating (even if they’re single there is still NO WAY) or what they’re wearing. But I do believe that certain aspects of an actor’s personal life can affect their performance. Surely it is like any profession in the sense that any ‘naughty behaviour’ outside work can potentially have a detrimental effect of your working life. Take Lindsay Lohan for instance; she had a hell of a hard time getting back into the movie world after her wild lifestyle was splashed all over the tabloids. And the parts she has been offered are much darker now – no more innocent South African roles for her. Thanks to her public image, directors just can’t envisage her in that way anymore.

Despite the fact it might ruin their lives and send them to rehab, if celebs are being naughty behind the scenes but still amaze us on film, I think we should judge them solely on performance. Everyone forgets Brad Pitt is a philanderer because he’s made some fantastic films like Fight Club and Inglourious Basterds. So what if he dropped Jen for Angie? I think this argument works both ways, we shouldn’t watch films because we ‘like’ actors in real life, and we shouldn’t judge performances if we disagree with what an actor is up to off screen.

You can TRY not to judge them onscreen for their offscreen antics but, inherently, you will. You all will. Because, if the role they are playing is so far flung from the truth of their real character, it makes their performance all the more impressive. You must’ve felt that teensie bit more astounded when Felicity Huffman popped up with a penis in Transamerica, or when Heath Ledger gave a jaw-dropping performance as DC’s most twisted villain yet. It is an important part of their performance, and emphasises how much effort they have given to stray away from their own personality. Equally, actors who seem to play their true persona (aka Hugh Grant) seem less impressive.

Bottom line is, you’d fire an accountant if he was fiddling with the accounts but not if he was fiddling with the secretary. Actors should be judged based on their professional talent and not on all the other stuff that we mere mortals love to gossip about. We need to stop being concerned with the celebrity of cinema and be more concerned with the art form.

Um, actually, interpersonal work relations of a smexual nature CAN get you fired. And divorced (Bad Brad). Realistically, you simply cannot analyse an actor’s performance within a vacuum, void of their true personality. Knowledge of their lives provides an additional level of depth to the performance, making their on-screen characters seem more shocking and dramatic. We like transformations (hence why every teen flick includes one that usually involves removing a pair of glasses). Directors want to challenge their chosen actors to be someone completely different, hence they may choose unlikely public personas to emphasise this point.

Yeah, but Hugh Grant got noshed off by that hooker and we still think he’s charming.

Fair point.

Are you with Lydia or Beth? Let us know below!


By Lydia Shellien-Walker and Beth Warin

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