It is so awkward to me, having a run-in with a celebrity. I am torn between the obligation to say something to them, and having absolutely nothing original to say and thus the obligation to say nothing to them. I don’t talk to strangers without provocation, why should I talk to THE Tina Fey with nothing to talk about other than I LOVE YOUR WORK?
(I haven’t met Tina Fey, but if I did I think I wouldn’t get far enough to give her generic praise and would resort to making a huge physical and emotional mess of the space around us.)
No, in general I’d say that it’s better to maintain the semblance of normalcy and say nothing.
This is only a partial list of the times when this method did or did not work for me.
1. Andy Serkis
When Andy Serkis released his book about the process of creating Gollum for the LOTR movies, he came to my city as a part of his book tour. I wanted very badly to talk to him, but was too afraid. So, instead of standing in line like a normal person, I got into the area behind his table (apparently security was very lax) and crept up to look at the back of his head.
The next day, I was barraged by family and friends calling to say they saw me on TV with Andy Serkis. The news people were filming right then, and caught me looking like a creeper/bodyguard behind the table.
I saw Ice-T’s film “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap” at Sundance. I was sitting right in the front row/corner, which was directly next to where Ice-T stood at the mic for the Q&A afterwards. Being so close to him made me feel pressured to ask a question, since he could see my face and thus it would be more like a real conversation without me having to be creepy.
I spent the whole Q&A trying to think of a good question to ask, and the only ideas I came up with were “Was that your helicopter?” and “Do you have a helicopter?” I think that, in the end, it’s for the best that I didn’t ask any questions.
3. David Yost
David Yost was the Blue Power Ranger from the Morphin’ Power Ranger days. Normally my rule of thumb for dealing with celebrities holds, but I arrived at Comic Con wearing a Pink Power Ranger costume. So, this time, the obligation to speak to him was very very real.
He started the conversation first. “Hey, I like your costume.” I beamed. I said “Oh geez. I’m a huge fan. I’ve loved you since I was four years old.” His face fell a little bit, and his hairline receded a little bit more.
Later, the old Black Ranger actor passed me and called “Hey, nice costume!” I refused to say anything back. The Pink Ranger will break no more hearts this day.
4. Patrick Stewart
I know almost nothing that Patrick Stewart is in. I saw X-Men once, and have not seen Star Trek. And yet, his face off in the distance was so glorious to me.
I said absolutely nothing to Patrick Stewart. I got close enough to see his face, and that was that.
This, again, is for the best.
5. Daniel Radcliffe
Another Sundance encounter, but under much different circumstances. I was a volunteer at one of the Sundance theaters, and we were screening Daniel Radcliffe’s latest movie “Kill Your Darlings” to a packed auditorium. I was technically an employee, and even I shrieked a little bit when they told us Daniel was coming in for the Q&A.
I feel as though I grew up with Daniel Radcliffe. I was 11 when he was 11, and would have gone to Hogwarts with him if it hadn’t been for my Muggle parents. So to know that I was supposed to help “escort” him in, be so close to him but to remain silent and professional, was both exhilarating and heartbreaking.
I had so much to talk to him about. So many lost memories to fill him in on, so many moments I spent with him as a child that he has no idea about.
But I said nothing. He walked in with the whole team from the movie, and I had to do whatever I could to avoid eye contact with him.
(He was Harry Potter to a tee. He was giggly with his friends, yet quiet, shy, and polite with strangers. Heartbreaking.)
The director of the film, on the other hand, was extremely chatty. He struck up a conversation with me about how nervous he was that people might not like the movie, that he hoped nobody was disappointed. When I told him I saw the movie and loved it, he threw his arms around me and gave me a huge, long hug and thanked me.
So close, yet so far, from hugging Daniel.
Now that I sound like a creep, I would like you to share your celebrity encounter stories with me. Because I absolutely love them.
The more awkward, the better.