Monday, 20 February 2012


I once heard James Corden telling a radio interviewer how he enjoyed fame and being the centre of attention, and that he had never met an actor who didn't want those things. I could show him a few....
THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION AT LAST - when he is dead. A deceased youth, identified by the comic mask he is holding and the scroll lying under his chair as an actor or playwright.  Detail from a decoration attributed to the Underworld Painter on a terracotta krater made in Apulia, South Italy, 330-320 B.C., in the J.Paul Getty Collection.

There have always been actors and actresses who shrink from being the centre of attention whenever they are in public as themselves, perhaps hating it more than most people, and are only happy in the spotlight when they are pretending to be someone else, or when, invisible behind a mask, they are most truly themselves, revealing thoughts and emotions they would never dare admit to having otherwise. And, yes, it might be nuts.

Some actors simply enjoy telling stories to an audience of strangers, in the same way writers do. Some love to entertain, others to move people to tears. That's more about power than attention. There are actors who do not believe anyone would want to see or hear their real selves, which they hide in the periphery, leaving the centre to a pretend self in carefully controlled conditions. This may be a hypocritical way of getting affirmation, but it is not accurate to portray all performers as attention-seeking, self-aggrandizing show-offs. Acting is the closest they get to being "the lords and owners of their faces".

See also