To Speak, or Not to Speak?

RA Welly candid w fanRichard Armitage spotted by a fan in Wellington.

This is about a story I read here.  The New York Times published this story about not talking to a celebrity met in Real Life. It specifically mentions Hugh Jackman.

Yes, Hugh Jackman makes his way around NYC, seemingly part of us, but absolutely not the same.

Hugh-Jackman-NYC 12-12Hugh Jackman walks in NYC.

The article says that celebrities prize their privacy in public more highly than any of us do because everyone thinks they know them. But of course, we don’t know them. What would seem normal interaction with someone you know SO MUCH about, is to them an intrusion by a stranger they know NOTHING about. I hate that myself, when someone I don’t know starts chatting me up on the street or in the subway as if we were friends. Sometimes, in context, it’s fine. Other times I feel like, do I know you? Why are you talking to me?

I’ve seen celebrities from time to time on the streets of NYC and I’ve never said a word to any of them. I made eye contact with David McCallum once at the Union Square Greenmarket, that’s the closest interaction I’ve had. I used to run into Ethan Hawke quite frequently at one time. We went to the same bookstores, it seems.

When I was obsessed with Hugh Jackman he was onstage in a Broadway play, so it was easier to interact at the stage door, as I’ve written about before here. He was not a private citizen when fans were waiting for him at the stage door. Much like when RA interacts with fans on the red carpet.

The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey PremiereRA on the red carpet.

If someone were to see Mr. Armitage in Real Life, when he was just himself, minding his own business, would it be right to say something to him? Would he mind it? I can’t imagine he would ever be rude, but still, would it be appropriate to do that? Of course, I think no.

But if it was your only opportunity ever to make contact with someone you love, is it inappropriate to say something? Anything? I did not love David McCallum when I saw him in the Greenmarket, but he didn’t seem to mind our eye contact, during which he clearly knew I recognized him. I didn’t say anything though. I do think (too much!) about what I would do if I saw Mr. Armitage on the streets of NYC. I really don’t know. Somehow, though, I feel like it would be wrong not to say SOMETHING. He is a HUGE part of my life. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t say anything. New York, New York.

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About NYCPAT

From New York City. Anglophile, theater-goer, love books, music and LIFE.
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34 Responses to To Speak, or Not to Speak?

  1. I am all about the respectful distance. But the reality is, I simply could not approach because of my own debilitating shyness. So it works out for everyone. 🙂

  2. bollyknickers says:

    I wonder if the reason so many famous people like New York is because people generally don’t speak to one another in public. The suburb of Sydney i live in is like a village – if you pass someone in the street, you either nod, smile or say “hello”. It would seem really rude to not acknowledge the person in some way and everyone does it, from old ladies to sullen teenagers. So if RA lived in my suburb (oh, what a delicious thought!), he’d have to get used to people saying hello, just as the couple of (less exciting) celebrities we do have, have done.

    • Marie Astra says:

      Oh, definitely, that’s one reason they like New York. Many have said so. The funny thing is that New York is full of famous people that no one recognizes! I’ve often seen someone who looks like a celebrity, but I don’t know who it is. In New York you most definitely don’t say hello to everyone you pass – too many people! LOL In my suburb of NYC, though, we mostly do say hello or nod.

  3. Perry says:

    . I’ve found myself in the elevator with Bernadette Peters and Sigourney Weaver several times over the course of about 20 years ( not together). Bernadette and Sigourney live or lived in the same buildings as two of my closest friends. This is about Bernadette. I’m not sure if this counts as just “seeing” a celebrity because some sort of elevator relationship developed. It’s more like Bollyknickers’ comment because in a small village where you see someone often, it’s like an “elevator relationship” and the celebrity is recognizing you just as you are recognizing him. So a hello wouldn’t be unwelcome. Anyway, after maybe 7 or 8 rides together, Bernadette said to me, ” That’s a beautiful suit you’re wearing. I would never think of wearing that color sweater under it, but it works so well. Who makes that suit?” I told her “who I was wearing” and that I was a fan of her work and had the real treat of seeing her in “Annie Get Your Gun”a few years ago. She answered, “well why didn’t you every *say* so?”
    But walking up to someone on the street or in a restaurant or shop? I wouldn’t do it. A smile and a nod, if that.
    By the way, MarieAstra, my guess is where Jackman was is where you might spot Richard if he actually will be living in New York. A good place for a run.

    • Marie Astra says:

      Cool! Bernadette Peters! Yes, elevator acquaintance counts. Who were you wearing? 😀

    • I love Bernadette Peters and Sigourney Weaver!!!!

      One of my cousins from Down Under came to visit me one week and they wanted me to take them to Rodeo Drive to “see the stars.” So we get there and take the requisite pictures, but no stars.

      Then when we get into the parking garage elevator, Morgan Fairchild rushes in with two shopping bags full of shoes (in boxes). She said hi and gushed about what a deal she just got with all the shoes at this one shop and asked us how we were doing that wonderful day, etc. (She is such a pretty pretty petite woman!) I kept waiting for my cousins to recognize her and they just stared at her without a single clue. We got out at the same floor and she got into her SUV and when I told my cousins that they had just spent a few minutes with the elevator with Morgan Fairchild, they were “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL US???” followed by “Who’s Morgan Fairchild?”

    • I just saw this. That is pretty great about Bernadette, and I personally might have actually fangirled over Sigourney.

      However, just this summer, I had the opportunity to see Bernadette perform solo in a “picnic” concert at the Arboretum with some friends. The Arboretum is where a few TV shows and movies have been filmed, such as Jurassic Park and Fantasy Island. The large garden park is also somewhat of an accidental county sanctuary for Peacocks. The poor woman was upstaged all night by Peacock cry.

      • Perry says:

        Yeah – one is really, really big and the other is so tiny – like elf and hobbit. At my nephew’s wedding on a ranch in Mailbu, the same thing happened with peacocks during the ceremony – but since so many people there were NBC folks, it seemed appropriate.

      • She handled her would-be upstagers well. Yes, Bernadette is tiny – and she looked fantastic. I was with a small group of appreciate male fans who were a tad fonder of her singing talents than I. But she is otherwise a consummate and vivacious performer live, I must say. Sexy as hell at 65.

      • Marie Astra says:

        Yes she is! I just saw her perform on Nov. 15 in a Sondheim/Wynton Marsalis show. She looks amazing!

      • Mind-blowing really. Good DNA. 🙂

  4. Coming from a place where it is considered good manners to acknowledge even strangers you meet in the street, I think I’d automatically go the smile-sayhello routine …. and then, when it’d register who I’d be saying it to, I’d probably blow the casualness that would neither require any specific answer nor be any sort of purposeful intrusion by turning into a bright light bulb….a red one. 😉 That alone, however, would then make it weird, I am afraid. :/ It’s a good thing I am not likely to ever meet him anyway.

    • Marie Astra says:

      Very unlikely any of us will ever meet him, but it’s fun to think about. I’m not a shy person, but I was definitely tongue-tied when I saw Hugh Jackman. I’m sure I would totally be with RA, despite my fantasy conversations. LOL

  5. kelbel75 says:

    the friendly eye-contact and smile would probably be as far as I would go in the contact with a celebrity scenario, unless I found myself right next to them (waiting to cross the street,etc.) then I might be able to come up with something, but it wouldn’t be about who they are or how much I enjoy a certain movie they did,etc. that would just be weird to me (and cause me to blush) I don’t tell my favorite waitress at the restaurant I regularly go to, that I appreciate her attentiveness when I run into her at the grocery store, and she actually recognizes me and knows my kids names 😉 I don’t fault anyone who does want to talk about those things, the story with Bernadette shows that some celebrities do actually like it (I like when people tell me I’m good at things too, complete stranger or not! *laughs*) a genuine smile and recognition that I exist, would be more than enough for me 🙂

    • Marie Astra says:

      Compliments never hurt. I often will compliment something about a person to be friendly. I make friends with everybody I deal with on a regular basis. I like people! Being intrusive or creepy is rude, no matter who the person is. That’s what I hate about paparazzi. Totally rude and intrusive!!

      • kelbel75 says:

        I oftentimes just say what I’m feeling/thinking (never rude 😉 ) so if I like a stranger’s shoes, I’ll tell them so. or if I’m close enough to hear their conversation with someone and they say something funny, I’ll laugh, etc. some people think that’s creepy. I don’t know. sometimes when someone compliments me, little do they know it MEANS THE WORLD to me in that moment, and it can fuel me for days to come, so while I don’t go out of my way to make strangers feel good, I never hold back a nice compliment either 🙂

  6. I’ve pondered this many times. I have no idea what I’d do!! I think it also depends what the celeb is doing. If he’s on the phone, well, definitely no way. And I think I’ve read before that he (at least at one point) seemed to cultivate his phone as a possible block against random chit chat.

    I’m pretty friendly though, so I might be tempted to give the nod and hello. Ooh!! Shivers just thinking about it! lololol

  7. “If someone were to see Mr. Armitage in Real Life, when he was just himself, minding his own business, would it be right to say something to him? Would he mind it? I can’t imagine he would ever be rude, but still, would it be appropriate to do that? Of course, I think no.”

    This NY Times article is an example of society putting celebrities on a pedestal even when they don’t deserve it. There are SO many other people out there who deserve it more – let’s start with the firefighters, the nurses, and so many more.

    So Hugh Jackman walked by – huge effing deal. He’s human like you and me. You don’t need to purposely avoid to speak to him or make eye contact with him, and even if you do, you don’t need to feel bad about it or feel like you intruded into his space. This is the mentality that makes some celebrities feel that they really are better than the rest of us, when they’re not, they’re not, they’re not.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve worked with them for so long that I’ve gotten past the “ooh, they’re famous” reaction, but at the end of the day, they slip their pants on one leg at a time, just like you and I do. And believe me, some of them are rude and mean and condescending so I don’t give a rat’s ass half the time over some actor or actress or director walking by until they prove their mettle to me in other ways than what I see onscreen.

    Maybe it’s because in a work setting like mine, the dynamics are different than say, a fan meeting a celebrity they like a lot. But the bottom line is – they’re just like you and me, and I’m certain that a simple hello from a pedestrian or bystander or someone at the baggage claim wouldn’t send them screaming about invasion of privacy. If they do, they’ve clearly bought that “I’m a celebrity and I’m better than you” crap and they don’t deserve your time and admiration.

    But to answer that question above, if I did run into him and we happen to make eye contact, then surely I’d probably say something – that is, if I even recognize the man. It’s not intrusive or disrespectful to say how much you enjoy their work or wish them luck in some future movie they’re working on, etc. It’s commending their work, just as your boss would do the same with you if you did a job well.

    Since when did simple acknowledgement of a job well done become suddenly inappropriate just because of who they are?

    • Marie Astra says:

      I disagree somewhat. I think celebrities play a role in our society. It’s exciting to see someone famous. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I agree that putting someone on a pedestal is wrong. I believe that celebrities are just people too. I try to treat everyone equally, but some people are special. They just are.

      • Subjectively, Everyone is special in someone’s eyes. Richard Armitage is special to us while to someone else he’s just an ordinary bloke. I don’t go out of my way to meet celebrities but when I run into them in a parking lot or in an elevator, or at the baggage claim area waiting for my bags, depending on the context of that meeting, I treat them just like a regular person. I may want to speak to them, I may not. Again, I think my opinion may be different because of my interactions with them through work, but if there is one thing that it taught me specifically – is that in the end, we’re all equal.

  8. I do have to say, I enjoy when someone tells me they love my performances or had a great time in class or loved something I taught a few years ago or whatever. But I also don’t have thousands of people trying to do that on a constant basis. So I don’t know! I’ve never walked a mile in those gorgeous shoes. Or his trousers. (sigh) Sorry. I’m just going to think about that for a minute.

  9. Servetus says:

    I think that it’s impossible to make rules and I don’t know entirely why people want to do so. When I try to answer this question for myself, the first, decisive problem is what the context is, which involves both the other person, the specific situation, the general manners / culture in the place where I encounter the person, what I can tell about his mood from observing him, and what I can tell about mine. I still can’t imagine I’ll ever be in the same physical space with Richard Armitage, but what I did in that setting would depend entirely on the circumstances. If I saw him walking down the street with his thoughts clearly elsewhere, on the way to buy his morning paper and coffee, or deep in conversation with friends at an adjoining restaurant table, I wouldn’t interrupt him. If he were jogging through a park, I certainly wouldn’t stop him, but if he were just strolling around alone, not purposefully, through a park where I was, and we made eye contact, I might say hello or introduce myself. If I suddenly sat down next to him on the subway, I’m not sure what I’d do. I used to think I’d just quietly get up and move away. Now I think I might say, I admire your work, and then get up and move away. If I stepped into an elevator and suddenly Richard Armitage were there, it would depend on the manners in the location where the elevator was (in much of Germany, in a setting like that you say Guten Tag, for instance, but in the place I live now you don’t do that.) My point here is that what anyone does in a specific situation always depends on the context. Manners are part of that, of course. In big cities, people who don’t want to be spoken to by strangers usually signal that with their public body language; in smaller communities, the rules are entirely different.

    • Marie Astra says:

      Thanks for your comment. Totally agree. In essence, I think most people wouldn’t really act in a different way than you would if it was someone of your acquaintance, not a friend, who you wouldn’t disturb, but would communicate with if it was appropriate. I’ve heard that some people have no problem barging up to someone and talking to them, as if they knew them. Some people also feel that they would never say anything because they are too shy and wouldn’t want the attention. I agree that it’s absurd to make it into a “rule”.

  10. Sandy Sue says:

    I love all the discussion on this. Of course, I’ve fantasized about what I might do/say if I ever “ran into” RA. First of all, HA! Like THAT’S ever going to happen! But, hey, it’s fantasy, so it’s possible. I only hope I could be a cool as the one guy who met Nathan Fillion on the street. He just nodded his head, said, “Captain,” and kept on walking. Of course, Nathan is a geek, so that tickled him. What would tickle Richard?

    • Marie Astra says:

      Tickling Richard. I like the way that sounds…:D
      I once walked past Chris Noth but he looked so grumpy I didn’t have the nerve to say anything to him, even if I thought of it!

      Hey, thanks for commenting on my blog!! So nice to have you here! 😀

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