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Is being a celebrity good for you?

Is being an actor good for you, indeed, is stardom good for you, and not just your health either, but is it good for your life and those around it? Friends, family and close relationships?

With the passing of Heath Ledger who was undoubtedly going to reach much greater things in his career, and all the news of celebrates heading off the rails, I began to wonder, is acting and fame good for you?

We'll never really know what happened really to him, but it seems clear that it was an accident and is a tragedy to film. However it did make me think once again on the cult of celebrity and how the life of the Hollywood actor is far from conducive to a normal, healthy world.

The very essence of being an actor is playing and being known as someone else, someone totally different, and while that can protect some it also causes problems for others.

It's the same with most celebrities, they become known for their alter ego(s), their public persona, and that's all the public can often see them as. We, the audience and the fans, can place incredible demands on these people.

What's worse is when something is discovered about that star that contradicts the public facing persona, for instance infidelity, religious beliefs or beliefs in general. This is especially true if they decide to speak out publicly on some issue, with the media and the audience ready to make them a saint or paint them a self-serving devil.

It seems that neither group is really interested in the private, or real side of a celebrity until they are failing or contradicting that public persona.

Here's something, why don't you try and think of all the ongoing successful marriages between actors that you can, and then think of failed ones. It's much easier the latter.

Now the question does arise is what is the biggest issue, is it that relationships between actors are incredibly difficult to keep going, or is it that the media and the audience don't care until something goes wrong, and when it does the star is hounded for it?

I've always thought that there's an incredible strain that must be placed on a relationship between actors. There's the months away from home for a single film, depending on filming location and the work schedule, and if there are two celebrities in the relationship, the added pressure of the other partner doing likewise.

This just doesn't hold true for actors, musical artists have tours, and other celebrities have similar work pressures and constraints.

For me though there's always been another fundamental issue, and forgive me if you're an actor and I'm a naive audience member, but in many films an actor has to fake a relationship with someone. While they are somewhat removed from reality by repeated takes and huge amounts of people on set it's still intimacy and closeness, and with the amount of time spent off set and the closeness that can grow between people, there's still a real chance of a relationship starting.

At the heart of this people are still people, and we're flawed. We have pangs of guilt, misdirected anger and we get jealous. Now if I was married to an actress - forgive me I've been using the term actor in the generic sense - I would find it hard to reconcile the difference between them kissing me and telling me they loved me, and their on screen and on set relationship.

That's ignoring the extra pressure that would be put on my emotions and the relationship through the media and their continuing wild stories, especially if they were off on location.

There lies the biggest obstacle to a Hollywood/celebrity relationship, the media. They care little of the person or people involved (apart from Filmstalker I like to think) and can ride right over their personal life.

One only has to look at the pressures that couples such as Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, or Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt face, two of the perhaps biggest examples of the media encroaching on the personal life of stars and the audience mixing that with their public persona.

Of course we have a right to their public persona, they are selling that persona to us and taking money from us, but shouldn't we let them have some private life alone and let the pressures of fame be eased off from them?

Doing the normal private things that couples do can become impossible with the media after every square inch of page viewing possible. Shopping, going for a coffee, eating out, sitting in the garden, spending time on holiday. It all becomes impossible.

Should we be surprised when stars retreat to huge villas, set-up exclusion zones around their houses, walk round with a group of bodyguards, snap at photographers, and even refuse to sign autographs continuously?

Imagine your life in that environment and under those pressures, could you keep a relationship alive? Could you keep a happy private life going and maintain some kind of normality? I, for one, would find that very hard to do.

So is it little wonder that Hollywood stars and other celebrities are finding their lives and relationships in complete turmoil? Are we and the media at fault for propagating and building the pressure that falls on them? Do we all need to back off from their private lives and just concentrate on the personal persona?



This is a very thought-provoking and an insightful feature Richard, thanks!

Now, I'd like to quote a line from a Godfather movie (gues which one!) to express how I feel about this issue. 'It's the price you have to pay for the life you choose'. And I may be wrong in using it in this context, but fame, fortune and whatever it is that comes in that package will take its toll on anybody at one point.

It must be very difficult for most celebrities to juggle work, their personal lives and how they are perceived by their audience through the media. And we know that these ones are not being treated well, as we have heard of biased reports, and it's not surprising that what gets the fancy of most people is not really for a celebrities good deeds but for what is scandalous, controversial, titillating, that will sell a magazine/tabloid/paper, with very little or even no courtesy to the celebrity involved.

Personally, I don't care two hoots what these celebrities do in their personal life, what religious beliefs they own to, etc. If I am watching any of their films, all I really care about is, did they do it well, was I satisfied with their performance and that's about it. At the end of the day, they are just like you and me, human beings who make mistakes, who lose their temper, who makes wrong decisions, only famous and rich.

I don't envy their life. I think that for most of these ones, it's sad that they have to lose so much and only gain very little, and oftentimes even none.

I couldn't agree more.

Very good writing Richard, I agree. Makes me almost glad that I didn't bother getting into acting, almost.

On a almost unrelated note...i've noticed on both amazon and play (and probably many more) every heath ledger film is out of stock. And in amazon.com at last count five of his films were in the top 50. Now is this because people have not heard of heath before and are now interested in his work or something else? I don't understand it myself, some of these movies have been out for years and as soon as he dies everyone rushes to buy his whole back catalogue?

The companies behind the older films such as 10 things I hate about you (which appears to be the highest seller of his films along with brokeback mountain)must be raking it in now. I wouldn't be suprised if a special edition popped out just to get even more money.

Thanks for the comments, I put a bit more into that article and it's something I really do believe in, so good to see other people agree.

Michelle it is interesting to watch this happening with his old films. I guess it's something that just happens when all the press start talking about someone and their films that the audience leap to see more of him.

Until recently I don't think his films have been hugely known, so it's no surprise there's a bit of a run on the back catalogue...I just didn't expect it to this degree.

I would not want to be famous and most certainly would not spend most of my adult life trying to be.

Some folk can handle it and some even thrive on it, but who can really imagine what it must be like? Every time you are out in public you are heavily scrutinized and each bit of your wardrobe is analyzed and ridiculed.

No thanks. I'd rather be a nobody to the world and everybody to my friends and family.

That's really well said Pablo.

Although I have to say that sometimes even us mortals have our wardrobes ridiculed!

Richard says, us mortals have our wardrobes ridiculed!

So true.

I think among our own circle of friends we can be some sort of celebrity in our own right, apart from wardrobe ridicule we also get our personal lives dragged into the mud, just that the whole world doesnt know!



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