It’s 2003. My dad and I are on the couch, ready to sci-fi-out. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember all of the details, but there were probably snacks spread out in front of us: an assortment of chips, popcorn and maybe peanuts. We probably had beverages ready to go. Just before 9 pm. My Pa introduced me to science fiction, fantasy, comic books… all things geek related, really. So when in 2000, the firstDune miniseries was released, of course he introduced it to me. In 2003, we were getting ready to watch the sequel: Children of Dune.
And then I saw him.
…and I fell in love.
This was my first true celebrity crush. Yes, he was incredibly good looking. Yes he did a few fancy martial arts-esque moves that made him awesome. But good god, he was a good actor… and THAT was sexy.
Over the years, like a true fan, I followed every new IMDB credit he earned. I bought Band of Brothers on DVD because he was in one episode out of the ten. I can now say that it’s an incredible show, but did I know that at the time? No. I just wanted as much McAvoy as I could get.
Flash forward to a few weeks ago.
I saw Mr. McAvoy in a little play called The Ruling Class.
My roommate and I got front row tickets, and yes, we were downright giddy the whole time. We sat on the end of the front row, and there were times he would break away from the action and stand immediately in front of us… it was hard to concentrate on anything else… we could have reached out and touched him he was that close… But honestly, the distraction came from a fascination rather than a fandom. He never broke character, and I couldn’t stop watching the array of emotions and thoughts that flickered over his face and ran through his body in those private moments. He was incredible onstage, totally inhabiting his part in a crazy script! He was completely immersed.
Of course we waited by the stage door for autographs and pictures… we had the whole thing planned out. Our current teacher was his former teacher: perfect coversation starter! We were front of the line, ready to go… and then there he was. We chatted ever so briefly, he signed our tickets, and he took pictures with us.
Mine is blurry, which at first made my heart sink, but now I think it’s kind of hilarious!
He kept asking me questions about Canada and wouldn’t keep still! That memory will not be blurry like my picture (sorry, had to go for that line 😉 ).
Ok, why have I told you that incredibly story of that momentous moment in my life?
The stage door was swarmed… although it is England, so everyone was nicely queing, awaiting their turn. On the way back home, my roommate, Jamie, and I talked about how frustrating fame must be! You give yourself over to a demanding role eight times a week, and instead of being able to go home and relax right after, you have to put on your face of patience to meet and greet. It must be incredibly exhausting.
But we seem to be living in an age where big names fuel the West End or Broadway. Names sell tickets. I can’t deny it! I fall prey to the fascination of seeing just how good a celebrity is onstage. How real is their talent, or is what appears to be talent really just crafty film editing? And there is that weird, inexplicable love of getting an autograph.
Jamie said it first: “I want to be famous.” And you know what? I couldn’t admit to that! I can honestly say that Jamie isn’t in the industry to be famous. She has a true dedication to her craft, as do I, which is why I couldn’t bring myself to say it.
In my mind, admitting to wanting fame is lessening my legitimacy as an artist.
I don’t want fame and success because of the swarming fans at the door. I want it because the reality of West End shows seems to be, as I said, that incredible roles go to the well established. I’ve seen countless stars on stage: Gillian Anderson as Blanche Dubois, Carey Mulligan with Bill Nighy, Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit… I could go on.
They were wonderful, I can’t deny! And I want the same opportunities as them.
I’ve had great parts so far in my career, but I want to play those parts to large auditoriums. I want thousands of people to see my performance and have it affect them.
Why does admitting that I want that kind of success make me feel like less of an artist?
I want to reach a level in my career where I can support myself on acting alone. The dream, though, is to be successful. Of course the money would be great, but great success would mean so much more.
The chance to play my favourite roles on a big stage, with costumes and a set that would fully immerse me in whatever world. And maybe to have just a few people crowd around the door to tell me that I’ve moved something in them.
I want roles like James McAvoy had, testing my full range of emotion in two and a half hours, with some cabaret style singing and dancing thrown in.
And then I want to be nominated for an Olivier: some kind of formal recognition that yes, I’m really good at what I do.
Does that make me less of an artist? If I want something more than an opportunity to act?
Can I stop feeling guilty for admitting that?
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- Sam: I have trouble saying that I want fame, but I want the same opportunities as them! - March 30, 2015
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