Yes, that’s right. As embarrassing as the truth might be, here it is: you are reading the blog of a 32 year old woman with her very first celebrity crush.
I don’t understand it, really. I made it through the eighties and all those issues of Tiger Beat magazine without ever feeling the urge to put pen to paper for the likes of Kirk Cameron or Ralph Macchio. And “The Coreys”, while charming and funny, were, to me, as fictional as the characters they portrayed in teen movie after teen movie (though, if pressed on the point, I was more a Feldman follower than a Haim fan.) The girls that swooned and sighed over Hollywood heartthrobs baffled me. What was the point? Trying to make contact with a famous person was as rational as trying to build a working spaceship in your backyard.
So I said then.
Fast forward fifteen years. It’s Girls’ Night Out, and I sit in a darkened theater, surrounded by friends, drinking in the newly released, Joel Schumacher-directed feast for the senses, The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve seen the stage production in London, and I already love the story. But from the moment the Phantom appears on the screen, I am captivated in a whole new way. Who is that?, I wonder. This Phantom has an edge to him–a gritty, untrained rawness in his voice and a sensitivity in his face that transform this classic role into something unique. The actor brings the Phantom’s vulnerability and thwarted humanity into stark relief against the backdrop of dark obsession and unchecked violence. Compassion awakens, in both Christine and the audience. For the first time, the choice Christine must make feels like a real one.
His name, I find out later (isn’t IMDB wonderful?), is Gerard Butler, and on my next trip to the video store I rent the decidedly non-glossy UK release, Dear Frankie. Amazing. In his role as the quiet Stranger, Butler illuminates the achingly human drama playing out between the story’s mother and son with subtle depth. His few lines could be written on one sheet of paper, but he uses his face and body language to create a truly multilayered addition to the cast of characters.
Of course, I had to tell him so.
So I wrote my first fan letter. It was nothing fancy. I told him how much I liked his work. I said I was looking forward seeing his upcoming films, Beowulf & Grendel and 300. I asked for an autographed photo.
I also mentioned my wonderful and handsome husband. You know, just to save Gerard from the embarrassment of flying all the way from Scotland to Idaho to ask me to run away with him only to have me turn him down flat. Those celebrity egos are surprisingly fragile.
Anyway, that was months ago. I had given up all hope of receiving my photo, sure that my letter was sitting on a dusty stack in the basement of some management agency, forgotten and likely to end up in a landfill.
Then, yesterday, it came: my very own signed photo of the Phantom, along with a deeply personal and heartfelt letter from Gerry himself. (Is it okay if I call you Gerry, Gerry?)
Here is the picture:
Though I value our newfound friendship, I do hope that Gerry doesn’t expect me to go flying around the country to attend his movie premieres and all those pesky awards shows. I’ve got a family to raise here, after all.
Still, it is rather nice having a celebrity friend.
This is my second, if you count Dick Van Dyke, which I do, of course.
Maybe someday I will tell you about Dick and I, and share the riveting tale of our star-crossed meeting in the produce department of Vons in Malibu. The details are a little fuzzy, but I do remember dripping melted ice cream on his shoes, and at some point I’m pretty sure I sang him the entire chorus of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Off key.
Now I know what “star-struck” means.