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Commentary: Celebrities’ true colors revealed through interviews, interactions

Courtesy of MCT

Hollywood has a quality of distant glamour. Adding to this, makeup creates a mask for celebrities, making it hard to know if the personas of these people are real or fake.

I’ve always found the culture of worshipping celebrities to be a detriment to society. Why should we waste time reading about people we don’t know – and probably never will – and why do magazines and newspapers waste the space printing stories about them?

But the thing is, these people are interesting. We see their movies, read their books and listen to their music, and in turn, become interested in what they’re like beyond their creative work.

Some celebrities have shown their true colors through the way they act and the things they say in interviews, and it is interesting to finally get some real insight into the lives of people we hear about daily.

Mila Kunis recently sat down with a rookie BBC reporter named Chris Stark, who began the interview by admitting that he was “petrified.” From there, Kunis went completely off script, talking with Stark about his friends and his football club. She called it the best interview she’d had all day, and it was obvious that she was relieved to talk about something other than the general questions she must get asked in every interview.

She begged him to continue chatting with her about her favorite beer (Blue Moon) and how she used to bartend, until a voice off camera urged her to talk about the movie she was supposed to be promoting, “Oz the Great and Powerful.” At this, Kunis launched into the “answers (to the questions) I know you’re going to ask.”

The interview was refreshing, and seeing Kunis act so down-to-earth made her entirely more likeable. Interviews with celebrities promoting movies have been done thousands of times, and most fly under the radar. This interview gave Kunis and Stark better publicity than an average, run-of-the-mill interview ever could.

It seems other celebrities might fall into these parameters of “fun” interviewees, we just might not always hear about them.

In the past two months, I have had the pleasure and privilege of attending two press junkets in New York City. One was for a movie called “Admission,” which is set to release in theaters Friday, and another for “The Place Beyond The Pines,” set to release in theaters March 29. Travel and hotel accommodations for both were paid for by Focus Features.

The junkets involved me attending a screening of each movie, and a press conference followed the day after the screening. For “Admission,” stars Tina Fey, Paul Rudd and Nat Wolff as well as director Paul Weitz were at the conference, and for “The Place Beyond The Pines,” stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen as well as director Derek Cianfrance attended.

These are by far the most high-profile people in the entertainment industry I’ve met and been able to interview firsthand.

In the press conference for “Admission,” the actors bounced ideas off each other like they were doing improvisational comedy. Fey and Rudd made quick quips that evoked laughter from each other and the members of the press.

Rudd joked that he didn’t even apply to college, and he “just showed up” to the University of Kansas. Wolff and Fey argued that he must have applied, and the bit made just about everyone in the room laugh. During breaks in conversation, sometimes the actors would ask each other questions to keep the ball rolling, which added an easygoing flow to the conference.

Basically, it was not what I expected. When I imagined a press conference with big names in entertainment, what came to mind was a more structured, Q-and-A session than a laid-back, generally fun time.

The actors in the second junket were again likable. Through their interactions, it was clear that they all respected each other, and especially respected director Cianfrance. Compliments rolled off the tongue of each actor for the style and vision of the film.

Two things struck me about the conference for “The Place Beyond The Pines.”

Mendes followed the vibe Kunis gave in her BBC interview with not particularly loving answering questions about the film right away. She was never rude but was quick to pass off questions to DeHaan, who sat to her right. “Dane, would you like to tackle that?” she would ask. But then when she really got going about her role or the film at all, she became animated in talking about it, and it was obvious her answers captured her genuine feelings.

That leads into the second thing I noted about the actors: they were all well-versed, smart talkers. DeHaan gave calculated answers to each question, pausing to think and decisively choose his words. The film was distinct in that it was told in three parts, and the actors and director focused on explaining its intricacies in a way that was captivating.

It could be easy to write off an actor’s job, to say they simply must memorize lines and movements, but it wouldn’t be possible to speak so fluently about a film unless they really understood it. In this instance, Cianfrance seemed to undoubtedly help this by working closely with his actors, but I was impressed by how the way the actors spoke echoed his remarks, sharing his vision for the film.

While we might never meet every celebrity we admire, it is refreshing to glimpse into their personalities and passion for their work. When a star or director has passion for his or her work and can be candid while talking about it, it makes it that much easier for us to appreciate their role in our world.


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