“While I'm here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I've never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I'm a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer?”
Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech at last night’s Golden Globes must surely have struck fear into the heart of her publicist (Read the full transcript here) The actress, who rambled emotionally about her age (“I’m 50! I’m 50!”), cleavage and sexuality ("I already did my big coming out about a thousand years ago in the stone age") was a breath of fresh air during the awards season.
Usually Hollywood’s finest allow the mascara to run just artfully enough not to mar their perfectly made-up faces while waxing breathlessly lyrical about “the studio”, their families and colleagues. In other words they give perfect, media-trained performances adhering to a few carefully laid-out rules drummed into them by their hardworking publicists.
The gushing, name-checking, tear wiping and self-congratulation might be ubiquitous but few stars break the mould, letting it all hang out and revealing themselves to be as fragile, volatile, and susceptible to the bamboozling powers of Champagne and a tight dress/tuxedo, as the rest of us.
So, in celebration of rare glimpses of reality in Tinseltown, here are some rules (we imagine) your publicist might lay down for celebrities ahead of red carpet appearances. With some noteworthy failures to follow them.
Note: Gwyneth Paltrow’s tearful 1999 leading actress Oscars acceptance speech: “I would like to thank my wonderful agent Rick Kurstman who is a beautiful man and a wonderful agent and in his case that is not an oxymoron…I would not have been able to play this role had I not understood love of a tremendous magnitude [in between sobs] and for that I thank my family, my mother Blythe Danner, who I [sob], love more than anything…my earthly guardian angel Mary Whigmore, and especially my father Bruce Paltrow who has surmounted insurmountable obstacles this year.”
Note: The wordless, open-mouthed, shoulder-shaking sobs expressed by Halle Berry as she accepted the Best Actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball (the first black woman to win in that category) will go down in Academy history. She stood for almost a minute on stage at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre only able to utter wretched cries of “Oh my god” and “sorry” between convulsions.
Note: In 2000 (long before the dawn of Brangelina), Angelina Jolie accepted the best actress Oscar for Girl Interrupted with an impassioned speech about her brother Jamie. “I’m in shock. And I’m so in love with my brother right now. He just told me he loves me and I know he’s so happy for me. Thank you for that…Jamie, I have nothing without you. You are the strongest most amazing man I’ve ever known. I love you.” Before going up to accept her gong Jolie gave Jamie a tight hug and a kiss on the lips.
Note: While accepting an Oscar for Philadelphia Tom Hanks declared that his High School drama teacher was “of the finest gay Americans I have had the good fortune to be associated with”. Despite the lovely sentiment, Hanks’ speech outed a man on national television who up until that point had been, in his professional capacity at least, firmly in the closet.
Note: At the 2012 Golden Globes Elton John and Madonna (competing for the Best Original Song gong) used the national press present to swipe at each other. Elton told reporters “Madonna doesn’t have a f****** chance” after which the Material Girl said “damn him” and went on to take the trophy. John’s husband David Furnish continued the spat on Facebook posting: “Madonna for Best Original Song? F*** off!”
Note: Titanic director James Cameron didn’t go in for modesty while picking up his Oscar. He might claim to have been quoting the characters in the film. But holding his arms aloft in excitement and whooping like a hyena he wasn’t commanding particular good acting skills.