Not that you should care less: the British press have treated you about as well as they've treated Madonna. However high you climb, whatever your achievements (and they're growing: I see you're opposite Robert De Niro in Scorsese's new film, Casino, and lined up for the Les Diaboliques remake), they'll still keep reminding you that you are theirs to be ridiculed, debased, fondled - and sneered at.
It can't be nice. Perhaps I'm empathising with you partly out of guilt. You see, I've only recently been "Stoned". Only since seeing you slobbing it in Roseanne, then up to your neck in dust and leather for The Quick And The Dead. That must make me one of your most recent converts. It wasn't just the film that wooed me, wonderful though it was. I succumbed to you because I'd never seen you cooler, or crisper, or savouring your lines so much.
And I was just as smitten by the behind-the-scenes palaver. You put your neck, and your money, on the line to hire the director Sam Raimi and muscle young Leonardo DiCaprio into the cast. You've got dough and you've got clout - and the shots you called left holes in your pocket (the film was a flop, not that you should care about that either). But the important thing is that you got the film that you wanted. On your terms. No one can deny you that.
I'm not so sure about everything you've done. Basic Instinct, Sliver, The Specialist - these are not classy movies, whichever microscope you slip them under. But perhaps that's not what matters. After all, you got where you wanted to be and you didn't trade a thing to get there. "In this business there is Plan A," you said, "in which you become successful by living and acting with a lot of integrity. Then there's Plan B, where you sell your soul to the devil. I still find it hard to distinguish one from the other." You irk people because they can never quite ascertain which of those plans got you into the spotlight. Integrity? Have an Oscar on us. Selling your soul? Get thee to the Betty Ford Clinic.
All those people who break out in a rash whenever they hear your name (and I was one) can only be maddened by this unexpected honour. The Order of Arts and Letters rewards distinguished achievements in worldwide arts and literature. It's an erratic award, admittedly - I've no beef with Stanley Kubrick or Michael Caine, though I'd like a word in the ear of former Minister of Culture Jack Lang, who presented the award to Sylvester Stallone. But the crucial thing is that you have been judged on your efforts, your aura and, I suspect, the speed with which you've achieved iconic status. The French are much more enamoured of American movies, and the notion of celebrity, than we have ever been. But that's not faint praise: I'm genuinely pleased for you. Five years ago, I would have been outraged. But then five years ago you were in a tacky little horror film called Scissors. And if you and I can change, there may even be hope for the likes of the Daily Mail.