“I know we don’t know each other well. I hope it’s ok that I am reaching out to you, because I simply could not contain my enthusiasm about your performance in The Impossible,” so begins an open letter from Reese Witherspoon to fellow actress Naomi Watts about the latter’s role as a mother fighting for her family’s survival in the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Written as part of Entertainment Weekly’s new “Consider This” series, which asks movie types with Oscar histories to share their highlights of the year, it takes Hollywood gushing to a whole new level.
“The life-breath of the film is you. Your brutal physical performance, the ferocity of your mothering spirit and the soul-touching moments where you hold on to life with every part of your being were incredible,” Witherspoon babbles on. “If I have anything to do with it (and I will literally tap dance on Sunset Boulevard for you!), you will be holding every beautiful statue that exists by the end of February… Congratulations. And thank you for sharing your heart and soul so openly.”
Witherspoon is far from alone in eliciting such fawning displays; many actors turn to hyperbole to celebrate their colleagues (when they’re not elbowing each other out the way for a good role, that is). Honouring your fellow nominees in the most cringe-worthy fashion now seems to be de rigueur when accepting the Best Actress Oscar. In 2011 Natalie Portman pondered why the prize wasn’t the opportunity to work with the other women in her category; Sandra Bullock called Gabourey Sidibe “exquisite beyond words”, and told Carey Mulligan, “your grace, elegance, beauty and talent make me sick”. The year before viewers tried to hold down their dinner as Kate Winslet paid tribute to her “fellow nominees, these goddesses”.
And who can forget Jennifer Aniston interviewing Nicole Kidman in Harper’s Bazaar last year? Aniston’s much-mocked brown-nosing included the toe-curling lines: “Physically, you are a masterpiece”, and “I’m so inspired by how you navigate this exquisite career and how you’ve incorporated this wonderful, beautiful family. I bow to it; I aspire to it.”
Of course, it’s not just women in Hollywood that are guilty of such luvvie behaviour; the men can be just as bad. But why some actors think it’s acceptable for such embarrassing outpourings is a mystery. And if it was really so important that Witherspoon share her thoughts with Watts, couldn’t she have just sent her an email and spared the rest of us?