Susie Rushton: That's enough fake humility

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Save us, please, from statuette season. If you really love cinema, and don't want to feel sour and resentful every time you go to the movies, my advice is: don't watch any of the awards ceremonies that beam out from our televisions at this time of year. There is nothing less edifying than watching actors and actresses "being themselves". Particularly in an age when the gap between the super-rich and the rest of us yawns ever wider.

At Sunday's Baftas the screen-acting community got together to pat itself on the back for being rich, successful and gleaming of tooth – while also finding time to have a good moan about the abolition of the UK Film Council, as if this pampered class were at the sharp end of public-sector cuts.

Helena Bonham Carter set the tone in a breathy, American drawl-inflected three-and-a-half-minute speech. "It's my privilege to keep on working in this oversubscribed profession," she gushed, after thanking those oft-neglected toilers, the British Royal Family, "And there are so many talented, talented people out there who never get recognition, so I'm incredibly lucky to get parts, and to make a living by getting dressed up and pretending to be somebody else for the day – and then getting paid lots of money." Thanks for reminding us, Helena.

That she has been lucky is true: not lucky to have won the best roles, but to have been born into privilege and wealth, into a feather bed of security that most young people with ambitions to break into the unpredictable acting profession do not have.

Among many gilded names, HBC counts Herbert Asquith, plus a Rothschild and Ian Fleming among her relatives; she was schooled at Westminster and is mates with Nick Clegg. She and Tim Burton spent New Year with friends David and Sam Cameron. Not so much lucky, then, as part of the elite. Though they don't want to remind us of it, most of the British actors on stage on Sunday night are a privileged lot: public-school products Tilda Swinton and Andrew Garfield; Badminton girl Rosamund Pike; son of a Contess Christopher Lee, another ardent supporter of Cameron. To judge by the Bafta nominees – save for Hampshire comp boy Colin Firth, the only actor, as it happens, who made a speech on Sunday with any grace or humour – the British cinema industry is not quite a meritocracy.

If actors' disingenuous complaints about cuts and their fake humility about "getting lucky" doesn't put the viewer off, then the horror of their unscripted performances might do it. Adrift without an autocue and left to extemporise, Rosamund Pike imploded like a broken doll, almost unable to perform her single task of reading the list of nominees without giving away the name of the winner. Idiotic, burbling, embarrassing: this is what a professional actor sounds like without a script to give her words and a director to tell her how to move.

Neither were any of the losing nominees able to "act" their way out of discomfort as the camera zoomed in on their crumpling faces. Meanwhile child stars of the Harry Potter franchise, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, both so enriched by their roles that they never need work again, barely managed to emote a smile as they took to the stage with JK Rowling.

Over in Hollywood, the organisers of this year's Academy Awards are taking steps to ensure actors are at least succinct when they face the viewers without the benefit of a film crew, CGI and some world-class editing. Each of the 191 nominees has been sent a DVD with tips on how to keep their speeches under 45 seconds. Oscars presenter Tom Hanks instructs them to keep thanks "short, sharp and shiny," and that reading out a "telephone directory" list of agents, dog-walkers and dead grannies "only shows us your bald spot."

Self-knowledge, in an actor! Now that is a rare quality to be applauded.

You've done your profession proud, Wayne



The sports pages have carried some extraordinary pictures of Wayne Rooney's acrobatic goal in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Defying gravity, meatily-built Roo managed to upturn his body and score with both feet high in the air, striking a pose that most capoeira artists would struggle to replicate.

It might look like too much hard work to some of them, but if millionaire footballers made this sort of effort on a more regular basis, perhaps we might not snigger when they describe themselves as athletes (despite the odd boozy night and pack of Malboro Red).

It might even make the games more entertaining than the tiresome norm. Whatever. It is supposed to be the beautiful game. So, y'know, carry on making an effort.

Why have the signoras taken so long to act?



Women of Italy have been marching in protest at Silvio Berlusconi, calling for his resignation. Berlusconi has been in and out of high office (among other things) since 1994. That's 17 years of alleged freestyle extra-marital bonking, promoting beauty queens, romancing underage girls, unembarrassed public leering, partying with escorts, diverting state money to help a struggling "actress" of his acquaintance, bragging that Italy had "the most beautiful secretaries in the world".

Presumably with the support of a large number of female Italian voters, this man has been allowed to make his entire country appear seriously backward and disrespectful of 51 per cent of its population. Signoras, what took you so long?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker