Like the soon-to-be carpenter Daniel Day-Lewis, all Oscar winners should go off and do something else

'Showbiz folk' are more subject than most to the perils of believing your own hype. A second career isn't just wise - it's essential for their sanity

Share

Daniel Day-Lewis is a lucky man. Not because he’s won three Oscars, and will never need to work again. Quite the contrary. He’s lucky because he has another job to go to, a job which doesn’t involve the hoopla of the Hollywood dream circus. The most gong-worthy actor in Academy history has announced that, for the next five years, he will devote himself to carpentry. He wanted to be one before he was a star, he is going to be one now. Apparently, until quite recently, one of his three children thought his famous father worked on a building site.

Good for him. After quite a few encounters with what I quaintly call “showbiz folk”, I am convinced that, in order to stay sane, it’s a good plan to have a bit of carpentry up your sleeve. You need options. Otherwise, you will end up believing Hollywood adulation is the only goal and, if that happens, you will go mad.

The career of Tippi Hedren, star of Hitchcock’s The Birds and Marnie, was derailed when she refused to bed her director. That was enough to stop any further parts. The saga was memorably played out recently in the BBC film The Girl, for which I interviewed Hedren. I was keen to talk to her about regret. Was she tormented by what might have been? Not a jot. Guided by what she calls a “strong moral basis for living”, she marched off to do something else with her life, namely saving the plight of big cats in captivity, and enabling Vietnamese refugees to retrain as nail bar entrepreneurs, a mission for which she received an award from the White House. Not an Oscar, but probably as fulfilling. More, actually.

“Yes, I wish I had gone on to do all those other films,” she told me. “But I replaced them by all the other things I do. I know people who are eaten up by ‘what ifs’. They go slightly mad, or get horrendously fat, or they are just horribly depressed.”

Although she enjoys talking about the glamorous times, Hedren, now 82, doesn’t do looking back. She gets on with what’s on offer. In this, she shares a mindset with Sixto Rodriguez, the “rock star who never was”, whose music bombed in the States and who for 30 years lived close to poverty before learning that he was a star in South Africa.

His extraordinary story, told in the film Searching for Sugar Man, won this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary. In it, Rodriguez is asked whether he cares about the money and the glory he could have had. Again and again, he says no. He is fine, living in his modest home in Detroit, doing deeply unglamorous work. He is content. “God bless you, Rodriguez,” says a friend, and it’s true. He is blessed, and so are Hedren and Day-Lewis. They just don’t believe in fame, the religion of our era. Anyone who has an Academy statuette this morning should think about following them.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Comms / Digital Marketing Specialist

Not Specified: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role exists for a...

Search Engine Optimisation/ SEO Executive

£25000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Excellent opportun...

Junior Professional Services Consultant - SQL, Implementation

£30000 - £40000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...

Electronics Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: My client are l...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Well done Cheryl Cole for marrying after only three months

Grace Dent
Backbencher Ben Gummer is seeking to rename National Insurance  

So much for the Seven Principles that MPs are supposed to abide by

Andy McSmith
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor