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


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

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

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

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

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I was a Woman Against Feminism too

Siobhan Norton
A screengrab taken on July 13, 2014 from a video released by the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, showing the leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau  

Boko Haram is a vicious sideshow - Nigeria's self-serving elite is the real culprit

Kevin Watkins
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn