The pain of film promotion

Don’t you sometimes just wish you could get to know an actor for real, when they’re not being interviewed for some publication or doing the rounds to promote their latest film?

I’d love to know what certain stars are really like when they let their guard down, when they don’t have the skepticism and wariness around how their words might be misrepresented or how opinions might damage their career. Like with this interview Kate Winslet did for Newsweek – there’s this feeling Kate has some pretty interesting opinions about the film industry, politics, equality and other issues that many of us would be really keen to hear. In some cases, for the good of our education. But she can’t share them, because we all know what will happen. And you can’t blame her.

Then there’s the publicity work that most A-list actors have to do to promote their films – which at times is painful to watch. And clearly painful for them too. Of course, our sympathy’s limited for stars who get paid plenty well for the mild inconvenience of Press, but aren’t they just actors at the end of the day?  The run-of-the-mill interview questions, repeated over and over and over again; the scrutiny with which their answers are received… it all starts to feel so restrictive. And seemingly, not even Oscar winning skills can invigorate stale answers that have been revisited 67 times in a week. Let’s face it, if they’re bored, we are too.

What’s a safer, better way in? – to get access to these people, and to the films they make?

Stars interviewing each other has always been a bit of a no-brainer to me  (why aren’t more publications doing this?!?) – as per the approach taken by the Andy Warhol-founded, US magazine Interview. Jennifer Lawrence’s interview with her matey Eddie Redmayne was just brilll-iant, and here’s the latest exchange between Brit pals Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch.  This is an excerpt, when the two are talking about their deepest fears:

CUMBERBATCH:… Do you have a fear of anything […]? Don’t feel burdened to answer. Tell me to fuck off if you want. You can, because I’m your friend.

HIDDLESTON: Thanks, friend.

CUMBERBATCH: Should I tell you mine while you think of your answer?

HIDDLESTON: Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine.

CUMBERBATCH: Passing time. And that is purely from becoming a father, wanting to have a little bit more of it every day, having something outside of me that’s more important than me to focus on. That was a rude awakening, the minute he was born. And every time I hold him, to look at something that new and look at this 40-year-old me in the mirror going, “Wow, I really want to be around to see your children.”

HIDDLESTON: Mine is similar. Mine is regret. I fear looking back and wishing I had done things I hadn’t. It’s interesting, I read this extraordinary article about a book, many years ago, by an Australian nurse who is a specialist in palliative care. It was her job to help people on their way out, to ease their pain. So she spent a lot of time with people in their last days and weeks. And she felt so moved by the accumulated experience, because she heard people say such similar things. Weirdly enough, at the top of the list was, “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”

CUMBERBATCH: That’s quite big of you to face up to.


Likewise, Variety Studio’s Actors on Actors (check out their YouTube channel) is such a brilliant and authentic offering, I can’t help but think there’s got to be a way to broaden this out… Can’t we make it more the standard thing?! The current format so often falls short for our bigger stars and their films, and as far as I can see, is becoming more and more painful for everyone involved. 

Admittedly, there would be problems with this. You could say it’s problematic to know too much about our favourite film stars. Why would we want to know more about them when it inevitably impairs our appreciation of them on screen? Mystery is so important for us to buy into the characters they portray, isn’t it?… (or should it not matter?)

And how can the various media outlets reel off different stories or secure the angles they want with a format that relies on well, them stepping out of the picture.

However it might work, we need to take the pain out of celebrity culture and bad journalism and get better access to truth and authenticity in the movie world, but essentially the media as a whole.


1.  Brad Pitt by Guy Ritchie

2. Emma Stone by Diane Keaton

3. Idris Elba by Jon Favreau

4. Jodie Foster by Saoirse Ronan

5. Sarah Paulson by Julianne Moore

What are your thoughts on this?…


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