Obviously personal exposure comes with the territory of fame. We’re fascinated by celebrity, their image and our perception of that image. There’s a whole thriving industry based upon picking apart and cobbling back together fleeting glimpses into these stranger’s lives. We think we know them. We make assumptions and claim insight into their motivations. There’s something very broken about that system. It’s the system that Jodi Foster was (inarticulately) calling out last Sunday at the Golden Globes.
Nonetheless there are a good many people who manage to keep their personal lives fairly discreet. I’m not saying it’s easy for celebrities to do so, but I am saying there’s a huge difference between making your sexual preferences known and becoming, to quote Foster, Honey Boo Boo Child. But it’s inevitable that public perception or the required self-marketing aspect of Hollywood will flavor our reaction to a performer and, by extension, their performance. There are some “ill-behaved” actors whom I don’t regret disliking. I was never monstrously attached to Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen or even Katherine Heigl so my reaction to them his more “why aren’t some of those people in jail” than anything else. But there are some outrageously talented people whose “antics” or “demeanor” or downright criminal activity stains their otherwise impressive gifts. There are certainly things we can do to avoid knowing too much about someone: avoid gossip sites and magazines for one. But I’d argue that these five have been unavoidably irritating or off-putting. And that’s too bad because hot damn are they talented.
Anne Hathaway: We’ve talked a good bit about the Hathaway backlash on the site this week. And many of you are rightfully confused why the backlash exists in the first place. (For the record Anne is far and away the least offensive on this list. It’s not even close.) That being said, Hathaway had just barely worked her way back into the collective good books this year based on her fantastic performances The Dark Knight Rises and Les Miserables. But the breathy, wide-eyed unctuousness that’s hanging around her like a cloud this awards seasons is grating as hell. And that’s unfortunate. Because though she may not always choose to flex ‘em (*cough* One Day*cough*), the girl has major chops.
James Franco: After a banner year in 2010, Hathaway’s erstwhile Oscars co-host blew his reputation to smithereens. His sh*tty, pretentious, condescending attitude came through on Oscar night, via his Twitter account and bizarre cultural commentary. (Really, Franco, you have an opinion on “Girls”? Okay, I have an opinion on Your Highness.) Watching “Freaks and Geeks” reruns on Netflix, however, it’s impossible to deny that Franco has always had some major talent. This is one of my favorite episodes. Come for the pathos, stay for the pay-off.
Joaquin Phoenix: Phoenix appears to share much of Franco’s “I’m too good for this sh*t” attitude. And, listen, it’s fine to not want to be a part of the Hollywood machine or to not give a crap about acting awards. It’s not really cool, however, to crap all over anyone else who does. I thought I was done with Phoenix after his year of living beardiously, but the man was beyond great in The Master. In fact, only Daniel Day Lewis could outstrip that performance. Phoenix gave everything over. It was a full-body effort and you have to admire someone who can steal every scene from Philip Seymour Hoffman. I may not like Phoenix the man. But the actor? Holy hell.
Christian Bale: Another transformative performer, Bale is unquestionably one of the finest, most chameleonic actors of his generation. If only he weren’t also an abusive, arrogant prick. If only.
Mel Gibson: My hatred for this one is so intense I couldn’t even tolerate him in the role of Jodi Foster’s supportive friend. I honestly think he is human garbage. Braveheart was always a sentimental favorite of mine, but when I watch it now, I can only see the crazy gleaming out of those blue lamps of his. Disappointing. So damned disappointing.