So, what’s it like interviewing celebrities? That’s a question I’ve been asked periodically for years, dating back to my days at the Los Angeles Times. More than 20 reporters exclusively covered the film, television and music industries and the people who populated them. Then, as now, my answer is the same: It’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, unlike interviewing people who aren’t in the public eye, there’s a lot of resource material floating around, because celebrities are interviewed a lot. That’s a drawback as well, since they’ve been asked the same questions a million times, it takes some work to find discussion areas that won’t make their eyes glaze over.
Writing for Sky has given me a great opportunity to avoid those eye-glazing moments. Given that it’s an onboard magazine, I ask them about travel. It’s produced some candid responses and interesting insights into someone’s personality and character.
This month’s Talk Show guest, Peter Sarsgaard, had just returned from Hawaii when I interviewed him. He went on at some length about finding a place to rent with friends “where your kids can play together and you can get closer with your family and the parents won’t stress about the thousands of dollars going down the drain because you’re not getting presented with bills to sign four times a day.”
I cannot remember the last time I spoke to an actor or actress who even acknowledged cost in a conversation, not in this age where being well-known means getting everything for free—whether it’s a hotel room, a red-carpet gown or a car. The fact that Sarsgaard still thinks about the cost of things and doesn’t just coast along on his celebrity is so refreshing.
I think that down-to-earth sensibility also is reflected in his acting style, which is mesmerizing, but never showy. In addition, he’s appeared in many small, independent films, playing parts that more image (or money) conscious actors might shun. Sarsgaard has pursued them simply for the experience of inhabiting unusual characters and to stretch his range. In more than one interview he’s mentioned that he’s aware of, and grateful for, the very good living he makes from his acting. I’m an even bigger fan of Peter Sarsgaard after our conversation.
If you have a moment, watch Sarsgaard at his droll best in this silly Saturday Night Live sketch about pirates in love with his last name.