I recently learned that a movie star lives in the apartment above mine. Well, not a big star, but one of the “hot young actors” in Hollywood who has been in a bunch of movies already even though he’s only nineteen. Though I’ve never met him, I did meet his dad a week ago, who also lives in our small, five unit building, and he had mentioned his son was an actor. I didn’t think much about it until I was in a movie theater last night and a trailer came up on the screen and there he was, my neighbor, larger than life. “I heard that guy flush last night,” I thought to myself.
LA is funny that way. There are famous or semi-famous people everywhere. I’m not the type who gets star-struck at all, but I do notice celebrities and often find myself whispering to my friends: “Alec Baldwin is over there eating sushi at the bar” or “Angelica Huston, walking her dog, other side of the street…” I’m pretty sure almost everybody does that, though at the same time everyone has to pretend like they don’t care and are above the kind of star-struck behavior reserved for Midwestern tourists: asking for autographs, posing for photos, inane compliments, etc.
But we LA people look. We stare. We scout the faces around us constantly. I’ve come to realize that any time I walk into a Hollywood bar or party, the people in my path will all do what I call the “Hollywood Once-Over,” a split second glance in your direction with a look on their face that says “Are you somebody?” A quarter second later they realize you are not “somebody” and their eyes blink and they look past you. I’m sure there are others out there who have noticed this. For instance, when you walk into a restaurant in LA, everyone will turn and look at you for a second and then look away. It’s like walking up to a bunch of seagulls on the beach. They turn, they look, they fly away. And if you happen to be a celebrity, then they still try to act nonchalant while turning to their dining partners and whispering, just like I do: “Alec Baldwin is eating at the sushi bar…”
Apparently, Mister Young Hollywood has a ping pong table up there, and since I am a ping pong fanatic (when a table is in the vicinity), I've been considering trying to somehow get a chance to play ping pong against him. But... I’ve never met my movie star neighbor, and it's beginning to dawn on me that I am becoming a typical Hollywood jerk when I start thinking that perhaps I should get to know this fellow and eventually get him interested in one of my projects… Then I could “shop it around” with a “star attached” and we would then “work together.” Whatever happened to just being friendly to your neighbors, loaning them some sugar or a lawn mower when needed and making a little innocuous chit chat in the parking garage or by the trash cans without any ulterior motive?
It’s times like these I have to remember the power of karma, the old “what goes around comes around…” motto. Use and ye shall be used. Just think, one day I might become good friends with my neighbor only to realize that the entire time he or she was just trying to get me to take a look at their script so I could introduce them to so-and-so…
Whether you're “somebody”, almost-somebody, or “nobody,” this town can eat your soul.