With Sigourney Weaver on campus now, and the illustrious Graham Phillips, and Maggie Sajak, a potential up-and-coming country superstar and daughter of Wheel of Fortune’s immortal host Pat Sajak, in the Freshman class, Princeton has seen an influx of celebrity this year. How do these people fit into the Princeton mix? And more importantly, how should we go about helping them fit in?
The first tip when encountering a celebrity is that you must approach as if you already know the person. Give the celebrity the benefit of feeling like a normal person for once. It must be hard to be continually gawked at by all the tourists near Blair Arch like livestock at a county fair, vying for the title of the World’s Fattest Pig. Give them room to breathe.
Some people recognize Sigourney Weaver for her phoned-in performance in Avatar, but I hold her to a much higher standard, remembering the days of Ghostbusters, Alien, Aliens, Alien3, and Alien: Resurrection. All right, maybe not the last two, but thankfully those have been erased from most audience’s memories.
Miss Weaver’s recent work on Political Animals is above and beyond many of her other roles throughout her career, proving that Avatar and some of those alien films may just have been a fluke.
Nonetheless, Sigourney Weaver is kicking it here at Princeton, and for that, we can be grateful. To have someone of her caliber perform on our stage is an honor, just like it was with Katherine Hepburn, Rosemary Harris, Arthur Lithgow, Lewis Black, Frances McDormand, Ruth St. Denis, Ed Asner, and many more in years past.
Last Sunday, which was one of those weird Sundays, when everyone’s slightly (or severely) hung-over from the night before, and depressed about the pile of shit that needs to be done for class, I was graced with the chance to run into Miss Weaver, as she was headed down University Place to the theatre.
“Good luck in the show Miss Weaver!” I said.
A simple, “thanks” was the reply.
Enough, and fair, is how I would refer to our interaction. I didn’t soak up her time, and in return she gave me a satisfying acknowledgement. What else do we ask of our esteemed celebrities, except to integrate with society and behave like the rest of us lowlifes?
For someone like Graham Phillips, it must be hard to go from a childhood of filming Evan Almighty and The Good Wife to being a regular run-of-the-mill kid at Princeton. Meeting him took a different sort of technique, one that I call “complete and utter ignorance”.
Let’s be frank: I don’t watch The Good Wife. I have never seen the show, and probably never will. Until a couple days ago, I always thought it was analogous to a modern version of Leave It To Beaver with a focus on Mrs. Cleaver. So, when I met him, he seemed no different than everyone else I awkwardly introduced myself to him during froshweek, (mainly because I had absolutely no idea who he was) and was ripe with the awkward, but essential, questions:
“Oh! Are you a freshman, too? What res college? Lucky bastard, I bet you have a huge room in Butler. Yeah, I’m in Wilson. Central location? I know, it’s fucking ugly, kinda like a prison.”
Honestly, the conversation probably sounded totally different, but who’s to say now? What happens in froshweek stays in froshweek, or in our minds, or so I have been told.
All this reflection on celebrity eventually led me to recall the fact that I do know someone famous on a more intimate level than the alien slayer, or the kid from that Steve Carell sequel that got to high-five a damn elephant.
It reminded me of a family friend of mine, Jordin Sparks: the same one that swept the competition on American Idol a few years back. We grew up down the street from one another, back in the good old days of seven digit telephone numbers and the nonexistence of Facebook.
For me, her notoriety made no difference, besides the really, really nice clothes she was able to buy. Whenever she came to town, it was as if she had never embarked on her journey to the ranks of the rich and famous. So it comes to no surprise to me that Graham and Sigourney are ordinary people, through and through.
So remember kids, when meeting a tall dark stranger that turns out to be Will Smith filming a new thriller that’s hopefully as amazing as I Am Legend at Carnegie Lake, don’t scream and chase after him like the psychotic, Type-A, ivy-league, social moron that you may be.
Instead, give him a laid-back nod and maybe a two finger wave. See what he does in return; maybe this way you can become best friends, or just get paid a shitload to babysit his kids while he and his wife are filming.
I guess this brings us back to Maggie. I promise, I will make an effort to find and meet her, if only to prove my hypothesis correct. Who knows? She could end up being the next Taylor Swift.
And Maggie, if you are out there somewhere, reading this article, stuck trying to tune out some boring lecture about the speed of subatomic particles moving along a curved path in a three dimensional field, I would be honored to be able to interview you.
While none of these people may compare to the greatness and elegance of Audrey Hepburn, who hangs on a wall in my common room, smoking what appears to be the most delicious cigarette I have ever laid my eyes upon, they add something to our campus that nobody else can offer, excluding the Olympians, Poet Laureates, Nobel Prize winners, prestigious authors, Rhodes Scholars, and of course John Nash. I haven’t quite placed it yet, but one day I will, and I hope it will be worth all the hype I’ve just poured into it.