Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

The plague of beauty

I once went on a date with a girl who said I looked like a celebrity.

‘Oh right’, I said, ‘who’s that then’.

I’d had this before, usually shouted at me by sweaty lager-swilling blokes in the pub, lurching over, and swearing than ‘you look like Rodney mate’. Let’s just say I wasn’t filled with confidence.

I tried to preempt the reply with ‘Rodney from Only Fools And Horses?’.

‘No’ came the curt reply, ‘who’s he?’, this was not a date that was ever bound to bare fruit. She continued ‘you look like that actor, Adrien Brody…’ Ah good I though, that’s  not bad, I mean it’s no George Clooney but it’s a mighty step up from Nicholas Lynhurst.

‘You look like Adrien Brody, in that film, where he plays the piano,’

‘the pianist?’

‘yeah that’s the one, you look like him, at the end of the film’

‘after he’s been hiding from the Nazi’s and everything he knows and loves has been destroyed?’


Now this used to hurt, this used to be a painful bullet to my normally bulletproof ego. However recently I’ve been thinking about this in more detail.

I’ve just watched a Roman Polanski film with Ewan  McGregor in called The Ghost Writer. Now I’m a very straight man, but even I have to admit that he’s cool all the time, and charming. I can never be cool and charming like him. In the film they even make him wear absurd clothes and then kill him in the final scene (sorry if you’ve not seen it) but yet still, I imagine even dead he would exude more cool and boyish charm than I could ever muster.

This has been accompanied by a hugely irritating bus poster for The Lucky One that has been going round Liverpool at the moment. It’s a teenage flick, but it claims, from a source as patently reliable as Heat Magazine that, Zac Efron has just got hotter. As if he didn’t have enough women swooning. As if being chiseled wasn’t enough. There seems to be a terrible unfairness in a world that can allow this to happen.

But then I started thinking about the actors I admire, the ones who I think are true greats, and a pattern emerges; Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Adrien Brody, Ethan Hawke (early films), everyone in Superbad and Spaced. They got where they are competing against the odds (i’m not suggesting their ugly, but they’re no Efron or Johansson), and I think part of me enjoys watching their films more because they seem more real, I can connect with normal looking people better than these excessively attractive people.

Similarly I watched Vicky Christina Barcelona. The two friends who fall for the same man (a surprisingly good film!), and I thought, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Rebecca Hall. The most believable was Rebecca Hall (nothing against Johansson and Cruz – they are both lovely in the film) who came across as genuine, real and not fake, and personable.

So when people say I look like a dying man at the end of a Nazi occupation who needs food and water and a shave, I don’t think, that’s a bit harsh. Instead I think good, I’m relateable, probably have a musical skill and am more likely to get an oscar.

I pity the excessively beautiful, I don’t care about any of it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have moisturizer to apply.