In the interest of privacy, the celebrity nominated for "Best Actor" now lives on an asteroid. He is said to be thrilled with the location -- he used to be in Park Slope -- though he has yet to learn the language.
No sooner do you enter his home than the celebrity greets you with the telling word "hello." You never realized a person of his caliber ever went so far as to say hello to a person of yours.
A half-eaten lunch of poached salmon and steamed spinach from Balducci's sits before him. He says he's full and invites you to finish it for him.
The celebrity then confides a personal detail, apparently apropos of nothing, that he has never bared in an interview. He once dated a ballerina from Beekman Place, but she dropped him after the first date, breaking his heart, because it turned out he could do only three positions.
"So now," he says, winking, "maybe you'll give me final editorial approval on this profile?"
Our photographer comes in to snap some stills, only for the celebrity to make a special request. "Feel free to take candid shots," he says. "Just let me know in advance. If I'm going to be spontaneous, I like to be ready."
The celebrity is legendary for becoming his characters. Once he takes a role, he goes for months without answering to his name or opening mail addressed to him, even if he knows a check is enclosed. Such attention to detail sometimes causes legal issues for him off-screen. Once, while playing a plastic surgeon, he randomly reconfigured the face of an unsuspecting pedestrian on Ocean Parkway.
The celebrity agreed to this magazine interview exclusive primarily to build Oscar buzz about his latest movie. He would like to come clean, as well, about his long-running feud with the paparazzi, particularly his practice of deploying a concealed blowtorch to set photographers on fire at random. "That wound up being seriously misunderstood," he explains convincingly.
The celebrity contributes to many charities, always privately, the highest form of giving being anonymous. "Only afterwards," he says, "do I tell the trades."
"Let me share another bombshell secret with you," he says. "I've really settled into marriage now. Okay, it's my third, but still. And we have a new child, my first-born legitimately. I'm really ... content with my life."
Suddenly, the celebrity seems unguarded, even vulnerable. It dawns on you that deep down he's really a regular guy, even though your living-room sofa probably cost less than his socks. Still, he has allotted you only 15 minutes for this interview, with an option for five more if you can somehow avoid offending him.
Quickly now, the celebrity tells you he will soon take his career in an entirely new direction. In the name of art, he says, he plans to pursue "even greater bankability." Ideally he'll do so through major studios equipped with creative accounting procedures.
Quickly, too, almost as a bonus, the celebrity shares his personal philosophy with you. He believes in his heart of hearts that the first step to a successful day is to awaken in the morning. The second, he says, is to "breathe regularly until dinner."
As you step out the front door, he bids you goodbye with another wink. You get the feeling that he is actually interested in you, that even though you live in Queens, he truly regards you as a person in your own right. He then asks you to sign a waiver granting him final cut on your profile of him.
Bob Brody, an executive and essayist in New York City, blogs at letterstomykids.org. His alleged humor has appeared in Smithsonian, Forbes and McSweeney's, among other publications.
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