Robert Redford at a Sundance Film Festival press conference.

For, Oct. 3, 2014

At social gatherings back in the day, when I was the Deseret News film critic for a couple of decades, people would often ask me about the movie stars I had met.

And I had met quite a few big stars of the day, interviewing them in various venues in various cities around the country as they promoted whatever new film was coming out. And I interviewed some of them several times.

Sometimes it was a one-on-one situation, with me talking up the celebrity in a hotel suite for 20 minutes or a half-hour. And once in awhile, even longer.

But more often it was in a hotel ballroom with maybe five round tables, each with six-to-10 journalists sitting around as an actor or filmmaker was brought to us for a 15-to-20-minute sitdown, followed by another actor or filmmaker, and so on.

And sometimes it was just a press conference, with one or two or six celebrities sitting at a long table while a crowd of journalists at before them, hoping to get in a question during the allotted half-hour or so.


            Sally Field, Dustin Hoffman in interview situations.

Those I spoke to over the years included Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Sally Field, Jodie Foster, Alan Alda, Bill Murray, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tim Conway, Michael Caine, Dan Aykroyd, Mel Brooks, Glenn Close, Jackie Chan, Donald Sutherland, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, Clint Eastwood, Carol Burnett, Ben Kingsley … well, you get the idea.

Now lest you think I'm just name-dropping for the heck of it, I really do have a point to make.

The question people always asked was, "So what kind of a person is he/she? Is he a nice guy? Is she as genuine as she seems in her movies?

And I had to laugh.

Here's the thing: Even if Dustin Hoffman goes around the table and shakes hands with each critic or if Alan Alda asks during a one-on-one about your job and family or if Harrison Ford is cheerful and smiling, keep in mind that they're actors.


                Glenn Close gets ready to meet the press.

Actually, you can't really get to know anyone during such a short time period, for 15 minutes or perhaps an hour, even when they're not actors. But when they are actors, they're probably acting.

After all, they'll be answering the same questions over and over for hours on end, talking with entertainment writers or TV interviewers from all over the world for several days or even weeks before being allowed to get on to the next project.

And many of them, maybe all of them, would rather be anywhere else. But it's in the contract. They have to publicize the movie. And it's not unthinkable that they'd switch to autopilot for a while.

And it's important to realize that we'll never be friends.

Although I sometimes saw other critics who didn't seem to realize that. But that's another blog for another day.