I was downtown a while ago when I saw a famous celebrity. I didn’t know that it was a famous celebrity at the time. I’m not one of those guys that looks at anybody else when he’s out of the house. I always have this fear that I’m going to make eye contact with a total lunatic, and he or she is going to start screaming something like, “What the hell are you looking at? What?” and then follow me around, because it’s not normal behavior to call someone out for accidental eye contact, and I can only assume that the non-normal behavior would extend to following me home, yelling at me the whole time, threatening me.
No, that’s crazy. But yeah, a celebrity. I was on the corner waiting for the light to change, there were a bunch of other people waiting, and one guy says to this other guy, “Hey, aren’t you?” and then he said the celebrity’s name. At this point, I mean, I heard it, but I didn’t want to add to it, that’s how these things start, right? One person calls out a celebrity, and then I’m joining in on the fun, looking, trying to say hi. And then there are like five or six people, all trying to get some time in with the celebrity, everybody trying to make a memory here, an experience, “Did I ever tell you about that time I ran into a celebrity in the city?”
And then, well, I can’t speak from experience, seeing as how I’m not a celebrity. But if I were a celebrity, and all of the sudden I’m on some random city street, and I’m waiting for the light to change, but now I’ve got twelve or thirteen people all trying to say hi to me, telling me how much they loved that cameo appearance I made on Saturday Night Live six years ago, maybe asking for an autograph, I’d probably want to make a run for it, I’d want to excuse myself and then hail a cab and tell him to drive, anywhere, just get going.
And maybe that crowd would be mostly cool, but you know there’d be like one or two really bitter people who’d feel as if they were cheated out of their serendipitous celebrity run-in. And they’d carry it with them forever. And then maybe years later there’d be an article about this celebrity on some web site, and this jerk would write a comment in the comments section, something like, “Well, I ran into this person one time, and let me tell you, talk about rude, this celebrity didn’t even know how to interact with a bunch of regular people.” And maybe it’s not true, maybe it is, all I’m saying is, it’s got to be tough, always at the mercy of the public.
So that’s why, when I heard this celebrity getting called out, I tried to play it cool. I respect the privacy of celebrities. That’s why I’m not naming who it was. I don’t want to play into the whole gossip thing. It’s not my place.
But yeah, it was, “Hey, aren’t you Keanu Reeves?”
OK, it was Keanu Reeves. And I know I said that I wouldn’t say anything, but I’m trying to paint the picture of this story, and I’m trying to imagine it without really knowing who it is. It’s not clear. And I’m not slandering or anything. Keanu was pretty cool.
“Yeah,” he said.
And the guy said, “That’s awesome. I love your movies.”
Keanu said, “Thanks.”
And that was it for a while, this light was taking forever, finally the crosswalk sign started blinking that red hand, but traffic was still flowing in the opposite direction, so we were looking at another ten or fifteen seconds of waiting. And I don’t know how Keanu or anybody else felt, but it was awkward for me, this conversation that was started, but never really got past the initial hello.
Keanu must have felt it too, because after five or six seconds, he said back to that first guy something along the lines of, “You know, usually when people see me on the street, it’s the cell phone cameras, it’s the pictures. And I get it, I really do. But it’s just refreshing to not have to deal with it when I don’t have to deal with it, you know?”
And the guy was like, “No, I don’t know.”
Keanu tried again, “You know, I’m just … thanks for being cool.”
And now we had the light, and everyone started walking. But this guy, something must have been really off, because he just snapped. He started yelling out, “What do you mean cool? I don’t care if you think I’m cool or not. You can’t tell me who’s cool.”
It started getting really aggressive, just like I had imagined it might get. Keanu looked around to see if there was some sort of a crowd forming, but no, it was just me, this guy, a bunch of other people not paying attention. Yeah, I guess I was a little, if not involved, I’d definitely stopped to see how it was all going to play out. And remember that whole thing I said earlier about me not looking and not caring and trying to be all cool? I guess that wasn’t entirely true. I was kind of looking. Hopefully it was subtle. I’ve actually always dreamed about celebrities stopping me on the street, complimenting me for being so cool. But that’s kind of like a reverse invasion of privacy, right?
“You’re telling me I can’t use my camera?” Now the guy had his cell phone out, and he pointed it at Keanu, just trying to get away, trying to hail a cab, but there weren’t any immediately available. “What’s wrong Keanu, you don’t want me taking this video?” And then finally a taxi pulled over and I could hear Keanu say to the driver, “Go, just drive, anywhere.”
And then the guy just put his phone back in his pocket and kept walking. What a psycho. I’m telling you, it’s got to be really tough to be a celebrity. And Keanu, if you’re reading this, if that guy ever posts that video and tries to make you look like the bad guy, I’m here to set the record straight, that you were being totally cool, that that guy was nuts. Get in touch with me, I’ll write a statement, whatever, maybe we could talk about it, maybe get like a cup of coffee or something, if you’re free, whatever, my schedule is pretty open-ended, like I’ll take off work or whatever, so I’m flexible, like if you need it is all I’m saying, I’ll explain that you were totally in the right. Just let me know, because seriously, it’s no trouble on my end, if that’s what you’re worried about. For real, I’m cool like that, seriously, I’ve already imagined how crazy it must be to be celebrity, and in my imagination, I can totally relate, all right, you can let your guard down with me, for real, Keanu, you can trust me man, I’m one of the cool ones here.