A Lesson in Integrity & Self-Possession from…a Movie Star

Vancouver’s film industry has suffered the last while because of changes in our provincial government’s support. As someone who has somehow sired three filmmakers, I wish things were back to the days when I would pass a crew shooting something somewhere in Vancouver every week.

But films still do get made here, and on Friday evening I ran into someone familiar from the silver screen.

Oh, yeah, is she familiar. But here’s the thing. As famous as she is, she and I met at Safeway, while she was shopping for groceries with her kids. As our son (who is in film school) and I were wheeling our shopping cart around a corner, she was gamely posing and smiling with a few shoppers as they giggled. I recognized her instantly (I’ve been watching her for decades) and it took Devon only another second or two to gasp out her name. “Is that ___?!”

I said it was, and asked him, “Would you like a picture with her?” and he said he certainly would.

So I walked over and quietly asked if she would mind possibly posing for one more. She agreed, and did–Devon now has it on his cell phone–and I asked her if she were in town to work. She said no, her husband was shooting a film instead, and she was just here “with him and the children.” Just a mom at Safeway.

Now, here’s the thing. She looked like a mom at Safeway. No makeup. No cool Hollywood clothes. If she had not been one of the most famous actresses of our time, you would walk right by her. She’s perfectly lovely, of course, but she had none of the eye-catching accoutrements of stardom. Yet once she was recognized, she consented to pictures that doubtless were uploaded to Facebook and Twitter within seconds.

No makeup. No cool clothes. “This is who I am, and I play other people in movies.” A real person, but more than a real person: a person who has looked fabulously beautiful to millions of people and who nonetheless accepts herself so thoroughly that she didn’t hesitate to let us take candid shots with her in a grocery store.

I like that. I mean, wow: I am truly impressed.

So, out of perhaps a silly bit of shy courtesy of my own, I’m not uploading the picture here. Instead, I am doffing my hat to the splendid cinematic artistry that has delighted me so many times, yes, but also to the graceful, free spirit of Mrs. Tim Burton,

Helena Bonham Carter.

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