What does it take to be a publicist for some of Hollywood’s most private stars? In this piece, I will answer this question that I get asked a lot by explaining what a publicist does and how they help their clients navigate the challenges and opportunities of fame.
Hollywood is a place where fame and fortune can make or break anyone. The media constantly follows every move of celebrities, creating stories and scandals out of their personal and professional lives. Some actors enjoy this spotlight and leverage it to advance their professions and fame. Others choose to stay under the radar and avoid the buzz that follows being well-known.
But why do some of the most successful Hollywood actors choose to stay out of the spotlight? What are the advantages and difficulties of choosing to be a discreet star who works in an industry where there is a conveyor belt of wannabees ready to replace them? And how do they handle their public image with their personal life; when a single indiscretion will gain the performer more exposure off-screen than the role itself?
Well, some actors remain low-key because they value their privacy and want to protect their family and friends from any unwanted exposure. They don’t want their personal lives to be scrutinised by strangers or invaded by the paparazzi. Nor do they want to deal with rumours, gossip, or false accusations that could damage their reputation or relationships where making a “no comment” response is spun as an admission. These individuals are entirely focused on their craft and not on the fame element. They see acting as a job, not as a lifestyle. Their body of work is what they give to the world. The seduction of always being made to feel more special than others doesn’t get into their heads, affect their performance, or limit their choices. They are unafraid to take creative risks and explore roles and genres without worrying about how it will affect their image or fan base. These people are very comfortable in their own skin.
Other actors have a different perspective on fame and success than some of their own peers. They don’t measure their worth by how many followers they have on social media, industry ranking databases or by how many awards and accolades they win. They are acutely aware that clothes designers only see them as walking mannequins at red-carpet events. Those garments are loaned with accessories that need to be returned the day after they’ve baited every camera. How they compare to others on the best-dressed list is not their primary driver, but a hindrance. They have enough other interests and passions outside of acting that already enrich their lives, and another poll or glossy magazine spread will never be a priority.
Some examples of successful actors who purposely keep a low profile are:
– Richard Jenkins: an Oscar-nominated actor who has appeared in films such as The Shape of Water (2017), The Visitor (2007), Step Brothers (2008), etc. He is known for being humble, down-to-earth, and versatile in the roles he picks. He rarely gives interviews or attends red-carpet events and lives in Rhode Island.
– Adam Sandler: one of the most successful Hollywood comedians who have starred in films such as Happy Gilmore (1996), The Wedding Singer (1998), 50 First Dates (2004), etc., He will happily chat away with people he meets without any airs or graces and family and friends are his priority.
– Matt Damon: an Oscar-winning actor who has starred in films such as Good Will Hunting (1997), The Bourne Identity (2002), The Martian (2015), etc. Matt is known for being both smart and talented. Rather than spending every night out with his famous friends, he prefers to stay at home with his family in New York. While filming in Ireland during a Covid lockdown, the local villagers adored him for just going about his business with a smile for anyone he met.
Keeping a low profile doesn’t mean that these actors are invisible or inaccessible. They still promote their work through interviews, press conferences, premieres, etc., but they do it selectively and professionally. They interact with their fans through social media platforms but do it moderately and respectfully. If they find a worthy cause, they will lend their support – quietly and discreetly without any fanfare. They don’t need to be the story every single time.
Actors stay out of the spotlight by having a skilled publicist on their team who can guide them through the complex landscape of publicity in the entertainment industry. At its core, the role of a publicist is to establish and maintain relationships between an actor and media platforms. A competent publicist must balance their client’s contractual commitments to promote new releases with safeguarding their privacy. They must also act swiftly to protect their client from negative publicity and prevent the actor from becoming overexposed, which is equally unwarranted. A skilled publicist achieves all these objectives while maintaining the delicate balance between promoting their client’s career and protecting their reputation.
Actors aspire to collaborate with exceptional directors who can elicit their best performances for the audience. The publicist’s responsibility is to offer counsel to help actors deliver impressive media interviews, appear appropriately attired for all engagements, avoid contentious individuals and topics, and manage rumours effectively. They guide their clients on how to respond, react, and cope when they become the subject of the rumour mill, ensuring that their image and reputation remain intact.
A publicist plays the role of a guiding star, helping actors to stay grounded in a world where fame is an inevitable consequence of their craft. While some fortunate actors earn a generous wage, for many, it can feel like a never-ending search for their next pay cheque. Criticism is a constant threat in this line of work, and although actors must develop thick Teflon-like skin, it can be difficult to maintain an impenetrable exterior at all times. A shrewd publicist can help the actor understand that when they return home and walk through the door, they leave their work life behind and slip back into their life of normality, should they so choose.
To sum up, Hollywood’s top actors keep a low profile for various reasons, including their privacy, artistic integrity, and self-respect. Rather than getting caught up in media hype, they prioritise their work and personal lives, often with the help of a good publicist who can manage their publicity without losing sight of who they are. Maintaining a low profile is crucial for any actor who values their privacy. By working with a publicist, actors can communicate with the media in a professional and respectful manner, while also protecting their image and reputation from negative or false stories. Additionally, publicists can help actors promote their projects and causes effectively, as well as navigate any crises or controversies that may arise in their careers or personal life.
We should all respect actors who prioritise a balanced and fulfilling life that includes hobbies, philanthropy, education, or family over their celebrity status. They value their mental health and well-being and understand the pitfalls of fame, such as substance abuse, addiction, and ego. These stars inspire us to pursue our goals and dreams without compromising our values.