Recently Woody Allen, Alessandra Mastronardi, Alison Pill, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, and Greta Gerwig met with the press in Los Angeles to talk about Allen’s newest film, To Rome with Love. This was a press conference style event with a large number of journalists in attendance. Since the concept of fame is key in the film, the panel was asked to discuss fame.
One of the questions asked was, “So much of the movie is a meditation on fame and accomplishment and I’m wondering what might have sparked you to focus the movie on fame this time and then open it up to everybody to how you feel about fame in your own lives.”
Woody Allen: The fact that some of the film deals with that theme is post facto. I didn’t think about that when I made the film. I thought it’s a funny idea that a guy sings in the shower. It’s a funny idea that he wakes up one day and suddenly he’s famous and doesn’t really know why. Two young people come to Rome and they are just married and they get involved in the situation. I never thought of any thematic connection in any way and that’s all just an accident. There may have been something that was on my unconscious at the time and it came out in some strange way.
I myself feel about fame in the way the character the chauffeur talks about it in the movie, that life is tough and it’s tough whether you are famous or whether you’re not famous, and in the end it’s probably of those two choices better to be famous. The perks are better. You get better seats at the basketball game and you get better tables and reservations places and if I call a doctor on Saturday morning, I can get him. There’s a lot of indulgences that you don’t get if you are not famous. Now I’m not saying it’s fair. It’s kind of disgusting, but I can’t say I don’t enjoy it. There are drawbacks to being famous too, but you get used to those, they are not life threatening. The paparazzi are outside your restaurant or your house and actors make such a big thing of it and scurry into cars and drape things over their head. You think they are going to be crucified or something. It’s not a big deal. You can get used to that. So the bad stuff is greatly outweighed by the dinner reservations.
A bit later, the other members of the panel were asked to respond to the same question.
Alessandra Mastronardi: I don’t know actually. I think maybe initially you have a kind of fame…. If you are famous you are a very important person and you call a restaurant with seventeen and maybe they have a table for you and maybe they do it but maybe they do it one time or two time. I’m not really famous…. I like working with Woody on this movie… Maybe I’m just thinking about fame. I’m not really thinking about it.
Alison Pill: I consider myself to be a working actor. I don’t, I have no idea what people, I’m not famous. I don’t get stopped on the street. I just sort of do my thing and live my life. I don’t like strangers, so I wouldn’t look forward to meeting a lot of them at any one point. And that’s about it. I’m just waiting for the day when someone sends me a pet pig. That’s it. That’s all I want from fame. I want free stuff. I want a pet pig. So if anybody knows anybody with a pig. I don’t know. And I’m famous and I want a pig.
Penelope Cruz: I don’t know, we were talking about it this morning. The only good real thing I’ve taken out of it is to experience it in first person is to realize that there is no real happiness to come out of it because you know?? When you are going through this, there is no real happiness that comes out of it. No real happiness added to your life because of it. And I agree with Woody that the advantages are very unfair and disgusting, but I also think some of the disadvantages are pretty dark and difficult to deal with to the point where sometimes I have questions whether I want to continue this job. Because I don’t care when they take pictures of me. But when they take pictures of your family or especially when it’s about children, I can’t tolerate it. And that’s in the country where you live‐children are more protected that way. In the States there is no protection. You can show faces of children, so I’m 100% against that. In the magazines you’ll see these two pages of the magazines with pictures dedicated to the children. And it’s not a handbag, you know. That is a really. I don’t care if they take pictures of me, but that goes into a different territory that should not be allowed.
Ellen Page: I don’t know what to say. I’m an actor because I want to act, and first and foremost that’s what I’m always thinking about. I just want to forget about it. But the transition occurred after Juno so there is definitely a transition that it goes through to where a few more people know who you are, and then it sort of just balances itself out. It’s more when there is a movie coming out and then it sort of fades away again, and I just go about my life and I don’t tend to have much of an issue but I think it’s just because I’m blind or I don’t experience things in the way certain friends do or as I imagine Penelope has on her plate always.
Greta Gerwig: I feel like I’m not famous at all but I do like in New York there’s a certain quality of like, Alison I know who you are in NY and I saw you on the street.
Alison Pill: That’s because you know me and I’ve meditated in your house. That’s the other side of it.
Greta Gerwig: I do think there’s a cool thing in New York, it’s like a level of actors in New York, they’re not fancy people who get their pictures taken all the time, but I go to the theatre here all the time and I know who they are. They’re comedians from UCB and they are just around and you feel so proud you live in a city where there are all these artists there. They are under the radar. Like I’ve seen NY City ballet dancers on the subway and I’m like “I saw you in the Firebird!” and you’re so excited. I think that level of artistic community and recognizing each other is really nice. But that’s a different thing than Roberto Benigni fame.