Renée Zellweger on the protection of being a character
Speaking of her role in the film “Miss Potter” as Beatrix Potter (1866–1943), the English author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books, Renée Zellweger commented:
“I’m not a performer. I don’t want to hop up on a stage and go ‘Look at me! I’m Renée! What do you think?’
“That’s not me. What I do is very different. If I want to express something, it’s through the filter [of a character]. So I never feel exposed.” [Life Magazine Jan 5 2007]
As a film production journalist for several years, I had the opportunity to interview filmmakers on locations and sound stages, and came to appreciate what an protected environment a film set is.
And many actors talk about the people they work with as a “family.”
Zellweger said the movies she works on are “little projects that I have to believe are private experiences or I couldn’t do them. I couldn’t do them knowing that potentially I’m going to disappoint people.
“I think about acting as this thing I’m lucky to do because I love it. But if I had looked at it from an outsider’s perspective in the beginning and known ‘This is what your life will be like on a daily basis, can you handle it?’ I might have said, I don’t know.”
Sensitivity – a gift that exposes
Many other actors have also in some way identified themselves as highly sensitive, including Ellen Muth; Jennifer Beals; Winona Ryder; Heath Ledger; Amy Brenneman; Mandy Moore; Alison Pill; Naomi Watts; Scarlett Johansson, and Brittany Murphy, who once commented, “I’m a very oversensitive, vulnerable person. You have to be to do this for a living.”
Claire Danes reports feeling shy, socially isolated and highly sensitive.
“I really was a miserable teenager. I did not perform well socially in junior high… I never thought of myself as shy, and then I realized I am kind of shy; I’ve just built defenses to hide it.”
In my article The Dark Side of Fame, I note that fame can assault sensitive people, as Zellweger implied above.
Johnny Depp said he felt so intimidated by his celebrity status during his early career that he “had to be drunk to be able to speak and get through it. I guess I was trying not to feel anything.”
But the experience of fame can also be strengthening, as Kim Basinger explained:
“Because I’m such a shy person, having to live it out loud in front of everyone has made me a stronger woman, so much stronger, that it’s been a gift to me in a way.”
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Related site: Highly Sensitive