Bill was in my dreams last night. And not Bill Shatner either:
I heart Bill Nighy. (The New York Times called him "the thinking woman's crumpet.")
But it's weird to meet him in my dreams.
It's because of my moviemaking:
My dream self seems to be rooting around in some toy box where I've stashed these interesting actors (Derek Jacobi, the other night) and trotting them out in a dreamworld casting call for my Fly movie.
Nighy is on my list of actors who I'd go see movies simply because they were in it.
Try that again.
If he was in a movie, I'd go see it. Barring the next Pirates of the Caribbean.
Another is Imelda Staunton, who starred in a movie with Bill Nighy--the funny Antonia and Jane (UK, 1991)--which hardly anyone has seen and is not on DVD.
These are dream actors: they get themselves out of the way of their characters, and they're funny in an exquisitely subtle manner. [debated in the comments, but I'll let it stand here]
They're usually cast in smaller parts--maybe because they're not movie-star beautiful? (I'd eat crumpets in their beds, but I've noticed my tastes don't represent the norm.)
They finally get famous when they show up in blockbusters, like Harry Potter (Staunton) or Love Actually (Nighy).
It's almost a formula--if an actor gets a lot of roles and they're not Barbie or Ken, it's probably because they can act.
That thing about getting out of your own way--that isn't just attractive in movies, it's attractive in life.
Lately I've had a bunch of lucky chances to see how often I've let my ego be the star of my life. How often? Often.
I so admire Bill Nighy's style, but all too often my ego has acted more like Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah's couch (was it Oprah?). Simply being able to see that, humiliating as it is, helps me get over myself... a bit.
I'm not accusing myself of heinous crimes here--most of us have a hard time shaking off the grip of ego. We're the stars of our lives, and we want bigger trailers, with refrigerators and wide-screen TVs and our own private secretaries.
For the second half of my life (inshallah), I want to be a character actor instead, working for the love of it. The role of the ego there is to fuel the love, not to steal the scene.