Hello all! Damianista here. Welcome to Fan Stories Tuesday!
Today’s story comes from Agnes who is a happy grandmother but also our own personal Wendy! 😀
Agnes is a retired clinical professor of psychiatry who organized the largest psychiatric volunteer program in the country as well as women psychiatrist groups. She and I had quite long and fun discussions about Wendy’s motivations on the blog. And you will see the reflections of her profession in her exploration of our favorite actor’s work. Big thanks go to Agnes for this lovely contribution to our Fan Story Series!
On April 5th, 2013 my phone rang as I entered my home having returned from the hospice. I was visiting my husband of 50 years who lay there with Alzheimer’s disease.
It was my son John asking about his Father. Concerned about his Mother he wondered if I had enough company and entertainment to keep my mind occupied. Have you seen “Homeland” he asked.
What is “Homeland”?
I had no idea of what was going to happen to me as I settled down that evening with my glass of wine to watch some TV. Found Showtime, Episode 1. Returning war hero, lot of sex, typical cable show, not bad. Next came the debrief session and suddenly these two sea-blue eyes locked in on me. I was diving into the depth of an ocean that was new to me but felt familiar, scary and exciting,I was not in control but totally committed to the direction. I suddenly remembered of what my French Grandmother told me about meeting her future husband on a train: “Le coup de foudre”, the bolt of lightening, the crack of the whip,the sudden feeling of familiarity, connectedness or even love.
So there I was, an otherwise sane woman in her seventies who has known love but was never given to crushes on movie stars, sport heroes, pop idols or sudden infatuations. /here I do have to confess to a longstanding adoration of Pavarotti /.
Then my psychiatric self analysis turned on and decided it was a very adaptive and healthy feeling to compensate for my loneliness and grief. That was what I would have told to one of my patients.
I am sure that was part of it. However I was not ready for the avalanche that was coming. Within a couple days I finished seasons 1 and 2 and the interminable wait started for season 3.
Brody felt like a real person to me in a true story. It did not really sunk in that it was a TV show, written by amazing writers, incredible actors and that I was getting emotionally involved not with a person but a character.
Growing up in war torn Hungary under Russian occupation I do remember a few prisoners of war coming home many years later. They were just like Brody. Desperately needing love and comfort but sabotaging every approach with mistrust or even violence and for the rest of their lives many stayed captive, as their own prisoners.
The real crisis came in my relationship with Brody when it dawned on me that he was not a living person but an actor, a devious interloper who was threatening my happy daydreams.
It became much worse when I found out that he is British. I was born in 1937 in Budapest. The British bombed my beloved city from 1943 to 1945 leaving it in rubble, lost my home, several friends and such memories are painfully engraved part of my childhood. After I grew up and understood the politics of those years that since the Nazis ran over Hungary in 1943 we counted as enemies of the British It did not erase the memories of that terror.
It did not take Damian very long to sooth my anger and heal my wounds. The more I learned about him and his oeuvre the more fascinated I became . I have seen all his movies available in the US multiple times, every TV show, read all published interviews and articles and collected over 2000 published photographs. Created drawings, images and numerous photo shop projects about him.
I became fascinated with his ability to project different feelings or attitudes at the same time. It took me a long time to notice how he can use the two sides of his face separately giving a split expression. How his face can be still looking unless you notice the jaw muscles ripping underneath the skin like lava ready to erupt.When he meets someone he loves he can become suddenly very still, the ever present wrinkles of his forehead smoothing out, he slowly shuts his eyes into a smile. his jaw muscles slacken and his lips part just barely.
His ability not only to play but actually became a character is unparalleled. Watching Hamlet I saw Olivier and the bawdy woman yelling at the drunken man was Ava Gardner berating Richard Burton.
But Keane was always Keane, the tortured soul, the mentally ill vagrant who still had warm embers of fatherly love in him or ,maybe he was just a child molester looking for a victim. I wanted to take him home,give him a hot bath, feed him a good meal and tuck him into my bed… no, no no I am going crazy, what is the number of the police? Help!
As I watched and rewatched his work eventually it felt that I was learning to understand how he uses the tools of his craft or better said, his art. How he coordinates his body, his movements, the sounds, the expressions of his face, he is the conductor of his large orchestra to express his message to the viewer.
It feels both learned and spontaneous, practiced or just invented, playful or at times serious. He is blessed with a great talent that has been honed by serious study over many years.
I put together an interpretive dictionary of the possible meanings of small movements like: slow right to left licking of lower lip indicates erotic reveries. Of course I might not know him well enough to make statements like this and might have to discount them as only my projections.
There are so many questions that I would like to ask him but at the same time protect him from the intrusiveness of fans like myself. I wish we would try to submit some questions to him and see if he might be willing to answer some. For example:
How frequently have you read lines in a script that made you reflect upon yourself and alter your personal development or behavior? How long has it taken you to learn to distance yourself to the point where you can safely can enter a character’s hell?
Have you played any roles that you considers pivotal in your development as a person?
As an actor your metier is to choose the writing of others you considers worthwhile and bring them to life on the stage or in front of a camera?
What is good writing? Is it elegant style, a powerful message , content that is timely and demands to be heard? Is there great writing that is unsuited for performance but not because of legal, moral or political grounds? Have you written stories; poems or plays and if not, do you think you might wish to do so in the future?
How do you handle if your fellow actor would not have been your choice for the role? Now that you are a world class performer how much control do you have over the casting?
Being about the age of your mother I have a deep sadness over her untimely death and that she did not have a chance to delight in your success. Words are probably inadequate to express the impact of her loss on your and your children’s lives.
Damian, I am very grateful to you for enriching my life and to all of you who work on this blog and have created a community for us to share in this pleasure trip.