Keira Knightley, you all probably know who she is, the cute actress who gets cast in movies because she makes audiences swoon. But that is not why I’m writing this post about her. As good of an actress that she may be, she is equally as cool and kind as a person….and I’m taking that opinion of her just from one detached experience. About 4 years ago, my father, who was terminally ill with cancer, had what was to be, his final birthday approaching. And I took it upon myself to write to about 10-15 of the actors/actresses from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. You see….my Dad was a big fan of those movies and he frequently laughed his way through the horrors of chemotherapy’s side effects because he watched them constantly (HBO played them non-stop at one point in time). I’m not sure how a man could still find enjoyment from watching the same films, day after day…..but then again he WAS pumped full of toxic chemicals and just looking for a good laugh and an escape from the pain.
Any who… I printed out a bunch of head-shots of various actors from the films and sent off dozens of padded envelopes with letters that said essentially, ‘Hey, my dad is sick. He loves the pirates films. This might be his last birthday….and I want to give him a present of all these get well signatures from various actors from the film.’ A fan letter is a long shot….but I work in the industry and I know that famous people have assistants, secretaries and agents that sort through their mail (and sometimes they actually do it themselves) so I figured…..why not? I’d sent the letters out about 8 months before his birthday. PLENTY OF TIME. I also sent duplicates to some people.
I waited and waited….hoping to get a few of the stars. I mean….Jack Sparrow surely would send a reply. Or Geoffrey Rush….right? Nope. Nada. No Johnny Depp. No Orlando Bloom. No Bill Nighy. And more importantly…..No Bootstrap Bill. Really? Paul Newman even personally wrote me back when I was a kid. And that was PAUL NEWMAN!!! What did I actually expect though? I went to college with a butt-load of theatre kids. I’ve worked in film/tv for years and I know what actors and actresses are like. So I was being VERY realistic….but I figured….hey come on it was a really nice letter….and it’s a HUGE FANS LAST BIRTHDAY!!! After a while I’d even forgot about the whole ordeal because I’d waited so long to get a single reply. And then about a week before my Dad’s birthday a couple of packages came to the door. Naturally, I rushed out to open them. Boom! The first one was from Mackenzie Crook, you remember him right?…The skinny guy who’s eyeball kept popping out of his head. And the next was from Kevin McNally, Johnny Depp’s right hand man ,Gibbs, in the films, who left my Dad an AWESOME birthday inscription on the headshot. If you ever read this…THANK YOU KEVIN!
So, I said to myself….ok. ok. Two side characters. That’s awesome! But it kind of sucks because I sent out so many letters and took the time to actually print out the head shots so it’d be REALLY, FUCKING SIMPLE for a person to just sign it. I mean….because they have SOOOO MUCH TO DO. Ya know, read through scripts, choose a project, get driven around by assistants (what I used to be-kind of why I know intimately what their lives are like), socialize at parties, go to nice hotels, eat at nice restaurants with producers and then oh yeah…..pretend to be someone else in front of the camera. Woopdy Doo! I was a tad bit bitter, to say the least. Not bitter for bitters sake (an actors life can be hard sometimes, I know. They deal with an ENORMOUS amount of BS)…..but just bitter because I know from personal experience HOW EASY IT IS FOR AN ACTOR TO REPLY TO A FAN!….just then….another package came. Who could it be? Was it Jack Sparrow!?! Yes!!!!
Nope. Not Jack Sparrow. You know who it was from?…….Keira Mother Fuckin’ Knightley. Yeah boy! Leave it to the lady to show some respect & compassion. She sent two small, signed head-shots. One of them was even made out to ‘Joe’, my Dad. SCORE for Team McConnell. Hey…I mean….it probably wasn’t even her. Maybe her assistant read the letter and just said, ‘Hey Keira. Sign these head-shots. Make one out to Joe’, and she signed it and didn’t give it another thought. Or maybe the assistant even signed it. But maybe she actually read the letter….maybe she has some compassion for her fans….and maybe she is a really cool and genuine person. Either way…..those pictures & signatures made my Dad’s day. And yes, he swooned for Keira Knightley…..who wouldn’t? Even my Mom swooned. That’s why she gets the work after all. So, Keira….if you or your associates & comrades ever find this on a google search for some un-Godly reason….THANK YOU! Number 1…..you made a dying man very, very happy. And Number 2…..because you took 3 seconds to sign a head shot…you’re way cooler than any of the other ‘stars’ from the Pirates films. Thank you Keira, Mackenzie and Kevin for being part of the 10% of cool people in the industry (Cast/Crew alike….man some crew members are assholes). It’s not always easy for an actor to remember that they’re a regular person living in a fantasy world. Also, part of the reason why I wrote this post is for you unfortunate souls that work in the film industry and trudge through the slop of sycophants ….hey! Here’s a real story from someone else who works in the film industry. And it’s a good one! About something good that happened in the business. Cheers! (cheers as in go drink a beer, or two, or three…because you work in the film industry-not the Cheers! that the English & Australians say)