Keira Knightley is the best…and not cuz of her boobs

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!!!

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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)

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Thanks for reading this M.A.V.B.L.O.G. I hope that you take a look at the work of Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Crook and Kevin McNally and maybe even become fans of theirs.  As always. Be good to yourself. Be good to others. Even animals, plants and rocks. It’s a pretty jacked up world so…. do your best to follow The Golden Rule. Have a great day!

 

Love: A Very Merry Christmas All Life Long

‘Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.’
-Calvin Coolidge

December 25th. A special day for Christians and traditionalists alike. A special day for many others too. Whether you are the kindest person, a bad-ass biker, the softest soul, a disenfranchised misanthrope, a heavy metal rocker, an angry militant, a drunken sailor, a depressed fledgling, a happy go lucky clown or a combination of all of those….you can allow the Christmas spirit into your heart and have it all your life long. This is where some of you call me a softie or a wimp, but that’s not the case. This is what I’m saying. (Click link and watch)

Christmas is not just a time for Santa Clause and superficial shopping. It is a time for giving. And you can give a present to your loved ones. You can give a hug. You can donate some money to the poor. You can buy a homeless person a sandwich. You can call up an old friend just to say ‘hi’ (and I just received a nice call from a great friend I haven’t heard from in a while). You can give a gift to an old friend or enemy of yours and say, ‘I love you. It’s Christmas’.

Look, we’re all human. We’ve all had hard times. We’ve all had bad experiences. We’ve all burned bridges. We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all failed. We’re all lovers and haters. We all, at times, feel helpless and powerless. That’s the point of life. To have ups and downs. But once you learn, practice and change your perspective, you can have more ups than downs. And no matter how much of a Mr. Scrooge you are, your heart can be warmed by the Christmas Spirit. What is the Christmas Spirit to you?

‘Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.’
-Mother Teresa

If you’re reading this m.a.v.b.l.o.g. post, I love you. And regardless of what God you believe in (if any), I wish you a Merry Christmas. You don’t actually need to be religious to find the miracle of Christmas. It’s about being good, to yourself and others, it’s about forgiving yourself, forgiving others, making amends, spreading joy however you can, being charitable, realizing that you can do good in this world, however large or small, and transforming your life for the better. I keep this poem by my desk and look at it each day. I think it’s something we all would benefit from reading and applying in our lives.

Think what you will, but to me Christmas is a special time where anything is possible. It is a time when dreams can come true. Miracles can happen. Love can break any walls down. And any man or woman, can tap into the Christmas Spirit and utilize it to help them change their lives for the better. My heart has been warmed and cooled and burned and frozen over the years from experiences in my life…….but each Christmas my heart grows and grows and grows. I wish you the very best on this Christmas and for the rest of your life.

‘I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.’ -Charles Dickens