A celebrity crush that shatters the illusion

19:05, Oct 30 2012
Pan Am
UNAVAILABLE: Christina Ricci.

Celebrity crushes are part of the film-going experience.

Commercial cinema thrives on the romantic frustrations of its audience, delivering the impossibly beautiful to the shy, the bashful and the sexually repressed.

It might not be often acknowledged, but legalised voyeurism is an essential reason why we all go to the movies. Be it the chance to sneak a peak at the rock-solid abdominals of Channing Tatum or the bounteous bosoms of Scarlett Johansson, the seventh art titillates our most basic desires.

Sometimes an enthusiasm for this or that star goes beyond what is considered normal. A teenager negotiating adolescent change might get away with plastering his or her walls with photos of the lads from One Direction, but if you carry a movie-star torch past a certain age, your better-adjusted contemporaries will judge you as unhealthy and obsessional.

An adult who is accepted into polite society does not openly salivate at the prospect of four Natalie Portman films being released in a single year, continue to mourn Marilyn Monroe a half century after her death or have a large image of Kim Novak in Vertigo as his laptop's screen saver.

I am about to confess a celebrity crush that transcends all others. Before I get to that, though, a word about the girlfriend's far longer-term and heartfelt love for one of the undeniable greats of the silver screen.


Janine is part of an international sisterhood devoted to keeping alive the memory of Cary Grant. She has a Cary Grant shrine in her living room, comprising pictures, paper weights, stamps and even a reproduction of Archibald Leach's birth certificate.

A personally signed message from Grant's one-time co-star Eva Maria-Saint has pride of place. It's a souvenir of a 2009 trip to Chicago for the ninth "Caryvention", a pilgrimage in which the faithful visited the locations of North by Northwest with all the devoutness of Muslims trekking to Mecca.

I cannot lay claim to such systematic hero worship. The object of my affection is no classical beauty, even if her distinctively large forehead seems to have become a recurring motif for the pop surrealist Mark Ryden.

Her acting style is uncluttered with any technique but her own. Even in the early, child performances, its hallmark was direct yet ironic delivery, a world-weary sarcasm that belied tender years.

Christina Ricci's first great line came when cast as Wednesday Addams for the second time and it spoke of original sin, a bold declaration of the facts of life designed as much to shock adults as educate peers.

She could not grow up quickly enough. Fluctuations in weight hindered not her brilliance, as she moved from the bulky, seductive 1970s daughter in The Ice Storm to two defining roles a year later.

Ricci reached her teenage apotheosis in 1998, her pregnant runaway role in The Opposite of Sex an open embracing of the sensual, complemented and equalled by the kidnap victim part in Buffalo 66, a tap-dancing heroine capable of redeeming the most rude and objectionable co-star.

Imagine my emotions this week upon learning that Christina was engaged to be married. If you read the online gossip columns, you might be inclined to treat such news as speculation founded on no more than a couple of paparazzi snaps of a large ring. However, I have reliable information that confirms the story - from inside the groom's family, no less.

It turns out that an old friend and workmate is related to said lucky bastard.

Ladykilling clearly running in Arthur's family, his first cousin, James Heerdegen, a lowly film technician by Hollywood standards, has wooed and won the goddess. This is the same chap who once visited Arthur in the mid-1990s and discussed the virtues of Casper's leading lady.

In other words, he is a fan who has actually lived the dream, tracking down the movie star, enjoying a whirlwind romance and then proposing.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. There's envy, of course, but part of me also thinks that Heerdegen has broken some unspoken rules.

The point about celebrity crushes is that the object of your desire is an unreachable, erotic illusion. I could fall into the trap of thinking that if James could do it, so could have I, but it's somehow more comforting to believe that there's as much chance of me marrying Ricci as there is of Janine trotting down the aisle with Grant.

Waikato Times