Ahead of his new column in Weekend, Mark Hayes, the Corkman-turned-LA- local who hangs out with Robbie Williams, puts together a handy how-to guide on what to do when you meet a celebrity.
Let’s be honest, the main reason people come to LA is not to be a star, it’s to see a star. Every year thousands arrive in sunny Hollywood in hope of spotting their favourite celebrities and, you never know, if they’re lucky enough they might just become best friends with them.
That’s the Hollywood dream we all know and love deep down. Well, guess what, I’m living it my friends, each and everyday.
One of the few, the chosen one, if you will.
So, with that in mind, here’s a handy how-to guide on what to do when you meet a celebrity, so you too might have a chance of living the dream.
Rule number one: Be yourself
Remember, celebrities are people too, just like me and you, so don’t treat them any different than you would anyone else.
Just do you. Be the real you, warts and all.
Unless the real you is very annoying and slightly mental. Then don’t do you.
Come to think of it, Iggy Azalea’s real name is Amethyst Amelia Kelly who grew up in a small town in Australia called Mullumbimby but now tries to sound like she’s a black American rapper. Maybe she’s not the realest. And neither should you.
So don’t be yourself. Make up a new persona that’s cooler than you and be that instead. Perfect.
Rule number two: Be a yes man.
Celebrities are just like us, they love when people are agreeable with them, the more agreeable the better.
I always find the best way for me to like someone I don’t know is when they agree with everything I say, no matter how wrong or ludicrous that may be. Celebrities are the same.
So, whatever they say just nod along and say yes, be overly enthusiastic about it, even if it goes against everything that you stand for. You want their friendship, don’t you?
Well then shut up and say yes to everything they say, even when they ask an either/either question. Say yes and laugh. Celebs love that.
When I first met one of my best friends, the comedian Richard Lewis, he asked me if I liked tuna salad. I immediately said yes, before he even finished saying the word tuna.
The truth is I don’t. As in I really, really don’t (it turns my stomach and makes me sick, mank).
However, now every time we meet up for lunch I have to pretend to love it when he orders both us of a tuna melt sandwich. Why? Because we probably wouldn’t be friends otherwise.
Rule number three: Never look a celebrity in the eye.
Basic knowledge but it’s good to be reminded. I know I said earlier that celebrities are people too, just like us, but at the same time they’re not, at all. They’re better than us. Above us. And we should be aware of this.
So show a bit of goddamn respect and don’t look them in the eye, you peasant.
When I first met one of my best friends Robbie Williams, I was fortunate enough to have a broken nose and couldn’t physically look anyone in the eye.
At the time we were playing soccer on his five-a-side pitch on the peak of the Hollywood Hills and I had been admiring the panoramic views of LA before kick off. Admiring the views a little too much.
So much so, I didn’t realise the game had started so when I heard my name being called I turned around and felt the brunt of the football right in my face (they had called my name as a heads up).
Down onto the astroturf I flopped, banging my head off the ground. People rushed to my aid but you know me, I’m Irish, I didn’t want to cause a fuss/get kicked out for being too much bother.
In my confusion as to not look Rob straight in the eye, as if he was the sun and I couldn’t stare at him for too long, I scanned people’s faces through teary eyes while they asked if I was okay.
In my confusion I mistakenly thought it was Rob himself who was apologising for hitting me so I said, No problem Robbie, it’s grand, just a bit of blood, who needs a nose, nice to meet you Rob, is it Rob or Robbie, am I rambling, thanks for having me up, should we start playing now, I’m good to go, I’ll just play on all bloody, it’s grand, sorry again for the bother, please don’t kick me out.
You know, played it cool.
Turns out I said all this to Rob’s security guard John (kind of looked similar but not really) who replied “I’m not Rob, he is”, pointing over to the real Rob who then asked if I was alright.
Grand yeah, you know. He then asked me my name?
Mark, I said as he patted me on the head and walked off while asking John, “What did he say, Murk? Is he Serbian?”
To which John said, “Yeah, I think so.”
Rule number four: Treat celebrities like royalty
LA is full of disrespectful people with no manners. Pigs, is what I’m trying to say.
So, stand out and be a gentleman/lady. It’ll set you apart from the rest of the peasants. Be respectful and courteous. Treat celebs like the kings and queens they are.
When I first met one of my best friends Al Pacino, I genuflected. My friend Kai teaches him yoga and had given Al (as I call him) a copy of my first book RanDumb.
Al loved it so much (keeps it on his bedside locker, apparently) he invited Kai and myself to a private screening of a movie he had recently starred in.
So, there we were with about 20 other powerful people in a private screening theatre at his agent’s office in Beverly Hills.
I’m sitting on the couch at the back waiting for the movie to begin, when who walks in but Al himself.
Careful not to look him in the eye, I immediately close my eyes and look away.
Lights go down as the film begins.
Opening credits start to roll as I watch movie Al walking through the streets of New York.
Next minute I feel the couch lift up slightly.
I know that feeling, I say to myself, someone has just sat on the couch next to me.
Look to my right and who do I see? Al Pacino himself is sitting next to me as we both watch him (movie Al) on the big screen in front of him. Quite a treat, for Al, I presume.
Anyway, afterwards Kai wants to formally introduce me to Al. He’s kind of talking to his agent but I’m a big deal too, come on, so Al turns to greet Kai with a hello, she says my name (Murk from Serbia) and Al holds out his hand to shake mine.
I go to reach for his hand just as Al’s agent calls him back.
Al half turns to see who’s calling him, lifting his wrist slightly in the air just as I take his hand to shake it. By the time I lock hands with Al his hand is facing downwards and I’m now holding it like a lord might hold a lady’s hand.
My brain panics momentarily: Is this how Al Pacino greets people, by having them kiss his hand?
It must be, I say to my brain, why and how else would we be in this position?
So, I do what every sane person would do, I go to kiss Al’s hand.
As I move my lips towards the tanned, beautifully manicured hand, my friend Kai, who’s standing behind me, sees what’s going on.
In desperation for me not to do what she thinks I’m about to do, she kicks me in the calf.
This, of course, makes my weak leg buckle and I flop down on one knee, as if I’m now about to propose to Al.
On cue, Al turns around to see me genuflecting in front of him holding his hand as if to say, I’m not worthy to be in your presence.
Al appreciates this gesture and tells me to “Rise, child, you are worthy.”
I peck his hand and bow a little, and we’ve been best friends ever since.
So yeah, treat celebs like royalty, it works.
Rule number five A: Blurt out the first thing that pops in your mind
Celebs love when you lose your inhibitions and go all weird on them. Be star-struck. Be awkward. Say something inappropriate. They love that.
When I first met one of my best friends Mel Gibson I was sitting in a hotel lobby enjoying a beverage with two friends.
They were chatting away while I was preoccupied fiddling with my straw.
When I looked up to see who sat at the table next to us I saw a face all too familiar: Mel Gibson.
Without hesitation and as if I had turrets, I looked him dead in the eye and yelled out, Braveheart!
Jesus, that’s some movie, huh. You’re in that movie. Braveheart. Good movie.
My buddies looked up wincing but Mel took it in his stride and accepted my offer to converse.
“Thanks, you’ve got good hair.”
Good hair, come on, best friends talk already.
“Are you Irish?” Yeah.
“Ireland’s a great place.”
Yes, Mel, it certainly is.
Now, I could easily have taken a moment and said something else to Mel Gibson like, What’s with all that drunk driving anti-Semitic stuff about?
But I didn’t, I blurted out the first thing that popped in my head and thank God it was Braveheart. Best friends ever since.
First time I met one of my best friends Robert Sheehan at a bar called The Den I started talking to him about pandas and how they don’t know how to have sex so they’re shown porn to get them in the mood.
Before you know it we’re talking about bamboo, documentaries, goats, apes, monkeys, movies, deer, the whole shebang, and we’re now roommates living together like two clueless pandas.
The power of the blurt, it goes a long way.
Rule number five, B: Have an opening line ready as an ice- breaker.
Look, maybe you’re not great at blurting out the right thing at the right time like me. Maybe you’re useless.
Well, don’t worry, I used to be useless too.
When I first met Rihanna we were at a taco restaurant, sitting side by side at two cramped tables (I was by myself, she had a crew).
As I was minding my own business eating a salad and staring at the wall I got a tap on my shoulder. Looked over and it was Rihanna.
I was only fresh to LA so I still hadn’t a clue what to do and this was my first celebrity meeting.
As my mouth went agape and lettuce started falling out of it, Rihanna calmly asked, “Can you pass me the salt, please?”
Now, if I hadn’t have been useless I would’ve grabbed the salt and said, Salt and peppa here, push it, dun dun dun dun dunnn, like that song, you know.
Instead, I passed the salt and nodded a weak smile, mumbling, I’m salty enough so have mine. Not good.
Moments later I’m buying water from the stall next door to the restaurant when who do I see but Jonah Hill.
Again, I was useless like you at the time. As he also bought a bottle of water and licked an ice cream, I could’ve said something great like, What kind of ice cream is that? Can I have a lick? But no, I didn’t.
I said, Water, huh? Then I shook my bottle of water at him and walked away. Schoolboy. Never walk away.
Anyway, ever since I realised that you get one chance to impress celebrities and become their best friends for life.
That’s how it works: Meet and make life friends within 30 seconds, so grab your chance or watch your dream walk away.
So there you have it, tips on what to do when you meet a celebrity.
And in case you haven’t figured out, these are actually tips on what to do if you ever get to meet me.
Because, you know, I’m not a peasant like you. Just ask any of my best friends.
Read Hollywood Hayes, Mark’s new column from LA beginning next Saturday in Weekend
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