I’m usually pretty good at holding up one end of a conversation but something about interacting with someone recognisable makes turns me into my alter ego, “Bumbles”.
Celebrity personalities make me morph from shy but mildly-charming conversationalist to creepy, incoherent stalker and as a result I’ve had many embarrassing run-ins with the famed over the years.
The low-light of my celebrity interactions was with none other than Jared Leto. The Oscar-winning actor, musician and certified “hottie” was travelling from London to Johannesburg on the same flight as me, on his way to perform with 30 Seconds to Mars that weekend.
Waiting to board the plane I looked up and there he was. I whipped out my phone and sent a message to my friend who happened to be a massive fan. Her reply was “Oh my word – I love him! Take a picture!”
The camera on my phone was not going to cut it, so out came my little point-and-click Canon. But instead of approaching him and asking for a picture (like a normal person), Bumbles arrived on the scene and decided to rather try and take a picture without him noticing.
I did not realise that my flash was on auto and as I pressed the button to focus the lens the red-eye reduction kicked in, causing enough of a strobe effect to trigger an epileptic fit in anyone susceptible in a one kilometre radius from where I was standing. The sudden disco light obviously grabbed Mr Leto’s attention and he spun around, his eyes burning with irritation as he saw me standing there, camera in hand.
As my face turned red, panic refused to let me push the button all the way in, so the camera didn’t actually take the picture. A real pity, as he was looking directly at me by this stage. To make matters worse, some piece of my brain thought if I took some other photos he wouldn’t think I was trying to take a stalker-ish picture of just him, so I ended up with a bunch of random pictures of the terminal.
By the time I had scraped what was left of my self-respect off the airport floor, Mr Leto had put on a pair of sunglasses and disappeared to the toilets. But not all was lost as we would obviously be landing in Johannesburg together. Round two was a “go”.
Having learnt from my mistake in London, I resorted to the inferior flash-less phone-camera. I hid behind the baggage carousel pretending to read my messages and finally snapped him. The friend for whom the picture was taken commented that the image is much like those of Nessie or the Yetti – blurred and grainy. Clearly there is no pleasing some people…
Much to my relief (and most likely that of every famous person on the planet), I have not had a celebrity run-in since then.