This morning I read a story about Gwyneth Paltrow detailing all the Avengers co-stars she’s failed to recognize over the years — including one who says he’s re-introduced himself to her three times. This sounds like a case of undiagnosed face blindness to me! Someone should tell Sebastian Stan not to take it so personally if someone doesn’t recognize you. For one thing, all young handsome Hollywood actors look alike, and the women are even worse, as their faces change over the year and all sort of converge on a blow-up sex-doll look, with inflated lips and smooth botoxed foreheads.
Los Angeles must truly be a nightmare for the faceblind, because it seems like the kind of place where people are likely to be easily miffed if you fail to recognize them. Networking must be of paramount importance there, and that’s nearly impossible to pull off if you can’t recognize people and pick up conversations where you left them off. Paltrow may have been able to bypass this by being Hollywood royalty from birth. Fellow faceblind actor Brad Pitt may have triumphed by being very, very attractive — and, of course, they are both good actors too.
Prosopagnosia might have some advantages for future movie stars, too. Growing up faceblind means living in a world where people are always recognizing you, and you have no idea who they are. I’m not famous, and this happens to me all the time. As a result, I’ve gotten very good at graciously smiling to anyone who seems to know me, radiating warmth on demand. This is also what we expect of our movie stars, and Paltrow and Pitt may have come into fame with this sill already well-practiced.
Being a good actor also requires you to be unselfconscious, and that is easier when you’re surrounded by (apparent) strangers all the time. Being faceblind is a little like waking up every day in a foreign city where no one knows you. It’s freeing! You can be anyone you want to be; no one has any expectations of you. I take this opportunity to be an uninhibited version of myself, but I imagine that more creative folks would try on all sorts of personas.
So, Avengers stars, stop hating on Gwyneth for not recognizing you. Wear a nametag if you care so much. Actually, if everyone could just start wearing name tags, that would be great, thx.