One of the most tragic casualties of the modern world is the ability to sift through a famous person's entire library of correspondence as soon as they drop dead -- nowadays, that crap is all password-protected, assuming the deceased didn't ask a friend to delete all of it along with their porn.
Fortunately, we still have decades and decades of letters written by some of the greatest thinkers and artists this world has known. What insights can we learn from all this accumulated knowledge? Mainly: Famous people are just as shitty as the rest of us.
6 Alec Guinness Bitched Hilariously About Star Wars
We've told you before that Alec "An Entire Generation Thinks My Only Role Was Obi-Wan" Guinness hated Star Wars to the point where he agreed to sign an autograph for a young fan only if the boy promised to never watch the movie again. However, everyone who worked with him on Star Wars said he was a consummate professional ... which he apparently only managed to accomplish by bitching about his colleagues behind their backs.
In a letter to a friend he debated even taking the gig, acknowledging that it was a "big part" in a movie by acclaimed up-and-coming director "Paul" Lucas:
"He did a great job with THX-2001: A Space Godfather."
He also expressed a distaste for sci-fi and said the movie was "fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps," which suggests he took the role only to gawk at nerds.
But Guinness was eventually moved by the movie's moral message and also, in what we're sure is a total coincidence, the fact that the studio doubled his pay and gave him a cut of the royalties. Then, while filming, he went ahead and wrote this:
He's not talking about money, no. He just really liked bread.
So now you know that Kenny Baker, who's beloved for playing Bruce the Convict in 1999's Boobs In The Wood (and also some robot named R2-D2) is a sweet man who uses a bidet to wash. Oh, and Guinness thought Star Wars was garbage and couldn't remember the wiry and placid
Tennyson Ellison Harrison Ford's name, before going on to complain that his fellow stars treated him like goddamn Methuselah. We can't begin to imagine why, although it actually fits the character perfectly -- can't you just picture Obi-Wan phoning up an old friend on Tatooine to complain that this little Luke prick won't stop whining?
5 Hunter S. Thompson's Letters Were Impressively Hateful
Even if you've never read a single word by Hunter S. Thompson, you know his reputation -- his writing style was to consume enough alcohol and narcotics to kill a mastodon and then just see where that took him. This, shockingly, did not make him the most emotionally stable person in the world, which might help explain this letter to Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange and generally one of the most respected authors of the 20th century.
Hunter S. Thompson
This is back when magazines had any type of standards.
Go ahead and find a highly respected person in your profession, call them a lazy cocksucker, and see how that works out for you. To be fair, Burgess did completely ignore his assignment and attempted to turn in something unrelated, which, the fact that Thompson built his entire career on that approach aside, gave Thompson every right to call him out. But there's calling out, and then there's curb-stomping the poor guy. And this was routine:
That is addressed to Tom Wolfe, author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Bonfire Of The Vanities and generally considered one of America's greatest and most stylish writers. Unless you're Hunter S. Thompson, in which case he's a "worthless scumsucking bastard," a "filthy swine," and whatever a "thieving pile of albino warts" is supposed to convey. Now, it's true that Thompson and Wolfe were friends, but here's his rejection of an amateur:
Hunter S. Thompson
Still less soul-crushing than "Your submission is not right for us at this time."
Admittedly, it's pretty cool to be able to tell people that Hunter S. Thompson threatened to murder you, but that still makes him kind of an asshole.