5 Red Carpet Heroes to Whom We Owe a Debt of Gratitude
When it comes to feeling like a dull rod is being slowly pressed through the right half of my skull, and continually lowered through the wet mass of my brain until it rests above my shoulder, nothing can match the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood red carpet. If there’s one thing I love more than small talk, it’s watching two other people engage in small talk while wearing clothes that cost enough to change my life. By god, I mark my calendar at the beginning of each year with every red carpet event, hoping that I will finally learn if the cast of Avengers gets along off-screen. When I’m watching a TV show or movie, I can barely focus on the plot because I am so distracted wondering if the cast “felt like a family” or if it was a “blessing to be a part of.”
I understand that criticizing awards shows as weird low-grade celebrity worship isn’t a groundbreaking take. I’m sure there’s a Banksy of an Oscar stepping on a poor kid or whatever gets that point across for anyone who’s having trouble figuring out that the world isn’t awesome all the time. The horse in question is very dead and very beaten, so let’s get on with it. I’m instead going to honor some real red-carpet heroes; ones that, in many cases, weren’t even officially invited. The normal people, who, by hook or by crook, managed to crack the facade and turn a red carpet into something that contained some semblance of a real human life.
The Lady That Freaked Out at Heath Ledger
A famous clip of the late Heath Ledger, unfortunately now mostly memorialized on cheaply screen-printed T-shirts that say things like “I’m not crazy, I’m the only one who understands” or some similar bit of tweenage brain genius, tends to pop up in any discussion of red-carpet moments. It’s the one where another guest, the Australian actress Magda Szubanski, sees Ledger both in the flesh and in close proximity and reacts with a deep, guttural shriek.
Ledger, to his credit, takes the banshee wail as much in stride as one can, perhaps having been prepared for such a happening in whatever the teen heartthrob version of BUDS training is. Instead of being annoyed or crotchety that someone is being weird at their little fashion show, he embraces the strangeness of the event and even plants a kiss on his screaming suitor. Look, the trade-offs for being on lists of the sexiest men of all time include trips to McDonald’s becoming a whole thing and causing a couple Tex Avery-style freak-outs with your sheer fuck energy, and Ledger perfectly understood that.
Joe Carroll, Who Is Not Hannibal Buress
When Hannibal Buress was invited to the premiere of a new Spider-Man movie, he unfortunately couldn’t make it. However, the schedule of a completely different man who was happy to claim to be Hannibal Buress was wide open. Buress ended up finding a lookalike and paying him $500 to walk the red carpet on his behalf and in his guise. “Lookalike” being a pretty generous word here, as the man in question, Joe Carroll, does not resemble Hannibal in almost any detail, including being straight up four inches taller, which did not stop him from being interviewed, and talking about what a great experience working on Spider-Man was. Buress later went on Jimmy Kimmel and recounted the whole harmless case of identity… rental? As Buress says on the show, “Shout out Joe Carroll.” Shout out Joe Carroll, indeed.
Look, I’m not a completely hollow, aged husk whose internal joy has long evaporated. I love a good prank. You want to dress up like a snail and crawl across a crosswalk infuriatingly slowly? Hell yeah, dude. You want to tell a crusty old golfer that an air horn helps with the inflammatory joint condition known as bursitis? I’m all for it. But just like SNL episodes or fried calamari, there are good ones and there are painfully stupid ones. For every Longmont Potion Castle, there’s a TikTok child throwing milk on a grocery store floor. Red carpets in particular seem to beg for the latter.
I’m a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen from the Ali G days, and I think he’s extremely funny. His prank at the Oscars where he was dressed up as the main character of his heavily unseen movie The Dictator, and dumped what he claimed were Kim Jong-il’s ashes all over Ryan Seacrest was more obnoxious than anything else. If you’re making me feel bad for Ryan Seacrest, you’re not a hero — anything but, really. But you know who is the hero? The salt-of-the-earth motherfucker who came screaming in wearing some sort of vacuum exoskeleton to clean up the mess, long enough to get grabbed by photogs. This ghostbuster-looking dude is all of us, simple humans doing good, honest work, cleaning up after the fun of richer assholes. I would take a statue of this guy over a dumb gold mannequin any day.
Chris Evans’ Bartender
Part of what makes red carpet events so utterly and completely dull is the sheer amount of talking that everyone involved seems to think is required while almost not a single thing is ever said. It’s such an impressively uneventful event that when anything with the slightest tinge of humanity bleeds through, it feels like we’re seeing through a tear into another realm.
For that reason, we must deeply award whatever sud-slinger was responsible for getting Chris Evans soundly sauced before an Avengers red carpet event, leading him to, it seems, borderline accidentally wander into an on-camera interview that makes your headphones smell like gin. It is, though brief, still perhaps one of the greatest red carpet interviews ever, containing both the underratedly funny exchange of “You are talking live to the Marvel fans” “Oh, great news,” and a delightful drunk panic response to learning that Elizabeth Olsen is telling everyone Evans can tap dance. By overserving this man, you served us all.
Emilia Clarke Tried to Warn Us
Okay, so one actual celebrity snuck onto this list, but I still think that Emilia Clarke doesn’t get enough credit for trying to warn us all that the final season of Game of Thrones was going to be dogshit. I have no idea if she’d stopped by Chris Evans’ favorite watering hole ahead of time, but, liquid or not, it takes a lot of genuine courage to shit on the very show you’re on a press tour for. For an actor to describe the upcoming season of a show as the “best season ever”? Run-of-the-mill hot air. For them to do it about 40 times in a row with increasing uncontrolled sarcasm, combined with chuckles and playing her eyebrows like a goddamn fiddle? That’s a very different message.
A message Clarke attempted to send to all of us from the poorly written hostage situation she found herself in during an E! interview. It’s too late for us to heed her warning, but in retrospect, it’s not only valiant but almost cathartic to watch. I already knew I hated the last season of Game of Thrones, but to find out that not only Emilia Clarke, but, by the looks of his reaction, Grey Worm did too? That’s a boon worth acknowledging.