After reading The Great Gatsby, my 9th grade English teacher had us watch the film adaptation. To be clear, I’m referring to the Mia Farrow and Robert Redford version, because… I wasn’t born yesterday. That film adaptation left me both disappointed and confused. See, I’d overheard my mom and her friend talking about how much of a heartthrob Robert Redford was. How handsome, how sexy… and I really didn’t get it at all– even when I saw the younger version of the man.
“Eww, Robert Redford? He’s got all those pot-marks on his face and like skin cancer, doesn’t he?” I said with the sly smile only a teenager can pull off. My mom replied “Honey, you’ll understand when you’re older.”
And I do. Not the Robert Redford part of it; I still don’t really get that, but good for him for starting the Sundance Institute. I do, however, understand the movie star heartthrob part. Recently, The Los Angeles Times did an article on male movie stars who are aging gracefully onscreen. I took note primarily because “Oh, shit!,” some of these men are the hearthrobs of the generation a few steps ahead of me I’d say my generation, but I’ve always been attracted to older guys so that’s not entirely true… not technically.
The Times mentioned Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp and George Clooney mostly. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio were the youngest of the older bunch in question. It was odd in a way because a couple of months ago I was sitting on the back porch of a house where we were filming and Johnny [Depp] sat down across from me for a smoke. At the time, I remember glancing up at him and thinking, “Crazy, he’s almost 50 and he’s still a looker.”
There are few things about men I understood as a kid. Like women twice my age, I did understand there was something about Warren Beatty. At thirteen, I went to see Dick Tracy and I came out of the theater with a little girl crush on a much older man.
It wasn’t the first time either. Two years earlier, I’d fallen head over heels over Harrison Ford. I wanted to become an archeologist, travel the world, and hang out with Harrison. Sadly, the reality was that I was in fifth grade and the only real thing I’d accomplished that year was getting my mom to let me wear a training bra. Nor was I good at math or science. None of this would impress Mr. Ford; I was doomed. (Maybe Sean Connery would still hang out with me.)
Upon watching Gone With The Wind for the first time as a kid, I just knew Scarlett O’Hara was a moron for not going for Rhett Butler, hook-line-and-sinker. Clark Gable was ruggedly handsome. Leslie Howard, not so much. Obviously. Come on, Scarlett– get with the program, but I’ve seen the film multiple times in my life and it ends the same way each and every time. Scarlett single once again. Because she’s a moron and a tad too selfish and conniving.
Like any woman worth her weight in estrogen, I was attracted to Patrick Swayze and I’ve seen Dirty Dancing more than my share of times. I even recall watching it at slumber parties and girls rewinding the VHS tape so we could watch and re-watch a quick flash of Swayze’s bare rear-end. It’s just a glimpse. I won’t tell you which scene. Most women probably already know.
More strangely, I had my Albert Finney phase. I thought he was cute and, more importantly, had a super sexy voice. Albert Finney, folks. And yet I failed to understand my mom and her Robert Redford.
It did make me feel better when I learned that Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney had a little flame all their own. See, I’m not crazy. Audrey thought he was hot. Watch Two For The Road and you’ll understand. Even watch Annie and you’ll sort of get it. Who doesn’t want a Daddy Warbucks with a voice like Finney?
I also had, shall I say, a fond appreciation for Laurence Olivier. I read his autobiography and flipped through old photos of him. Very handsome gentleman, I thought. And he married Scarlett O’Hara [Vivien Leigh.] She didn’t end up alone after all! I thought they had the perfect romance until I learned of a rumor that he wasn’t really much a gentleman after all.
For any woman there comes a time in your life when you’re faced with the reality that, like you, little girl crushes grow old.
My brother got me Harrison Ford’s autograph a few years ago and I’ll admit, as an adult, it didn’t elicit the same excitement. Ten years ago, when I first moved to Hollywood, Warren Beatty came into the coffee shop where I worked.
The 13-year-old girl lurking somewhere inside my soul was alarmed to see a man who looked like he had just rolled out of bed. He was somewhat aloof, but very polite. Glimmers of his handsomeness still stood out amid the pillow creases and lines etched onto his face. I remember him being disappointed that we didn’t have wheat rolls. But I was I thinking of how damned good he looked in that yellow fedora in Dick Tracy so many years ago. Then, I sheepishly apologized and told him I’d ask my manager that day to order wheat rolls-at his request. We got wheat rolls. I never saw Warren again. Damn you, wheat rolls.
At twenty-four, I understood firsthand the charisma of Jack Nicholson. I was standing and talking with a group of male co-workers on the sound stage where we were filming. Nicholson came waltzing in wearing a white, terrycloth bathrobe [for the scene.] He looked at me, flashed a broad smile, and said “Good morning.” My co-workers watched him pass by and muttered later that Mr. Nicholson didn’t even glance at them. Um, you’re not female, boys. And that’s Jack for you. He may not be classically handsome, but charisma goes a long way. And the guy’s got charisma.
Not so long ago, I made a male co-worker recoil in horror when I mentioned that Russell Brand was hot in a roguish, dirty sorta way. My Albert Finney revelation made him nearly fall out of his chair. As a result, he became utterly confused by the way my brain works. Sometimes I can’t even pinpoint what attracts me to certain men whether it’s a grown woman ‘movie star crush’ or a man in my personal life. My former movie star crushes are surprisingly odd, even for someone like me who is well, odd. Or more pleasantly put… quirky in a Diane Keaton sort of way. Sometimes they make sense, like Robert Downey, Jr and Johnny Depp. Who’s to argue those movie star crushes? They’re almost not even worth mentioning because they’re so obvious.
In the end, it doesn’t matter really because your little girl movie star crushes are yours and yours alone– even if you shared them with millions of other adolescent girls. To anyone who’s ever had a little girl crush on a big movie star, may all your crushes ages as well as George Clooney.