As a fledgling publicist I met her retinue at a film shoot at a long forgotten theatre, axed by funding cuts in another age. The encounter left an indelible mark on my psyche. Not then versed in the ways of celebrity, and unable to comprehend its hierarchy and protocol, I was transfixed by the legend that was Elizabeth Taylor, and the encounter with this uber-sleb ignited an innate curiosity in the ways of Hollywood
That day, Taylor arrived to shoot the movie she was filming in a yellow Rolls Royce. I’m fairly convinced it was the car from the movie of the same name. The stage had been set. Various members of the papparazzi had been tipped off, a curious crowd gathered, waiting for her entrance – delayed, naturally, as Taylor’s make up was touched up in the car by two handmaidens.
She exited the car regally, looking more beautiful than any other mortal. She had journeyed from Olympus and her radiance lit the drab Autumnal gloom of London’s grimy East End.
The moment she stepped into the real world, a flurry of court helpers surrounded her in a circle. The symmetry was perfect, the aura hypnotic. Any questions thrown her way were fielded and analyzed by a series of filters, before the closest aide whispered a definition in her perfect ear. They moved in strange, bureaucratic ballet, a protective guard shielding Taylor from the sins of the world.
Clearly she was utterly spared the monotony of reality. Dependent on a flank of reality minders, she saw the world entirely through their eyes. I quickly realized this game of sparing her from reality was a way of building their power and influence. Celebrities become dependent on the parasites that surround them.
This dependency is corrupting, suspending real life, depleting the person inside and the celebrity’s ability to function. I wonder how much of this is a premeditated plan on the part of the entourage? That brief glimpse into another world fuelled a curiosity in me about the dark side of fame that has stayed with me throughout my career.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the darkness surrounding her, Elizabeth Taylor shone brightly in her long, often brilliant career. Now she is gone it is clear that we are unlikely to see her like again.
Unfortunately, the bloodsuckers remain, casting around for their next fix of weaker celebrity blood.