Stephen Hawking

Socrates Is Full Of It, But I'm Looking At My Life Anyway - "The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates

I've been thinking a lot about life outside of being an actor.

I've read several advice columns, all within the past couple of weeks, that have talked about how their favorite actors all have hobbies and other things that they do on a regular basis that have nothing to do with the entertainment industry. And that totally makes sense. Any actor who is only an actor is pretty one note, and therefore incapable of giving an interesting, nuanced performance of anyone who isn't an actor.

And I know I have a life outside of being an actor. I enjoy reading, for instance. (Lately I've been reading a lot of plays I was supposed to have read for classes throughout high school and college, and motivational books that I've been using to help direct my career, but I've also read Stephen Hawking and parts of the Torah for fun.) My second favorite thing ever is traveling and seeing as much of the world as I can - I've been to over a dozen countries. And I have been a real fan of the New York Yankees for as long as I've been old enough to understand sports.

But sometimes I still doubt myself, since I incorporate those things into my acting career, and wonder if that's really the point of me having these hobbies. Do I know how to sew and then list it as a skill on my resume? Or do I know how to sew so I can list it as a skill on my resume? Am I actually only studying history so I can find a good story to make into a film? Does it matter? Is this how it's supposed to work in the first place?

And what about when it works in reverse? I started taking up yoga so I could be fitter and look better as an actress, but I really enjoy it on its own merits. Does something I enjoy gain or lose value for how or why I enjoy it?

This may be a little bit of a BS blog post, because I absolutely do not have an answer to any of this. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it to help me figure my own out! (I swear I actually mean that, I'm not just saying it.)

Gosh, I just realized that I could have been using this post to sort out my own thoughts on hobbies to be used for a short or a one act. Which would just make this the most disingenuous thing ever. Oops. My bad.

"But why is the rum gone?" - Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

(Oh my god, Pirates of the Caribbean came out in 2003. How's that for making you feel old?)

It's been about ten days since I last posted here. But this time, I have an excellent excuse: I was on holiday with my family in the Dominican Republic! I was deliberately trying to get away from it all!

...Also, the resort where I was staying had terrible internet. Couldn't connect on my computer at all. It's a rough life, really.

But seriously, I had a lovely time. The beach was, of course, beautiful. I finally got the chance to do a bit of pleasure reading. (About another hundred pages of A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin after finishing A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, what up?) And I'll have to wait until after the holidays are over to do any new photoshoots, because I got incredibly, incredibly tan.

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And then, naturally, there's the fact that the resort where I was staying was all-inclusive. Strawberry daiquiris for days.

Of course, for all of that, I still missed New York. I always feel weird whenever I'm not doing something productive, and, due to the internet, this was a trip where not only did I not do anything, but I could not do anything, and it was very strange.

I worry that I sound ungrateful. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go - I love travel! It's one of my favorite things in the world! And Punta Cana is absolutely beautiful, the resort (Melia Caribe Tropical) was exquisite, and I had a fantastic time.

I wonder, though, if it's something that comes from my age. Having still relatively recently embarked on my career in entertainment, I don't feel like I deserved a break yet. There's still so much more work to do!

Or maybe it's because I love what I do, that being away from it, no matter how nice the circumstances, always feels a bit strange?

Perhaps it comes from not having built-in breaks like I did during school. It's not like this is time that my work has specifically given me to relax, this is time I had to take off. Time that I had to decide to do nothing, even though my work ethic says that I should always be working or I will lose jobs to people who are.

Does this happen to anyone else? I have to believe that it does. I refuse to believe that I'm alone in feeling this way because no one is ever alone in feeling any type of way. Also, because the word "workaholic" existed before I ever knew about it.

But it does make me question whether I will ever feel comfortable taking a holiday again in my life. Finding a proper work-life balance is incredibly important, but I'm also in an industry that tells me that I have to eat, drink, and breathe what I do in order to be competitive.

Gosh, it's almost like I'm being told to live up to an impossible double standard. No woman has ever had to deal with that before.

If anyone figures out how to perfectly walk that line, let me know? I'd love to follow in your footsteps if you can do that!

In the meantime, as much as I did enjoy being away... it is still nice to get home and get back to work. And regardless of how you're spending this time, whether it be working, with family, with Netflix (bae), or however else, I'd like to wish you...

(Or, more recently, from New York!)

"Where there is life, there is hope." - Dr. Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything (2014)

I was sick all of last week. It was weird, man - I had a fever and everything. I haven't been that sick since high school!

But today I am (almost entirely) better, so I went with some friends to finally go see The Theory of Everything.

You guys, this movie broke me. In the best possible way. I'm still crying over it - it's been about three and a half hours since the movie ended, and there are tears literally streaming down my face right now as I'm thinking about it.

Now, in all fairness, I should admit that I thought the pacing was weird. There were times when I wasn't sure how much time had just passed, and scenes when it was clear from events that were occurring that years must have passed since the last scene but there was no indication of time having passed. On top of that, all of the drama of the first act relied entirely on the audience already having a knowledge of who Stephen Hawking is, and what his life and history have been like. If someone who was living under a rock somehow came to see this movie, they wouldn't get it for the first half hour or so at all.

But oh my god, the performances.

Unless you've been living under a rock yourself, you've heard about how extraordinary the performances in this film are. And I'm just gonna add to that chorus of people saying it, because they're all right - they are really extraordinary. I'll admit to being highly attracted to both Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in the first place, but the fact that they're both beautiful doesn't mean that they weren't also exceptional.

While he was doing the press circuit for this film, I TiVoed as many interviews with Eddie Redmayne as I could in order to hear about his process. I know that he talked with tons of actual ALS patients about what having the disease feels like, I know that he knows the disease inside and out so he knows what it does to a person's muscles, I know that he even worked with a choreographer to get parts of it right. But he transformed himself physically so absolutely that for most of the film, I totally forgot that I wasn't watching a documentary about the actual Stephen Hawking. (And, for the record, Dr. Hawking himself has said similar things about Eddie Redmayne's acting as well!) And while the physicality was very impressive, the thing that made it really work is that he could act the part as well. He was funny and charming as Stephen Hawking, along with being, of course, crazy intelligent, and his journey to come to terms with his illness as it hinders his ability to work and be with his family was heartbreaking but also believable and... really, relatable. I've been very lucky to not have ever had ALS, and never known anyone who has had it either, but I feel like I've known it in some small way through seeing this movie and "knowing" him. He made it so real and so effortless that I couldn't help but absolutely fall in love with him.

But, of course, the thing about the movie that made it really work was that he got to play off of Felicity Jones as the most incredible Jane Hawking. One of the things that I always notice about films with someone with a disease or disability is that so often the films forget the people around the person with the disease. They're just there, quietly supporting and having no life or feelings other than complete support of their own. But The Theory of Everything didn't do that - Jane Hawking is a complete, interesting woman... and as much as I fell in love with Stephen Hawking through Eddie Redmayne, it's Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking that absolutely broke my heart, because I understood her so much. Her journey throughout the film and seeing how she changes as a person and in her feelings and reactions to the things and people around her are so authentic that I kept begging for some movie magic to come in and change everything, even though I knew that it would absolutely cheapen the story if it did. Her lines at the end of the film to Stephen are what made me start absolutely sobbing in the theater, and I'm not even ashamed. The thing I particularly loved about her performance was how perfectly human it was. It came from someone who clearly did love Stephen Hawking, but she's also trying to be her own person and have her own life. Those are things which would've been difficult to do even if Stephen Hawking hadn't had ALS, just by virtue of being the wife of arguably the smartest man in the world. But, of course, with the ALS it just makes everything so much harder. She shows all of those layers of feeling, from loving her husband to hating him for what she has necessarily had to make her life become for him with grace and a naturalness about her to tell the story of the woman who is simultaneously the genius's wife along with the sick guy's wife, who is trying to be more than just his wife. And she plays opposite Eddie Redmayne so perfectly you would think that they had been genuinely married themselves.

Well, I've vomited feelings about how much I loved the performances in this movie all over this blog post, so it's probably about time to wrap it up now, even though I didn't even touch on David Thewlis yet, or Harry Lloyd, or Charlie Cox... if you are interested in my thoughts on them, though (and believe me, I have them!) I am more than happy to discuss them all in the comments below.

I'm also going to go ahead and through a blanket SPOILER ALERT for the entire comments section. I don't know what may or may not come up, but I don't want to be dancing around things that happen, just in case!

And if you haven't seen it yet, you really, really should see The Theory of Everything. You guys. It's just. It is so good.