Is it just me, or does everybody get told by strangers that they "look just like" someone all the time? (Please leave a comment as I'm really curious to know. It's one thing to be Christine Taylor and have to live with the Marcia Brady thing your whole life, but me?) Sometimes it's wonderfully flattering (and frequently overgenerous) and other times it's ... well, really not. Sadly, as the years pass the quality of the person you're compared to seems to decrease measurably (go figure). Let me explain: When I first moved to Los Angeles some 18 years ago a movie starring a bunch of nobody young men called "Dead Poets Society" had just come out and for about two years everywhere I would go people would stop me and ask me if I was "that kid" in it.
Impossible as it is to fathom now, would you believe at the time I was kind of crushed that "that kid" they were referring to was Ethan Hawke rather than Robert Sean Leonard, whom I found way hotter? (I know.) I must admit I worked that mistaken identity hard (those parties on Curson ...) through the "Mystery Date" look, but by the mid-'90s that had all but dried up. (Please don't make me mention the Cameron from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" comparisons ... God help me!) Then in the late '90s and early '00s I started to get Ben Affleck quite a bit (mostly from straight men), which I ate up despite the fact that I knew deep down it was my then-goatee that was getting all the attention.
It was around the time I hit my mid-'30s that things started to get really out of hand.
I'll never forget it. I was sitting at the Howard Johnson's in Times Square with my visiting brother (Terence) and sister (Jennifer) in the summer of 2001 when the waiter approached our table and told us how John Travolta had just been in there. We all smiled and then he looked directly at me and said, "Speaking of movie stars, you know who you look just like?" Flush with pride in front of my siblings and expecting one of the flattering comparisons I'd gotten over the years (while secretly praying for JUST ONE James Van Der Beek -- shouldn't our mutual HUGE FOREHEADS garner at least one in my lifetime?), I leaned back and said, "Who?" "Denis Leary," he replied. My sister immediately pointed and laughed at me ("HAAAAA!!!!") while Terence covered his mouth to hide his laughter and I turned bright red with utter embarrassment.
Now granted, many people have since told me that they think Leary's "handsome." But a gruff, chain-smoking actor 10 years my senior was hardly a comparison I was ready to deal with!
Things have been relatively quiet since then with the occasional Janko Tipsarevic (or this or this or this). So when one of the South American coaches at tennis camp last month kept staring at me I wasn't sure if he was admiring my wicked slice backhand, or if he was just concerned that I might pass out. (I have a tendency to turn REALLY red when I play.) Turns out it was neither.
When we both finally wound up in the same rest area at the same time, he turned to me and said, "You know who you look just like?" All too familiar with the drill I paused and said, "No, who?" "Andres Nocioni of the Chicago Bulls," he replied proudly. When no one in the vicinity -- myself included -- recognized the name, he explained that Nocioni is an Argentine player on the team. Now despite my newly acquired
third-degree sun burn tan, I was still somewhat perplexed until he told me that Nocioni has "the light hair and the blue eyes, just like you." Although I still don't really see it, I'm willing to cut him some slack: First of all, Nocioni is a good dozen years younger than I am. Secondly, as a foreigner he probably thinks all Americans look alike. But most importantly, at least he didn't say I look like Denis Leary ...
Related: You may recall that MyHeritage.com gave me three suggestions that ran the gamut of emotions, from Warren Beatty to Ben Stiller to Tom Green!!!