When ac­tors be­come real-life ac­tion he­roes

The pat­tern is more than co­in­ci­dence, says this doc­u­men­tar­ian

StarMetro Halifax - - DAILY LIFE - Al­bert Nerenberg SPE­CIAL TO THE STAR

A few years back I came across a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle about ac­tor Tom Cruise res­cu­ing a woman who was be­ing vi­o­lently mugged. That’s weird, I thought. Seems like a scene from a movie. A Tom Cruise movie.

But that’s what hap­pened in real life on a street in Re­gent Park, Lon­don, in 1998. A woman, so­cialite Rita Sim­monds, had parked her Porsche and was then vi­ciously set upon by two men. She was wear­ing more than $100,000 worth of jew­elry. As they lit­er­ally ripped the di­a­monds from her fingers and ears, she screamed. Cruise hap­pened to be down the street and re­port­edly leaped into ac­tion. The mug­gers took off when they heard Cruise and his body­guard’s rac­ing foot­steps.

“Tom was bril­liant,” the res­cued Sim­monds later told the me­dia. “As soon as he heard the com­mo­tion, he rushed out.”

Cruise hasn’t just done this kind of thing once, but pos­si­bly as many as six times. He came to the aid of a young woman in a hit-and-run dur­ing a rain­storm in Santa Mon­ica, Calif. He helped res­cue a fam­ily from a burn­ing boat in the south of France. He even tried to res­cue then-wife Nicole Kid­man dur­ing a hik­ing mishap by climb­ing a vol­cano.

But it’s not just Cruise. Jamie Foxx smashed a win­dow and pulled a man out of a burn­ing over­turned truck. Kate Winslet once helped drag Richard Bran­son’s mother out of a burn­ing house af­ter it was hit by light­ning dur­ing a hur­ri­cane. This year, Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch jumped out of a car and saved a de­liv­ery­man from be­ing mugged in Lon­don. Tom Hardy vaulted a se­ries of back­yard fences be­fore tack­ling a moped thief. It seems like in a pinch you might want an ac­tor nearby.

When I be­gan re­search­ing the doc­u­men­tary You Are What You Act, I saw there was an even more pre­cise pat­tern. Sure, many stars play he­roes, but only some per­form out­stand­ing heroic acts in pub­lic. It was most of­ten ac­tors who do their own stunts, peo­ple likely into the phys­i­cal cul­ture of stunts and ac­tion.

There’s an emerg­ing field of sci­ence, called em­bod­ied cog­ni­tion, that might help ex­plain how ac­tors, and oth­ers, be­come their roles.

One the­ory sug­gests that act­ing can prime the body for cer­tain be­hav­iours. Act­ing brave, although ar­guably READ MORE AT AT THES­TAR.COM/MOVIES

Tom Cruise isn’t just an ac­tion hero in Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble: Rogue Na­tion. He’s a real-life hero who has res­cued peo­ple on at least six oc­ca­sions.

faked, might cause us to be more likely to act that way in life.

Amer­i­can psy­chol­o­gist Philip Zim­bardo is study­ing prac­tised hero­ism, partly as redemp­tion, he jokes, for pro­duc­ing the no­to­ri­ous Stan­ford Prison Ex­per­i­ment, a psy­cho­log­i­cal study that gave rise to per­haps cyn­i­cal views of hu­man na­ture. More re­cently he coined the term “Heroic

Imag­i­na­tion.” It’s the con­cept that peo­ple who have im­ages of ac­tions they can take in a cri­sis are more likely to act them out rather than freeze, as the av­er­age per­son is likely to do in a trau­matic sit­u­a­tion.

The most in­trigu­ing part to me is the idea that courage could come with prac­tice, along with a host of other states, like con­fi­dence, hap­pi­ness and even love. Mar­garet At­wood is writ­ing a se­quel to The Hand­maid’s Tale, partly nspired by “the world we’ve been liv­ing in.” Story at Ac­tor Jamie Foxx helped res­cue a man trapped in a burn­ing truck.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.