Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Perhaps then it’s no surprise that the idea of preening on social media makes Ruth Wilson physically recoil. In some respects, Instagram would be useful – somewhere her fanbase could find her smaller projects, for instance. But the very idea fills her with dread. She dramatises an imaginary feed: “Oh, heyyy guys. It’s Ruth Wilson herrre.” Then shudders. “The self is so important on social media, it’s created a very narcissistic society. Everyone is their own famous person; everyone can be the centre of their own world.” She jabs a finger at her phone. “But it isn’t human. It’s a constructed world. It lacks actual connection or feeling.”

What’s more, she’s watched friends become “obsessed. You can’t have a conversation because they’re looking for the next shot. Everything is, ‘What can I put out there?’ When they don’t get hits, they feel low, not validated.” She clicks her tongue at the performative feminism, the performative activism; the fact that everyone rushes to post on national whatever-whatever day. “Nothing is real. I don’t believe any of it. No one has real or strong beliefs. They are just dictated to.”

Quite apart from anything, being a slave to her phone would intrude on the things she loves best – “thinking. Just thinking” is one. She has a “restless mind”. Also, reading. […]

“I think back: brilliant, you made people so uncomfortable they had to leave. I think it’s important to face things you don’t want to see. Because only then will you grow. Only then will you live properly…Art should change the way you think. Art should change your life. Art can save you.” Wilson wants her work to be art. […]

Standing on that hinge between pre- and post-#MeToo was, Wilson says, “extraordinary. To actually witness Hollywood” – she makes a whistling sound – “shift like that.” The most disappointing aspect was the volte-face hypocrisy. “To see the survival instinct. You realise how fickle that industry is. There’s no moral backbone.” Attitudes, habits, the way people spoke changed, yes – but only out of fear of being caught. “People were like, ‘We’re going to have a meeting about how badly we’ve behaved and then we’ll all be fine.’ It blew my mind.

“It made me understand a whole swathe of human behaviour. So many people don’t really believe anything – only what makes them money.” Weinstein knew “how to get people Oscars”, so his behaviour was ignored. “They’re opportunists. You see that. But it makes you sage about what you want, what’s important. Do you want to live in that world? Or would you prefer to be doing something else, like this weird 24-hour play, where you can explore things in a safe environment?” […]

This is her safe environment, among artists who challenge. I’m not surprised that Katharine Hepburn – who won Oscars, but “paid no heed to the awards system” – is one of Wilson’s heroines. “I love her. What a legend.” She didn’t play the Hollywood game? “No. And I’m useless at playing the game. I don’t want to play the game. Like, what game? What does that even mean? That’s my answer. I can’t. I physically can’t.”

— Charlotte Edwardes, ‘So many people don’t believe anything – only what makes them money’: Ruth Wilson on being a Hollywood outsider ‘ (The Guardian · May 6, 2023)

%d bloggers like this: