Kidding. No, but seriously. Don’t.

That’s a joke, of course you can. But also, don’t do it. Ever.

Still kidding. It’s fine.

Wait. Is it?

Try not to stress too much, they're humans

When working with celebrities, it’s easy to get way too in your head and start second-guessing whether you even know how to stand properly. Remember that they are human beings. So yes, you can look them in the eye. Mostly. Wait.

Really? See? You’re already thinking too much. 

It can be overwhelming and, quite frankly, weird to suddenly talk to an actor you’ve admired or grown up with. It’s the most normal thing in the world to feel like you already know them or to want to impress them. It’s normal to try to be funny or to be obsequious or, alternatively, to be too dismissive. It happens to everyone.

But the best way to stand out and make a good impression is to treat them as if they were any other colleague or client. Be professional.  Be cool. 

If you’re a production assistant and your job is to get them food or water, great. Check in, see what they need, let them know your name and to ask you if they want something else, and then back away. Get in, get out, be friendly and accommodating. That’s all you need to do. 

If you’re engaging with them in a creative capacity, simply do your best to listen and focus on what they’re saying. You don’t need to be a yes-person or a sycophant. They get enough of that elsewhere. Simply try and be present with them as a creative partner. If they’re an actor worth their salt, they know what good listening is, and they’ll appreciate you doing it. 

How to Work with a Celebrity

Use your best judgment

There are sadly no hard and fast rules when it comes to working with celebrities. All you can do is exercise some judgment and play it by ear. That said, don’t try to stand out and be a star. You will not be plucked from obscurity because you made one super clever comment or because you conspicuously sprinted to open the door for them.

For better or worse, no one looks at a screeching peacock and thinks, “Oh, there’s someone fun to hang out with.” Please know that these are hard-won personal lessons. 

As an example of what not to do, I was once taking Bill Paxton’s lunch order (RIP, king) and he ordered a Margherita pizza but just said, “I’ll take a Margherita.” And handed me back the menu.

So I went, “At this time of day? Seems a little early.”

And it took him a solid 10 seconds to make the questionable “Margherita to margarita” leap in logic. It was awkward. Bill did not suddenly want to be my best friend. It was not worth it. (To be clear, he was lovely.)

All that said, if there’s a quiet moment and you genuinely enjoyed the person in something or have a personal anecdote related to them, you can tell them. Particularly if they’re not a huge star. Wait for the right time, but it’s rare that any performer would be put off by someone politely telling them that their life’s work has meaning. 

How to Work with a Celebrity

The celebrities themselves often don't care

Are there high-maintenance celebrities? Of course. But often the most demanding folks are those working for the celebrity or the studio. Usually, the celebrity themselves doesn’t really care if they get Arrowhead water instead of Fiji. If they ask you directly for an item, that’s its own thing, but otherwise do your best and get what you can. And know that it is perfectly appropriate to say, “I’m sorry, this is all we have.” 

Someone I know was an assistant on a Brad Pitt film. Apparently, Brad asked if there was any fresh orange juice available. A producer overheard and freaked out because there wasn’t any, and Brad needed his fresh juice! So, this assistant drove all over town trying to find the right oranges and then bought a juicer specifically for Brad, and when they got back to the set over two hours later, Brad was mortified that his off-hand request had become this huge deal. 

In a similar vein, I was once a production assistant on a Lisa Kudrow project wherein she was constantly improvising. I couldn’t help silently laughing when she said something funny, which was often. An AD took me aside and told me to quit it because I was in her eye-line and was distracting her.

Yet, a few days later Lisa herself told me how much she appreciated being able to see me laugh because it let her know what was working. The AD just made an assumption. They were wrong.

The lesson here is not to ignore your boss or to be an asshole, but just know that unless you’re hearing something directly from the celebrity, it’s very possible that it’s someone else’s issue and not theirs. 

In summary, stay cool, do your best, don’t try to make a big impression—and whatever you do, please don’t ask for a selfie.