Elderism #25

November 17th, 2008

As we get older, do we develop a better understanding of how others perceive us? The case of playwright and character actor Wallace Shawn would suggest not.

In an article by Dave Itzkoff in today’s Times, Shawn talks about having played the “little homunculus” in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan.” (It’s the role that launched the acting career of this wonderfully talented, smallish, baldish, gnomish man.) “I was making a living from a joke about my appearance that I didn’t understand, and in a way still don’t, because when I look in a mirror it doesn’t seem funny to me.”

Now, thirty years later, Shawn (who, at 65, is admittedly only a semi-elder despite being quoted here in Elderisms) is doing his urban garden gnome thing again on the TV hit, “Gossip Girl.” And he’s still confused that people find him comical:

“It is a little bit puzzling, because I don’t think of myself in any way. I just seem like a kind of blob or blank to myself.”