Red Carpet Extroverts and Introverts

In watching the red carpet event preceding the premiere of The Hobbit last night, I was struck by how different personalities seemed to work on the red carpet live event.

The red carpet is a place for extroverts. As an example, during their first interviews Jimmy Nesbitt and Martin Freeman seemed a little grudging (Martin still had his sunglasses on during the first interview, and while I gather that it was a hot sunny day, it’s just a little off-putting not to be able to see a celebrity’s face especially if that’s what you’re there to see) and their remarks sounded almost forced, like they were searching their memories for nice things to say. But two hours later, both of them were transformed. Jimmy warmly praised everything about Wellington, and his remarks seemed to flow from his heart. Martin was jubilant, almost like he was surfing on a wave of the crowd’s love.

The best “surfer” by far was Andy Serkis, who (probably because he knew what was coming) arrived cheerful and happy and escalated into unrestrained glee. He ran down the red carpet high-fiving members of the crowd who’d stuck their palms out for him to slap. He cheerfully honored a request to “do” Gollum, and came at the TV camera like he was going to eat Wellington whole. He must have a rock star’s appetite for attention, thriving on other people’s notice and goodwill.

And there was plenty of goodwill to go around. The crowd was huge and happy and generally seemed well-behaved. Most people had these big placemat sized sheets (at a distance, they looked a little like Thror’s Map, all aged yellow and bordered in sepia ink) that the stars could sign as they passed by. Maybe that’s what usually happens at premieres, but I don’t know because this is the first red carpet event I’ve ever seen.

But for introverts, I think the red carpet must be more like a gauntlet than a festival of love. In contrast to their more extroverted colleagues, Richard Armitage and Graham McTavish seemed happier and zingier at their very first interviews. Not that they weren’t pleasant, friendly, funny and unfailingly polite in all the interviews I saw them give—it is very hard for me to put into words why I thought they enjoyed themselves more the first time around.

Since I think of myself as something of an introvert, I tried to imagine what my feelings would have been in that situation. The first thing I did was to wish I were an extrovert. Wouldn’t it be nice to relax and bask in all that attention, to just go with the flow of that overwhelming tide? Instead, I would probably feel that I had to meet that outpouring of emotion, counter it, control it, and give back in equal measure. That would be exhausting. Nobody can generate that much energy inside themselves.

Of course, that’s probably the wrong way to go about it—the red carpet can’t be a place for civilized give-and-take. It’s all about riding the emotion.

Well, it was fun to watch and seemed to go off without a hitch. Now I’m waiting to hear about the movie…Not that it would make any difference in terms of increasing my desire to see it multiple times. I couldn’t possibly want to watch this movie more.

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32 thoughts on “Red Carpet Extroverts and Introverts

  1. I was feeling for those introverts! Funny thing too- trying to picture myself in that situation…I probably would’ve acted a bit like the little Kircher girl. Poor thang, 😉 Awesome party though. :))

  2. That’s a great point. I did not think about what a crowd like that would do to an introvert. It’d think it will become easier with experience, as he learns to relax in such settings. He did get noticeably more comfortable in interviews, since the one he did for N&S DVD 🙂

    • Right, rbb, I think that experience and practice would help anybody handle that kind of a situation. You know what to expect, at least, even if you never completely enjoy it. And I do think RA did a wonderful job–I don’t want to suggest that he wasn’t comfortable or in command at all times.

  3. I agree. It struck me that underneath it all, RA still had a little difficulty with the red carpet. Hopefully it will become easier in time, or he’ll learn to cover it more.

    • Well, judiang, I do think he did a terrific job, but I’d say that the red carpet probably isn’t his favorite thing LOL. Given a choice between a one-on-one interview and an adoring mob, my guess is he’d choose the former–and that might never change.
      But it was just interesting to me that people are so different, and that some of his fellow cast members began their red carpet walks stressed out and ended up enjoying themselves, while the reverse was true for others. It seems to be a matter of how you cope with the energy directed your way.

    • That’s kind of what I meant, jasrangoon. For an introverted person, it would be tiring–because they need to manage the energy coming at them. But an extroverted person might find that same energy invigorating. Maybe they just let it roll over them.

  4. What makes an introvert? It’s interesting to consider how an introvert handles fame and publicity.
    I think RA is doing well. He’s learning the game with each exposure. I’m sure it must have it’s own ‘high’ and he enjoys it, but not without that nervous edge.

    • Basically, the way I understand it, Trudy, is that people who are extroverts are refreshed and energized by their contact with other people. Introverts “recharge their batteries” by being in quiet, meditative, solitary circumstances. It’s not that people are 100% one way or another–we all need social interaction and we all need rest–but some people are more one way, and some are the other.
      And yes, RA did great. At The Hobbit red carpet event he looked magnificent, his comments were always thoughtful and well-expressed, he was positive at all times, and treated every question and interviewer with attention and consideration. But (to me) it wasn’t like he was getting off on the collective energy of the crowd, which seemed to be the case with other members of the cast. That’s all I meant.

      • Right. There are varying levels to every quality and one can be more extroverted in certain groups or situations and be more introverted in others. Richard doesn’t feed off the crowd like others might. Maybe he never will, but he’ll learn to work it really well.
        He looked really happy in general.

    • Being an introvert and having read books about it, I can sum up the basic difference that seems to be at play here. Extroverts pull energy from others. They soak up energy from the crowd! Which is just like Jimmie, Andy and Martin behaved on the red carpet. Conversely, introverts have their energy depleted by people and crowds. Which seems to sums up our observations of Richard’s walk down the red carpet. He enjoys it but I imagine that like me, he needed to have some “down time” to recoup. It’s taken me a while to realize that it’s not a bad thing to be an introvert. We are just wired differently!

  5. I find extroverts irritate me quite quickly. James Nesbitt was a case in point yesterday – i thought he got far too much air time but to be fair to him, why wouldn’t he grab that opportunity? Extroverts gain energy from external mediums and see themselves in terms of how they i others,nteract with others, whereas for introverts, external forces are draining and they gather their energy from within. Which doesn’t mean introverts are socially awkward or lacking in any way – i personally think we (you can see my bias!) are the lucky ones as we aren’t dependent on others for validation. I think RA has come to terms with the red carpet part of the job- but he will never define himself by his fame. It will always be outside of him, something he doesn’t really understand and doesn’t really care to think about much. That’s why i feel confident he will remain the lovely, normal, thoughtful guy we have all been drawn too, no matter how crazy his world becomes.

    • Sorry – there’s an extra ‘others’ in there. The line should read ‘…see themselves in terms of how they interact with others…’

      And i should learn to proof read.

  6. No problem, bollyknickers! My laptop does the same thing sometimes, and ends up moving the cursor on its own, I swear.
    Yeah, it’s an interesting question. Maybe if you’re on the red carpet, the best thing to do is just swagger along with your chest out, enjoying the buzz, as I assume extroverts do. But I think that if people were showering me with all that adoration, I would feel obligated to give back in equal measure: “You like me? Okay, I like you too. Let me show you that by smiling and waving and signing and answering questions and so on, even though I’m only one person and you’re tens of thousands.” No wonder it’s exhausting.

    • I think RA did that to an extent, Sara, back in the early days. Not that i was there but reading the first communications i get the impression he was extremely thankful for his fans and desperately wanted to give them something back. I think that still holds true but he has had to put more boundaries in place as his fan base has grown and he has got busier. I went off topic somewhat but my feeling is that he has learnt to pace himself on the red carpet too. He has some very endearing tactics – for example, he will focus completely on one person at a time so he has, in effect, a series of one-to-one encounters. But i agree – doing that all the way along that very long carpet would have been exhausting. And today he has the ARIA’s in Sydney – i bet he needs that like a hole in the head. But he will throw himself wholeheartedly into it and make like he is having a ball. The poor darling.

      • I liked hearing about that one-on-one tactic, bollyknickers. That’s a very good strategy, I think. And I thought his schedule was full before — now they’re doing the ARIAs too! Well, bless them all.

  7. Hmmmm. Interesting notion. I, too, thought Martin Freeman was not as jubilant as he might have been. But I hadn’t detected that in James Nesbit–though his discussions about how his family adjusted to the life in NZ did take precedence over his discussion of his role in the movie–so with you pointing it out, I do now. A ha!

    And Richard Armitage deftly deflected the sexy dwarf question by harkening back to his responses when asked about sexy John Thornton in North & South. That it is the heroic nature of the character that inspires people. Oh Mr. Armitage! You inspire us, too!

    • Hi, Gratiana, it was as if Martin and James had to “warm up” through a bunch of interviews and fan meetings before they really hit their stride. And you’re so right, Richard Armitage is getting pretty good at deflecting the sexy dwarf comments 🙂 But people aren’t letting that issue go, so it’s probably just as well that he’s got Fili and Kili (Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner) to share some of the “heat.”

      • The interviewer I was watching wasn’t very good and after each interview with someone she would practically swoon and say she was going to try to “wrangle” RA for an interview. I’m not sure if she ever did get an interview with him, but it made me wonder what all the others thought of the attention RA was getting. I would assume from the perspective of the actor, this movie is a chance to further their careers and the one who gets the most attention gets the bigger boost to their career. Martin Freeman seemed a little grumpy to me in all his interviews (at the premiere and other media), but I didn’t get to watch the whole thing so not sure how it all ended. And I didn’t think anyone (that I saw) was as expressive as RA — maybe with the exception of Peter Jackson.

      • That’s interesting, sloan. I’m not sure I saw that interviewer — in the two red carpet interviews that I saw with RA, the interviewers didn’t appear to know much about him. In fact, what I perceived as a lessening of excitement might have been due to the second interviewer’s bland questioning.
        I’m sure that these interviews are generally a wonderful tool for promoting an actor’s career, and no matter how many times they’ve answered the same question, they’ve got to do it again and again, cheerfully. Some of them are more patient and accepting of that process than others, and Richard’s hard-working and dutiful attitude makes him stand out. But Martin did seem much, much happier in the later red carpet interviews that I saw. He was more complimentary about the city and the people and everything.

      • Yes, but on the other hand – how can he possibly respond ??? “Oh naturally, I’m so handsome, and intelligent, people have no choice but to go nuts over me “…. 😀

  8. A red carped would drive me positively mad, no matter on which side. It is wonderful to see the collective euphoria but being part of it? No thanks!

    • Not one for crowds? I can understand that feeling. While sometimes I’m up for attending a big outdoor festival, most of the time I think we’re lucky that we can enjoy the festivities on television or online.

  9. I don’t know if anyone else has answered this, but the “big placemat sized sheets (at a distance, they looked a little like Thror’s Map, all aged yellow and bordered in sepia ink)” were actually autograph cards that Air NZ passed out before the celebrities arrived. It had a picture of the Air NA plane decked out for The Hobbit (the plane with all the pictures of the cast on it) on it and lots of space for signatures on it.

    It was very nice (and undoubtably saavy marketing) on the part of AIr NZ as it gave people something to collect signatures on if they’d forgotten to bring a book or something.

    And as for RA – he was all smiles and warmth and looked like he was really having a good time (or as good a time as one can get on a 2 hour long red carpet!). Saying that – I did get to see him in the first 1/4 of the carpet though. 🙂

    • Thanks, camillavirgil! It’s good to know what those cards were — and you’re right, it was a good move by Air NZ. Their cards will be treasured by many, I’m sure. And it’s so wonderful to hear your perspective, since you actually talked to RA on the red carpet on the big day. And got your copy of The Hobbit autographed by him, right on the page with the Misty Mountains song! You’re brilliant.

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