Actually, I guess these were my very first fangirl moments involving actors I saw in real life.
In 1994 – wow, more than 20 years ago; I’m SO old! – I took part in the Work&Travel program of the CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) and worked at Mount Rainier National Park (Washington State) for two months. Before I went there, I stayed in Tacoma for a week or so and did some sightseeing in Seattle. Of course, I also went to Pike Place Market to marvel at the wonders of all the food and other stuff you can buy there. Well, and then I found this comic/collectibles store (I think it must have been the Golden Age Collectables shop) and I had just wandered in there, standing there with my back to the entrance looking at some autographs on the wall when I heard someone say „Oh, look, that’s me up there!“ I turned around and – lo and behold – it was George „Sulu“ Takei! He disappeared into the shop’s office, presumably to sign a few more photos, and I lingered until he came back out. He did seem to be in a rush, so I just watched him leave. Well, I would have been too shy to talk to him anyway, but I thought that was a really cool coincidence that I was just there at the right time to see him.
But I must have been really blessed that summer because that was only the first, and merely one-sided encounter… I did not work as a ranger on Mount Rainier or anything „fancy“ like this – I worked in the snack bar of the hotel up in Paradise, sold coffee, sandwiches, the world’s best carrot cake, hotdogs with chili con carne… Our sandwiches came complimentary with a small bag of chips – this is important because one morning I heard a colleague argue with a customer: He wanted to have an apple instead of the chips, which wasn’t possible because the bag of chips cost 50 cents, whereas we sold apples for one dollar a piece. Since the quarrel had been going on for quite a while, I looked up to see who the customer was. It hit me: that was the blonde-haired guy from A Room with a View, what was his name…? I really couldn’t think of the name but all my colleagues were very doubtful it was him anyway. I think they did know who I meant (most of them knew him from the Warlock movies, which I hadn’t seen), but I didn’t get a name from them either.
Anyway, I made a promise to myself to overcome my shyness and ask him, should he chance to come into the snack bar again. Well, he did that same day – and I was at the counter! So I served him whatever he wanted and then, very politely, asked: „Excuse me, Sir, are you an actor?“ That must have been the (second) dumbest question ever, but since I still didn’t remember his name (let’s not forget, there was no Internet back then), I didn’t know what else to ask. Well, he was. And we started talking a bit. He asked where I was from and, even though he had noticed I wasn’t American, complimented me on my English. Then I told me that he had just filmed Mario und der Zauberer in Germany, with Klaus Maria Brandauer, and that he had enjoyed it very much. That was all really great, but I still didn’t know his name! So – now really comes the dumbest, most embarrassing question ever – I asked: „What was your name again?“ He replied: „Julian Sands“. I should have just waited until he had given me his autograph (on the back of an overrings paper, something you had to fill out when you had accidentally charged for an item twice, e.g.)…
A couple of days later I was walking outside (with my camera!) and our paths crossed again. He remembered me and said „hi“ and agreed to have his picture taken, even though he seemed to be in a hurry. It’s still in the photo album (of course, not a digital one!) I made after the summer, together with the autograph.
I’d never been a huge fan of Julian Sands (Oh boy, had I met some of my favorite actors that way…!) but every time I’ve seen him in a movie or TV series from then on, I’ve been happy to see him and to have met him in person.
Ever since then I’ve „met“ quite a lot of actors and actresses, since a few years ago I started going to Ring*Con (a LotR-Convention in Germany) and Fedcon (a Star Trek and Science Fiction Convention in Germany). For a couple of years now I’ve also attended plays in London to see some of my favorite actors and actresses up close. I’ve certainly had some memorable moments with them (some of whom I REALLY adore), too, but at these events you’re just one amongst hundreds or thousands. That’s why these two encounters, notably the one with Julian Sands, stand out.