Maybe it’s because celebrity culture is generally all “OMG THIS IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, YOU GUYS!”, but this little tidbit struck me as particularly note-worthy this morning: Two-time Academy Award winner Dustin Hoffman revealed yesterday that he had been diagnosed with cancer—and also, happily, that he had already undergone treatment and is absolutely fine now.
The most amazing part being, of course, that he managed to keep it totally under wraps.
Dustin’s rep told ABC, “It was detected early and he has been surgically cured. Dustin is feeling great and is in good health.”Although the actor is staying mum on what type of cancer he had, his rep added that he’ll continue preventative treatments to minimize the chances of it coming back.
I’m always amazed at Dustin’s ability to work through just about anything (he’s been promoting his directorial debut, Quartet, in recent months—and remember when he lost the tip of a finger while shooting Finding Neverland and still kept coming to work anyway, even while he was hopped up on morphine?). This time, I’m equally, if not more, impressed that not only did he keep his private battle out of the news until it was over, but that he didn’t go proclaiming it from the rooftops, either. This is a lesson I think a lot of younger stars could stand to learn, given that it’s become so common for celebs to air their dirty laundry in the name of minimizing PR damage. The “Well, they’re going to find out eventually anyway, so I may as well just tell them myself” school of thought can work when used judiciously, but it’s not always something that needs to be done. Especially not if you’re just doing it for attention, because most of us can smell that coming from a mile away and absolutely will not respect you for it.
The danger with celebrity is that with so much media scrutiny focusing on actors’ actual lives, there comes a point where no matter how good the actor is, you look at them onscreen and you don’t see their characters anymore—you just see THEM. The person. Johnny Depp AS Tonto, not Tonto as played by Johnny Depp. And although it’s definitely important for major players in the entertainment industry to learn how to field interviews and such, there’s a lot to be said for keeping your head down instead of seeking instant fame. It’s true that Dustin, who is a prime example of what you can gain by keeping your personal life and your work life separate, had the benefit of being part of a generation of actors that came into their own before the Internet was a huge thing; but people like Kerry Washington have also wisely hopped on the Keep Your Mouth Shut Bandwagon, too, so at least there’s that.
Anyhoo, I’m really, REALLY happy that Dustin’s docs caught the cancer early and that he beat it. He’s kept busy the entire time, too; he just finished shooting Jon Favreau’s next flick, Chef, he’s about to start working on Esio Trot with Judi Dench in the fall, and he’s set to shoot Boys Choir in early 2014. Keep on keepin’ on, Dustin!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.
Photo Credit: StarTraks Photo