My name is Daniel Joseph O’Brien. My mom was a nurse, my father was a train-whisperer and we grew up in a small, steel-aware-of town in central New Jersey in The Past. We didn’t grow up wealthy, we didn’t attend fancy Hollywood parties and I was actually the first person in my family to feel the sun.
I’m well-versed in the life of a humble, God-fearing, blue-collar type, but I was always curious about what it might be like to grow up privileged. What would it mean to be rich and famous and conventionally attractive?
Well, I decided to find out. In an effort to learn how the Other Half lives, I spent a month telling people I was (and thereby essentially, being) Armie Hammer, the popular Film Actor and Tan Tall Human. Every day, for one full, Christian month, I was Armie Hammer, the actor and eventual podcaster.
What I learned might surprise you, as it certainly did surprise me.
People Look at You Strangely
It’s a popular refrain to say “Stars: they’re just like us!” but I can tell you firsthand that that simply isn’t true. Celebrities live an altogether different life than you and I. A month ago I could walk into a coffee shop and order whatever I wanted and no one would bat an eye. But when I, with my broad shoulders and handsomely symmetrical American face, strutted into a coffee shop and proclaimed “I am the actor, Armie Hammer, and I would like whatever coffee you feel is appropriate for my massive frame and Greek-statue-jawline,” let me tell you: I got looks. The barista took a few beats to just take me in and gave one of those “is this really happening” looks that baristas give when they meet Armie Hammer. Other patrons turned away from their books and conversations to stare at me. One guy didn’t do anything at all, so paralyzed with admiration was he in the face of me, a celebrity super star.
I felt like I was on display. I felt like a piece of meat. I felt like a piece of meat in a display case.
I learned something that day. Celebrities don’t get to hide in plain sight, like you and I; being a celebrity means you’re always being observed, so you’re always “on.” I smiled for the customers and signed napkins and bagels, but truthfully I missed being anonymous.
The coffee was fine but I wish they hadn’t made me pay for it.
Even Your Family Treats You Differently
I expected random people off the street to react strongly when they met me, the Entourage movie’s Armie Hammer, but I was shocked to learn that my own family treated me differently. Such is the price of fame, I suppose.
When I made the news for being thrown out of the James Corden show even though Armie Hammer was on the show that night— and I was AT THE TIME Armie Hammer— my mother called me up and said, “Daniel, stop this.”
“You’re mistaken,” I told her. “I’m Armie Hammer, the actor. I was in that Facebook movie twice and I feel like I probably did a superhero movie too, right? It seems impossible that I wouldn’t have done a superhero movie at this point, so let’s say I did and that’s where you know me from. My full name is Armedforces Hammertime.”
“Honey this is your mother, please stop doing this,” she said.
“If you really were my mother, you’d answer to Mommie Hammer only and you’d tell me I did a good job in that movie where I road bikes around in what I want to say is France.”
“It was Italy.”
“So you admit it. I am the Army Man Hammer.”
“I’m putting your father on the phone.”
This was especially strange. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to my father while being Armie Hammer. Truly, stars live different lives.
“Why don’t you come home, son,” a man’s voice asked on the phone.
“You know that I can’t, Dad. I have all the respect in the world for you for inventing baking soda, but my place is here, in Hollywood, California making hit movies about lonely cowboy heroes and people who fuck and eat fruit.”
“I don’t understand this,” he said.
And to be honest, he never would.
It’s true what they say. You can’t go home again.
Being Armie Hammer had its perks. I liked living a fancy, Hollywood lifestyle and having irresponsibly large testicles was nice, but ultimately the price tag of being a famous person is too high for me.
I know that, no matter what, when I meet the real Armie Hammer, I’ll do whatever I can to make him feel normal, maybe by saying something like “I’m Armie Hammer, too,” or something like that.
Or something like that.
Wow. And then I finished writing this article and I was really proud of myself.