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Actors to the Rescue: Gosling, Winslet, and Pitt Make Cynics Question Their Heroism

Actors to the Rescue: Gosling, Winslet, and Pitt Make Cynics Question Their Heroism

Thompson on Hollywood

What better way to kick off a competitive Oscar season than saving a life?

Charity work just isn’t enough these days. In recent news, Kate Winslet saved Richard Branson’s momma from a fire; Ryan Gosling kept peace on a New York City street, and Brad Pitt (saved an extra from a human stampede. These are just the latest movie-stars-turned-super-heroes, joining the likes of Werner Herzog (saving Joaquin Phoenix from a car wreck), Harrison Ford (saving a hiker via helicopter) and Tom Cruise (delivering a hit-and-run victim to the hospital, saving two boys from a movie premiere crowd, and rescuing stranded rafters in Capri).

What’s going on here? Are these events and their timing too perfect to be true (Gosling’s Drive hits theaters September 16), or are we becoming too cynical? You can watch Herzog’s video recounting of what happened with Phoenix and Gosling’s peacekeeping efforts and vote in our poll below:

Of course, some cynics scream conspiracy, believing that these publicity stunts are designed to boost each stars’ profile, heading into awards campaigning. Moviefone says: “We’re so cynical that, when we hear of a story like these, our first instinct is to wonder if it’s some kind of a publicity stunt. But what if these heroic acts are not only genuine, but tied somehow to what makes these people good actors?”

If not publicity stunts, lets not call them coincidences, either. It’s an actor’s job to be more empathetic than the average human being, to behave on instinct rather than social conditioning, to break walls down, not build them up, to allow fear to be a motivator, not an inhibitor. Where you’ll stand on this matter is tied to whether you believe human beings are innately good or evil. Some heroes are real, people…

Vote in our poll below:

Actors to the rescue?
Publicity stunt.
Random occurances.
Face it, they’re just better than you. free polls 

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Theodore Frankenberger

This article is downright offensive and insulting. In fact, I see it as a deliberate attempt to dumb down those very few of us who haven’t already fallen for every marketing trick in the book. Those of us who still have the nerve to wipe away some of the PR crap being shoveled in our faces.

The devil is in the details. For starters, the author of this article hasn’t acknowledged the sheer volume of ‘coincidence’. By keeping that volume low, the details rather vague, and the article short, he or she intends to keep you (the consumer) stupid. In addition, the suggestion is made that actors may actually have the tendency to be heroic. Finally, the implication is made that if still have doubts, you are a cynic. That line is intended to keep me (the critic) quiet. It won’t work.

Winslet, Pitt, Gosling, Cruise, and Ford have more in common than the author is willing to acknowledge. Each one of them are A-list celebrities who were in just the right place at just the right time to ‘save a life’. Each one of them were reported to act alone. Not one of them were reported to be assisted by a cop, firefighter, cab driver, co-star, stuntman, or bystander. In order for the A-list celebrity to be credited with ‘saving a life’ others in the area had to stand by and do nothing. These circumstances are too exclusive to be just coincidence.

In the Gosling incident, no charges were filed. Think about that for a moment. If a responsible citizen had the courage to break up a ‘knife fight’, why not make a citizen’s arrest? Why not call the authorities? Why didn’t anyone else? I’ll tell you why. Because it was fake. That’s why. Maybe, Gosling stood by in the area with his bodyguards and waited for any kind of petty little confrontation he could exploit without putting himself in danger. Maybe the whole thing was staged. The incident shown in that video may as well have been two children squabbling over toys in a sandbox. No way did Gosling break up a ‘knife fight’. No way in he’ll. He was in the middle of a media blitz to promote his new movie, which by the way, just happens to be the first he got in shape for. This was the second event in two weeks designed to portray Gosling as strong or macho. The previous was a sloppy re-enactment of a movie scene in which Patrick Swayze lifted Jennifer Grey above his head. Gosling attempted to re-create the same move with Al Roker on the ‘Today’ show but struggled desperately to get him off the ground. It obviously didn’t go as well as planned. These two events were contrived just days apart to coincide with the promotion of his new movie which just happens to be advertised on this page.

The other events were contrived as well. Just consider each event in detail. Don’t let any celebrity or the industry they represent limit your range of thought. And don’t reward them for doing so.

bob hawk

Whoa! Was I confused. Pardon my naivete, but I was not aware that others wrote under toh!, and up to this time thought that it was all Anne. Anyway, Ms. Savage, I did read your entire piece, but didn’t bother to click on any of the links (since I assumed they were just straight reportage of incidents of which I was already aware). Now having done so, I see the inspiration — especially Susman’s article, which seems to provide the foundation for your piece.

Re-contextualized by the links, it all makes sense. And I’ve also learned something about toh! that I never knew before.


seriously… if one of these was a stunt, and it was uncovered as such, the actor involved would look like a tool. he/she would never play it down.

you couldn’t show your face. doing an action flick where you’re the hero would be out of the question

bob hawk

I’m amazed that you felt it necessary to write this piece. Not that I think YOU are cynical, but why you would give any attention or credence to those cynical enough to think or give voice to such dumb conjectural absurdities is beyond me.

I’m separating the acts themselves, and the character of those who did them, from the instantaneous and viral nature of today’s cyber world. I’m also separating the Winslets and Goslings of this world from their publicists, if indeed their publicists even felt they had to lift a finger to capitalize on these real life random ocurrences.

sophia savage

The author of this piece (me) is using sarcasm as an intro to look at how the media responds in situations like these. I ask the question — Are we becoming too cynical? — I think it’s clear if one reads the entire piece that I don’t think these are publicity stunts.

Gary Susman

Thanks for linking to my article, Anne. Hope I’m not being churlish by wishing you’d put the link behind the word “Moviefone” instead of “Tom Cruise.” I fear no one will click that.


I’ll bet they at least know how to spell “occurrences”.


Brad Pitt has no publicist- Clooney, Winslett & Gossling do have publicists. All of these acts may have “genuine” roots, but the stars with PR clearly use it to spin/exploit anything they do for good press- that is why the stars pay them MILLIONS of dollars. Always follow the money- any decent critical analysis demands it.




Publicity stunts? Oh come on… this is ridiculous!
Why so cynic?


Ok, Richard Branson’s house was struck by lightening and caught fire. How is that a publicity stunt? That’s Mother Nature doing her thing, not a carefully organized situation. Staging a street fight or a rescue mission sounds possible; you can simply order people around and then conveniently step in. But I highly doubt Branson’s mother waited patiently in a fire so Winslet could carry her, and in the split second Winslet had to think, I highly doubt she was calculating the best rescue story that would get her publicity. The fire was actually a pretty scary ordeal (house was completely destroyed) and everyone acted on quick thinking. That includes Winslet deciding to carry Branson’s mum rather than let her walk, just to speed up the process and make sure everyone got out as quickly as possible because the house was crumbling while they were inside. The problem is that the media over exaggerates every little thing so they gave publicity to those actors, not the other way around.

Jack Frost

Anyone who thinks these are publicity stunts is a moron. Period.
Cynicism is one of the worst human traits.

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