Emma Samms: The Fame Game

Emma Samms

Emma Samms - Credit: Archant

The Emma Samms he’d seen on his television was made-up to perfection, dressed to perfection and lit to perfection. I can’t compete with that when I’m doing the weekly shop

A couple of weeks ago I found myself almost hyperventilating with anticipation as I walked onto a sound stage at Warner Brothers Studio in Los Angeles. I wasn’t there as an actor, I was there as a fan. My favourite American television show is The Big Bang Theory and I was lucky enough to be invited to watch them tape an episode. I chatted to most of the actors, the director and the exceptionally nice producers. I squealed with unashamed glee at being allowed to walk around the sets, even sitting in “Sheldon’s Spot” on the sofa, which, if you are a fan of the show like me, will monumentally impress you.

It’s not the only time I’ve been a fan. Many years ago I accepted a role in the television series “Diagnosis Murder” purely because, like most of my generation, I had grown up adoring Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I wanted to meet Dick Van Dyke. Looking back now, I realise that when we were acting in the same scenes I was the worst kind of fan as I was inescapable. I made him sing me all the songs from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which he did. With very good grace, I may add.

The person who brings out the sycophant, babbling fool the most in me is genius choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne. I’ve met him a number of times and I’ve yet to utter a coherent sentence in his presence.

Fame is a funny old thing. Whether you encounter it in others or have a bit of it yourself.

My own situation, fame-wise, has drastically diminished from where it used to be and I can assure you that this comes as a relief in pretty much every circumstance other than when I’m hoping for an upgrade on a flight. To not have long lenses pointed at you, not have the rubbish stolen from outside your house, not have your phone tapped – These are things I don’t miss in the slightest.

The first time someone stops you in the street and asks you for your autograph is thrilling beyond words. As is the second time, the third time, probably even the hundredth time. But then you get used to it. The sad fact of life is that one becomes inured to good things, no matter how glamorous or spectacular, if they happen regularly enough. Often, the thrill that people get when they spot someone they know from their television, is just that. They’ve seen you weekly or even daily and it’s that familiarity, combined with the incongruity of seeing you in real life that sparks the excitement. You cannot and should not take it personally.

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Once, I was walking through a shopping mall with one of my co-stars and the fact that there were two of us from the same television show, heightened the response from those around us exponentially. One poor girl who spotted us actually fainted. When she recovered she was equally as excited to see me, as she was to see the actor I was with (and this is the crucial bit) who I happened to know was an egomaniacal twit. Just because they’re excited to see you doesn’t mean you’re a good actor and certainly doesn’t mean you’re a good person.

Sometimes people recognise you but don’t know from where. You can see them wracking their brains as to why you look so familiar and they may ask if we were at school together. Occasionally they open the conversation with “You look like that Emma Samms”, thereby giving themselves an out if you aren’t actually who they think you are. On occasion I’ve adopted a different accent and said “Oh yes, I get that all the time” but usually I admit to being me. One time I got argued with: “Oh no, they said, you’re not Emma Samms, she’s much prettier than you”.

In a way, of course, this man was right. The Emma Samms that he’d seen on his television screen was made-up to perfection, dressed to perfection and lit to perfection. I can’t compete with that when I’m doing the weekly shop at the supermarket.

But I certainly understand the thrill of meeting people you enjoy watching on television. I’ve been there, done that myself. And the next time someone says “Weren’t you on Dynasty?” I’ll remember the lovely cast and crew of The Big Bang Theory and try to be just as nice as they were to me.