On Friday afternoon, just as I was rounding the corner to Cow’s Lane, I saw Aidan Gillen. He was walking next to his bicycle and when he saw my face he stopped. He must have recognized the look on my face – the look of a starstruck fan who has come face to face with someone she admires and fancies. It was instantaneous recognition for me because I had seen Aidan in Grogan’s last winter. But now that I think about it, it was instantaneous then too. I was wide eyed and dumbstruck. Our eyes locked, and I said, “I love your show.” With a little smile, and that amazing voice, he said, “How’s it going?” And I said, “I love your show.” Yes, that’s right, I said it twice. And then I kept on walking while he stood there next to his bicycle. There has to be a psychological term for this syndrome, but simply stated, I was rendered a virtual idiot.
I turned around a few seconds later to try to say what I really wanted to say – Hi Aidan, it’s going great. How are you? I just love Game of Thrones and your acting is sublime. And my brother’s favorite show is The Wire, so you’ve been the subject of a lot of family discussions. You’re absolutely gorgeous. Would you like to go for a coffee? – but he was gone. I went up to my apartment mad at myself for being so shy, and at the same time thinking that it was probably for the best that I had just kept on walking. And then I googled him. It turns out that Aidan is starring in a new movie called Pickups and the world premier was the next night, Saturday, at the Irish Film Institute as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival. I couldn’t believe my good luck when I read that Aidan was going to be there and there was going to be a Q and A session after the filming. I bought my ticket.
I got to the IFI an hour early and ran into a friend from my book club who is an actress from Vienna. We got seats together in the last row. We watched Pickups, a movie in which Aidan Gillen plays a somewhat fictionalized version of himself. In the film Aidan plays Aidan, an actor who has to come to terms with his fame… AS HE RUNS INTO HIS FANS ON THE STREETS OF DUBLIN. I’m not kidding. I mean, I’ve had some amazing coincidences in my life, but this one might take the biscuit, as the Irish would say.
After the film, Aidan and the director of the film, his long-time collaborator and friend, Jamie Thraves, took the stage. A James Lipton type character asked Aidan and Jamie a few inane questions, and Aidan looked and sounded as if he wanted to be somewhere else. He said that he had been physically sick that morning because he was so anxious about how the movie would be received. He was worried that people would think he was a wanker. (He gets nervous! He worries about what people think of him! He has insecurities! He’s just like us!) And then without warning, “James Lipton” asked if there were any questions from the audience. Having resolved yesterday to never be shy again, I immediately raised my hand. I stood up. I heard someone say, “We’ll bring the microphone to you back there.” My heart was pounding. I took the mic in my hand and I spoke in front of – well actually in back of – 300 people in a packed theater. This is what I said and also what he said.
“In a strange case of life imitating art, I ran into Aidan yesterday on Cow’s Lane, and I can tell you that he most definitely is not a wanker.” (I heard laughter from the crowd.) “He was very nice. And in the film you really captured that moment when an average, regular person meets someone they admire.” Aidan interrupted me and said, “I’m a regular person too.” I giggled. “All I could think of to say was ‘I love your show’ TWICE. Anyway, it was lovely to meet you and I loved the film.” Aidan interrupted me and with sincerity he said, “It was lovely to meet you too.” I sat down, out of breath, happy, and even more enamored with him than I was before.
It was something I will always remember. And of course as soon as I thought about it for a second, I realized that I should have said, “I’m available for the sequel.” I’ll have to save that for the next time I run into him.
And as far as Aidan wanting us to believe that he’s a regular person, well of course I know that he is – just your regular, average extremely handsome, charismatic actor who has entertained millions of people on several of the best shows in the history of television. But I think I know what he means.