"Has anybody ever told you that you look like …"
We've all heard this. Quite possibly while watching Oscar coverage. Someone looks you over and then decides to share the opinion that you resemble somebody famous.
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This can be wonderful news.
"Has anybody ever told you that you look like George Clooney?" would be nice to hear, unless you happen to be 24 years old and female.
For women, just about any comparisons to celebrities walking the red carpet at the Oscars is a compliment. Even if that celebrity might not be the world's greatest beauty to you, no one takes offense at being compared to Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Amy Adams, Kerry Washington or Charlize Theron.
Tell a grandma she looks like 75-year-old Jane Fonda or a 70-year-old Barbra Streisand, and you'll probably be rewarded with your choice of any hard candy in the dish. A lot of a woman's appearance depends on the hair color and style, of course, which is why Streisand looks as if she is a digitally aged likeness of Jennifer Aniston.
With men, it's a lot trickier. Garner a comparison to Clooney, Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Channing Tatum, Hugh Jackman or Denzel Washington, and you know you should say thanks. Other men probably should be gratified with being told they look like Daniel Day-Lewis, Christoph Waltz, Ang Lee or any of those Oscar winners whose talents generally trump their looks.
I fall into a different category.
When I was in my late 40s, a flattering friend or two suggested I looked a bit like Mark Wahlberg, who is 14 years younger than I am and once topped the list of VH1's "Hottest Hotties of the '90s." I don't think Wahlberg tops any hottie lists now that he's 41, but I would be thrilled to resemble him.
Instead, I get this:
"Has anyone ever told you that you look like Tommy Lee Jones?"
Sadly, yes. Tommy Lee Jones is the wrinkled, grouchy actor who is 66 years old and has more lines in his face than he did in the script for "Lincoln." Craggy is the word most people use to describe his looks. Polite people opt for weatherworn. One of the favorites to win the best supporting actor Oscar, Jones lost out to the decade-younger, nearly wrinkleless Christoph Waltz.
My wife, who has been compared to Cynthia Nixon from "Sex and the City" even though she is much better looking, assures me that I don't look at all like craggy, old, wrinkly Tommy Lee Jones. She's kind. I'll bet Tommy Lee Jones' wife (who is his third and younger than my wife) tells Tommy Lee Jones that he doesn't look at all like craggy, old, wrinkly Tommy Lee Jones.
When I grimace at the comparison, friends immediately backpedal by stammering about how I look like a "young" Tommy Lee Jones, the one before "Lincoln," "No Country for Old Men" and even all those "Men in Black" movies. Tommy Lee Jones was never young. Twenty years ago, Tommy Lee Jones won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a veteran deputy U.S. marshal relentlessly pursuing "The Fugitive" Harrison Ford. No one came out of that movie talking about what a fine-looking man Tommy Lee Jones was.
He looked even worse when he came onstage (after kissing wife No. 2) that year to collect his Oscar. You can see that clip at youtube.com/watch? v=YMvbhMSTFWU. I hope people don't think that is me.
Maybe, in another 20 years, I'll be thrilled by the suggestion that I look like 86-year-old Tommy Lee Jones. For now, I'll just have to live with the comparison and take some comfort in the realization that nobody who watched the Oscars tells me I look like Quentin Tarantino, William Shatner or Emmanuelle Riva.