And occasionally, while we are sitting and chatting and smoking, someone will come up to my friend and say, "Hey! I love your movies!" and my friend will say, "Sorry, not that guy." Then the stranger will say, "That's amazing! You look just like him!"
My friend, at this point, has only one polite response, and it's terrible. What can one do except pause for an awkward moment, then say, with as little irony as possible, "Um. Well. Thanks."
I mean, really, who wants to be mistaken for someone else? Aren't we all unique and beautiful butterflies? Why must it be a compliment to look like another person, just because the other person is famous?
Frankly, my friend doesn't look all that much like Johnny Depp. It's mostly an age and style thing. My friend could start wearing pink polo shirts and Bermuda shorts, bleach his hair, and shave twice a day, but why should he? Johnny Depp isn't changing the way he styles himself, because he looks like my friend. Why should my friend have to change himself?
Yesterday, after the stranger had insisted on shaking my friend's hand, then took himself off, all chuffed over the near-celebrity encounter, I observed, "that's a lot of stranger contact."
"It really is," my friend replied.
It's odd for him. It's doubly odd, because my friend's appearance is as much a part of his professional success as style is to an actor. My friend isn't an actor, or a Johnny Depp impersonator, but he is part of the backstage art, theatre, and fashion industries. In those worlds, my friend doesn't look like Johnny Depp; Johnny Depp looks like my friend.