Recently, I’ve become fascinated with the indefinable and the mysterious. Specifically, I’ve been obsessing over that almost magical it quality that only certain people possess; that special thing that sets them apart from the crowd. This it quality can masquerade as likeability, and while people who have it are certainly likeable, there’s more to it than that. There are people out there who actually seem to be lit from within, and as such, attract others to them like moths to a flame. The French have a term for it. It’s called ‘a certain je ne sais quoi,’ which literally translates to ‘I don’t know what.’
I think the French have it right. Because, while it’s nearly impossible to in pin down what it is, we all recognize it when we see it. Movie stars seem to have it in spades, so is it beauty? I don’t think so. We’ve all known gorgeous people who can’t hold a conversation, as well as people who aren’t conventionally attractive, but there’s something about them that makes them irresistible. So what is it? Charm? Grace? Intelligence? Style? Perhaps some combination of all those things?
Whatever it is, it causes us to elect presidents (I submit to you that Mitt Romney does not have it, hence the reason why the ‘inevitable’ Republican nominee is having such a hard time sealing the deal), to fall in love, and to elevate a bit performer into a star.
For a recent example of what I’m talking about, just look at the Academy Award-winning film The Artist. A film populated by two lead actors who were so compelling, they didn’t need to utter a word (O.K., there were precisely two words uttered, but let’s not nitpick) to make the audience feel something as profound and universal as the love story that played out on screen. Yes, both Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo have it. (And they’re both French! Je ne sais quoi, indeed.)
So what is it, and how the heck do I get it? I am – after all – an actress, and I’m endlessly enthralled by what makes people tick, and how I can incorporate those qualities into the characters I play in order to make them more captivating, more watchable, and more it.
But can the it factor be learned, or is it simply inherited, like blue eyes or dimples? Once someone has it, can they lose it, and once lost, can they ever get it back?
It’s likely that I won’t arrive at the answers to these burning questions any time soon. Perhaps I never will. I only know that it, whatever it is, intrigues the hell out of me.
Until next time, friends.