The voices in Swados’ head, Hopkins’ aversion to actors, and why Redford won’t run for office

The voices in Swados’ head

Elizabeth Swados has lived her life on a roller coaster. Outwardly, the Tony-nominated playwright tells O magazine, she functioned at a high level, but in private, she was a manic, frantic mess in the throes of bipolar disorder. “I was talking as fast as an auctioneer, dashing from one activity to another with such intensity that I practically burned rubber,” she says. “Everything, and I mean everything, was vital, essential, and urgent. Weeks of frenetic activity, extreme intellectual and sexual passion.” When she came down, it was as if the bottom had dropped out altogether. “I didn’t know why I had cared so much about what I’d been caring so much about. I felt stupid and clumsy, unworthy, and doomed to a life of meaningless existence.” Buffeted by these two extremes, Swados began to consider suicide as her only escape from a life she found intolerable. “There were too many voices screaming and singing and whispering in my head. So noisy. Finally, they exhausted my will.” Reluctantly, Swados decided to consult a psychiatrist; a combination of therapy and carefully calibrated medication has made her extremes less extreme. “Slowly, I was able to teach myself to ignore the bad voices. I learned to watch myself going through an impulsive or manic action and stop myself.” But there’s been no magic pill that ended the roller-coaster ride altogether. “Nothing has been ‘fixed.’ I am not ‘cured.’ But I do have more good days than bad.”

Hopkins’ aversion to actors

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Anthony Hopkins does not enjoy the company of other actors, says Geordie Greig in Tatler. When he’s not working, the Oscar-winning British actor prefers solitary activities such as painting, playing the piano, and gardening. And on those rare occasions when he does socialize, it’s not with his fellow players. Hollywood parties, he finds, are just too affected—“all that salmon-sandwiches-and-white-wine brigade and people smoking cigarettes with their middle fingers.” He even shrinks from socializing with actors he does admire, out of an acute self-consciousness. “Whenever I meet actors, too, I’m so nervous. I think back to people like Judi Dench, a perfectly charming, nice woman, and I’m so nervous around people like that. I don’t know what it is. I am paralyzed with fear. It’s not their fault, it’s me.” Tom Cruise is another actor whose friendly overtures he rejected. “After I finished Mission: Impossible II—and I loved working with Tom—I was in a difficult situation. Tom, being a nice guy, said, ‘Let’s all go off for dinner.’ My agent phoned him and said, ‘Tony hates dinners.’ He explained that after I had done the work I didn’t want to socialize, to sit around with actors talking about how wonderful they all are. It’s pretty boring. Years ago I did it, but I guess now I want to be private.”

Why Redford won’t run for office

Robert Redford has a dim view of American politics, says David Hochman in Playboy. As a younger actor, he made several films about the corruption and compromises at the heart of political ambition that, he hoped, would make Americans demand more of their leaders. “I once had great hopes that people would see movies like The Candidate and All the President’s Men and say, ‘Hey, if we’re not careful, we might get snookered.’ I discovered we Americans enjoy the distraction of entertainment but aren’t really interested in the deeper message. We don’t like to look inward; we don’t like darkness.” His cynicism was reinforced when he received a Kennedy Center honor in 2005 and spent an evening hobnobbing with Washington’s elite. “Here were sworn enemies, the leaders who beat the s--- out of each other all day in public, but the minute those doors closed for the state dinner, the daggers went away and it was one big happy family. I saw former Republican Sen. Bill Frist weaving through the tables, and he came over to Ted Kennedy and start massaging his shoulders and laughing like they were the oldest buddies in the world. Everybody was crossing the aisles and chuckling, and I said, ‘Oh, I get it! It really is just a game.’”

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