Interview Lydia Whitlock talks Maps To The Stars

The former Hollywood PA reveals what’s behind the silver screen.

There are few directors out there who can get heads turning just by being attached to a project. David Cronenberg is one of them. Everyone knows his name from such twisted productions as Scanners, Videodrome and The Fly, but Cronenberg continues to bring his unique outlook on movies to the big screen - most recently the curious Cosmopolis starring Robert Pattinson.

In 2014, Pattinson teamed up with Cronenberg once again for Maps To The Stars, a psychological thriller looking at a Hollywood family chasing celebrity. Pattinson is joined by Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska and John Cusack amongst others.

DIY had the opportunity to talk to a real life former Hollywood celebrity PA in Lydia Whitlock who released her book ‘To My Assistant: Things I’ll Never Do to You, But Many Other Crazy Bosses Will’ in 2013, a humorous look at the craziness of all things Hollywood.

What is it about Hollywood that continues to appeal even to this day? Is it still prospering from reputation more than anything?

Oh I think it still has the same appeal that it has always had. I was a film maker and loved writing and making them. Perhaps my illusions were shattered slightly. I started off in a mail room which seems to be the traditional route. I learned all the names and then moved on to production. It took about five years before I really decided to move on.

What are the most common misconceptions that people have about your former job as an assistant?

That it’s all about hanging out with celebrities. Getting to do all the press. Ending up famous yourself by proxy. The realism is that there’s no glamour in it in those sorts of roles. I never went for the glamour myself so really there was almost a relief that the focus went elsewhere.

The character of Agatha in Maps To The Stars is someone that clearly struggles internally while trying to be positive on the outside. Do you think that’s often the case for not only PAs but many people in Hollywood?

Definitely. You do have to keep up that bright and optimistic facade despite yourself. It’s pretty irrelevant how you’re feeling. You have to be chipper and enthusiastic around the boss and important people.

It’s hard for people to stand up to their bosses. The tone of my blog is really from how we discussed horrible boss stories and laughed together after work, where we were all in similar situations. I had the opportunity to talk to others worldwide and you end up having solidarity in that way.

How do you think things have changed over the last few years with the rise of blogging and social media?

People have a voice more quickly. It’s very egalitarian out there. If you’re good then that’ll speak for itself and shine through.

What were the most important things you learnt from your experiences?

That there’s always a way and always material!

Have you found life has changed much since the publication of your book?

Well I’m now a freelance writer. I’m involved in creative projects. My parents said that I always had a way of making something bad into a positive and it seems to have worked out well!

Maps To The Stars is available on Blu-ray and DVD on 2nd February courtesy of Entertainment One.


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