PSA: Actors Are Not Their On-Screen Characters

Photo: Robby Klein/Getty Images.
Apparently we have to have this conversation again. In a now-deleted tweet, Riverdale actress Lili Reinhart complained on Monday about fans who she felt were pushing boundaries when it comes to her privacy by photographing her without her consent.
"To the two girls who are repeatedly photographing me as I'm eating my lunch... I see you," she said, according to Seventeen. "You aren't slick... that's f***ing rude?????"
When a fan challenged her, saying that she knew what she was signing up for when she became an actress, Reinhart responded with something everyone should take note of.
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"You think you're entitled to take a photo of me while I'm alone and eating because I'm on a tv show. So I asked for it, right?" she said. "Wrong. I am a human being. I am not Betty Cooper. You aren't entitled to me. At all."
That's something that people seem to be forgetting a lot recently. Actors are not their characters, and in the case of Reinhart, sometimes struggle with anxiety and mental health issues that can make fan interactions extremely taxing. Even though a Netflix show may be at your disposal 24/7, real human beings aren't. In fact, Reinhart has spoken about this before after Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard received flak for not giving his fans enough attention.
"I think these fans thought Finn owed them something..." she told Elle. "Yes, we as actors are so appreciative of our fans, but there comes a point where, if we’ve been working all day, we don’t owe 100 percent of ourselves to anyone, and that shouldn’t be expected. Finn is a human; he’s a kid. And to call him rude for not taking every second that he has out of his day to take a photo with someone, it’s ridiculous. My heart goes out to him, because I definitely understand. You know, we’re human beings."
She wasn't the only actress to defend the 14-year-old, who found himself in the middle of all this after a video of the star walking into his hotel without stopping for his fans went viral for all the wrong reasons.
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"Damn...seeing fully grown adults wait outside the ‘Stranger Things’ kids’ hotels etc , and then abuse them when they don’t stop for them...is super weird," wrote Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Game Of Thrones. "A. What adult in their right mind waits for a CHILD outside their hotel and B is then is offended when the CHILD doesn’t stop. It doesn’t matter if they are an actor... they are kids first. Give them the space they need in order to grow without feeling like they owe Anyone anything for living their childhood dreams."
Stranger Things' own Shannon Purser, who played Barb in season 1, also gave her two cents, saying "no actor is under any obligation to stop for anyone. Finn is an incredibly kind human. But he's human and he needs breaks too."
Developing an affection for a character is a beautiful thing, and one of the reasons that movies, TV, and pop culture are so special. But an inability to differentiate your appreciation of a fictional character from the person who brings them to life can result in an experience that ruins both. True fans respect their idols, and the boundaries they've created so they can safely and comfortably keep doing the work that brings viewers so much joy. The reality of the job is not just what we see on screen, and a true fan knows the difference.
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