Eight Hollywood stars tell us how they're handling being housebound

Some celebrities in self-isolation are being brattish, others brave. Margaret Gardiner Zooms in with a handful

31 May 2020 - 01:00 By Margaret Gardiner
Dylan McDermott and Laura Harrier, the stars of Netflix's 'Hollywood'.
Dylan McDermott and Laura Harrier, the stars of Netflix's 'Hollywood'.
Image: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Netflix

Watching movie stars' missteps during lockdown is a distraction from the muffin top I've developed stuck at home in California cooking up a storm and unable to do regular exercise.

People can now order in, but I like the role of foraging for the family. Donning gloves and a mask, I go about trying to anticipate the next round of shortages before the price hikes hit. Stores in Los Angeles have been shopped out of paper towels, toilet paper and hand wipes for almost two months.

And when everyday items are hard to find and you're stuck inside looking at clean clear skies outdoors, it's difficult to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger in his hot tub, cigar hanging out the side of his mouth, imploring people to #stayhome.

Andie MacDowell was caught, literally on her back, scooting beneath a fence, taking her daughters for a hike on a closed-for-corona public trail. Ellen DeGeneres was criticised for declaring, from her stunning grounds with her hilltop home in the background, that #stayhome is like jail.

WATCH | Margaret Gardiner finds out what Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Laura Harrier, Jim Parsons and other A-listers have been getting up to while housebound

It's all about the optics. Masses are out of work, worried about the next pay cheque, but these privileged Los Angelenos are unable to put on a face mask and adhere to the same rules that regular people must follow. While most humans are wondering whether they'll be evicted or lose their jobs, and with the death toll having topped 100,000 in the US and still climbing, flaunting your good fortune is a questionable choice.

So which of the Hollywood elite are getting it right?

I've been catching up with some stars via Zoom:


Janney recently starred in the critically acclaimed HBO film Bad Education. "I did my hair just for you" - she pats her coif. "I haven't washed my hair in about three weeks. My dad looked at me and said, 'Who are you?'

"The silver lining in this crazy time is that my mother needs me right now and that's everything to me. I'll be with her throughout this pandemic, taking care of her and my father.

"I'm currently staying in Dayton, Ohio, where I grew up. I've spent some time sending videos to my friends who are on the frontline - doctors and nurses. I've made some encouraging videos telling them just what heroes they are and how they're going above and beyond the call of duty by putting their lives on the line for all of us.

"It brings me to my knees, thinking about the sacrifices that people are making during this horrible time. The strength of humanity rises up in moments like this, it's very moving."


Jackman starred with Janney in one of his most praised roles ever in Bad Education.

"We're in New York at the moment. We're all healthy and busy. My daughter is doing online school," he says.

A masked Hugh Jackman walks his dog.
A masked Hugh Jackman walks his dog.
Image: Raymond Hall/via Getty Images

"I've come back to meditation. For me, it's about accepting that the surface of the water, our daily lives, can be calm and tranquil and beautiful one day but rocky and treacherous the next. No matter what's on the surface there's a calm to be accessed beneath the turbulent water, which is why I've practised meditation for 30 years.

"The routine has helped me because I worry so much about my kids. I'm not scared of what the virus means for the world for myself. I'm worried about them and their mental state - missing school and not being around friends. It's very disrupting - that pervasive anxiety.

"On a normal day we walk our dogs and I talk to people in the street that I've seen around for years but had never spoken to. People seem to have more time to talk to each other. The optimist in me hopes that will continue, that there'll be a shared sense of what's most important and a shared sense of community. Hopefully, this will be part of the good that comes out of these difficult times."


Blanchett recently signed up to star in James Gray's next film, Armageddon Times, and will join the ensemble cast of Adam McKay's new Netflix film Don't Look Up, starring Jennifer Lawrence.

"I'm self-isolating with my family in the countryside outside London where we live. It's difficult, but we're all in this crisis together, across the world. Some are in more perilous positions than others," she says.

Actress Cate Blanchett is self-isolating with my family in the English countryside.
Actress Cate Blanchett is self-isolating with my family in the English countryside.
Image: Isa Foltin/Getty Images

"What's particularly revealing about the pandemic is that viruses don't recognise international borders. The notion of nation building is spurious in the wake of a pandemic - the systems that we live with and in are very fragile, and the cracks in those systems are being shown. We'll need to work together with our governments to fix the cracks so that citizens everywhere are looked after equally well should this ever happen again.

"A friend of mine in Queensland, Australia, reminded me of the work the nurses and doctors on the frontlines are doing - it's terrifying for them. They have children and families of their own and yet are so committed. I have profound respect and empathy for the position that they're in."


Fanning recently starred in Netflix's The Great, a genre-bending, anti-historical ride through 18th-century Russia following the wildly comedic rise of Catherine the Nothing to Catherine the Great.

Actress Elle Fanning.
Actress Elle Fanning.
Image: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

"I'm bunkered down with my sister, my mom and my gran and we're having cook fests," she says. "I made doughnuts from scratch that took seven hours. My sister Dakota spends her time painting. I've been reviving my photography skills, taking pictures of objects around the house to keep busy."


Hoult recently starred with Fanning in The Great.

"I haven't developed any special skills," he says. "I have a two-year-old little boy, so all my time has been taken up taking care of him and watching him grow. I feel very grateful for that. I get lots of cuddles, I'm very fortunate. I'm trying to stay mentally focused for when I do go back to work - reading books, watching films in preparation for who knows what, who knows when."


Harrier starred in Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan's Netflix series Hollywood about a group of aspiring actors and filmmakers during the Hollywood Golden Age.

"I'm trying not to feel too weighed down by all the sadness happening across the world," she says. "I'm reading and I got a puppy, which takes up so much time."

Jim Parsons is best know for his role as Sheldon Cooper in 'The Big Bang Theory'.
Jim Parsons is best know for his role as Sheldon Cooper in 'The Big Bang Theory'.
Image: Presley Ann/FilmMagic/Getty Images


Parsons also appeared in Netflix's Hollywood.

"I get showered and dressed by 10am every day. I force myself," he says. "I write down the date every morning because it's so easy to lose track."


He plays Scotty Bowers in Hollywood.

"I've discovered so many things while being in quarantine," he says.

"The best thing has been being able to spend quality time with my children, taking a deep dive into our relationship and finding out what's real. There's communication and intimacy that comes with being present. I'm grateful for that."

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