When Ismail Mehrez spotted actor Adam Sandler entering the basketball court at Toronto’s Ramsden Park, he wasn’t impressed.
He took a double look at the famous actor in his signature oversized outfit to make sure what he was seeing was real, then got back to his real job: crushing people on the pitch.
“There were some people who supported him,” Mehrez told the star of the recent encounter. “We were playing ball and people would be like, ‘Oh come on Adam,’ ‘Good stuff Adam’ when he was doing the tiniest things, and you can kind of see it in his eyes that he was like, ‘Yo, come on,” Mehrez said.
Mehrez felt that his ability to engage Sandler in the game while maintaining his composure set him apart from other people on the court.
“Me and my brother, when we play ball, we focus on the ball. We don’t care who we play with or who we play against, we just focus on ourselves.”
The approach seemed to make an impression: Sandler, who is in town to film You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah, remembered Mehrez’s name after the game.
As more and more celebrities return to Toronto with eased pandemic restrictions, there has been a bit of pandemonium. Photos of people stopping Sandler and others like singer Conan Gray and comedian Hasan Minhaj for selfies have surfaced all over social media.
While the city is home to megastars like Drake and The Weeknd, it’s been a while since so many celebrities have walked our streets. Since they’re not quite as ubiquitous as in New York or Los Angeles, what’s the proper etiquette when meeting a celebrity?
Paul Brooks, a national publicist for Take Aim Media who has worked with a number of artists and musicians including Odesza, George FitzGerald and Polaris award-nominated singer-songwriter Lisa LeBlanc, says he will be in Mehrez ‘ Follow footsteps.
“Usually you have a lot more in common with a celebrity than you think,” Brooks said. “You have personal limits on how you deal with strangers. So try to keep your cool and think about it before you try to get in touch with them.”
Authenticity is often the best approach, he continued, as celebrities are people too and appreciate being treated like normal people the most.
“If you think you’re going to be weird or you can’t speak, don’t get involved with that person. It’s really uncomfortable,” Brooks said.
In the case of Shannon Shorten and her 11-year-old son Harrison, they met Drake and Adam Sandler outside the same Toronto restaurant, ONE Restaurant, on the same day. None of the stars stopped moving while confirming them.
“So Harrison just ran up to[Sandler]and they both did the high-five move and high-five at the same time,” Shorten said over the phone. Then Harrison took him for a walk.
“He patted me on the chest and said, ‘You’re a good boy, you’re a good boy, you’re a good boy,'” Harrison said. Sandler kept walking throughout the interaction.
Later, when they saw Drake exit the Yorkville restaurant, the interaction was a little different.
“Drake looked at Harrison and nodded his head at him like he was coming (over). But then people started coming and you could see[Drake’s]guys saying, ‘Get in now,'” Shorten said. “Things were just starting to get a little crazy.”
Brooks explained that recognition and interaction with a celebrity is never guaranteed. Sometimes a celebrity is just trying to get ice cream or have their cream of wheat. Every time they go outside, it doesn’t mean they’re “on.”
“Don’t take it personally if you’re blown away by the person. There’s a million things you don’t know about,” Brooks said.
Fame is fickle, and while celebrities of Sandler’s stature may seem larger than life, they’re still people.
“I think if you’re going to be cool, it’s important to respect your time and assess the situation,” Brooks said. “If you think about your own personal boundaries and assess the situation, I think you will increase your chances of positively interacting and potentially meaningfully interacting with them.”
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