The first “Lord of the Rings” movie came out when I was in my early teens, and like many others, I developed a pretty serious crush on Legolas. I should clarify — not Orlando Bloom, the actor. I mean Legolas, the elf character.
I saw the movie multiple times, drew pictures of him, and even redecorated my room like a forest (a choice I later regretted). While I was fully aware he was a made-up character, I could not help my obsessive crush on this fictional man with hair better than my own.
As I grew up, this translated itself more tangibly in my choice of crushes both onstage and offstage. Developing a crush on someone I was acting with in a show was a pretty regular occurrence. For further proof, check out my article, “ What I Learned From My First Showmance.”
The problem was, much like my Mirkwood fantasy man, I found myself attracted to the character and not the person behind it. It’s so easy to fall for a created character, especially if the actor portrays him or her in a relatable way that strikes a chord with the audience. Character lust can easily be confused for a real crush, and those of us onstage are even more susceptible to it.
Worried this might be happening to you? Here are some ways to tell if your crush is real or fictional:
Real Crush: Their actual name.
Character Lust: Their character’s name. That was an easy one.
Real Crush: Going to the movies, dinner, bowling or other real-world activities.
Character Lust: Hanging out at the theatre. You are both there at the same time. It’s practically a date.
Real Crush: You know their favorite color and birthday.
Character Lust: Their costume is blue, so that must be their favorite color right?
Real Crush: You get jealous when you hear someone else is into them.
Character Lust: You get jealous when they act romantically onstage with their written love interest (who is married in real life).
Real Crush: You imagine both of you together.
Character Lust: You imagine your characters together.
Real Crush: You get butterflies every time they flirt with you.
Character Lust: You get butterflies every time they say their lines.
Real Crush: You like seeing them in different roles.
Character Lust: You can’t imagine them playing anyone else.
Real Crush: They have their flaws, but you like them anyway.
Character Lust: They are perfect, and no one else can compare!
Real Crush: They look good in anything.
Character Lust: They should just wear that costume. All the time. So hot.
The good news for you is that there is a cure to help you get over your fictional love. You are crushing on that character because they hold the qualities of what you are looking for in a real-life love. Ask yourself what it is you like about that character and what attracts you to them. Make a list, and use that to help you find someone with those attributes. My attraction to elven hero Legolas can be in part traced back to my love for adventure and a man who isn’t afraid to be daring. And having beautiful hair doesn’t hurt, either.
The key here is not to be afraid of your feelings. Embrace them for what they are, and use them to improve your actual love life. Who knows? You might even find a love story worthy of the stage.