Blind item: Who is the Guardian’s Oscar-nominated ‘Secret Actress’ essayist?

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The Guardian published a column/essay written by someone merely identified as “The Secret Actress.” The essay itself is not particularly scandalous – she hints at some juicy gossip stories, but she doesn’t name names. The interest around this is trying to guess the identity of the secret actress, not so much her stories. You can read the full piece here.

The Guardian sets the parameters of the blind item identity of this secret actress: “The Secret Actress is an Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated actor who lives and works in LA today.” Hm. I think the emphasis on “nominated” means that she’s never won an Oscar or a Globe. Who fits that description? Amy Adams (but she’s won two Globes), Laura Dern (she’s won Globes too), Emma Stone (never won anything), Rachel McAdams, Rooney Mara, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Naomi Watts. Lainey thinks it’s Laura Linney, but I think Laura lives in NYC? Plus, I suspect Laura isn’t one for gossip. I thought of Jessica Chastain, and if you read the essay, I could easily hear Chastain’s voice, but does Chastain live in LA? Same with Rooney and Naomi Watts, I think they mostly live in New York, but… they have homes in LA, probably. Viola Davis definitely fits the criteria, but after covering Viola for several years, I feel pretty confident that this is not her voice. Oh, you know who it could be? Diane Lane! Here’s the last part, where the Secret Actress comes close to revealing some dirt:

I have gone on to have a very successful career and, while the media and the public have their own idea of what success is, mine begins and ends with being paid to do what I love, and still being employed in movies and television years after I began. I have worked all over the world. I have long wanted to write some sort of book about my experiences, but without naming names it becomes rather boring rhetoric and yet if I do name names it’s a gimlet in the face at all the top restaurants and I’d probably never work again.

But there are such good stories …

When I was approached to write this column I thought the cloak of anonymity would be helpful in creating a frank response to many of the issues and stories I come upon in my industry. The vast pay discrepancies between male and female actors, the ongoing lack of opportunity for actors of color in leading roles in movies, how Oscar campaigns are run with political precision and what it’s like to audition for a director while he is heavily making out with his girlfriend, who is also really famous and really married to someone else. I will look at this as bringing you what I hope will be an interesting, insider vantage point, into some of the day-to-day and after-hours aspects of Babylon.

[From The Guardian]

It feels more like Diane Lane… or Chastain… or Jennifer Jason Leigh? This sort of sounds like Laura Dern too, only Dern has won a bunch of Globes. Ugh, I’m so bad at blind items!!! Like, historically bad. So I don’t know. I’m sure you guys will have it figured out in like 10 comments.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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115 Responses to “Blind item: Who is the Guardian’s Oscar-nominated ‘Secret Actress’ essayist?”

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  1. Cassieeee says:

    Lol I want to know too but if we figure it out, she may stop writing the series!

    • Intuitive says:

      I hate to spoil the fun but, don’t you think if you were going to write a blind item, especially if you were worried that discovery would ruin your career, you might throw at least one clue that was inaccurate into the mix to throw everyone off the scent?

  2. alice says:

    Well let’s see, probably someone who is in London filming right now, or has been there in the last few months and somehow was approached for this gig? It looks like an idea that started talking and joking between the actress and some big wig reporter or executive at the Guardian, maybe over a lunch or a party. It doesn’t looks like something that came up following the regular formal collaborations between stars and media.
    Could it be Diane, she’s filming with Neeson in the UK.

    • msd says:

      The Guardian has a US edition and an Australian edition so the person doesn’t need to be in the UK. Living in LA is likely to be accurate.

  3. mayamae says:

    For some reason I don’t think it sounds like Diane Lane.

    • Chris says:

      Agreed. Diane Lane is far too private a person to even dabble in this sort of thing. Plus, she spent most of her childhood living with her dad who was a drama coach.

  4. Bam says:

    I don’t understand why people who work in the industry do things like this?? What do they get out of it?

    • Chris says:

      Well, they are actors–and most actors love attention any way they can get it. This is probably someone late 30s-mid 40′s who’s phone is no longer ringing off the hook.

      • msd says:

        They’re not going to get attention; it’s anonymous. The Guardian has done other ‘Secret’ features and identities aren’t ever leaked. This is a chance for someone to talk about their experiences freely and not get in trouble.

      • Chris says:

        I would argue that although they are anonymous, they will enjoy the attention that the articles will be given. It’s a way to feel important and powerful.

      • I think it’s also a way for them to shine a light on some of the seedier practices that they aren’t allowed to talk about, for various reasons. Like a director making out with his married girlfriend while you are auditioning. Hollywood. Run by teenaged boys in their 60s.

  5. alice says:

    Also: She stills auditions so maybe not that big of a star. Probably someone with a lot of talent and resentment over the way Hollywood works.

    • kai says:

      I think she’s probably a character actress that we’ve all seen in something, but most of us can’t remember her name. Someone like Judy Greer or Illeana Douglas.

      ETA: Hm, I missed the Oscar bit. That can’T be to hard to figure out?!

      ETA: Janet McTeer? She’s English, no idea where she lives.

      • alice says:

        probably someone of a certain age? Not out of bigotry but because of a generational thing, the phrase about the director making out with a married actress could suggest someone not as young or/and open minded, as for a think like that, inside or outside Hollywood, is not as shocking anymore.

      • Skyblue says:

        Alice: your comment cracked me up! Hollywood has always been known for dirt and cover-ups. Google Fattie Arbuckle for some historic filth. Casting couch grossness, partner swapping, drugs, alcohol, murder, abuse…it has gone on since the first picture show and will (unfortunately) continue until the last.

      • idontknowyouyoudontknowme says:

        I cant reply to Alice’s comment directly.. why would You have to be of a certain age? I’m millennial and while the fact that a married person cheats on their partner is not shocking to me, if I would be at any job interview and the hiring person, be it a manager or or a director would be making out with anyone, I would be shocked and actually disgusted, since its a very unprofessional thing to do.. I don’t think its a matter of not being open minded…

    • Talie says:

      Melissa Leo is a good bet.

    • Bridget says:

      That doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Actors audition when a director wants to see who will be the best fit for a role and aren’t sure based solely on name. Very, very few actors never have to audition at all.

  6. Kate says:

    I don’t think Chastain is a gossipy sort of person. I could see her writing the stuff about pay disparity, lack of opportunity for POC etc. but not the salacious stuff about the director and his married GF. If nothing else I suspect she’d view herself as above that kind of thing. Also the article mentions TV work, has she done any?

    So maybe Dern?

    I don’t know if any of them live in LA, but maybe a British actress like Felicity Jones, Sally Hawkins or Rosamund Pike? Would explain why this is in the Guardian.

    • Rhiley says:

      Laura Dern is out for me given that her mom is a famous actress. I don’t, know, but the opening paragraph seems to be about a mother who does not have much experience in the industry. Laura Dern’s mother opened a lot of doors for her.

    • Hollz says:

      Jessica Chastain was on an episode of Veronica Mars back in the day.

  7. Maya says:

    For some reason I don’t think it’s Chastain. She has always struck me as quite earnest, and this person doesn’t really sound that earnest. Other than that I’m out.

  8. Naya says:

    Well, since you have to be nominated to win an award, that descriptor doesnt rule out people like Amy. Maybe The Guardian used it knowing that people would automatically exclude winners.

  9. hnmmom says:

    I think it’s Claire Danes. Educated in both NY and LA but spent last 3 years of high school in LA at Lycée Francaise, which would totally combine their English and Drama departments. Her first big film was “Little Women”, which was a tear jerker. The actress’ manner of speaking comes across as highly educated, Danes spent some time at Yale and presents as a deep thinker. Married to Hugh Dancy, who is British, right? My one problem is I don’t see her as a gossipy sort but then I think that makes this all the better. I can see her doing this under the guise of highlighting social issues in Hollywood.

    • OrigialTessa says:

      She could build a fort out of Golden Globe statues, but it does sound a lot like her.

      • hnmmom says:

        See, I look at the “nominee” and think you can’t exclude the winners, as they were also nominees first before they won. If they state “winner” that makes the list too small and too easy to guess. So just use the nominee label and make it a wider pool to pick from.

    • Luxe says:

      But Claire hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar, has she?

  10. Cricket says:

    the way it is written, I’m thinking it’s a Brit and maybe one of some ‘maturity’ .. the ending up with a gimlet in the face at a restaurant.. who drinks gimlets these days? I’m going on a whim and saying Dame Maggie Smith.. has she won an Oscar and Globe? I would assume yes but it sounds like the dowager from DA.

    • Amelia says:

      I think Maggie won for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, if I’m recalling a particular game of Trivial Pursuit correctly.
      I wondered about Emma Thompson. Although I think she’s won, if not for acting then for writing. She’s suitably snarky with an acerbic wit. I reckon she might fit the criteria.

      • Cricket says:

        Emma was my first guess but I believe she has won an Oscar and golden globe. I believe she won Oscar for writing in sense and sensibility. But it did sound to me like it could be her voice, the wit and she is snarky and a great writer. This article is written by someone who definitely has writing skills.

      • TrixC says:

        Does she live in LA?

    • poppy says:

      with you. why not a Jane Fonda or even a man?
      gimlet in the face sounds of another era.

      • perplexed says:

        I was thinking a married director would make out with his girlfriend in front of a woman, but not necessarily a man for some reason.

      • Lille says:

        I think gimlet in the face is practically an expression. It seems very old Holly wood drama. No one would really do that to you today- it might even be considered some sort of assault. I think it was a throwback expression, meaning it that it would be problematic.

  11. NewWester says:

    Just to throw out a different angle to this story. Is it possible it is actually a man writing this column and not a woman? I could see that happening to throw people off from finding out his identity. After reading the essay certain parts of it seemed a bit off. But if I had to guess someone I would guess Kristen Stewart just because of the “eye rolling” comment.

    • jm says:

      I was also thinking is it possible they did win those nominations but intentionally said only nominated only to widen the field and/or throw people off?

    • TrixC says:

      It does say actress though, and funnily enough the Guardian is usually very careful about using the term actor to refer to both genders.

  12. Mimz says:

    The more I hear about auditions and casting “couches”, the less I am interested in the acting world. That is disgusting, having to look for a job while someone is sticking their tongue down someone else’s throat?
    G-R-O-S-S!

    • Kate says:

      This doesn’t sound like casting couch situation, more like a PDA in the workplace situation, with the added gossip of it being an affair.

  13. kai says:

    Catherine Keener?
    Frances McDormand?

  14. Esther says:

    I dont think the person is real and if then they will have made sure to not identify themselves and give wrong hints. otherwise they would just use their own name and name names.

    • chelsea says:

      After reading the piece, I’m almost convinced it’s a staff writer, attempting to approximate the voice of a rather pretentious, “erudite” actress. If it’s for real I’m embarrassed for her, whoever she is.

      • frivolity says:

        Yeah. Agreed. It’s all very non-specific, kind of like a horoscope prediction. Any one of us could have written it (better). =)

  15. Lucy2 says:

    Given that Jessica has spoken publicly on wage gap and equality issues, I don’t think it’s her, cloaked in anonymity. I do hope who it is continues!

  16. Guesto says:

    She’s American, refers to mother as ‘mom’.

    • Mrs. Darcy says:

      To me this is a very simple double bluff, the first thing a Brit would do/learn to change out of necessity.

  17. lila fowler says:

    Chastain won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for Zero Dark Thirty. I don’t think it’s her anyway.

    I think it’s someone older and whose career prob peaked with that Oscar nomination. Someone very unexpected.

  18. CornyBlue says:

    Oh my god i got a dress just yesterday with the exact neckline as the last photo. Thats all i got.

  19. Lucy says:

    Our secret actress has forgotten to sign. “XO, Gossip Girl”.

  20. Armenthrowup says:

    Anna Kendrick?

  21. escondista says:

    You have to be nominated to win. I bet they’re trying to throw the reader off by saying nominated when they’ve also won and if it’s discovered who wrote it, the Guardian will use my sentence above in defense.

  22. Danielle says:

    Sign me on as thinking we are looking for someone less famous. Don’t think anyone even mildly famous would risk this.

  23. Sullivan says:

    Laura Linney

  24. PunkyMomma says:

    It has to be someone with balls. Is Emma Thompson living in LA these days? What about Sarandon? Her home base is NYC, but she does flit in and out of LA quite a bit.

  25. Wren33 says:

    I just realized that I sort of thought Laura Dern and Laura Linney were the same person.

  26. M.A.F. says:

    Maybe there is no Secret Actress. Maybe this was written by an intern.

  27. Mia4s says:

    It was in the media a few months ago that Chastain just bought a new place in NYC. That plus the Globe win? I’m thinking no.

    I don’t want to guess because I’m worried she’ll stop writing! 😉

  28. FingerBinger says:

    It’s an older woman. The gimlet in the face line doesn’t sound like Jessica Chastain. Kathleen Turner ,Faye Dunaway ,Raquel Welsh. It’s an actress over 50.

  29. kri says:

    Judi Dench. (I don’t know why, but I just want it to be her.)

    • Mrs. Darcy says:

      I think Judi is closer than most of these guesses, I am convinced it’s a Brit!

      • Cricket says:

        Agree! Judi won best supporting actress Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. She joked it had to be a record to win an Oscar for such little screen time.

  30. Wilma says:

    I’m going with Glenn Close, because the secret actress also works in movies and television and she’s of an age where you might want to get these stories out.

  31. Moon says:

    Jessica lives in NYC and she has a globe for Zero Dark Thirty

  32. Arock says:

    I would bet its someone on the older side, 50+. The author refers to “writing a memoir of her years in hollywood” and years of experience. While it could be someone in the 25-40 range it make more sense that this would be someone older.
    Glenn Close
    Jane Fonda
    loarianne Braco
    KAthleen Turner
    CArrie Fisher

  33. Mrs. Darcy says:

    I’d actually be willing to bet it’s a Brit, as an American expat who lives here I find the casual use of words like “wanton” , “massive”, “copious”, “snot” and especially “bandied” telltale giveaways. Not individually, but combined, they are not the natural fallback adjectives of most Americans. I know they seem innocuous, potentially words a fancy pants actress like Gwyneth might have adopted, indeed, it could be an American who spent a lot of time in the U.K. But in my experience this reads like it was written by a Brit, with a few attempts at hiding it -”Mum” has been changed to “Mom” simply as a red herring. “Load of baloney” is not a British term either (they don’t really eat baloney here!) but it could be something they picked up in Hollywood/thought was charming – in fact I would argue load of baloney is sort of old-fashioned sounding, just the sort of phrase a Brit might co-opt.

    Alas, after all that sleuthing dear Watson, I am none the wiser about who it could be! ;-0 I think the guesses are too A-list. I think it is a British (or maybe Aussie) actress who has worked from a young-ish age and spent several years in Hollywood – someone like Kate Beckinsale maybe. I don’t think it’s someone very young. I would love it to be Helen Mirren but I doubt she would do this. I am picturing someone like Thandie Newton for some reason, not many Brit actresses have done both film and t.v. when you think about it and she has. It has to be someone well spoken, as it’s quite well written and breezy/doesn’t seem overly edited. At any rate, it should hopefully be interesting to read in the future columns!

    • perplexed says:

      Naomi Watts? She’s been nominated (I think), but I don’t think she’s ever won anything. And she’s British/Australian.

      Though I’ll admit I can’t really picture Naomi Watts wanting to write something that could affect her career if anybody found out she was the writer. Nonetheless, she’s the only person I can think of who has been nominated but never won, is British in origin, primarily spent time with her mother, and probably has an actual acting technique as described in the article (I don’t think someone like Gwyneth really does, and has admitted as much).

  34. frivolity says:

    Call me crazy, but the pretense, the over-writing, and the gimlet in the face all made me think of Goopy. (Yes, I know she’s won the Oscar, but they could be lying about the bio.) She’s always trying to do something new because, as her mother notes, she’s just brilliant at everything.

  35. an actor says:

    I doubt it’s an older person, the actress mentions emojis in the article. She mentions her parents in a way that suggests they’re both still alive (not JJL). The person also mentions the drama schools they went to, which makes me think it’s someone who went to college and possibly grad school (not Diane Lane, who was a child star and this was written by somebody who went to regular school as a kid. In fact I think most of the people mentioned didn’t go to drama school).

    I think Chastain makes sense. This also seems like something she would do, well-meaning but kind of stupid. Like the hastags on her instagram.

  36. Mindless says:

    What about Helen Mirren she has done series TV

  37. Sumodo1 says:

    You can rule out all the child actors like Diane Lane because the secret “actress” studied acting in high school. The use of “actress” would make it an “over 40″ person. She would have had a decent relationship with her mother, also ruling out Lane, who had no relationship with her mother at age 3. McDormand has an Oscar and lives in NYC. Laura Linney has won Golden Globes and lives in Connecticut. It’s not Naomi Watts: she went to acting school in Australia as a young teen. It could be Elisabeth Shue, who might be in London promoting Season 2 of “Blunt Talk” on STARZ.

  38. msd says:

    It’s not going to be a famous movie star. Think older woman who has had a good, solid career in both film and TV, has been in the industry for a few decades, lives in LA, is intelligent and has actual opinions …

    Christine Lahti? She’s Oscar nominated and Golden Globe nominated, she went to drama school, she’s active in feminism, and she’s written some things for Huff Po in the past.

    And yes, it’s real. The Guardian has done other things like this: Secret Footballer, Secret Doctor etc. They’re not the Daily Fail; they wouldn’t bother making it up, and they’re known for not leaking about the person writing.

  39. Kym says:

    I don’t know who she is but bless her heart. I am now her biggest fan.

  40. Farhi says:

    I read it in the Guardian originally and I found it shallow and disjointed, So whoever the author is , I am guessing I am not a fan.
    And like here everyone was busy trying to figure out who she was instead of discussing what was actually written. Oh, and I placed her as an American, though after reading everybody else’s guesses I am not sure anymore.

    • perplexed says:

      Except for the gossip about the married director, I didn’t think the actress revealed much. Which is probably why what was written wasn’t discussed. (Maybe in future columns, more info about the industry will come out, but in this column alone, I didn’t think she really said much in terms of anything that could be considered shocking).

  41. Abbess Tansy says:

    Haha this is fun..
    Here are my guesses if anyone is interested, I know some have already been mentioned above.

    Patricia Arquette
    Amy Adams
    Susan Sarandon
    Jessica Chastain
    Gwyneth Paltrow
    Anne Hathaway
    Julia Roberts

    I don’t know why but I’m leaning towards Julia or Patricia just because of the story about the director ( that stuff really happens?).

    • Farhi says:

      Would Julia have to audition for anything? She found her fame pretty young.
      I think Patricia Arquette is possible.

      • Abbess Tansy says:

        The story about the director could have happened 30 years ago or even 5 years ago. So I think that fits Julia in that scenario.

  42. Abbess Tansy says:

    Oops wrong spot

  43. Prairiegirl says:

    Helena Bonham Carter, you guys!
    - British
    - Lives in LA at least part time and presumably able to use knowledge of local customs in spelling to hide behind ‘mom’ vs. ‘mum’
    - nominated for Oscars and Globes but never wins (though won a Bafta, not listed)
    - about 50 years old so time to see a lot and perhaps at the point of not giving a f*ck
    - presents as articulate in interviews
    - Bonus fun! Would have seen and heard lots of cr*p by virtue of her relationships with not 1 but 2 prominent directors (Tim Burton and Ken Branaugh)
    THOUGHTS?

    • TrixC says:

      She’s too posh, she would never use the sort of language in this piece. I think it’s an American anyway, I can’t really imagine a Brit using a phrase like “massive eye roll”.

  44. Marianne says:

    Jessica Chastain doesn’t do TV though. Unless she has done a mini series or something Im blanking on.

  45. MrsBPitt says:

    Virginia Madsen

  46. Dara says:

    My guess is Sharon Stone
    -lives in LA
    -Nominated for both Oscar and GG (won the GG)
    -Has done both film and television
    -old enough to know what a gimlet is
    -smart enough to write this (studied creative writing at university)

    The only part that doesn’t fit is the mention of drama schools – as far I know she never attended a formal drama program.

    Anyone know if she had a role early in her career that required, “copious amounts of tears, snot and begging” that was mentioned in the article?

  47. MezzDame says:

    Allison Janney.

    ETA: just glanced at her Wikipedia page. Lots of globes noms, works in both television and film, studied acting as a younger person, and although she had no personal nomination for an Oscar, she’s been in Oscar nominated films…

  48. trace_smiles says:

    I have no idea why because I haven’t seen many of her movies but, I was thinking Ellen Burstyn….

  49. Shane says:

    Joan Cusack?

  50. Dinah says:

    I’ve heard a friend of a famous character actress tell horror stories about how many men in the industry have HIV and insist on not using condoms. According to her, hooker backgrounds are pretty protected. Pretty much everybody out there is trying to make it or, if he’s made it, he’s on the make. He sells more than his body. He sells his soul. Sad in most cases.

  51. poliandra says:

    i don’t this is a ‘name’ actress. Think of the more obscure older actresses. Maybe Linda Blair? (won a GG and an Oscar nom fo THE EXCORCIST) But she doesnt really work anymore. My guess is Sally Kirkland who works steadily but in Z grade productions so she isnt considered a success despite a GG win and an oscar nomination. She was also the daughter of the former editor of LIFE magazine so she is surrounded by actors and models so that may explain that bit with the mom in the first part. Attended the actor’s studio. She is a bit of an attention-seeker but my guess is she doesn’t want to burn bridges since she still wants to get to the A list.

    • msd says:

      Linda Blair is out of the industry. Sally Kirkland is possible although it doesn’t sound like her to me. You’re on the right track though; it’s clearly someone older who has had a long, solid career in both film and TV but never became a big movie star. That’s why I mentioned Christine Lahti. Mary McDonnell fits the bill too. Elizabeth McGovern would have, except she doesn’t live in LA so I think that rules her out.

  52. Mrs. Odie says:

    Juliet Stevenson.

    She said she took her mother to see one of her early films with crying, snot dripping, begging. Truly Madly Deeply in the therapist’s office.

    The way she says success is defined differently by different people and for her it means she’s continued to work tells me she is not a “household name” actress like those mentioned in the above guesses.

  53. raincoaster says:

    Does anyone remember Rance, the blog allegedly by a big male Hollywood star? We never DID find out who that was. My money was always on Affleck.

    I’m going to go with Minnie Driver too. She’s British but lives in Malibu, and has always been almost-A list. It must burn to be around that long, be that good, and not win.