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Episode 3: Actor or bad actor?
Today’s private inquiry is my own. It’s my newsletter; I’m moving myself to the front of the queue. Speaking of moving, I had a very large piece of furniture delivered and couldn’t move it myself, so I hired the first Taskrabbit available same day.
There was James, let’s call him, promptly in view down the street. I get briefly worried about letting a stranger in, but he had five stars. I gave him five stars too.
We make small talk about the piece of furniture, and James tells me he’s an actor from Europe, used to live here for many years, and only recently moved back to the city with his wife. All of a sudden, I’ve invited them both to a party at my place just a few days later and he RSVPs yes.
Hence the urgency of this private inquiry: have I just invited a total stranger to my party? How do I know he’s who he says he is? What if he turns out to be super weird, and he already has my address?
We were pretty even — I already had his phone number, so his address and full name came up immediately. But I look up his name with “actor” to no avail, so I’m stressed again that he might be fake.
There is, however, an article in German from a hyperlocal newspaper that profiles him. I hit a paywall that’s embedded in an iframe, so I can’t even easily Google Translate it to figure out how to bypass it. I guess I could have typed it manually but at this point I clicked the 0,99€ button (you gotta to support local journalism!) and get the article.
Unfortunately, I remember that I told all of my readers in the last two episodes of the newsletter that I would only use free resources. Alas, I won’t reveal anything from the article, other than that James is from this famous “city” in Europe that only has about 100 people. Compare this to the previous city blocks — on just his side of the street — that James used to live on and currently lives on:
There’s another name living at the same set of addresses, presumably his wife. She has a public Instagram, and a few posts back, a selfie with James where he is tagged!
The tag reveals his stage name. The stage name leads to his IMDb. He’s been in several shows and movies, including a big one he was telling me about that’s on a popular streaming service. I haven’t watched it yet (too scary), but I have looked up where all of his fellow cast members of his English-language projects are from:
James goes by a different last name, his actual name uncommon and German, the stage one more American-sounding and unmistakable in pronunciation.
I, too, changed my name after spending some time in America, as a matter of assimilation. I had similar criteria. I understood at such a young age that it was something that had to be done, and now I can’t imagine myself otherwise.
To investigate Hollywood’s pseudonyms, I’ve compiled a yearbook the top Oscar nominees, as ranked by IMDb’s mysterious popularity meter, who have changed their names. Some changed their names to stand out, some to hide. Stage names and legally changing your identity are not quite the same, unless you go with Shakespeare’s whole all world’s a stage thing. All that counts is James and I have something important in common, so it’s really fine if he comes to the party.
The party has now passed, and I have to tragically inform you all that James did not in fact attend. I suppose I’ll simply have to see him on the silver screen.
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Until next time! Send me your petty grievances, lost loves, and open mysteries at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will use only public data and keep you as anonymous as you want. Please no actual true crime.