When Ismail Mehrez spotted actor Adam Sandler stepping onto the basketball court at Toronto’s Ramsden Park, he wasn’t fazed.
He did a double take at the famous actor decked out in his signature oversized outfit to make sure what he was seeing was real, then it was back to the task at hand: crushing people on the court.
“There were some people (patronizing) 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 did the most tiny stuff and you can kind of see it in his eyes that he was like, ‘Yo, c’mon,’” said Mehrez.
Mehrez felt that what set him apart from other people on the court was his ability to incorporate Sandler into the game while maintaining his composure.
“Me and my brother, when we play ball we focus on ball. We don’t really care about who we’re playing with or who we’re playing against, we just solely focus on ourselves.”
The approach seemed to leave an impression: Sandler, who is in town for the filming of “You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah,” remembered Mehrez’s name after the game.
As more celebrities return to Toronto with pandemic restrictions easing, there’s been a smidge of pandemonium. Photos of people stopping Sandler and others like singer Conan Gray and comedian Hasan Minhaj for selfies have been popping up all over social media timelines.
While the city is home to megastars like Drake and The Weeknd, it’s been a while since so many celebrities descended on our streets. Since they’re not quite as ubiquitous as in New York or Los Angeles, it raises the question: What is the proper etiquette when you come across 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 Prize-shortlisted singer-songwriter Lisa LeBlanc, says to follow in Mehrez’s footsteps.
“You usually have way more in common with a celebrity than you think,” Brooks said. “You have personal boundaries around how you interact with strangers. So try to keep your cool and reflect on that before you try to engage with them.”
Authenticity is often the best approach, he continued, as celebrities are people too and most appreciate being treated like normal people.
“If you think you’re going to be weird or not be able to talk, don’t engage with that person. That’s like really uncomfortable,” Brooks said.
In the case of Shannon Shorten and her 11-year-old son, Harrison, they met both Drake and Adam Sandler on the same day in front of the same Toronto eatery, ONE Restaurant. Neither star stopped moving while acknowledging them.
“So Harrison just went running up to (Sandler) and they both kind of did the high-five motion at the same time and high-fived,” Shorten said about the phone. Then Harrison started walking with him.
“He was patting me on the chest saying, ‘You’re a good boy, you’re a good boy, you’re a good boy,’” said Harrison. Sandler kept walking throughout the interaction.
Later, when they saw Drake exiting the Yorkville restaurant, the interaction was slightly different.
“Drake looked at Harrison and gave him a head nod as if he was going to come (over). But then more people started to come and you could see (Drake’s) guys were like, ‘Go inside now,’” Shorten said. “Things just started to get a little bit crazy.”
Brooks explained that acknowledgment and interaction with a celebrity are never guaranteed. Sometimes a celebrity is just out trying to get ice cream or have their cream of wheat. Every time they step outside doesn’t mean that they’re “on.”
“Don’t take it personally if you get blown off by the person. There’s a million things going on that you don’t know about,” Brooks said.
Fame is fickle and while celebrities of the stature of Sandler may seem larger than life, they’re still human.
“If you want to be cool, I think respecting their time and assessing the situation is important,” Brooks said. “Reflecting on your own personal boundaries and assessing the situation, I think, will increase your chances of having a positive interaction and a potentially meaningful interaction with them.”
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