If you watched American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, you thought to yourself, of the actual Christopher Darden, “Man, I don’t remember a lot about that guy at all”, and then the real guy faded into the performer and it became “I really wish he would kiss Marcia Clark already, let’s GO”, after which it was watching the carousel of emotions go by on “Darden”’s face every time Johnnie Cochrane did something that both helped and hurt Darden at the same time.
I wonder whether part of the reason I thought Sterling K. Brown’s performance was so good and nuanced and affecting was because I had no other image of him. That is, obviously you process that you’re not watching the real person, but you’re not sitting there going “God, how could Selma Blair have possibly known that her pixie cut would bring Kris Jenner’s pixie cut to mind so incredibly sharply even though who the hell knows if Kris Jenner had that haircut in 1994?” You just get to watch Christopher Darden lose the last pieces of his innocence, the stuff he didn’t even realize he was hanging onto.
This win will, I assume, take Sterling K Brown (after all the respect he showed women’s middle names last night, how can I leave out the middle initial?) to another level of “household name”. He’s in This is Us and has two movies coming out in the next few months.
It’s one of those cruel jokes that sometimes we don’t know a performer until a win like this brings them to our attention, but the other side of that is that you can be excited and anticipatory of getting to know the person who may well be one of your new favourites.
It’s a little bit like falling in love.