No matter what line of work you're in, it's always good to have a mentor. This person is always looking out for you, and they know the ropes, so they can offer good advice. Hollywood is no different. In fact, in Hollywood, relationships matter more than they do in most industries. It should be no surprise, then, that legendary actors often take other stars under their wing.
These celebrity mentors have had long, prosperous careers. As a result, their fountains of knowledge that can prove valuable to those trying to make it in Hollywood. Lots of people want to be stars, but only a few actually are. Sometimes, the difference between those groups is having a relationship with a legend.
These are two of the best living actresses, so it's not a huge surprise that they might know one another. The relationship between Viola Davis and Meryl Streep doesn't stop there, though. In fact, it appears Meryl has acted as something of a mentor figure for Viola.
"You know, she just sent me an email, and I was like, ‘That’s perfect,’" Viola told Elle. "She was like, ‘Yes, Viola, now that you’ve just had your vow renewal...this is the best part of your life now. There’s not anything that you don’t know anymore in terms of what’s good and bad out there, so now you can just fly.’ She’s always imparting wisdom like that.”
Katharine Hepburn is the only actress alive with more Oscars than Meryl Streep, so it's fitting that she would have some wisdom to impart. Apparently, Katharine chose to impart some of that wisdom to Jane Fonda. The two worked together in On Golden Pond, and Katharine took the younger star as a mentee.
"I was 45 when I made that movie, and it was she who taught me to be self-conscious," Jane told The Hollywood Reporter. "I used to think that was a bad thing, but that means being conscious of the self you project to the public; having a persona, a style, a presence. I had none of that."
Amy Poehler just seems like a genuinely great person. She's taken her own success and used it to raise up the work of female comedians she believes in. One of the beneficiaries of that is Abbi Jacobson, one of the stars of Broad City. It seems that Amy provided notes for Abbi, who also co-created the show, and actually directed some of it as well.
"She’s a great role model in this industry," Abbi told Channel Guide Magazine. "She’s like this mogul. She’s sort of calm and just like a boss b*tch.” Tell us something we don't already know, Abbi.
Robert De Niro doesn't seem like an obvious mentor, but that doesn't mean he's never taken a young actor under his wing. While on the set of Taxi Driver, Robert met Jodie Foster. Jodie was also in the film, and at quite a young age at the time. Jodie had been working since she was three, but Robert was the one that helped her realize what it meant to build a character.
"It was a huge revelation for me, because until that moment I thought being an actor was just acting naturally and saying the lines someone else wrote," Jodie told Beyond the Frame. "Nobody had ever asked me to build a character."
James Dean died at such a young age that it's hard to imagine him mentoring anyone else. On the set of Rebel Without a Cause, though, James got a chance to impart some wisdom to one of his young co-stars, Dennis Hopper.
“I thought I was the best young actor in the world," Hopper said. "Then I met James Dean. I’d never seen acting like that before. He was way over my head.” Eventually, Dennis approached James to ask him how he delivered such tremendous performances. James said that it was all about being in the moment, and that advice forever changed Dennis's approach to acting.
Mel Gibson sucks, but he also knows talent when he sees it. The veteran actor starred with Heath Ledger in Patriot, which was one of Heath's first films. After that, Mel took the young actor under his wing.
"I learned a lot socially, and professionally about the industry and the way he tackles it," Heath said of Mel in an interview with Culture.com. I guess I also learned a lot about just relaxing and relaxing on set, and not over preparing, not over thinking.” Those are valuable lessons for any actor, especially one like Heath, who was just starting out his short career.
This mentor relationship really takes things back. Buster Keaton, a silent film star from the 1920s and 1930s, took Lucille Ball under his wing after she was fired from MGM. Although she would go on to create I Love Lucy, Lucille was a bit adrift after she was fired.
Lucille broke plenty of barriers all by herself, but it was Buster who taught her how to be a funny physical comedian. According to Kathleen Brady's book on Lucille, Buster taught her how to commit to falls and use props without ever hurting herself. Thankfully, she would eventually take that knowledge and use it on her show.
Spencer Tracy was a legendary leading man in Hollywood for a generation. Elizabeth Taylor was also a legend, although she became a star as Spencer's stardom was entering a new phase. In Father of the Bride, the two played father and daughter. Apparently, their warm feelings for each other didn't stop when the camera stopped rolling.
"He was one of the people I think I learned from," Elizabeth told Larry King. "He had a stillness, a quietness about him that spoke more than volumes, and it just was mesmerizing. He could play anything, any role and he just drew you in."
Warren Beatty is an icon. He's had a legendary career as an actor and a director. It's only fitting that he would share some of that wealth with other young actors, even as he gets in bed with them. After Diane Keaton became a phenomenon because of Annie Hall, she fell hard for Warren, but Warren's interest wasn't just in her personal life. He also wanted to help her succeed professionally.
"Once Warren chooses to shine his light on you, there’s no going back," Diane wrote in her memoir. "I wanted to be Warren Beatty, not love him." I guess if you can't be him, falling in love with him is probably the next best thing.
Before his death, Robin Williams was one of the funniest, most energetic people alive. As it turns out, there was one comedian that Robin absolutely adored. Jonathan Winters, who worked with Robin on Mork & Mindy, was a legend in Robin's mind, so much so that Robin told everyone that Jonathan was his mentor.
"I turned to him," Jonathan told PBS during an interview about his relationship with Robin. "I said one day, ‘Don’t say mentor anymore, I’ll tell you why. In Ohio, they think that’s a salve. Say idol, we all know that. See, mentor’s a little cutie stuff.'”
You wouldn't think Julia Roberts needed any help to get to the top of Hollywood. After all, she was the biggest movie star in the world for a decade. As it turns out, though, Sally Field provided support and guidance for Julia from the earliest stages of her career.
One of Julia's breakthrough roles came in The Steel Magnolias when she was just 21. In that film, Sally played her mother, and the relationship between them only deepened from there. Although they've both had great careers in the years since, they've remained close. It's important to keep up relationships, especially when they're as valuable as that one has proved to be.
Alan Rickman's death was an especially sad day for anyone who loves great actors. It was especially sad for Colin Firth, though, because the two were actually quite close. Although the age difference between them wasn't huge, Colin came to see Alan was something of a mentor. The King's Speech star had always admired Alan's acting abilities, but he also learned a lot from the Harry Potter actor about things that had nothing to do with acting.
"He offered personal wisdom, not actor-y advice," Colin told The Hollywood Reporter. "There are some people you didn’t know how much they meant to you until you miss them, and I think Alan is one of those people."
Selena Gomez has been a star since she was a child, so it's fitting that Jennifer Aniston, who also got famous at a young age, to offer some guidance. Apparently, Jennifer doesn't just offer Selena advice. The Friends star became fast friends with Selena.
"We met through my management," the "Good For You" singer said. "They manage her as well, so it was kind of like a friendly meeting and instantly she's, like, inviting me to her house. She has a pizza oven. Like, we've made pizzas at her house." If that doesn't sound like a great time, I don't know what does.
If we were being totally honest, Joan Rivers would probably be on this list quite a few times. She was the inspiration for an entire generation of female comedians who admired her brash style and her ability to be just as funny as any man in the room. For the sake of this list, we'll single out Margaret Cho, who has often cited Joan as an inspiration.
After meeting, the two became very close until Joan's death. "I wanted her strength," Margaret told The Globe and Mail. "Her bravery. Her comedic chops. Her fast wit. Her tireless work ethic. Her incredible drive. Her wealth. Her vision – I mean, her funeral was so beautiful."
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This relationship is fraught, largely because Kevin Spacey has been accused of truly atrocious behavior and has stepped away from the spotlight. Before that happened, though, Kevin had a long-time relationship with Jack Lemmon. Jack wasn't a traditional leading man, but he'd nonetheless had a very successful career.
"He became sort of a second father to me, particularly when my father passed away," Kevin told Cranky Critic. "You don’t need any lesson in the world about how to treat other human beings or about professionalism than to be in the presence of Jack Lemmon.” That quote takes on a very different meaning in light of Kevin's behavior, but it doesn't necessarily reflect badly on Jack.