Celebrities are real people, right? Most of us wouldn’t think of them that way. We recognize them from movies and tv, from magazines, from news media and paparazzi, all trying to give us intimate details of these strangers’ lives, without giving us any sense of common ground.

That’s why I enjoy moments when famous people have a chance to speak for themselves. Sure, their usually polite, if somewhat aloof — after all, they don’t really know the individuals in the crowds they might be addressing. But occasionally they prove themselves to be just as real as the rest of us.

You can tell a polite but rehearsed conversation most of the time. And when people are being genuine, that becomes pretty obvious as well. When Hugh Jackman appeared in Knoxville a couple of weeks ago to promote the premiere of latest movie, he gave a short speech to those who had gathered to see him. He didn’t just give a polite celebrity speech – though that certainly would have been enough.

Instead, he showed that he really could be himself in front of them he endeared himself to those who had made the effort to be a part of this event, and drew in many more people to his work just by virtue of his frank appreciation of their city and its popular themes. It turned out to be a good demonstration of caring about what people care about regardless of how well you know them.