Not knowing what to say or fidgeting during conversations, experiencing goofy mishaps when all eyes are on you, perhaps having an odd fashion sense, laughing nervously when answering questions…sound familiar? If so, you might be socially awkward. As remarkably skilled as an actor might be in the craft of acting and how brightly he or she shines while performing, once the stage lights or cameras shut off, the reality of social awkwardness takes center stage. But there’s good news for such individuals.

Ty Tashiro is a psychologist and author of Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome. According to research, socially awkward people tend to be associated with “striking talent.” Tashiro states, “[Striking talent] means that they have tremendous ability in a specific area…If someone’s really smart in a certain area, they’re less likely to be socially skilled or be a good communicator.” Tashiro insists that socially awkward individuals have a tendency to “focus really intensely and really narrowly sometimes on a specific topic” and are “more likely to persist when tasks could get boring to other people” and this degree of focus results in practice till mastery.

Many successful actors’ interactions have been described as cringeworthy, uncomfortable, clumsy, or self-conscious during interviews or other public venues. Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch; Miley Cyrus’ awkwardly timed tongue expressions; Jesse Eisenberg’s nervous fast talking; Zach Galifianakis’ dedication to making audiences squirm between ferns; and Kristen Stewart’s stiffness during interviews have all been spotlighted in the press. Here are two more actors who have made the most of their awkward ways–and indeed created a fan base because of them.

Crispin Glover

Crispin Glover Glover has been said to be inspired by “the aesthetic of discomfort.” The New York native exhibits unusual and exceedingly eccentric characters known to make audiences cringe. In River’s Edge he portrayed the bizarre, on-edge murder witness Layne; in the classic Back to the Future Glover played the underdog George McFly, father of Michael J. Fox’s character which received international box-office success. His other oddball characters include the mentally unstable Cousin Dell in Wild at Heart, Andy Warhol in The Doors, and the Queen’s personal assassin The Knave of Hearts in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland. Some have referred to Glover as a genius. His prolific creativity doesn’t stop at acting; he’s also a director, screenwriter, recording artist, publisher, and author. Here is a very awkward Crispin Glover on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1987.

Jay Baruchel

Canadian-born actor, writer, and director Jay Baruchel is often recognized for his gangly physique, distinctive nasally voice, and expressive eyebrows. He tends to portray quirky, awkward-yet-endearing characters like the Viking Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon, the romantic lead in She’s Out of My League, and Seth Rogan’s childlike friend in Knocked up.

Baruchel once said, “Physical comedy is the reason I got into acting. I’ve been tripping and falling down my whole life, so I figured I might as well find a way to get paid for it.” Besides being noted for being twitchy during interviews, Baruchel says, “I don’t hide things very well; I have a very poor pokerface. When I’m bummed you can really tell. And I guess people see me as this prototype of all the times they’ve had their a**es kicked.” He also admits, “I know what it is to be awkward and uncomfortable and to feel inadequate and all that stuff, so I can always put relish onto that, I can always put some mustard on that.” But don’t mistake social awkwardness for lack of confidence. After all, Jay insists, “I was raised my whole life to believe I was a catch.”

 

Clearly, personal awkwardness doesn’t have to interfere with an actor’s success. An actor can use it to his or her advantage!

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