Garbo: the classic introvert woman.

greta-garbo-illustrated-by-chris-marie-meekerI have been reading books lately written by women on being an introvert. I like them very much. The introverted qualities I have been trying to admire in myself for years are finally getting some public exposure. When I think of women introverts, Greta Garbo always comes to mind. I finally found an interview with her done in 1927. Here are some quotes to whet your appetite.

I was born; I grew up; I have lived like every other person. Why must people talk about me? We all do the same things in ways that are just a little different. We go to school, we learn; we are bad at times; we are good at other. We find our life work and we do it. That’s all there is to anyone’s life story, isn’t it?

I have always been moody. When I was just a little child, as early as I can remember, I have wanted to be alone. I detest crowds, don’t like many people. I used to crawl into a corner and sit and think, think things over. When just a baby, I was always figuring, wondering what it was all about – just why we were living.

Night after night, I sat there dreaming. Dreaming when I would be inside – getting ready. I was alone. I don’t like to be with people – and I can never stand any kind of fighting. If I see an accident or hear two people quarreling, I am just sick all over. I never fight myself and I won’t do any fighting in pictures.

I hated school. I hated the bonds they put on me.

I was a very bad child. I upset the whole school. I liked to go out at night.

I am always nervous and restless when I am making a picture. I cannot help it. That is why I never want people to see me while I am acting. I do not let people on the set. And I stay by myself all I can while I am making a picture. I sit in one corner alone, or go to my dressing room, or I walk outside by myself while the others are working. I cannot stand it for someone to come up and say, ‘What did you think of the football game?’ as they do here in America. I cannot get back on the track. I cannot do my best work then.

I was still the naughty Garbo and still late in the morning.

I went away into the country. Oh, yes, I was alone. I always went away alone. That is what I like – to go away, far into the country, alone. An old couple to cook for you, lock after your things for you. But there are not so many places in America where you can be alone.” Her voice saddened. “Here there are always the people – I miss it. Some people need to be with people. I need to be alone, always.

I do not know-as I should tell this. People may not believe what I say – but I have the most amazing feeling, – I feel I have lived – before. I am never terribly surprised at anything. I feel always, I have been there before – that it is not entirely a new experience. I cannot describe – but in here – her hands worked on her breast – I feel it.

I did not want to be around people. I liked to be alone in Constantinople. I went to the bazaars. I had a guide with me. They are so big, you could never find your way out of them without someone to guide you. I was so restless. It was a very big disappointment not to have the money for our picture. But I was not lonely. I walked around the old city by myself mostly.

Happy is too big a word to use very often. It means so much to our country – the word happy, that we hardly speak of it. Here you use it so common.

Children don’t get close to you. You can say intelligent things to children. When you talk silly things, they just look at you, and you feel they are thinking, ‘Why are you saying such silly things for?’ Children are very sensible persons.

I did not want to be a silly temptress. I cannot see any sense in getting dressed up and doing nothing but tempting men in pictures. Mr. Mayer called me in and said I was to start right away. My sister had died while I was making ‘The Temptress.’ My poor body wasn’t able to carry on any longer. I was so tired, so sick, so heart-broken. I went to Mr. Mayer and said, ‘Meester Mayer, I am dead tired. I am sick. I cannot do another picture right away. And I am unhappy about this picture –’ And they said, ‘That’s just too bad. Go on and try on your clothes and get ready.’

I am not the kind of a girl who can powder my nose and say, ‘Ah, go on with you.’

So I went home for two days. Then I heard about the papers. They say, ‘Greta Garbo go home’ – ’ She is temperamental – she cannot be handled.’ I did not understand that, so I went to my manager and said, “Maybe I better go back to the studio. I have rested two days. It does not make any difference here whether I am tired and sick and have lost my sister. I do not understand and I will go back.” So I went back and said nothing.

I cannot help it if I do not like to be with many people. I have some good friends.

I never know what I am going to do next, when I am not working. I walk on the heath for many miles. But I never know what time I will do it. I stand on the beach and watch the sea for an hour, perhaps two. What is that to people? I like it. That is all there is to it. I do not think one person should judge another. You can never tell why one person does not like another. I do not think one person can talk about another. It is not of their own business they are talking.

Marriage? I have told many times, I do not know. I like to be alone; not always with some other person. There are many things in your heart you can never tell to another person. They are you!
Your joys and sorrows – and you can never, never tell them. It is not right that you should tell them. You cheapen yourself, the inside of yourself, when you tell them.

From the author of the article, Ruth Biery: For sheer cruelty, the Middle Ages had nothing on modern Hollywood when it came to practicing the art of persecution. And there is no one in Hollywood today who knows better what it is to be put on the rack and tortured than Greta Garbo. Instead of trying to understand her, Hollywood has spent every effort to dig an early professional grave for her. I know how true this is, because, unintentionally, I have been one of her most active grave-diggers. And now I am going to make a confession that hurts – hurts, because it isn’t easy to admit one’s weaknesses. But there is such a thing as justice, and the attacks upon Greta Garbo have become so numerous recently that the good side of my nature cries out: It is time to be fair to her!


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