Attention pop culture lovers...I'm about to revive an old occupation with new players. It's called "Duende" and never mind that it was started on the old Merv Griffin show when he was doing daytime talk. It still can get you going.
Johnny Depp has it; Sean Penn doesn't. Meryl Streep has it; Glenn Close doesn't. Barbra Streisand has it; Celine Dion doesn't. Julia Roberts had it; Keira Knightly doesn't.
It's clear I'm not talking about talent. Nor good looks. Nor sex appeal. I'm talking about that certain something, a possession of "devils" that attract and hold an audience spellbound for no apparent reason. A guest on the old Griffin show, I don't remember who but some doctor of something, an erudite man of international fame, called the quality duende, the Italian word for devils. Talent and looks are part of it, but duende is the undefinable quality that goes beyond these things. It later became called charisma, but duende is a little different, or at least I like the word better because so many people have claimed charisma that it's become a cliché and duende never really caught on. I like the magical sound of it, like a supernatural haunting by the attractiveness gods visited on a person. It is that quality that compells the viewers' attention for no particular reason. It is the reason you will look at one single person in a crowd, even a crowd of two.
Dakota Fanning has it; Lindsay Lohan doesn't. Tiger Woods has it. Anderson Cooper has it.
Is this not totally subjective? Can I not be wrong in my choices? The answer is, I cannot be wrong because it is totally subjective. You will have your own list. It will be different from mine. In some cases it will be the opposite. However, I am right. If you think you are, then you are. There are a few absolutes, those possessed that everybody singles out, like it or not.
When asked what "star quality" was, Katharine Hepburn always said, "I don't know, but whatever it is, I have it." Duende was what she had.