extremely online

We Were All Rooting For You, Paul Walter Hauser

Paul Walter Hauser in happier times. Photo: Magnus Sundholm/Shutterstock

Paul Walter Hauser, I am begging you: Please do not do this.

For those of you who are not Paul Walter Hauser, some context. Hauser is an up-and-coming character actor who is probably best known for I, Tonya and Richard Jewell. He had become something of a Film Twitter darling in the past few years, the kind of guy people would randomly go, “You know who’s one of the best things about the new Cruella movie? Paul Walter Hauser.” (This may sound like faint praise, but it’s not — it takes real skill to add soulfulness to an overstuffed franchise-starter like Cruella.) Hauser was more online than most famousish actors. He followed a lot of movie people on Twitter and interacted with their tweets, and this made him seem endearing and approachable. People liked Paul Walter Hauser.

That all changed in an instant Monday night when Hauser made the biggest mistake of his life: He logged onto Weekend Twitter. Now, Weekday Twitter is bad enough, but Weekend Twitter is a whole different level of disturbed, full of bored people who have given up and just want to see everything burn. And Holiday Weekend Twitter? They should make you sign a waiver before they load the URL, acknowledging that you are aware your brain will be poisoned and you will not sue.

Exactly what happened with Hauser on Twitter over the weekend is shrouded in mystery. If you weren’t there at the time, it doesn’t make any sense; even people who were there seem unable to fully comprehend. Furthermore, Hauser has deleted his account, which means we are reliant on screenshots and secondhand testimony. But the facts appear to be these: On Sunday, the New York Times released Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott’s personal Oscar picks. It was a very critic-y list, which is another way of saying it was full of love for Drive My Car and Passing, but few considered it offensive. Except for Hauser, who called the picks “psychotic.” What prompted this opinion has been lost in the ether, but it apparently brought him some pushback because the next piece of evidence we have is Hauser — who, I repeat, has been widely acclaimed for his work as an actor — proclaiming that people in his mentions needed to “shut the fuck up or come say it to my face in public and see how fun it is to wipe their ass with a broken arm.” From context, it seems like some of the responses may have accused the actor of racism, sexism, or other isms (or maybe he just thought they did?) because Hauser then announced he was on the verge of being canceled, “which affects me/my family/my friends/my charities/my son’s life.” Shortly thereafter, Hauser deleted his account, the first good decision he made all weekend.

I do not tell this story to condemn Hauser; let he who is without terrible tweets cast the first stone. (Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, I compared the Philadelphia 76ers trading their backup center to Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. It made sense to me at the time.) But what is striking is the mental leap from “We think this three-hour Japanese drama should win an Oscar” to “I, a beloved character actor, am on the verge of being canceled.” It’s reminiscent of the Twitter drama of the last holiday break, when the people behind Don’t Look Up decided film critics were calling the movie unfunny and obvious because they didn’t care about global warming. In other words, Hauser went full Sirota. Never go full Sirota!

Anyway, Paul Walter Hauser, I just want to say from the entire Vulture staff: We love you, and if you apologize, we will welcome you back with open arms within a week.

We Were All Rooting For You, Paul Walter Hauser