It's a question that's been futilely pondered countless times before, and by artists and philosophers more sapient than we: What, exactly, makes John Malkovich tick? We like Esquire's approach: Forget about hunting for magical portals inside the actor's consciousness that don't really exist, and instead just invite him to participate in their ongoing What I've Learned feature. And what has he learned (besides the fact that most people are willing to forgive an Eragon if you've built up a significant enough body of non-dragon work) ? The answers will surprise and amaze you. Politics are like an Aspen Canker-infected tree. He feels unworthy of Michelle Pfeiffer's salutations. And he's constantly fearful that the guy rattling off the evening specials will dash off his Malkovich impressions to us via Blackberry between courses:

Twenty-five or thirty years ago, you became famous, what's the worst that could happen to you? Page 6? Cindy Adams? Liz Smith? There weren't cell phones with cameras. Waiters didn't listen to your conversations and send them to Drudge or Defamer or Gawker or Jezebel or Agent Bedhead. Now we're all Japanese. We're a nation of paparazzi. And it's okay. You make your peace with it. We get so many rewards, we're much more remunerated than other people, so I guess we should take more licks than other people, too.

There's a fabulous gift package awaiting whichever of you little Japanese shutterbugs sends us the first legitimate Malkovich PrivacyWatch sighting, including (but not limited to) Defamer StarPlus™ commenting status, a John Malkovich Halloween mask you can reprint and recreate the Being John Malkovich restaurant scene with, and—best for last—a date with the Defamer editor of your choosing! (Some restrictions apply.) [Photo credit: Jake Chessum for Esquire]