Minute Maid Ty Burrell

Is it okay to approach a celebrity out in public? And how obligated should one feel to keep multitaskers up to speed as to what’s happening on screen? Dalton Ross, EW editor-at-large and resident pop-culture referee, weighs in.

I’ve seen celebs in stores. I just smile and nod, maybe say hello. I don’t want to bother them. Is it ever okay to begin a convo?

—Sue (@Soozey42)

Your instincts are generally spot-on, Sue. Here’s the thing about actors: They like attention. By the nature of their profession, they got into the business to be noticed and have accolades thrown their way. Let’s face it, you don’t get up on that stage in your middle-school production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown unless you crave the spotlight. (For example, I played Linus.)

So approaching a celebrity is not necessarily an overreach on your part. It’s more about what you do when you approach: Keep it brief, use lots of flattery—because Lord knows they loooove that—and maybe snap a quick pic if the setting is remote enough that it will not attract a horde of fellow celebrity stalkers who will transform your low-key meet-and-greet into a full-on stampede.

Obviously the caliber of the celebrity also determines how long you linger. Said restrictions do not apply if you’ve spotted, say, the guy who played preppy jerk Hardy Jenns in Some Kind of Wonderful. By the way, if you have spotted the guy who played preppy jerk Hardy Jenns in Some Kind of Wonderful, you are my new hero.

Do commercials really think they’re fooling us with A-list actors’ voices? Some are so obvious.

—Avery (@Averychasten)

What, you’re not running out to Home Depot right now thanks to the silky-smooth sounds of Josh Lucas? (Wait, does Josh Lucas even count as A-list? And I’m not talking Sweet Home Alabama Josh Lucas; I’m talking one-season-and-done-of-NBC’s-The-Firm Josh Lucas.)

But to your point, Avery, fooling you is the furthest thing from these advertisers’ minds. If anything, they want you to recognize the voice. Especially if they were too cheap to pay for the face to go with it. Ever notice how positively Jon Hammish Jon Hamm sounds while hawking Mercedes, and what a Ty Burrell clone Ty Burrell sounds like as he waxes enamored of all things Verizon FiOS? Of course, some easily recognizable voices can backfire: Julianna Margulies’ Chase ads permanently stress me out, as I can’t help but ponder the long-term ramifications of Alicia Florrick’s upcoming state’s-attorney campaign. So I guess that is an effective ad after all…for The Good Wife.

My mom plays Candy Crush while we’re watching TV and then asks either what happened or what someone said. Can I deny her request?

—Danielle (@NY_Dee)

Wait…what? Sorry, I was just trading in my 100,000 coins to unlock the Francisco Montoya character in Temple Run 2. What was your question again? Oh, right! Second-screen attention deficit disorder. I’d be lying if I said I was not guilty of that myself, but yes, you are completely within your rights to with-hold any and all information. But ask yourself: Why do that when you can have some fun at her expense?

My recommendation: Just start making stuff up and see if she notices. Instead of telling her she missed Bob on The Walking Dead yelling out, “Tainted meat!” at the top of his lungs, say that Bob and Gareth just engaged in a campfire duet of Soft Cell’s 1980s jam “Tainted Love.” Because that totally makes sense on every level! Considering how gross that scene was, you’d actually be doing her a favor. If you want, you can also lie and tell her how super-hot Rick’s beard looks. Probably doing her a favor there, too.

Tweet your own pop culture queries to @DaltonRoss. This article appears in Entertainment Weekly’s Nov. 7 issue.