Celebrities, they're just like us! Well, not really. Fame affects people in countless ways, so there's no telling what to expect when encountering an actual celebrity. They're real imperfect people, so they aren't going to behave exactly how popular culture views them. All of the stories featured capture that idea, no matter if the outcome is heartwarming, uncomfortable, or tragic. The stories have been edited for clarity.
Her Heart Was In The Right Place?
“Not me, but my friend got to go to a test screening of ‘Pulp Fiction’ years ago. When she came out, she saw one of the actors from the movie outside asking people what they thought. She recognized him from the scene he was in and proceeded to tell him that even though he only had a small part in it, he had talent and would someday make it big. He was really nice to her and thanked her for her kind words.
Someone came up to him seconds later telling him it was the best movie he’d ever written/directed. That’s when she realized she had just met Quentin Tarantino.”
“My dad once accidentally told Clint Eastwood to please kindly leave Canada.
Back in the early ’90s, Clint was in southern Alberta doing some shooting for ‘Unforgiven.’ It just so happens that we were camping in the area. One day, we decide to check out the Royal Tyrel Museum of Paleontology, because it’s the best thing ever, especially for young children (I was maybe 6 at the time).
So there we were, this extremely stinky, camping family, hanging out in a museum looking at dinosaur bones. It just so happens that Clint and crew had the day off and decided to check out dinosaur bones too. Now, to add some context to my father’s state of mind: I was a loud, obnoxious 6-maybe-year-old. Dad had spent a week trapped more or less in the confines of a tent with his idiot son and stupid toddler daughter, and is on edge. He probably wants a fight. He’s itching for an argument.
Well, Dad overhears one of the crew guys griping about how lame Canada apparently is compared to America, and how he couldn’t wait to go back home, etc, and the crew guys were chuckling about it. So, stinky dad waltzes over, a true, red-blooded Canadian, proud of his country, and tells them that if they don’t like it, why don’t they all leave and go back to America? Dad doesn’t realize that Clint Eastwood is among the people he’s swearing at.
After they wander off, grumbling about rude stinky Canadians or something, Dad comes back to us, and Mom essentially asks him, happily, ‘Oh what were you talking to Clint about?’
Dad messed up pretty badly, which is why I spent my youth watching a lot of Clint Eastwood movies. Dad suffers pretty deeply from ‘Canadian guilt’, which is a lot like your standard ‘white guilt’, except it isn’t biased toward race. Essentially, he’s just sorry all the time. Made for good movie nights as a kid though. Would watch Dad put his foot in his mouth again.
“That Was The Saddest Moment Meeting A Celebrity I Think I Ever Faced”
“When I worked at a restaurant in Florida a few years ago, Muhammad Ali and his family came in to eat. I am a huge fanboy and kept staring from a distance, and eventually ran next-door to Books A Million to buy his biography ‘King of the World’ and have him sign it.
As he was leaving I stood and held the door open for him.
His wife was helping him out of the door. He was looking at the ground. No speaking. Slow walking. Shaking from the Parkinson’s.
He got to the car and his wife was helping him in. I asked her if I could meet him and have him take a photo and an autograph.
She was delighted and said sure!
‘Cassius, this young man would like to meet you,’ she said. I held out my hand and shook the hand of the greatest boxer to ever live. The hand that knocked out Frazier. That mighty right hook.
I immediately started crying. She said, ‘Don’t cry, it’s okay!’ I had to explain that it’s surreal to meet the famous Ali.
She handed him the book and the sharpie and said, ‘Cassius he wants your autograph,’ and she opened the book for him and put the pen in his hand. He took at least two full minutes to sign his name. And it was at that point that it killed me. This was Cassius Clay. Muhammad Ali. The most charismatic, float like a butterfly sting like a bee, man in boxing history. And he was such a shell of his former self because of the Parkinson’s. It was so heartbreaking. It really was.
She then took a photo of us together and I thanked him and her and went on my way.
But wow that was the saddest moment meeting a celebrity I think I ever faced.”
“It was the day the Nintendo Wii came out. I waited in line at Best Buy. People started lining up the night before. About 20 minutes before opening, Chad Michael Murray pulls up in an SUV, parks right in front of the store, at the front of the line. He wasn’t even in a parking space, and it seemed like he was making sure that he was seen. He jumped out of the car wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses. It was like 70 degrees.
He went and talked to a Best Buy rep. I was close enough to the front of the line that I could hear him talking to the guy. He said that someone was supposed to have a Wii set aside for him. The guy didn’t know what he was talking about, but said he would look into it. When he realized he may not get his way, CMM started name-dropping, and playing the celebrity card.
Long story short, he ended up walking away with a Wii. They ran out of them, and I kept thinking about the kid at the end of the line that didn’t get one because of him.”
“That’s Why You Wear A Safety Helmet”
“I was a little kid in the 70s. Like pretty much every little boy, I thought Evel Knievel was the coolest person ever. When I was about 7, I was in the airport with my mom and her boyfriend and a friend of mine. My mother’s boyfriend told us that Evel was in one of the lounges. He was sitting in a back corner, drinking a glass of an adult beverage, and engulfed in a cloud of smoke.
We both approached him excitedly and asked for his autograph. He was obviously wasted, but he picked up a couple of nearby napkins and scratched out his signature on both of them. Then he looked at us and said, ‘Before I give you these, I’m going to teach you something.’
My friend and I looked at each other, totally starstruck and grinning like idiots.
Evel proceeded to tap both of us on the arm. ‘Does that hurt?’ he asked. We both shook our heads and said no. Then he poked us lightly in the chest, ‘Does that hurt?’ Again we both said no in unison. Then he made fists out of both hands with the middle knuckle sticking out and brought them down sharply and simultaneously, protruding knuckle first, onto both of our heads. ‘Does that hurt?’ he asked. Neither of us could really answer, I was holding back tears from the pain.
He waited a few seconds and said, ‘That’s why you wear a safety helmet,’ and handed us the napkins.
That said, in retrospect, I think he did do me a favor by dashing my concept of celebrity at an early age. It was pretty much the first and only time I’ve ever been starstruck.”
King Of Kings
“I worked as an assistant manager at a Borders Books & Music. Stephen King came in for a signing for a book called ‘From A Buick 8.’ It was a Saturday and the store was a mob scene, so I didn’t get to see him during the signing. I worked at the music counter, and what Borders used to do was allow customers to come up to the music station, they could bring us a CD or two, and we had these big headphones with chairs so people could sit and listen to a CD before buying it. It’s probably an hour or so before the store closed, and I turn around to see Stephen King standing there asking me if he could listen to ‘some tunes’. Of course, I obliged.
He sat there and listened to music until well after the store closed. He was really animated listening, which I found to be odd, but funny. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the store closed at 10:00. So, it gets to about 10:20 or 10:30 and he still doesn’t realize the store is empty. All the while, I’m pretending to work just to avoid making it awkward.
The only other closing manager was a friend of mine who ran the coffee shop in the store. He comes over to me, and tells me he’s taking off for the night, and sort of all at once realizes what is going on. Stephen King saw him out of the corner of his eye, which was enough for him to realize, ‘Uh oh, the store is empty.’
He took his headphones off, laughed, and apologized for ‘getting too deep in to the groove.’ I told him it was no big deal, that he was one of my favorite authors, and that I would have kept letting him listen.
We were just small talking, and King says to Justin (the other manager), ‘You work here too?’ and Justin replied, ‘Yeah, I run the coffee bar,’ to which Stephen King said, ‘Is it too late for a coffee?” Justin says, ‘Absolutely not, I’ll go brew a fresh pot.’
The three of us sat in a dimly lit Borders cafe drinking coffee for just about an hour, talking about everything from local politics, to the Red Sox, to King’s work, to our families. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
Not The Navy!
“My grandfather was a recruiter for the Navy back in the 70s. He was walking down a street in New York by a concert venue in the afternoon. My grandfather is a born salesman and will always take an opportunity to start a conversation with people.
He sees this long haired guy unloading stuff from a truck into the amphitheater. He walks up to him and asks why he’s working as a roadie when he could be doing something more meaningful in the Navy. The man very patiently listened to my grandfathers sales pitch and talked with him about the service and was genuinely interested in speaking with my grandfather. The guy tells him he actually plays in this band and one of the roadies was sick, and so he was helping out. My grandfather asks him what the name of the band was, maybe his daughter (my aunt) might know who they are.
He says the name of the band is KISS and he is the bass player. So, yeah, it was Gene Simmons the whole time. He politely declined my grandfather’s offer of enlistment and thanked him for his interest. He was very polite and friendly, especially for a musician talking to a very uptight recruiter. When my grandfather got home and told my aunt, she couldn’t believe he had tried to recruit the actual Gene Simmons.”
I Didn’t Have The Heart To Tell Him
“When I was a student I worked at a cinema. Samuel L. Jackson was making a film in the city, and the production company reserved one of our theaters every few days for a couple of months. So Mr. Jackson and his huge security guy would come in once a week or so to view whatever they were making on the big screen. He was quiet and low-key, but really happy and polite.
One morning we opened up early for them to come in before the public. That night, the cinema was hosting a charity auction event in conjunction with a local radio station, so my boss came up with the idea to ask Samuel L. Jackson to sign one of the life-size cut-outs from his movie ‘Shaft’ and we could add it as an auction prize.
Of course, none of us wanted to ask him, but I drew the short straw and approached him as he was sitting outside the screen with his body guard. When I got about 10 yards away, the giant fella spied my intent and ran up in front of Jackson with his arms outstretched and a death stare. I explained to the bodyguard what I wanted to ask, and he just put his hands up in my face and was like, ‘No autographs, back off,’ and turned his back to me.
I was mortified and slunk away. It was the first and only time I’ve ever asked for an autograph, and I felt really guilty for bothering them even though it was for a good cause. I didn’t even think the fella had even heard me and his bodyguard scared me so badly.
Two hours later, we were open to the public, and I was rushing around when I heard a bit of a commotion. Samuel L. Jackson was signing autographs for about 10 people standing around him, with his bodyguard over by the doors looking angry. Jackson started making his way over to me and said, ‘Hey, did you want an autograph before? I had my iPod on, I’m sorry.’ So I explained about the charity event and the Shaft cut-out and he asked what the charity was. I mentioned how it as a local children’s hospital, and he told me to go get the cut-out. He was signing it and he said, ‘Hey I’m really sorry about earlier you know. That over there is James. He’s new and I think he’s really wanting to show me how well he’s trained.’
Then he gets some cash out of his pocket and gives me a bunch of notes and goes, ‘For the kids.’ Sam and James went on their way and I counted the money. It was almost $500!
Jackson and his bodyguard came in about four more times after that. As soon as he saw me, Jackson wanted to know how much his signed cut-out went for and how the event went. I told him that it was great and thanked him a lot for his really kind gift. James just grunted.
I never told him that nobody bid on his autographed life-size ‘Shaft’ cut out.”
Wild Was An Understatement
“When my dad lived in London during the 70s, he lived in a cruddy building from which you could easily access both the financial district and the West End. So for one summer, every day he sees this guy from his building leaving when he’s coming home from work, and sometimes he sees him on the weekend. The thing is that sometimes late at night, the guy will come back and he’ll have hastily removed make-up, including eyeliner and lipstick.
One day, they end up chatting while getting mail, and the man mentions that he’s a stage actor. My dad says, ‘Oh, so that’s why you’re always in make-up at night. I have to say, I thought you had a pretty wild nightlife! The guy laughed and said, ‘Well, I am in a pretty wild play.’
Man was Tim Curry, and the play was Rocky Horror Show.”
“My Saddest Celebrity Encounter Was Also My Greatest”
“My saddest celebrity encounter was also my greatest. When I was in college, my buddies and I randomly decided to drive to Fort Benning to try and be extras in ‘We Were Soldiers,’ a Vietnam War movie with Sam Elliott. We managed to get in even though we weren’t actually in the military. While I was waiting for a bus to take me back to wardrobe, one of the casting guys picked me out of the crowd and asked me if I wanted to be in another scene with Sam Elliott. Of course, I said yes, I was ecstatic! I sat in this van waiting for Sam to come join me, so we could drive to the scene.
Finally, he comes out looking really upset and sits in the front seat. Against my better judgement I said something to the effect of, ‘Mr Elliott I’m a huge fan of yours and it’s an honor to be in a scene with you.’ He snaps back, ‘Shut up kid.’ Needless to say when Sam Elliott tells you to shut up, you do it. So that’s the sad part, though getting cussed out by a guy who typically plays the cool characters in movies was neat in a way.
We film the scene which is a short scene where he walks by a co-star and cusses at him about something. We film it over and over and I’m just some soldier walking by in the background. Occasionally, between takes, Sam would look over at me and scowl. After it’s done we get back in the van to head back and Sam is again in the van.
He turns around and says, ‘Sorry about earlier kid, I just didn’t want to ruin my mood for the scene. I appreciate the compliment.’ Suddenly it dawned on me that when he snapped at me, he was trying to stay in character for the upcoming scene. Honestly I probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place, but it was such an awesome experience.
It’s More Of An Aesthetic, Really!
“I went to Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and my pre-major adviser was a woman named Professor Skarda. In 2004, a visiting professor from Columbia University invited Professor Skarda to dinner downtown, so they met on campus and walked through the town together. Professor Skarda asked the visiting professor how she was liking Northampton, and the other woman replied, ‘It’s really nice, but I’m surprised by how many homeless people there are. I don’t think we have as many bums in New York, even.’
As she said this, she casually waved her hand towards an older man with ratty clothes and crazy hair, who was sitting on the steps outside a coffee shop staring into space, to illustrate her point. Professor Skarda whispered to her, ‘That’s Kurt Vonnegut.’
No More Clowning Around
“I ended up hanging out with Eric Stonestreet (from ‘Modern Family’) for like five hours one night during a long shoot (I was a featured extra in the movie ‘Loft’ and was separated from the rest of the extras). He was one of the worst PEOPLE (not actors) I have ever met.
He came to the room where I was hanging out (it was the back office of the restaurant that was the backdrop for the scene. I happened to be a waitress there, and they asked a couple of the employees to be ‘featured extras’). At first, we were excited. Eric wanted to join us, said we looked like we were having fun, he was bored out there.
He sat down and proceeded to ask us all, ‘what on earth were we were doing in this atrocious city [New Orleans],’ and basically shut down all of our reasons. He said it was the grossest place he has ever been and he hated seeing all the pitiful people who lived there. I was going to school at the time so he ‘understood needing to be there’ but everyone else on staff was native to NOLA. It seemed like he was trying to do an offensive stand-up set that made everyone really uncomfortable. If you know people from New Orleans, they are very proud of their city. The vibe he was putting out was really violent and cruel, so everyone just kind of laughed nervously.
When someone said they hadn’t seen Modern Family, he looked offended and yelled at them to google him.
One of my friends at the restaurant has the nick name ‘Clown’ (No one ever calls her anything but that. It’s pretty much her name). I offhandedly referred to her by Clown and he turned to me, angry, accusing me of making fun of him.
I immediately realized what he meant (on ‘Modern Family,’ his character is passionate about clowning, and I’m an avid trivia reader so I knew that he shares that passion in real life) so I tried to explain myself, but he cut me off saying, ‘Do you know who I am? Clowning is the only true form of art!’
Then he insisted on putting on a clown show for us and ruined my entire pack of smokes by trying to turn them into flowers or something? It was some clown trick, I don’t know. He couldn’t actually do it because he was under the influence (the scene called for shots and the actors were shooting water instead, except Eric Stonestreet).
NOLA Rules, clowns drool.”
“When I was about 16 or 17, I was in line at Starbucks (in my small tourist town in Florida) and there were these two incredibly cute guys in front of me. There really wasn’t anything extraordinary about them other than they were good looking. I mean, they seemed pretty down to earth and weren’t wearing anything flashy. One of the guys gave his name for the drink order and it was Nick. Nothing clicked in my head. I’m kinda shy around attractive people so my mind just shuts down and I try to not stare or show that I’m interested in them (my self esteem sucks).
As I’m ordering, I glance over at them and one of them, really tall with dark hair and insanely blue eyes, smiles at me. I smile back and look down because, socially, I’m an awkward penguin. I stutter out my drink order and sit down at table and start fiddling around with my phone as I wait because human interaction is overrated anyways. Well, they call out their names, ‘Tyson and Nick’ and they collect their drinks but linger around putting sugar and what not in their drinks. They call my name, and even though I insist on putting at least five splendas in my coffee, I bolt out of there because cute guys are at the little sugar station (what the heck do you call it?) and just NOPE.
Once I got into my car I realized they were Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler from All-American Rejects, a band that I was a fan of and quite familiar with as a teenager. I couldn’t believe I didn’t recognize them. Apparently they live here now. Go figure.”