There was a completely different time in my life when I worked in the entertainment industry. I would see Forest Whitaker on the elevator at work, and chat with Tobey Maguire while he waited to see my boss for a meeting. I lived down the hill (far, far down the hill, mind you) from Brad and Angie, while working at a gym where I had to tell one teen reality show star that she owed us membership money. I enjoyed friendly chats with Dolph Lundgren before his morning workout, and got yelled at by a certain Jenji Kohan TV-show star for not knowing her name when she checked in at the gym. I would attempt, and fail, at flirting with Mark McGrath, and jokingly, but not really jokingly, ask directors if they wanted to read my scripts. Ah, now that’s the life — being scolded by TV stars on shows about drugs, and being wistfully told by Brett Ratner that “if only I was a little older…” These experiences, and too many more, taught me a lot about celebrities (and people who are famous, but not nearly as famous as they like to think they are). These are largely based on specific celebrities, or specific groups of celebrities, so they of course don’t apply to all famous people. But many of them are truths of those men, women, and even kids who find that they’ve really “made it” in Hollywood:
1. They think that rules don’t apply to them.
“No, sir, you don’t have to pay gym membership fees. You’re famous, duh! You get gym membership for free.” That’s sarcasm, if you couldn’t tell. They may be rich, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to take advantage of the perks of fame. Even perks that don’t actually exist.
2. They’re convinced you know who they are, and are excited to meet them.
This way, they can feel oh so cool and blase when they brush you off. What?! You haven’t seen "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills?" How can you live in LA and not watch those shows?
3. The older they are, the more likely they are to be humble.
A lot of things come with age: balding, ear hair, and liver spots, to name a few. But age also, generally speaking, adds some humility and grace to a famous person.
4. The less famous they actually are, the less likely they are to be humble.
You’ll see much more ego and narcissism from reality TV-show stars and folks in made-for-TV movies than you will from some Oscar and Emmy winners. I guess that’s not too much of a surprise.
5. When they wear sunglasses and dark hoodies, it’s because they want you to think they’re someone even more famous.
The best ones hide in plain sight. The ones who think the paparazzi are there for them are more likely to be B-list and below. They may be wearing shades and a hood, but they don’t realize that everyone’s actually photographing Victoria Beckham behind them.
6. Supporting actors and actresses aren’t nearly as exciting to most people, but they’re the best kinds to meet.
Think cast members in shows like "Orange is the New Black" and "Pretty Little Liars," where there’s no singular star. Many of them are used to sharing the spotlight or even stepping out of the spotlight so someone else can seize it. They don’t have the same affectations as actors and actresses who seem to carry an entire show on their shoulders.
7. They don’t want to be treated like normal people.
In interviews and magazines, they’ll make relatable comments like, “I just want to feel normal,” and “I wish people realized I’m just like them.” These are remarks stamped with approval by their publicists. The reality is, most of them have worked way too hard and gotten way too much attention to ever want to seem or feel “normal” again. They often don’t even remember what “normal” means.
8. They appreciate fans a lot. But more often from a distance.
Sure, some hate attention from strangers. Others prefer open-mouthed stares and pointing like they’re zoo animals. But most don’t mind a couple of sweet kids coming up to them asking for an autograph. You’re probably not bothering them if you approach. This is what they’ve come to expect, and to some of them, it’s a relief to feel the love. But getting swarmed by people, as you’d expect, is a whole other ball game that will send them running to a store manager and screaming for a back door they can escape from. The best way to talk to a celeb? Via Twitter or by asking for an Instagram photo. They love shameless plugs on social media.
9. A lot of them are shy.
If you’re trapped in an elevator with one, they may smile quietly at you. No matter how calmly you smile back at them, you can tell that they almost feel embarrassed to be who they are. Think about it: you know right away who they are, and you’re a complete stranger who knows more about them than they’d probably like. This instantly makes things weird, and can make them actually behave very shyly.
10. They automatically assume you’re “into” them.
Imagine magazines, fans, and film producers all telling you how gorgeous you are. It starts to seem like a fact, not a matter of opinion. This means that many of our favorite celebs pretty much assume that from the moment you say “hello,” you are head over heels.
11. They’re usually more like their characters than you’d expect.
No, we’re not saying that Tom Hardy is a strong, silent macho man and Scarlett Johansson acts like an ingenue out in public. But they do infuse all of their characters with elements of who they are, from their mannerisms to their facial expressions. You can see it in daily conversation with them, to the point that you realize some of the faces they make onscreen are not part of the character, but part of them.
12. The ones who seem mean on reality TV are usually the nice ones. And vice versa.
It’s no great revelation that reality television shows are scripted and can be way, way, way off base when it comes to portraying reality. Interestingly enough, most of the “mean girls” cast on reality shows are actually the nice ones who agreed to play a particular role for the show. The “sweet one” who gets all of the attention and sympathy from the audience ends up seeming more arrogant and self-centered in person.
13. Their friends are usually more into fame than they are.
The people who hang around them love the spotlight. Even if they were friends with the celebrity before they achieved fame, they get to experience all of the “benefits” of the attention from overeager fans and media without any of the drawbacks like hate mail, snarky Twitter comments, and PR disasters.
14. They tend to stay home.
Every trip out “in the world” is an ordeal when you’re uber-famous (think about Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and Ashton Kutcher). That’s why they always say they’re “homebodies” in interviews. It’s who they’ve had to become. If they do go out, it’s often for work, workouts, a quick food run, or some other truly essential trip that they don’t want an assistant to do for them.
15. They usually look similar in person.
Even with less makeup and their hair done differently, most celebs, especially the men, don’t look all that different on the street. Many of them really are that beautiful or handsome, with or without makeup. They are usually shorter and thinner than they appear on TV or in movies, but that’s usually the biggest difference.
16. They don’t let scandal and drama keep them from living their lives.
I was shocked when I saw Jessica Alba out and about at my gym after a supposed break up with now-husband Cash Warren. I saw Cash just a bit later, seeming completely fine. A lot of celebrity feuds, break-ups, and cheating scandals are fabricated or exaggerated, and may not be as serious or devastating as they seem. Even when they are, celebrities become so accustomed to having their dirty laundry aired that they just keep going on with their lives anyway.
17. They can’t really do what they want.
A friend of mine was having one celebrity friend over to her house to play with her dogs. Last minute, she had to cancel because paparazzi were making it difficult for her to go anywhere and it was just “too much of an ordeal.” You can’t just head to your friend's house to play with some puppies, these days.
18. They have weird taste in decor.
I’ve been in the home of one celebrity director who had a lot of modern-looking Jesus artwork in his Spanish-style home. I’ve seen other celebrity homes with very expensive works of art that look like a simple collection of rocks, or even like someone glued construction paper to their wall. I don’t know why this is, but I think that a lot of celebs simply think that if it’s expensive and unique, it belongs in their home.
19. They’re usually pretty smart people.
The best actors and actresses, in my experience, have the brains to back it up. There has to be an element of intelligence associated with being good on-camera, because many of the celebrities who act well are also super smart. A number of them have gone to, or go to, great area schools like USC or UCLA and probably didn’t just get in because they’re famous.
20. Skin care is their priority.
If you want great skin-care advice, ask a celebrity. They know the best facialists and dermatologists in town, because, of course, looking good is their business. Let’s just say that Cameron Diaz’s facialist is basically a magician. If you want to look good, go where the celebs go.
21. They only eat out when they want to be seen.
If they go to restaurants, it’s primarily because the restaurant is owned by a friend who they want to support, or they want reporters to see them with a particular person. Even going out to eat is a PR stunt, sometimes. If they really want to go to dinner discreetly, they usually get a private room in the back.
22. They’re super artsy.
They may play mean girls or jocks on TV, but a lot of them just look the part. In high school and college, they were the weird theater kids or film geeks. In many ways, they still are. They dress like all of the other hipsters in LA, listen to a lot of the same music, and you’ll find a lot of them looking like they stepped out of an Urban Outfitters ad. The best place to see many celebs is at bookstores like The Bodhi Tree, record stores like Amoeba Music, and old-school movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
23. They love Los Feliz, Studio City, and parts of the Valley.
Los Feliz is a lot grungier than Brentwood, much cleaner than Hollywood, and has some pretty stellar restaurants. Many celebs flock there to “get away.” Same goes for Studio City. The Valley is looked down on by a lot of Angelenos, which makes it the perfect spot for celebrities who want some anonymity.
24. They don’t go to movie theaters.
Sure, if it’s a movie premiere or a screening at a studio, you’ll see plenty. But on any given weekend, you won’t see most celebs heading to see a film. They’re usually able to use other avenues to see films, and it’s also a confined space where if just one person recognizes you, you’re trapped near them for two hours or more.
25. They always say “hi” to each other.
It’s like if you’re famous, you’re in some weird “famous person club.” They may not know that other famous person they’re standing near, but they inevitably acknowledge one another with a “hello” and/or a “nod.” It’s probably a secret code for, “I feel you, bro. This is tough/crazy/amazing.”