“Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.”—Harvey Mackay
Are celebrities truly “just like us?” Many a magazine has tossed around that phrase in hopes of convincing “us” that fame and fortune can’t radically change a person. Then again, most famous people have worked very hard to achieve what they have. Why shouldn’t celebs use their money and connections to satisfy a few whims, no matter how immature, superstitious, or downright inconvenient for everybody else? Well, perhaps the answer to that lies in that last part.
At best, the instances we go into here are odd indulgences. At worst, these “quirks” put people in danger. From personal firetrucks and CGI eyes to cups filled with the unspeakable, tales of celebrity eccentricity come in all shapes and sizes. Here are 42 striking facts about strange celebrity behavior.
Strange Celebrity Behavior Facts
42. I’m Not Cleaning Out That Closet
While her fans were patiently waiting for her to release new music, rapper Azealia Banks was busy casting spells and sacrificing animals. In 2016, a series of now-deleted Instagram videos showed Banks talking about brujeria—a type of magic—and complaining about having to clean the apparently blood-stained closet where she ritually killed chickens.
41. 15-Love? Or 15-Lewd?
O.J. Simpson vs. Bill Cosby? That’s a match-up that’s weird enough without adding tennis and a Playboy sponsorship in the mix. In 1981, these two duked it out on tennis court, surrounded by scantily clad women, in what Playboy called the “Cosby Celebrity Challenge.”
40. Smoking Kills
In 2006, director Werner Herzog saved actor Joaquin Phoenix from a fiery death. Phoenix and Herzog just happened to be on the same Los Angeles road when Phoenix’s car flipped over. Understandably—to some—after the crash Phoenix’s first instinct was to grab a cigarette. Herzog passed by Phoenix, noticed the gasoline leaking into the car, and promptly knocked the lighter out of his hand. Don’t ding us for making some poor taste joke about Phoenix rising from the ashes anew thanks to Herzog.
39. Department of Literary Corrections
Tommy Chong was once cellmates with Jordan Belfort, AKA the fraudster who was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. It’s unlikely there would have been a Wolf for Leo to play had it not been for Chong’s advice to Belfort, which I will paraphrase here: your detective novel is terrible; why not write about your real-life terribleness as a Wall Street big-shot instead? Does that mean DiCaprio has Chong to thank for the Oscar nom?
38. What’s the Zip Code for That?
The Artist Formerly Known as Prince did not suffer fools gladly. Case in point, when Matt Damon tried to make small talk and ask whether the singer lived in Minnesota, Prince simply responded with the enigmatic, “I live inside my own heart, Matt Damon.”
37. Just Keep Swimming, Questlove
You could fill a king’s court with weird Prince stories. Once, at the very last minute, he ordered The Roots’ drummer, Questlove, to perform as the DJ at an after-party. Questlove agreed…only for Prince to promptly fire him and replace him with a DVD of Finding Nemo. Not harping on Questlove, but Finding Nemo is solid entertainment.
36. Split the Difference
If you don’t remember John Denver, you might remember his crossover hit song Take Me Home, Country Road. You should also know that, in 1982, Denver’s estranged wife cut down his oak trees, which triggered him to pick up a chainsaw and cut everything in their home in half, including the bed. #Symbolism.
35. Sergeant Pepper Freaks Out
By now, John Lennon’s reputation as a peace-loving hippie has been consistently undermined by tales of his domestic violence and instability. He was also highly volatile to the subject of his sexuality. The musician once beat one of his own friends to a pulp for suggesting that Lennon was more than friends with Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
34. Return to Sender
Jungle Fever and Do the Right Thing director Spike Lee thought he was doing the world a favor when he advertised George Zimmerman’s address and told his Twitter followers to “LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN.” Unfortunately, the address he tweeted was not George Zimmerman’s. Instead, Lee made a boo-boo and published the home of a completely unrelated family whose son happened to be named William George Zimmerman. The family was understandably alarmed by the sudden barrage of death threats and harassment. Lee paid the family a $10,000 settlement, but he refused to pay the extra $15,000 they sued for. You can apparently put a price cap on suffering.
33. White Off This Loss
Jennifer Lopez does not care for distracting colors. In fact, she demands that her dressing room be decorated with white flowers, white drapes, white tables, white candles, white couches, white couches, and, to top it all off, served with tepid water only. It’s probably a good thing that there’s no red wine on the rider, then.
32. A Heaven of Hell & A Hell of Heaven
After a near-death experience in 1988, actor Gary Busey claimed to be a heaven expert, since he allegedly saw heaven itself in his brief reprieve from our mortal coil. As a result, he refused to shoot a Heaven scene in the movie Quigley unless the production design team could match his “reality.” Among Busey’s grievances were the “wrongness” of the sofa and the presence of mirrors. Busey’s heaven did not have mirrors.
31. Don’t Shirk the Shirt
“Weird Al” Yankovic’s contract once entitled the novelty singer to a brand-new Hawaiian shirt for every concert. Yankovic amassed literally hundreds of these tops before he cut this extra bit out. There is, apparently, enough vacation style to last a lifetime.
30. If It’s Brown, Take It Down
Van Halen had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to brown M&M’s on their snack table. The band’s aversion was so great that it was literally written into their contract. Why? Please ask them.
29. Copy & Paste
Steve Martin prefers not to sign autographs for fans, instead opting to hand out classy, pre-printed business cards that declare, “I met Steve Martin!”
28. He Wants to Believe
Dan Aykroyd is proud to be the resident “Hollywood consultant” for the Mutual UFO network. The actor himself claims to have spotted two UFOS over Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. He believes that there are multiple alien species who make regular pit stops to earth, mostly to absorb our art and culture. Aykroyd is very open about this belief.
27. An American Purveyor of Ladies in Paris
Before James Lipton hosted Inside the Actor’s Studio, he spent a year in Paris working as—to put this sensitively—an agent for escorts. He is fairly open about his past, insisting that the French treat their women well, and referring to this job as one of those “rites of passage, no question about it. It was a great year of [his] life.”
26. Five Finger Food Discount
Although Bill Murray certainly has enough dough to buy his own lunch, none of this stopped the actor from stealing French fries off a stranger’s plate at the airport in Martha’s Vineyard. The (un)lucky patron was dining when the Ghostbusters star began to hover over him, take his food, and never break his odd character.
25. Open Wide
Alicia Silverstone posted a video on her health site wherein she feeds her son, Bear, like, a mother bird. Putting a new twist on “mouth-to-mouth,” Silverstone describes and demonstrates how she “fed Bear the mochi and a tiny bit of veggies from the soup…from [her] mouth to his.” The actress insists, “It’s his favorite…and mine.”
24. Sweet Dreams, Kids
Mariah Carey and her then-husband Nick Cannon built a room for their twins exclusively to store candy. Imagine putting kids to bed after that sugar rush.
23. I Ain’t Afraid of No Ryans
Because the Ghostbusters are unfortunately fiction—sorry, kids—Lady Gaga had to fend for herself against spirits. The singer spent $50,000 on an electromagnetic field meter to detect and protect herself from apparitions from the other world. She specifically sought to defend herself against one ghost, whom she knew by the extremely spooky name of “Ryan.”
22. The New Buzz Around Bey
In 2012, researchers discovered a new species of horse fly in Northern Queensland, Australia. Finding it to be the “all-time diva of flies,” and because of the fine golden hairs on the bug’s stomach, the scientists accordingly named the species the “Scapita beyonceae.” Yes, that’s after the international pop singer, Beyoncé. So maybe this bizarre behavior can’t be attributed to the celeb in this case, but who else other than a scientist would manage get a species of insect named after them?
21. My Bloody Valentine
It seems like eons ago that Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton were still together. And wearing necklaces of each other’s blood. According to Thornton, it was Jolie’s idea that “it would be interesting and romantic if we took a little razor blade and sliced our fingers, smeared a little blood on these lockets and you wear it around your neck just like you wear your son or daughter’s baby hair in one.” In terms of romantic gestures, we’d have gone with the hair thing; more Victorian, much less painful, and way more hygienic.
20. In a Fire Station Far, Far Away
Once you create Star Wars, the sky is truly the limit. Why shouldn’t George Lucas own a personal fire truck and 12 full-time firefighters? That’s one way to defend yourself against fan flame wars.
19. Blow Your Top Off
U2 lead singer Bono landed in Italy, only to find that he forgot his favorite hat in London! Unwilling to perform a concert without the garment, the singer paid $1,200 for a first-class British Airways ticket…for the hat. That’s a lot of effort for a black trilby.
18. When Body Makes Bank
We’ve heard of athletes insuring their body parts, but non-athletic celebrities have also put a dollar sign on their most money-making bits. For instance, Rihanna’s legs are insured for $1 million and Julia Robert’s smile is insured for $30 million, which is extravagant when you consider Dolly Parton’s bosoms are only insured for $600,000. Meanwhile, Kylie Minogue’s butt is insured for a ripe $5 million.
17. The Man Hunt No One’s Watching
The years have not been kind to Randy Quaid’s sense of security. You might remember him as the brother of actor Dennis Quaid, as well as for his role in Independence Day as well as National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, where he played Cousin Eddie. In recent years, however, Quaid has been convinced that “Hollywood Star Whackers” are out to get him, and that they already claimed the lives of Heath Ledger and David Carradine. But why are the Whackers going to all this trouble for Quaid? According to him, they want his royalties.
16. Nessie Says No
Inspired by the movie Jaws, Charlie Sheen grabbed a leg of lamb, a large hook, and a bottle of whiskey and went on his own search…for the Loch Ness Monster. Or that was the plan. It didn’t, of course, lead to any capture, but Sheen insisted to Jay Leno that she’s still out there. To quote Sheen, “Why not? If people talk about something for, like, 200 years, it’s got to be there, right?” Another day, another lady eluding Charlie Sheen…
For reasons tragically lost to the sands of time, Wesley Snipes refused to open his eyes for a simple shot in Blade: Trinity. As a result, director David Goyer had to animate CGI lookers onto the actor’s lids in post-production. The result is unintentional comedy straight from the uncanny valley.
14. Rolling in the Dough
In 2014, rapper Waka Flocka Flame put out a job ad that looked to hire a personal “blunt roller.” Before you turn up your nose, this position featured a starting salary of $50,000 a year.
13. You Have Been Spared by Big Foot
According to the actor himself, Rob Lowe had a near-death experience with Big Foot in the Ozark Mountains. To quote the Parks & Recreation star, “I was lying on the ground thinking I was going to be killed.” He leaves the answer to why ambiguous the mythic ape spared him. But Lowe did host a reality show, with his two sons, dedicated to finding out.
12. Just His Type
Tom Hanks is a vintage typewriter enthusiast. The leading man has amassed 250 typewriters over his lifetime and has nearly every make, type, and year model that all you typing fans out there can imagine. Hanks isn’t shy about his niche hobby; he once wrote an editorial for the New York Times that described the distinct sounds made by typewriters. Honestly, I’m kind of convinced they’re cool now. Thanks, Tom.
11. Doo-Doo Cards
Did you know Marlon Brando never bothered to learn his lines as Jor-El in Superman? When Jor-El sends baby Clark Kent off to Earth, Brando is literally reading dialogue off the infant actor’s diaper.
10. Kung Faux-Pas
Crispin Glover has been persona non grata with The Late Show since 1987. During his first appearance, the Back to the Future actor appeared in-character as Rubin from Rubin & Ed, wig and all. And then he decided to demonstrate some karate moves. Unfortunately, Glover’s butt-kicking chops got too close for comfort to host David Letterman. He appeared once again that year, but it’s clear Letterman did not want to bring him back to his future.
9. Unshaven Efforts
In 2009, Joaquin Phoenix tried to convince everyone that he had “lost it.” Donning a full mangy beard, sunglasses, and long hair, Phoenix announced that he was quitting acting to pursue a more fulfilling career in rap music. This erratic behavior was later revealed to be part of a long-term performance art piece for a mockumentary he was making with Casey Affleck titled I’m Still Here. That film made less than $570,000 in worldwide box office, so we’re not sure if all that off-putting acting-out was worth it.
8. Just Don’t Do It
Even Stevens and Transformers star Shia LaBeouf provides no shortage of eccentric content for his fans. Just see his “JUST DO IT” and “Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf” memes, his “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” paper bag performance art, and his live streaming of reactions to his entire filmography. Much less whimsical—and more scary—were stunts like when LaBeouf chased down a homeless man down Times Square over a McDonald’s bag, and then harassed people at a performance of Cabaret. This was all in the same day.
7. Sleeping Quirky
In 2013, quirky actress Tilda Swinton encased herself in a glass box and slept for your viewing pleasure at the MoMA. Swinton performed this act seven times over the course of a year. Perhaps that’s one for each dwarf to her Snow White?
6. Helena in Wander-Off Land
In a 2010 interview, Helena Bonham Carter was supposed to promote her movie, Alice in Wonderland. Carter was just not in the PR mood that day, so she began to show off her quirky coffee mugs and promote James Cameron’s Avatar instead. Note: Helena Bonham Carter was not in Avatar.
5. Goblet of Fire
While filming Chinatown, Faye Dunaway threw a cup of her own urine in Roman Polanski’s face. The director had forbidden her from taking any bathroom breaks. Thus, to rectify multiple tensions at once, Dunaway relieved herself in a cup and then promptly flung the contents at Polanski’s mug. Can we blame her?
4. Daddy’s Watching You
When Katie Holmes was pregnant with her daughter Suri, Holmes’s then-partner Tom Cruise ordered his own personal sonogram machine, so he could watch their child in the womb every day. For $200,000, that better have been some view.
3. Nic Has a Bone to Pick With Leo
Nicolas Cage once outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for a Mongolian dinosaur skull. For the paltry price of $276,000, the Ghost Rider actor finally won the right to say he got “a-head” of the heartthrob from Titanic.
2. Method Man
Jim Carrey is known for completely becoming Andy Kaufman for Man on the Moon. He had people call him Andy and constantly took things a bit too far while filming. This got on the cast and crew’s nerves, and at one point he got so caught up in the role that he spit in Jerry Lawler’s face, who then went after Carrey and tried to choke him. Carrey became so fixated on the role of Kaufman that he claims “Jim Carrey” didn’t exist during the filming of the movie and instead he was possessed by the spirit of Kaufman. It’s also worth noting that Carrey said he had a psychotic breakdown while filming Man on the Moon, which might contribute to the whole possession theory.
1. Barbie Boy in a Barbie World
Johnny Depp’s avid fixation with Barbie dolls is truly the big pink bow that ties together his controversial history. Of course, Depp has doll versions of his own characters, but he also owns doll versions of Beyoncé, Paris Hilton, and the cast of High School Musical. These dolls assist Depp in bonding with his kids, but he also uses them to get into character for his many eccentric roles.