Being a celebrity still gives many stars the free time to pursue interests other than what they’re known for. When not on set filming movies or touring with rock bands, many movie stars and musicians devote their spare time to an interest that makes them almost as famous as their main gig! From building model railroads to delivering babies, read on to find out which celebrities have interesting or unusual side gigs, and what they are!
Hidden Talents Facts
Actress Gwenyth Paltrow was once one of America’s sweethearts: the blonde beauty won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her performance in Shakespeare In Love. She’s since put acting on the back burner and is now better known for being a lifestyle guru, and is the founder of the lifestyle brand Goop. Through a website, newsletter, and print magazine, she recommends products and practices from meditation to vaginal steaming to women who presumably have disposable income to burn.
40. Oh Baby!
Grammy-winning soul singer Erykah Badu has delivered five albums into the world, and she’s also delivered more than 40 babies! Badu discovered a passion for helping bring newborns into the world while aiding a friend’s home birth in 2001. She has been moonlighting as a certified doula and is working towards her midwife training, with a goal of opening birthing centres in inner-city neighbourhoods.
39. Avocado Farmer P.I.
Magnum P.I. star Tom Selleck spends his spare time as an avocado farmer. Selleck owns a 60-acre lot in California’s Thousand Oaks region, where he grows plump, firm avocados for sale. His hobby got him in a bit of trouble, however, when he was sued by the county for stealing water from a fire hydrant to hydrate his crops.
38. Cultural Critic
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of basketball’s greatest players, but the six-time MVP’s achievements didn’t end with his retirement. Abdul-Jabbar is a bestselling author and cultural critic, having written four books, a regular column for Time, plus articles for Huffington Post, Jacobin, and others. His most recent book is a comic about the character Mycroft Holmes, brother of the famous detective Sherlock.
37. Smart Kid
Nolan Gould may portray a dim-witted Luke Dunphy on ABC’s Modern Family, but in real life he is one smart cookie! Gould reportedly has an IQ of 150—he graduated high school at age 13 and is a member of Mensa!
36. From The Office to The General Store
Perhaps his time spent portraying manager Michael Scott on The Office inspired Steve Carell to love small business. Carell and his family had been spending their summers in Marshfield, Massachusetts when the small-town general store was put up for sale, so he bought it! He purchased the store with his wife in order to save a small piece of Americana, and in the summers he can occasionally be found behind the cash register.
35. Mr. Mayor
In 1986, actor and director Clint Eastwood took a bit of a pay cut to pursue another job: he ran for and was elected mayor of Carmel-By-The-Sea from 1986-1988, a gig which paid $200 a month! His platform was one we all could support: to overturn a ban on ice cream stands in the 4,500 person town, and end what he called the city’s “kill-joy mentality.”
34. Gamer Girl
How does Mila Kunis spend her free time? Just a little light spell-casting, a few sword battles, nothing fancy! Or at least she used to: Kunis admitted to being so hooked on playing World Of Warcraft that she had to quit cold-turkey! Kunis was introduced to the game by ex-boyfriend Macaulay Culkin; presumably now that she’s married to Ashton Kutcher and raising their child, she doesn’t have the time for online gaming!
33. What Doesn’t He Do?
James Franco is already an accomplished actor—he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in 127 Hours—but he apparently doesn’t like to stay still, even for a second. The actor turned to writing, producing, and directing; he acted in and produced his upcoming film The Disaster Artist. He’s also a hungry student: he simultaneously attended Columbia University’s MFA program, NYU for filmmaking, and Brooklyn College for fiction writing! He’s since earned his MFA from Columbia and is now a PhD student at Yale.
32. No Small Wonder
It’s pretty common for celebs to write kids book’s. After all, how hard could it be? The Wonder Years actress Danica McKellar didn’t just write storybooks, though: she’s written five non-fiction books geared at teaching mathematics to middle-school girls in an effort to get girls interested in the fields of math and science.
31. A Doctor, And She Plays One On TV
Actress Mayim Bialik’s portrayal of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory might seem extra convincing because in real life Bialik also has a PhD in Neuroscience! After starring on Blossom, Bialik took a break from acting to attend UCLA. She returned to TV to guest star on The Big Bang Theory and was added to the regular cast; her character was also written to be a neuroscientist so Bialik could fact-check the scripts when neuroscience was referenced.
If you were to look at a painting signed “Benedetto” and then listen to “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” you wouldn’t know they were both made by the same artist, but they are: Tony Bennett. In addition to an incredible music career, Bennett (real name: Anthony Benedetto) is also an accomplished painter, having shown in galleries all over the world. His painting “Central Park” is in the collection of the Smithsonian in Washington DC.
29. One Wheel
She’s married to the multi-talented Judd Apatow, who writes, directs, and produces, so it makes sense that actress Leslie Mann would also have a hidden talent: riding the unicycle. As she told Oprah magazine, Mann got a unicycle for Christmas at age 10 and has kept it up, learning tricks like cycling backwards and jumping off curbs!
28. The Woz
How can you make polo even more dorky? By swapping out the horses for Segways! Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak played in the 2015 Segway Polo World Championship in Cologne, Germany with his team, the Silicon Valley Aftershocks. Maybe a little unfair considering the championship trophy, the Woz Cup, is named after him!
27. Ping Pong Diplomacy
Lots of celebrities open restaurants, but the chain of clubs opened by actress Susan Sarandon has a bit of a twist, or should we say a spin: at SPiN you can get a drink and a meal and play some ping pong! There are now eight SPiN locations in the US and Canada, in locations such as Chicago, Toronto, and San Francisco.
26. Karate Kid
The Price Is Right host Bob Barker already has a well-known side gig as animal advocate, reminding people to spay and neuter their pets. But the 92-year-old also practices karate. Barker told Vegetarian Times that he took up the practice when he was 45 and trained under his friend (and other TV star) Chuck Norris.
Superstar actress Shailene Woodley is at the top of her game, but she hasn’t been swayed by the lure of luxury. Woodley stays humble and grounded by making her own natural products, such as toothpaste, facial oils, and cheese.
24. Fly-Fishing The World
Actor Liam Neeson has traded Hollywood parties for some new friends: fish. He can often be found waist-deep in a stream practicing his favourite hobby, fly-fishing. He can’t stay away from the cameras, however, and has participated in a fly-fishing reality show called Fly-Fishing The World.
23. Not-So-Tiny Tim
Billionaire financial wizard Warren Buffett has to give his brain a rest sometime, but he doesn’t like being idle: in his spare time, he plays ukulele. He’s even performed with Jon Bon Jovi at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy.
22. Show Me A K!
Spinning the Wheel of Fortune isn’t the only spinning Vanna White is interested in: she’s an avid knitter and crocheter, and has her own line of yarns and sequins.
21. Punk’d By An Angel
Actor Ashton Kutcher made a pile of money on That 70’s Show and MTV’s Punk’d, and he’s putting it to good use as an angel investor. Kutcher must have his finger on the pulse of the tech industry, because he’s made some good investments so far: he was an early investor in startups such as Uber and AirBNB.
20. Marx Brother
Of the Marx Brothers, Zeppo was far less famous than Groucho or Harpo, but he used his other talents elsewhere. Zeppo was interested in engineering, and came up with a number of inventions, including the first heart attack alarm. The device resembled a watch, keeping track of the time and the wearer’s pulse and making a noise if a cardiac problem was detected.
19. Wild And Crazy Guy!
Actor and comedian Steve Martin is a man of many talents. Besides being one of the funniest guys ever, he’s also a playwright and novelist, and is also a huge fan of visual art. Martin played curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, helping curate a retrospective of Canadian painter Lawren Harris’s work.
Rapper 2 Chainz likes to mess around in the kitchen in his spare time. His 2013 album B.O.A.T.S. II #METIME came with a 14-recipe cookbook called #MealTime. He often posts photos of his culinary creations on Instagram.
17. Mr. Conductor
Rock and roll singer Rod Stewart likes to play conductor in his free time—conductor of a railroad, that is! The singer has an impressive HO-scaled railroad in his mansion, which measures 23 feet wide, 124 feet long, and covers 1,500 square feet.
16. Dungeonmaster Diesel
He may be one of the silver’s screen’s top tough guys, but off-screen, Vin Diesel likes to nerd out over Dungeons & Dragons. He wrote the foreword to the book 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons, and in his film xXx he had a fake tattoo with the name of his D&D character, Melkor, on his chest.
15. Begley’s Best
Actor Ed Begley Jr. has turned his interest in environmentalism into a money-maker and a money-saver. Begley created a line of environmentally-friendly cleaning products called “Begley’s Best.” He also built a self-sustaining home that is so energy-efficient, the utility bill is only $10 a month!
14. Paging Dr. Jeong
It’s probably a good idea for those contemplating show-biz to set themselves up with a fall-back plan in case their dreams of stardom don’t pan out, but few have backups as solid as comedian Ken Jeong. The Community star is also a physician: Jeong specialized in internal medicine at the University of North Carolina and did his residency in New Orleans, where he also won the Big Easy Laff-Off, a comedy competition. He landed his first role, ironically playing a burned out doctor, in the 2007 film Knocked Up.
13. Newman’s Own
Megastar actor Paul Newman’s face is recognizable from the big screen and from the salad dressing bottles that bear his name! In 1982, Paul Newman and friend A.E. Hotchner came up with a recipe for salad dressing to give to friends as gifts, but the dressing was so delicious and successful they began selling it, and since then the “Newman’s Own line” has expanded to pasta sauce, frozen pizza, fruit juice, popcorn, and wine. Profits from the product line go to the Newman’s Own Foundation, which supports educational charities.
12. Smart Screen Siren
Hedy Lamarr first shocked the world by appearing nude in 1933’s Ecstasy. She was a well-known Hollywood starlet, but few knew that lurking behind her beautiful face was an equally beautiful mind. Lamarr, with film score composer George Antheil, developed a radio guidance system for torpedoes. Their work was adopted by the US Navy in the 1960s, but became even more useful in modern times, influencing the technology involved in bluetooth and wi-fi!
11. Hanx Writer
Screen superstar Tom Hanks has one of Hollywood’s most recognizable voices, but what sound does he most prefer? Why, he clickety-clack of vintage typewriters! He boasts a collection of hundreds of old typewriters and wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in 2013 about his obsession. Hanks decided to share his love with the world, and developed the Hanx Writer app for iphone, which features the signature sounds of his favourite vintage typewriters.
10. Conspiracy Theory
Former Ghostbuster and Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd found a way to combine his love of fine liquor with his interest in conspiracy theories: he debuted Crystal Head Vodka, a diamond-filtered vodka that comes in a clear glass bottle shaped like the crystal skulls of legend. The crystal skull myth describes several human skulls carved out of quartz; though they were initially described as pre-Columbian, they’ve been debunked as modern carvings. Aykroyd maintains that the skulls could be extra-terrestrial in origin, but regardless, Crystal Head Vodka is very popular.
9. Beautiful People
Marilyn Manson is known for being strange. The singer boasts more than 450 scars from self-inflicted cutting during shows, but perhaps even weirder is that he collects prosthetic limbs. He’s also a skilled painter. Marilyn Manson’s work, which focuses predominantly on watercolor, were created over a period of 23 years, from 1995 to today. Initially, Manson painted as a form of recreation, but his recent work has appeared for sale in dedicated exhibits.
8. Secret Scientist
When the Discover Magazine Awards were honouring Dr. Jonathan Woodward, they reached out to a former high school student, Natalie Herschlag, with whom he’d co-authored a paper in 1998. After the student agreed to present the award, they discovered that Natalie Herschlag was none other than movie star Natalie Portman!
7. Lady Sweet Potato
You’ve probably heard her 1970s hit “Lady Marmalade,” but these days soul singer Patti LaBelle is slinging a different sort of sweet treat: a line of sweet potato pies. Her Patti Pies can be found at Wal-Mart along with a line of crumbles and cobblers. Patti Pies went viral upon their release in 2015, and the $4 pies have gone for $45 on eBay.
6. Flea’s Bees
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Michael Peter Balzary (better known as Flea) has taken to Instagram lately to promote his love of beekeeping. Flea may have the wrong insect as a nickname: his backyard apiaries contain over 60,000 bees.
5. Comic Book Darling
Actress Rosario Dawson may have been seriously inspired by the characters she’s played in big-screen comic book adaptations like Sin City. Dawson co-created her own comic book series, called O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Taskforce, a four-issue mini-series about a fictional team of police officers who investigate crimes involving magic and the occult.
4. Super Star
Queen’s star guitarist Brian May ranks #26 on Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” However, he takes the term “star” more literally, having earned a PhD in Astrophysics from the Imperial College of London. May served as a science team collaborator for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, and even has an asteroid named after him.
3. Good With His Hands
Actor and comedian Nick Offerman has an interest in common with his character on Parks & Recreation, the gruff and outdoorsy Ron Swanson: they both share a love of woodworking! Swanson has his own wood workshop, and sells handmade products such as coasters, cutting boards, an abacus (dubbed the “Luddite’s Laptop”), and even a “Build Your Own Damn Stool Kit” for those who want to take up the hobby themselves.
2. Presidential Portraits
After serving two terms as President of the United States, it’s no wonder George W. Bush is looking for a way to unwind. He’s taken up painting as a hobby, and there has been so much curiosity about his work, he has published a book of his paintings!
1. Banjo Pickin’ Man
Steve Martin must be a man of interest; he appears on this list twice. In addition to comedy, writing, and art curation, Martin is also one of the world’s most accomplished banjo players. He won a Grammy for his debut album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo, and created the Steve Martin Award For Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2010.