We put them on pedestals; we knock them down. We are smitten by their beauty; we rip apart perceived flaws. We idolize or despise these public personas over things they say and do. And over the course of devouring them and spitting them out, every once in a while we come across some groovy little tidbit that means nothing in particular—it just makes them a little more interesting.
(See more Celebrity Facts.)
1. “Downton Abbey’s” Michelle Dockery is an accomplished jazz singer, and Elizabeth McGovern (who plays her mother) fronts a band called Sadie and the Hotheads. The two have occasionally performed together.
2. Rose McGowan and Joaquin, River, Summer and Rain Phoenix were all raised by their parents in the religious cult known as Family International (formerly Children of God). The controversial group is notorious and has been investigated for child abduction and sexual misconduct.
3. At the beginning of his career, Pierce Brosnan was a street performer and later, a fire-eater at the circus.
4. As a teenager, Christopher Walken also worked at a circus, clowning and as a lion tamer; he described the cat he worked with as…a dog: “When I said she was like a dog, she was—you could pet her, and she would rub her head on you. I would come into the cage and wave my whip, and she’d kind of lazily get up and sit like a dog and maybe give a little bit of a roar.”
5. Johnny Depp suffers from Coulrophobia (fear of clowns).
6. Richard Gere went to college on a gymnastics scholarship.
7. Matt Smith intended to play professional football (soccer), but a back injury forced him out, and a drama teacher pushed him toward acting. At university, because he wore a scarf similar to the Fourth Doctor’s (Tom Baker), Smith was nicknamed Doctor Who.
8. In middle school, George Clooney was afflicted with Bell’s palsy; his face was partially paralyzed and one eye remained closed. Though he recovered within a year, Clooney was bullied and called “Frankenstein;” it was “…the worst time of my life…but the experience made me stronger.”
9. Fighting with his mate over over a girl, 14 year old David Bowie received a punch that required several operations and left his (left) eye permanently dilated.
10. As a child, Demi Moore was cross-eyed and had two surgeries to correct the alignment.
11. Bond Girl Gemma Arterton was born with six fingers on each hand. The boneless extras were tied off and removed. Drew Carey was born with six toes on his right foot.
12. Brad Pitt agreed to have his own teeth chipped to play Fight Club’s Tyler Durden.
13. While filming Never Say Never Again, Steven Seagal provided martial arts instruction to Sean Connery. Connery did something that angered Seagal, so Seagal twisted Connery’s wrist—breaking it (though Connery didn’t realize the extent of his injury until much later).
14. Tom Cruise, Hollywood’s most famous Scientologist, once aspired to be a Catholic priest. He attended seminary for a short time, but after a night of stealing booze and drinking, Cruise and his cohorts were politely asked not to return.
15. Nicolas Cage had a 9 foot tall pyramid shaped tomb built for his final resting place in New Orleans.
16. Jack Nicholson was raised by his grandparents (and believed they were his mother and father), and the woman he thought was his sister was actually his mother. He was 38 years old when the truth came out. The actor’s biological father is uncertain.
17. Halle Berry (whose given first name is Maria), was named after an Ohio department store.
18. “Game of Thrones” Sibel Kekilli (Shea), who has won two Lolas (Germany’s highest acting awards) for Head On and When We Leave, was scandalized when a tabloid newspaper uncovered her pornographic film past. Sadly, the report caused her family to cut off contact with Kekilli; her father called the disgrace too great, saying “I can never forgive her for it. I don’t want to ever see her again.”
19. Ashton Kutcher once went to pick up a girlfriend at her home and when she didn’t answer the door, he looked in through a window, saw a pool of red on the floor (“I thought it was red wine”), and…left. Turned out she had been murdered by a serial killer; the “wine” was her blood.
20. In 1971, Bill Murray tried to smuggle ten pounds of pot through O’Hare Airport. He was caught because
a) He was overheard saying he had two bombs in his suitcase, and reported to authorities,
b) Chicago police had already been tipped off about the drug transport.
Murray was convicted and sentenced to five years probation.
21. Ozzy Osbourne has mutant genes that may have allowed his body to cope with exorbitant drug and alcohol usage.