For as long as people have been obsessed with celebrities, rumors about high-profile personal lives have proved irresistible to showbiz fans. For the most part, though, these stories tend to be a little farfetched. But while it’s most unlikely that Paul McCartney passed away in 1966 or that Marilyn Manson was in The Wonder Years, there are some incredible celebrity stories that really are true. And some of them are even weirder than fiction.
40. Keanu Reeves had some unwelcome house guests
In September 2014 Keanu Reeves had what he could only describe as an “interesting weekend.” Over the course of a few nights, the Matrix star’s home was invaded on separate occasions by two different women. Thankfully, though, neither intruder was violent: one had a swim in the pool, while the other sat in the star’s library. Nevertheless – as he explained to Entertainment Tonight at the time – Reeves made “some changes” to his security all the same.
39. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West caved into celebrity rumors when naming their child
Following the birth of Baby No. 1, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West surprised fans by unveiling the name “North.” Bizarrely, however, the pair’s choice of moniker stemmed from a tabloid rumor that had fooled their celebrity friends. And after receiving compliments from the likes of Anna Wintour and Pharrell Williams, the showbiz couple decided to go with it. “At that point it sort of stuck,” Kardashian informed GQ in 2014.
38. Taylor Swift accidentally got some random noise to number one
Prior to the release of Taylor Swift’s 2014 record 1989, Canadian fans discovered a new track had been posted without warning to the singer’s iTunes page. On closer inspection, though, the “song” – titled “Track 3” – just consisted of a few seconds of static that had been uploaded to the service inadvertently. Despite being unlistenable, the track was an instant hit and eventually became the platform’s best-selling single of the day.
37. Charlie Sheen tried to catch Scotland’s most famous resident
With his talk of “tiger blood,” is it any surprise that Charlie Sheen believes in the Loch Ness Monster? What’s more unbelievable is that the Wall Street star once tried to capture the mythical beast during a trip to Scotland. To that end, he procured some lamb and a huge bespoke hook from local hotelier Willie Cameron. “[He] wanted to recreate the scene from Jaws,” Cameron told The Daily Record in 2014.
36. Rob Lowe had a run-in with a famously elusive creature
Lots of celebrities have strange beliefs. And it seems that Parks and Recreations’s Rob Lowe is a firm follower of cryptozoology. What’s more, the actor is convinced that he even had a life-or-death encounter with King of the Cryptids Bigfoot while filming The Lowe Files in the Ozarks. “I was lying on the ground thinking I was going to be killed,” he recalled to Entertainment Weekly in 2017.
35. Amanda Seyfried really has a thing for stuffed animals
We all have our ways of winding down, and even Hollywood stars need to relax after a long day filming. Amanda Seyfried’s favorite hobby is more peculiar than most, though. In fact, the Mean Girls star is a fan of taxidermy. And she revealed to the Daily Express in 2011 that she considered “good taxidermy [to be] like art.” Among her collection is an owl, a stuffed horse, and a raccoon that she received from Conan O’Brien.
34. Bono treated his hat to a solo voyage across Europe
Besides having a soft spot for sunglasses, U2’s Bono is an avid fan of hats – trilbies in particular. So when the singer forgot to pack his favorite head accessory before a 2003 benefit show in Italy, it seemed that no replacement would do. Instead, Bono had his minders put the trilby on a plane from London to Modena at a cost of around $1,500. Hats off to him, we suppose.
33. Steve Jobs turned vegan because he was tired of bathing
As co-founder of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs was probably a very smart guy. And yet it seems the entrepreneur didn’t put as much thought into his eating habits as he did iPhones. As detailed in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of the CEO, Jobs stopped showering after adopting veganism because he thought the diet eliminated body odor. Much to his employees’ chagrin, this obviously wasn’t the case.
32. Sarah Jessica Parker will under no circumstance strip naked on camera
You may remember Sex and the City as a show where its actors participated in a lot of on-screen nudity. Except for star Sarah Jessica Parker, that is, who had a stipulation written into her contract barring such scenes. Sadly, this move stemmed from Parker’s earlier experiences as an actress – one of which left the star in tears. “There was so much pressure to take my clothes off,” she revealed to People in 2018.
31. Lady Gaga ain’t scared of no ghost
Thanks to a penchant for meat dresses and blood-infused perfume lines, Lady Gaga is definitely on the more eccentric end of the celebrity spectrum. So it’s unsurprising, then, that the artist also known as Stefani Germanotta spends her money in weird ways. According to Glamour, the singer purchased a $40,000 cutting-edge ghost sensor in 2010. Why? “It’s important to her to be safe from spirits,” an anonymous insider revealed.
30. Colin Farrell got caught in a case of mistaken identity
Hollywood bad boy Colin Farrell is known as a rebel. But the closest the In Bruges star came to real jail-time was for a crime he didn’t even commit. During a teenage trip to Australia, Farrell was arrested for attempted murder owing to his resemblance to the main suspect. “It was terrifying,” the actor admitted on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in 2015. Thankfully, a pal exonerated him by confirming his alibi.
29. Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake came close to being brothers
Long before the likes of NSYNC and Drive, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling received their breaks as child stars on The Mickey Mouse Club. Although their early friendship is well documented, the pair’s relationship went a little further. In fact – as Timberlake divulged on Ellen in 2011 – Timberlake’s mother at one point acted as legal guardian to Gosling when his mother left the U.S. You could say, then, this made them like brothers.
28. Emma Stone receives money from her dead grandfather
In 2014’s Magic in the Moonlight, Emma Stone played a clairvoyant. And while promoting the movie, the actress shared her own experiences with reaching out to the beyond. While speaking to David Letterman, Stone claimed that her grandfather’s ghost regularly left her coins. “It’s him!” she exclaimed to the Late Show host. “It’s absolutely him…It’s not a logical thing. It’s magical.”
27. Steve McQueen almost fell victim to the Manson Family
In August 1969 associates of Charles Manson murdered Sharon Tate and four other people at the actress’ L.A. home. Little known to many, however, is that there could have been a sixth victim: Steve McQueen. As the Bullitt star’s widow Neile Adams told the National Post in 2017, McQueen had been invited to Tate’s house that evening. But the actor instead spent the night with another woman thus saving his life.
26. Snoop Dogg supplied a Hollywood actress with Mary Jane
Prior to California’s legalization of marijuana in 2016, Snoop Dogg was perhaps the State’s most famous proponent of the drug. Indeed, Cameron Diaz – who went to school in Long Beach with the future rapper – remembers how the musician even dealt to her before either of them became famous. “I’m pretty sure I got weed from him,” the actress recalled on Lopez Tonight in 2011. “I had to have.”
25. Jennifer Lawrence has a handy way of remembering to drink water
Staying hydrated is of paramount of importance to anyone working in the warmer climates of Hollywood. So not wishing to miss her daily dose of fluids, Jennifer Lawrence came up with an easy reminder for herself: an “H20” tattoo on her hand. “I was like, ‘I’m always going to need to be hydrated,’” the Hunger Games actress told HitFix in 2015. “‘So I guess I should just get ‘H20’ on my hand.’”
24. Benedict Cumberbatch got Cumber-snatched in South Africa
Working abroad has its hazards. And Benedict Cumberbatch discovered this in the most traumatic way possible while shooting in South Africa in 2005. During a break from set, the actor and his friends were ambushed by gunmen while driving through a rural area. “I was like, ‘Oh ****, we’re ******,’” the Sherlock star recalled to The Hollywood Reporter in 2013. After a while, the kidnappers released them, but not before Cumberbatch seriously feared for his life.
23. Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio butted heads over a valuable auction item
What gift do you get for someone who already has everything in the world? Well, if your friends are Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio, then a dinosaur skull might work. In 2007 the actors got into a bidding war over Tyrannosaurus fossil that Cage eventually snatched for $276,000. In a bizarre twist, the Face/Off star later returned the head to its native Mongolia after it was discovered to be stolen.
22. Christopher Walken had a hair-raising pre-fame job
Most stars worked boring jobs before making it big. But the ever-eccentric Christopher Walken had a pre-fame career even more exciting than acting. Prior to breaking out in films such as The Deer Hunter, a teenage Walken got a job as a lion tamer. Working with a lioness called Sheba, the star remembered his deadly charge as being “very sweet” when talking to Vanity Fair in 2012.
21. Ke$ha broke a few laws while getting a demo tape to Prince
While still a struggling artist, Ke$ha went to extreme lengths to get herself noticed. To that end, she even sneaked into the home of the legendary Prince to give him a CD of her music. And after bribing a gardener to get in, Ke$ha wound up face to face with the Purple Rain star. “He gave me a look like, ‘Who the hell are you?’” she confessed on The Tonight Show in 2014.
20. Werner Herzog saved Joaquin Phoenix’s life
In 2006 Joaquin Phoenix flipped his vehicle on a quiet road in Los Angeles. Dazed, the future Joker star tried to light a cigarette while still inside the gasoline-soaked wreck – that is, until a soothing voice talked him out of it. By chance, The Mandalorian actor and acclaimed director Werner Herzog saw the crash unfold. And he eventually managed to get the lighter away from Phoenix before he accidentally set himself on fire.
19. Mark Wahlberg has an extra appendage
For his role in 1997’s Boogie Nights, Mark Wahlberg played a character in possession of an uncommonly large piece of anatomy. And in real life, the star also has an unusual physical feature of his own. As he divulged on Good Morning Britain during a 2017 appearance alongside Will Ferrell, Wahlberg has a third nipple. “I never made a point to show him,” he said of his co-star’s shocked response.
18. Alicia Silverstone has a unique approach to motherhood
Many celebrities love sharing their experiences of parenthood. However, some pieces of celebrity advice prove that parents in the public eye seemingly live on another planet. For instance, Alicia Silverstone uploaded a video to her blog in 2012 showing the Clueless star practicing “kiss feeding” with her son Bear Blu. To be more precise, it showed her chewing up food before spitting it into her kid’s mouth. Gross!
17. Jake Gyllenhaal had driving lessons from a Hollywood icon
For most teenagers, learning to drive usually involves accompanied journeys with a parent, a second-hand jalopy and countless hours spent waiting at the DMV. But for Hollywood teenagers, it’s an entirely different matter. Indeed, Jake Gyllenhaal – whose parents both worked in Hollywood – received his earliest lesson from his godfather: iconic actor and Le Mans competitor Paul Newman. What’s more, he did so in nothing less than a racing vehicle.
16. Tina Fey got her scar in a terrifying childhood incident
Fans of 30 Rock may have noticed that its star Tina Fey doesn’t mention the noticeable scar on one side of her mouth. That’s because the comedienne received the injury during a deeply traumatic moment from her childhood. As she told Vanity Fair in 2008, Fey – then aged only five – was slashed in the face by a man she didn’t recognize close to her house. Scarily, she never revealed if the culprit was caught.
15. Keira Knightley’s mother once confused her daughter for another Hollywood star
Celebrities who look alike often experience embarrassing moments with their fans. But Keira Knightley actually endured a much more personal case of mistaken identity. In 1999 the actress played Natalie Portman’s double in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Their likeness was so strong on the set, in fact, that Knightley’s mom Sharman Macdonald couldn’t even tell which of the stars was her own flesh and blood.
14. Steven Spielberg was the target of an unhinged stalker
Just because you sit behind the camera, it doesn’t mean you’re free from fame’s worst aspects. Indeed, director Steven Spielberg became the target of a stalker who was arrested outside the auteur’s California house while carrying a box-cutter and handcuffs. “I genuinely… believe I could have been raped, maimed or killed,” said Spielberg, who was shooting 1998’s Saving Private Ryan abroad during the incident, according to the Los Angeles Times.
13. Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker were friends before Sex and the City
If you were wondering why Carrie and Miranda always seemed a little closer than the other women in Sex and the City, it’s probably because their stars weren’t acting. In 2018 Cynthia Nixon explained to Us Weekly that she’d been friends with Sarah Jessica Parker since appearing together in Little House in the Big Woods when they were kids. “She played Laura, I played Mary,” the actress confessed.
12. Gemma Arterton was born with an extra set of digits
Though it may not seem like it looking at her now, Gemma Arterton has a rare physical defect. When she was born, the Tamara Drewe both of the future star’s hands had an additional digit – a result of the disorder polydactyly. “It’s my little oddity that I’m really proud of,” Arterton – who has since had the digits removed – explained to Esquire in 2008. “People are really interested but repulsed at the same time.”
11. James Lipton was once a pimp
Famous for his refined delivery, James Lipton was one of TV’s most respectable hosts. However, the Inside the Actor’s Studio presenter dabbled in a disreputable profession during his youth in Paris: pimping. “There was no opprobrium because it was completely regulated,” he insisted to Parade in 2013. That being said, Lipton still admitted that his nefarious underworld colleagues could have left him “floating in the Seine.”
10. Jim Carrey thought he had 10 minutes left to live
In January 2018 Hawaiian officials released a message warning residents of a non-existent missile strike against the state. Caught in the pandemonium was actor Jim Carrey, who consequently thought he had ten minutes left to live. “It’s a unique place to be… there’s actually a state of calm,” The Mask actor explained on The Graham Norton Show in 2020. Nevertheless, Carrey was still “p*****” when he later discovered the warning to be false.
9. Leighton Meester was born in jail
Few celebrity backstories can compete with the awful start to life that Leighton Meester had. Prior to the Gossip Girl star’s birth, the Meester family were involved in a drug smuggling ring that resulted in its matriarch serving time. Consequently, Meester – who spent her first few months in a halfway home – came into the world during her mother’s prison sentence. “My family has a crazy history,” she understated to Marie Claire in 2012.
8. Everyone has been getting Oprah Winfrey’s name wrong
Like the forename “Elvis,” “Oprah” is synonymous with only one star: Oprah Winfrey. Strangely enough, however, this isn’t technically the host’s real moniker, but a translation of her original, biblically inspired name “Orpah.” “My Aunt Ida had chosen the name, but nobody really knew how to spell it,” she said in 1991 when speaking at the American Academy of Achievement. After years of the name being mispronounced, though, “Oprah” eventually stuck.
7. Frank Sinatra’s son was kidnapped
Throughout his later life, iconic crooner Frank Sinatra always had a stack of dimes on him – a habit he eventually took to the grave. Sadly, though, this strange quirk had a dire origin. In 1963 the star’s son was taken hostage, and the perpetrators began delivering their instructions through pay phones. During this time, Sinatra ran out of change – the ensuing panic led the musician to ensure his pockets were constantly full of cions.
6. Mila Kunis misled TV producers about her age
It’s not uncommon for stars to lie about the age. And yet, Mila Kunis may have gone a little too far when she misled casting agents for That ’70s Show. “Legally, I was 14,” the actress said on The Tonight Show in 2014. “[But] I told them I was gonna be 18, which is technically not a lie, ’cause at one point… I was gonna be 18.”
5. Matthew Broderick caused a fatal accident
Despite possessing a clean-cut reputation, Matthew Broderick is a star with a surprising skeleton in his closet. During a holiday in Northern Ireland shortly after the release of 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the actor and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey were involved in a collision with another car that killed its two passengers. Subsequently, Broderick was found culpable and narrowly avoided a half-decade jail stint.
4. Angela Lansbury’s daughter got acquainted with a certain infamous family
In Murder, She Wrote, Angela Lansbury dealt with fictional felonies. However, the actress also came close to being involved in a crime in real life. During an interview with the Daily Mail in 2014, Lansbury revealed that her daughter Deirdre began hanging out with an “extraordinary… charismatic” man in the late 1960s. That individual was Charles Manson. After concern grew for her daughter’s wellbeing, the Lansburys eventually relocated from California to Ireland.
3. Jack Nicholson’s mother was not who he thought she was
While being covered for a story in TIME magazine in 1974, Jack Nicholson learned an alarming secret about his family. Mirroring a similar plot in the actor’s then-recent release Chinatown, the woman whom Nicholson grew up believing to be his sister was actually his mother. “I’d say it was a pretty dramatic event, but it wasn’t what I’d call traumatizing,” Biography reported the star once saying. “If anything, I felt grateful.”
2. Bryan Cranston was the prime suspect in a murder case
Prior to becoming an actor, Bryan Cranston worked in a restaurant where he developed a seething dislike for the head chef. In fact, the future Breaking Bad star once even cracked a gag about murdering the man to his colleagues. By pure coincidence, though, the chef’s lifeless body was discovered soon afterwards. And Cranston – who’d skipped town at a similar time – was naturally the main suspect, although the star managed to clear his name.
1. Woody Harrelson’s dad was a gun for hire
Onscreen, Woody Harrelson is known for his laidback charm. But the Hunger Games star’s life has been less than easy-going. Indeed, Harrelson’s father was contract killer Charles V. Harrelson, who was convicted in 1981 of murdering a U.S. judge. Furthermore, the hired gun even stated that he’d killed John F. Kennedy. Later in life, Harrelson attempted to acquire a retrial for his dad. However, the assassin was still in jail in 2007 when he eventually passed away.