They always say “don’t meet your heroes.” In retrospect, it’s good advice; we have no idea how our icons will behave when we meet them in public. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of celebrities who didn’t let fame get to their head.
#1 Down to Earth
Dave Chappelle and his family live a few miles from where I went to college. He and I frequented the same Starbucks. I ran into him about ten times. One day, he sat with me for about 45 minutes and talked about screenwriting. It was amazing. He’s as down to earth as his stage persona suggests, and it’s no wonder he opted to raise his family away from L.A.
#2 Calling it a Win
Danny Devito. I ended up at a hotel bar in Philly with this girl I was hanging out with and her friend. Turns out, the cast of Always Sunny was filming the 10th season, staying at the hotel and hanging out downstairs. So the girl's friend flagged down Danny as he was walking by and he ended up sitting with us for a solid two hours. He even bought us a couple of rounds and tried to invite the girl up to his hotel room. A weird turn, but he also introduced us to Charlie Day, so I’m calling it a win.
#3 Genuinely Great Guy
Having met Hugh Laurie in person, I can confidently state that he is one of the nicest and most humble celebrities out there. Not only is he completely happy to interact with his fans, but he also does so in a way that makes each and every one of them feel like they're a friend. He remembers names and personal details with amazing accuracy, and he makes each conversation seem like it's an extension of a treasured dialogue. Add to that the fact that the man is outwardly hilarious, and you've got a recipe for a genuinely great guy.
#4 Coffee Shop Encounter
I had a funny encounter with Peter Dinklage once. We were both at a coffee shop in the Bowery at like 6:30 a.m. We were the only ones there. He'd ordered a fancy drink of some sort, so had to stand there and wait. I ordered a filter but it was a long process. So he and I stood next to each other for several minutes. It was awkward because I don't really talk to celebrities, but at the same time, it was weird because it was just the two of us and it was obvious I knew who he was. In the end, I gave him the chin nod. He winked and gave me the chin nod. That cleared the air and we were able to get on with our day.
#5 Pay it Forward
I didn't actually meet him, but Tracy Morgan bought my younger sister an iPhone many years ago. Hers broke, and his girlfriend lost her phone at the Super Bowl or something, which was why he was at the same Verizon store. The Verizon employee said my sister's damage wasn't covered under insurance and my mom couldn't afford to buy her a new phone. My sister clearly got emotional because Tracy Morgan, who had been talking to my mom for a bit while they were waiting, bought the phone for her. My mom tried to say no but he said to just pay it forward.
#6 A Musician Making It
My aunt met Steven Tyler and said he was super chill. She had no idea who he was and thought he was just some guy who bought a lot of the musical instruments she was selling at a charity event. She posted a video of the two of them singing together on Facebook and made a comment about how she was happy that this nice musician was making enough money to live off of. I had her go look up Aerosmith videos and she was shocked it was the same guy.
#7 Wrong Directions
I know a lot of people have stumbled onto their heroes a lot, but the only celebrity I've ever met is Bill Murray. He made a joke I didn't get at the time and also gave me wrong directions to the Asia exhibit inside the Dallas Museum of Art. That being said, I would still 10/10 ask Bill Murray for directions again.
#8 Early in the Morning
Scarlett Johansson back in 2011 at a Starbucks. She was super sweet and really bubbly. I thought she would come across as standoffish, partly because it was early in the morning. But it wasn’t like that at all, she was so nice. I made her laugh after I told her I was a huge fan of one of her earliest films, Home Alone 3 . She just had this charming aura about her.
#9 Truly a Class Act
Colin Firth. I saw him sitting in a cafe with his son. He was extremely nice and I waited until they got up to leave before I asked if I could get an autograph for my mom (who’s a huge fan). He asked me a few questions about her and wrote a quite nice autograph. He asked if I wanted one as well and I told him that meeting him was more than enough. I had told him where she worked and he went in the next day and made a point to stop and chat with her. Truly a class act.
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#10 Birthday Surprise
I was in a college group that brought in speakers and performers so we brought in Dave Chappelle. After his act, we thought he left, so we started eating all the trays of food in his waiting room. He poked his head in and joked that we were hotboxing the room. Then he came and sat with us for an hour! He sat next to me and when I told him it was my friend’s birthday and this friend was a big fan, he took my phone and called this friend and talked to him. It was amazing. This was 2005; right before he took a big break from everything.
#11 Leading the Way
I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone that the nicest celebrity I ever met was Tom Hanks. I worked at Disneyland in the late ‘90s and I saw him giving a tour to a group of about 25 kids. He was leading the tour and the Disney tour guide was just tagging along. I could tell he’d done this many times before.
#12 Only One in the World
Lenny Kravitz was one of the most humble people I've met. Incredibly down to earth, laid back and friendly. Prince Charles was also pretty friendly. He would look you directly in the eye during conversation and make you feel like there was no one else in the world but the two of you — despite being constantly surrounded by others.
#13 Southern Charm
Kelly Clarkson. The southern charm thing isn't an act, she’s genuinely kind and I enjoyed chatting with her quite a bit. Shout out to Blink-182 as well. In my short time working with celebrities, they were the only ones I was actually a gigantic fan of and they were super cool as well, Mark Hoppus especially.
#14 Infectious Personality
Jason Momoa. He’s an absolute treasure to be around. He’s genuine and really seems to love his job. He wants his fans to have as much fun as he’s having. He can size up a fan and know how far to push or tease them to make them comfortable while not going too far. His personality is infectious and I had a blast with him.
#15 Giant Klutz
Anne Hathaway. We were backstage waiting for her cue to go on and started chatting. She told me how she was such a klutz and we joked around a bit. Then, when she was called on stage, she tripped hard going up the stairs and face planted. She then turned around to me and we both started laughing. She’s a sweetheart and a nice person. I’m glad I got to meet her.
#16 Coolest Moment Ever
Nathan Fillion when I was working at a movie theater. This guy bought six large popcorns and a bunch of smart water when I thought, “Man, this guy is loaded.” He was wearing a hoodie and glasses, so I couldn’t quite tell at first. I eventually said, “Hey, you kind of look like this guy Nathan Fillion.” He took off his glasses and said, “I sure hope so.” I stood at attention and said, “Captain.” He replied, “As you were, Browncoat.” Coolest moment ever.
#17 Best Cologne Ever
I met Steven and Liv Tyler. They both were super nice and down-to-earth; extremely polite and friendly. Plus, Steven was wearing some of the best cologne I've ever smelled in my life. I'd love to know what it was but it felt weird I was even talking to Steven Tyler. I couldn't imagine the awkwardness of asking why he smelled so yummy.
#18 Making Conversation
I once met Obama at one of his science fairs. If you can believe it, he sincerely went out of his way to have a conversation with every single kid there (and there were about 200 kids present). He made jokes with his secret service guys and just came across as being a really nice guy. I’m glad I got to see him in action.
#19 End of the Road
Wanya Morris, one of the members of Boyz 2 Men, sat down on a mall bench next to me. He didn't know I recognized him. We talked about basketball. Michael Jordan and the Bulls were one game away from a three-peat championship. When my mom finally came out of the lingerie store, I said, “Well, this is ‘The End of the Road’” and I walked away. I wonder if he remembers that.
#20 Come Find Me
Steve Irwin hands down. I've met a few musicians and athletes who have been nice but none were as nice as Steve. I met him in an elevator at a hotel and I walked in soaking wet after swimming in the pool. I was only 11 and I was in awe that I was in an elevator with Steve Irwin. Straight away, he started a conversation with me.
He asked me what my name was, where I was from and if there were any crocs in the pool. He then told me that if I saw any at the hotel to come and find him. He also started talking to the hotel worker who was in the elevator with us and staring at Steve the whole time. That interaction with him still makes me ridiculously happy whenever I think about it.
#21 Accommodating and Sensible
I spent a day with Adam Sandler on the set of Mr. Deeds way back in 2001. Our meet-and-greet with him was part of my brother's Make a Wish. Adam was really down-to-earth and his entire crew were all very accommodating and sensible. As I get older, I continue to read good things about him from some of his other fans.
#22 Exciting for Everyone
Taylor Swift. I met her after the 1989 show in my city. She was super nice and easy to talk to. It felt like we were old friends. But what was crazy was she knew the guy standing next to me just from Tumblr (this was back when she used it a lot and he ran a fan account). She knew his name, knew all these personal details about him and was really excited to meet him! It was very sweet.
#23 Eight Chefs
I cooked for Scarlett Johansson when she was filming Avengers in Cleveland. I didn't get to talk to her but based on the creeping we did from the kitchen, she was bubbly and insisted on paying the check. My chef also told me I was cooking her dinner, which resulted in extra creeping on our part as the plates left the kitchen. If she looked over, she would have seen eight cooks in an open kitchen watching her take her first bite.
#24 Smacking Into Each Other
I ran into Zac Efron once. We both turned a corner at a restaurant and smacked into each other. He apologized profusely while I realized who I’d run into. He left the restaurant shortly after and a mob of teen girls stopped him (this was in his High School Musical prime), and he stopped to sign autographs and take selfies with every one of them. I was impressed.
#25 Old Friends
I used to work in an upscale hotel in West Hollywood. I was in one day when a beautiful brunette about my age, another pretty blonde woman, and an older lady who I assumed was the mother came in. She looked vaguely familiar and it dawned on me that I was serving Alison Brie, whose Wikipedia article I had recently looked up. I glanced at their reservation. Schermerhorn. That's her real last name.
Before I even realized who she was, I noticed she must literally have a magical aura around her that makes everyone within 10 feet feel special. I got to wait on her, and she joked with me like I was an old friend. By the end of the afternoon, we were talking to each other in stupid accents and laughing like hyenas. To top it all off, she left a great tip and her friend told my boss what a great job I'd done. Nice to meet someone you love from a show and it turns out they're cool as heck.
#26 Here’s My Card
Kevin Hart. I worked retail in early 2011 and there was this guy who needed some clothes shipped to Atlanta. I hooked him up with a surprise discount and he was grateful. He then asked what I was doing that night, I said nothing, and the guy introduced himself. "I'm Nate, I'm Kevin Hart's manager, he's performing tonight, here's my card. I'll get you in for free."
So I went that night, thinking I was just going to go watch the show. But Nate saw me, brought me to the VIP Lounge where Kevin and two other opening comics were just hanging out. Kevin was the chillest dude, really nice, talked about Philly, comedy, etc., and the show was basically his Let Me Explain material.
#27 Grabbing the Bill
I saw Yoko Ono at a restaurant in New York. I went up to her and told her that she and her late husband's music meant a lot to me. She was very gracious, we didn't bother her again and she left shortly thereafter. When it was time to pay, we were told that Yoko picked up the tab. It meant a lot to me and my girlfriend because we were flat broke at the time but decided to have a rare restaurant experience to celebrate our anniversary.
#28 Local Mall Signing
Bam Margera. Back when Jackass was a thing and I was in middle school around 2003, he had a signing at the local mall. My mom and I waited in line for about four hours so I could meet him. I had him sign a pair of skate shoes that I was wearing to school with the fat shoelaces that I put into a checkerboard pattern. He took about ten minutes to talk to me and compliment me on how cool that was.
Meanwhile, at school, all of the skateboarders made fun of me for wearing skate shoes and constantly gave me grief. Having a celebrity who I really looked up to give me such high praise saved my self-esteem for the rest of middle school. Being nice is easy, but Bam Margera went above and beyond and I really appreciate that.
#29 Some Dude
My sisters met Sofie Turner. I had just left to go get something to eat and she apparently lined up to do zip lining behind them. They were so amazed they met Sansa Stark and showed me the picture. I'd heard she was in town filming and that she was with Joe Jonas. I realized from the picture angle someone else took it. I asked them who took it and they said, “Some dude she was with.” I laughed so hard I cried when I explained it was Joe Jonas and they felt so embarrassed. They said he took it like a champ, took their picture with her and then chatted a bit about stuff to visit in the city.
#30 Staying in Character
Johnny Depp likes to dress up as Captain Jack Sparrow and go to hospitals. One time, he just strolled onto the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land and just stood there chilling and chatted to the guests, all while remaining in character. As you can probably imagine, the people there lost their minds.
#31 Super Cool Overall
Adam Savage from Mythbusters. I met him at a White House science fair a few years back and got to talk to him for a bit. He was really nice and easy to talk to (and does actually wear the hat out and about). I told him that watching his show with my dad as a kid was part of what made me want to be an engineer. He actually got really excited about that. He was just a super cool guy overall.
#32 Bond, James Bond
Pierce Brosnan. I literally bumped into me at a coffee shop in Hawaii and he honestly could not have been more gracious. If I’m being honest, I actually didn't recognize him until he sat down, and when I called my wife, she begged me to go over and put him on the phone. Of course, I didn't wind up doing that.
#33 Off to College
Nick Jonas is extremely soft-spoken and really kind. He called ahead to the restaurant I worked in at the time to book a table for his family— him, his parents, both grandmothers, younger brother, and one of his grandfathers. His younger brother was moving to college and Nick was in town for a show, so he took them to brunch. He was incredibly kind to the staff, tipped well, and was adorably teasing Frankie about being the kid their parents would be most proud of. Frankie is the only one of the four Jonas brothers to go to college.
#34 Conversations in Dothraki
I met Jason Momoa when I was a photo op at a convention. I guess I looked scared because he asked if I was nervous. I stuttered out yes, and he put his arm around my waist for the photo and laughed cause I tensed up. Later when I got him to sign my bag, he said, "moon of my life" in Dothraki to me and I responded back with "my sun and stars.” He said my Dothraki was good.
#35 This is For You
I met Steven Tyler when I was 14 backstage at the Nine Lives tour. We were backstage to meet up with Jonny Lang who opened; his sister was dating my friend's dad. Steven came over on his own and started to talk us up. He asked, “Where are you guys sitting?” and we told him. Then, during the show, he gave us a shout out and said this song is for the young guys in the fourth row. He sang “Falling in Love is Hard.”
#36 Showing Appreciation
Robin Williams. I met him when he came out to Iraq for a USO tour in 2007. He was willing to sign anything and talk to everyone. I worked nights, so I couldn't make it to the USO show, but he stayed in the VIP rooms directly next to my work building. In the morning, he stayed to say what's up, show his appreciation and even gave us a quick piece of the set he did for the night prior.
#37 Long History of Acting
For me, I’d have to say it was when I met Tom Holland! He was by far the most famous and the nicest celebrity I’ve met so far. I’ve never heard someone say a bad word about the guy. It’s hard to since he’s just genuinely sweet, which is awesome considering his long history of acting and he’s only in his early 20s.
#38 Columbia Records
Dolly Parton, a really great hugger and genuinely sweet person. She walked into Tower Records SF while I was there putting up promotional stuff for Columbia Records. This was probably 1977. She grabbed me for a hug and was stoked we were exactly the same height (even though she was in heels). She asked me some questions and it felt like it was authentic. I’ve met hundreds of celebrities, but she and Robin Williams were far and above the nicest.
#39 Great Human Being
Alan Alda. I was at one of his book signings and I was so nervous to the point that all I could say was, “I love M* A* S* H !” He took my hand for a second and made a joke about being surprised I knew about the show because I was young. Once I got past my absolute embarrassment, I realized he was so gracious and patient with me when he could have easily been mean. He’s a great human being.
#40 Are You Spiderman?
I was homeless in Venice Beach, California. I met Tobey McGuire while I was asking for spare change and he was kind enough to give me some money. I then asked him if he was Spiderman. His friends that were with him started walking off when I said that, but he smiled and told me to have a nice day. So, Tobey McGuire is nice to the homeless, generous and he was very polite to his fans.
#41 Beach Bar
I met Matthew McConaughey at a beach bar I worked at. He came in with bongos and sunglasses at 8:00 p.m. on our busiest night and sat alone in a corner. When the guy next time home turned finally and asked, "Aren't you the McConaughey guy?" he laughed and bought everyone drinks. He then proceeded to drink some more, took his shirt off at some point and played bongos with the band.
#42 Six-Star Restaurant
I met Chris Hemsworth last year at the restaurant I worked at. I often joked that I moved to Australia to find him and then one day, all of a sudden, he’s in my restaurant walking up to the host stand. I was so horrified by my own normalcy that I could barely look up at him (he’s so tall). I tried to seat him and his wife at a table in my section, but he politely asked to be moved to a quieter area.
While I was slightly disappointed that he wouldn’t be sitting in my section, I awkwardly smiled and directed them to a more secluded section. He and his wife couldn’t decide which table, so I made some lame joke about sitting at two separate tables and throwing the food at each other (this was a six-star resort restaurant and my boss did not like hearing that comment). They sat, I put a napkin on his lap and their dinner went smoothly. The end.
#43 Quite the Experience
I used to go to work at a quick-service Wolfgang puck restaurant that opened at 6:30 a.m. At 6:45, it was still super dark outside because it was winter and I was the only person other than the cook in the restaurant. A woman walked in, quietly came up to me and said, “I’d like to order a skinny latte please!” I said sure, but she meandered off without paying. Then I realized it was Oprah.
Regardless, I made the drink anyway because I wasn’t about to be like, “Hey, Oprah, you forgot to pay.” Her two bodyguards came in a minute later and silently paid for her stuff. I have to say, it was quite the experience to have when you’re alone in a fancy hotel restaurant with just Oprah and some bodyguards.
#44 Retiring the Guitar
Carlos Santana. I once had the pleasure of meeting him one-on-one when he was touring for the Supernatural album. He was an extremely nice man. He signed one of my guitars and even played it a little afterward. He also complimented me on it. After that, I retired the guitar for fear of wearing off the signature.
#45 Everyone Matters
Daniel Radcliffe. I'm not a big Harry Potter fan, but one of my friends is, so we went to see Endgame in London a few months ago. We waited in the lobby after the show ended. He came out and spoke to every single person who wanted to talk to him, which was an honestly enormous number of people. He chatted with them for hours.
Instead of quickly taking a photo and signing a playbill for each person, he showed genuine curiosity about the people he met, asked questions, made conversation, and made everyone feel like they mattered. This was at night after the show had ended, and I'm sure he was tired, yet he was still such a charming and caring guy. I was a bit blown away. I wasn't much of a Daniel Radcliffe fan before that, but am now.
#46 Up For Adoption
Nick Offerman. He came into my cafe and I tried to play it really cool and not bother him. When he was getting up to leave, I awkwardly said how much I enjoyed his book on woodworking and he looked so surprised. He introduced himself to me, shook my hand, and asked my name. He also gave me some woodworking tips and went on his way. I ended up seeing him again at an event and he remembered me. He's a kind and humble person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what he does. 10/10 would like him to adopt me.
#47 Spooky Nice
Jon Voigt was spooky nice. We sat together on a plane; he read to me and followed me into the bathroom at Denver, still talking. Spielberg and Geffen are both nice and a bit shy. Ray Charles is fun to work with, though he’s a perfectionist and can blow up (but in a funny and over-it-quickly kind of way). In fact, most celebrities I’ve met and worked with are great folks.
#48 You Shall Not Pass
Sir Ian McKellen! I’ll never forget this one time when he was kind enough to come to my school and do a talk against homophobia. In the end, he told us that we needed to study for our exams and screamed that “we would not pass” otherwise in full Gandalf mode. He was also extremely nice at the reception later.
#49 Signed Subway Napkin
I met Matthew McConaughey at a subway in Ohio when he was staying in my hometown’s fancy treehouse hotel. I walked up to him and asked something like, “Are you Matthew McConaughey?” and he said that he was. He then asked me if I wanted an autograph and I told him, “I guess.” So, he signed a Subway napkin for me.
#50 Standing Star Struck
Mindy Kaling. She’s so down-to-earth and approachable. She was also kind enough to patiently wait while I stood there, completely star-struck. It definitely took me longer than I would like to admit to ask her to take a photo with me. She stopped on the red carpet at her premiere to do it. It was the best moment of my life.