February 1, 2023 | Andie Wood

Sad Celebrity Encounters That Remind Us That They Are People Too

Most celebrity encounters are a once-in-a-lifetime event: it's not every day that most of us get to meet or interact with somebody famous. We might spot them at a restaurant or run into them at the store and our excitement is usually tough to contain. Whether it's our favorite football player or the actress we've had a crush on since childhood, meeting celebrities can be a thrilling and unique experience for most of us.

Unfortunately, not every celebrity encounter is a happy one; in fact, some become memorable for all the wrong reasons. The celebrity might only have a moment for a brief hello, we might have put impossible expectations on them, their entourage or security might be rude, or, worst of all, they might genuinely be awful in real-life.

Here are some of the saddest celebrity encounters from the folks at Reddit.

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Don't forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!

#25 Bill Murray

I used to work as a Stagehand in NYC setting up concerts, premiere parties, commercials, etc. The premiere party for The Life Aquatic was at Roseland Ballroom and I had worked maybe 14 hours and was filthy. Well, that night a very under the influence Bill Murray was walking around with a large glass of an adult beverage and a plastic shark. He walked right up to me and "Don't You Want Me Baby" was on the speakers playing. So, naturally, Bill Murray and I began singing together. It only lasted for about 30 seconds. It was the saddest moment of my life after that because I realized I had peaked in life and everything after that would be downhill.


#24 Janeane Garofalo

This was back in the late '90s, I was in Manhattan with a few friends trying to find CBGBs. We had decided at one point that we were lost so we looked around for anyone that could help point us in the right direction. Across the street were two guys and a girl waiting to cross so we ran over to them to ask for directions. When we were about 10 feet away from her we all started to slow down and stop in our tracks, realizing who it was (this was around the time Mystery Men dropped).

One of my friends had no idea and kept running up to her and starting screaming, "Help, we need to find CBGBs, do you know where it is?" She looked like she was in a good mood when we were running up to her and she was blushing because she thought we were huge fans. When my friend started asking her for directions she rolled her eyes and in the most deadpan delivery gave him full walking instructions. He thanked her and walked back to us. She ended up cracking up with her bodyguards.


#23 Ben Stiller

I saw Ben Stiller at The Troubador. He walked up next to me and ordered a drink at the bar. I gave him my generic big fan spiel and he was about to ask me something when one of my idiot friends walked up behind us and said, "Beat it, Zoolander. I need to talk to him." He walked away with a look of disbelief.

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#22 John Travolta

I worked at a hotel overnight that John Travolta stayed at. He walked around with me and my supervisor all night trying to convince us to join a two-year Scientology cruise around the world that we could work to pay for. He kept putting aluminum foil over the floor and ceiling windows which created so much heat in between the two windows ( the outer one was basically storm-proof) that the outer window busted, not once but twice and he paid for it. It was sad that a celebrity had nothing better to do than lock up in a room during the day and walk around with employees at night.



#21 Brendan Fraser

My mom was working as an extra in a movie with him. My dad, brother, and I went to pick her up after she was done. The staff was cool and let us watch the scene they were about to wrap up with them and at the end everyone was laughing, so my brother and I started laughing too. I was about 10 years old and my brother was six years old. He looks over at us (the guy who was my childhood idol; George of the Jungle and Dudley Do-Right were my favorite movies) so I was pretty excited. He just glares at us and yells out "What are these stupid kids doing here?" My brother and I went home and just sulked for the rest of the day.

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#20 Elvis Costello

There's a food court in the Charlotte airport where I didn't bother Elvis Costello.

There he was, unquestionably him (even if I hadn't recognized him, he had a bowling bag shaped carry-on with the word "Elvis" on it). Everything about me wanted to go up and fanboy at him about how much I've meant to his music over the years, but I decided not to and let the man eat his sandwich in peace.

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#19 Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley and her plus one were at a bar / theatre / TV studio I used to work at. My manager told me to take a bowl of olives outside to her table.

My hands were shaking so hard. She's even more beautiful in real life. I tripped on the leg of the table before hers and landed right on my face. She was ridiculously nice about it. I was mortified. Two of my colleagues were on a break a few tables over and I never heard the end of it.


#18 David Bowie

When I was about 15 or so, I was at Heathrow airport flying back to Scotland when I noticed a huge circle of huge guys dressed in black (obviously bodyguards). I kept trying to see who they were guarding, but they were encircling whoever it was. For a split second, they parted and I got to see who was in the middle and it was none other than David Bowie. Anyway, they moved on, we moved on and I never thought any more about it. When we finally got through security I was totally gobsmacked to see David Bowie just standing by himself waiting for whoever he was with. I was like 10 feet away from him and couldn't believe that I seemed to be the only person who knew it.

Now onto the sad part. I had just bought one of those typical holiday puzzle books that comes with a free pen, so I ripped the free pen off, took out my boarding pass, went up to him (he was short) and asked if he wouldn't mind signing my boarding pass. The problem was that the pen hadn't ever been used before, so he took the pen, tried to sign his name, it didn't immediately work and he gave me my pen and pass back and said, "Sorry, but your pen doesn't work" and then just walked away.

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#17 Michael Cera

I was heading to the Dominican Republic and I had a long layover in Newark. It was finally getting close to boarding, so my girlfriend and I headed over to our gate to find a seat and wait out our last hour or so before the flight. After we sit down, and I take in our surroundings I noticed a guy sitting three seats down that looked just like Michael Cera. In my mind there was no way it was actually him, so I started making Michael Cera related jokes in a low voice to my girlfriend.

I got up to use the restroom when I came back my girlfriend was extremely excited and let me know that it was actually Michael Cera. He had gotten up and walked away and she got a good look at his face. We kept an eye out and he ended up walking back to our area and getting in line for his flight. After about 10 minutes of deciding whether or not to try and talk to him, we walk over to him standing in line for his flight. My girlfriend said, "Excuse me, are you Michael Cera?" He turns around, looks us over and says, "Yes, I am" and walks to the end of his line. We walked away defeated.

I guess if you run into a person who is potentially famous you shouldn't make jokes about roles they've played in movies and TV shows.



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#16 Ben Affleck

I used to go to a small gym. The owners were laid back and had their cats roam around all the time. It was never an issue and people who went regularly would pet them in between sets. My husband and I go to the gym one day and there is the trainer with Ben Affleck, training for Batman. I didn't want to disturb him, so I completely ignored him. Except it's a small gym. So I'm working out on the bench next to nice guy Ben, and I can feel him trying to acknowledge me.

Suddenly I notice one of the cats starts to pee in the corner next to Ben. I shout "No!" to stop the cat, and scoop him up. Ben turns to me and says "Hey, is that your cat?" I look at him and awkwardly say, "It's not my cat" and walk away. I had an opportunity to talk to Batman and instead became the crazy cat lady. My husband was watching from afar, dying laughing. Now, whenever I do something awkward my husband will scream "It's not my cat!"

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#15 Donald Trump

I was talking to my mom on the phone (flip phone to give perspective on year) while walking down the street in Manhattan. A beautiful chauffeured car pulled up to the sidewalk and the passenger jumped out of the car and quickly walked into the building. In the process, however, he sideswiped me with such force that my phone went flying and shattered. He looked over his shoulder and didn't even offer an apology. That, my friends, was my encounter with Donald Trump.


#14 Frankie Muniz

Frankie Muniz was a friend of my step-sister's and he came over my dad's old house. I was about 11 years old and I knew him from Malcolm in the Middle. I tried to act cool by just playing on my computer in the other room. I didn't even go up to introduce myself.

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#13 Peter Mayhew

I organized a good sized comic con and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca from Star Wars), was in the green room for lunch on the second day. He looks very tired and is almost totally wheelchair-bound because of his terrible joint problems. I'm sitting across from him while we eat and his assistant asks if his hand is feeling okay to sign more autographs (he has terrible arthritis).

He closes his eyes and nods his head and whispers, "How much longer will this go today?" To which his assistant delicately replies, "just five more hours."

The saddest part is that he's the nicest guy and never denies a fan while he's at the con and always smiles even though he's in loads of physical pain.

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#12 Evel Knievel

Like almost every little boy in the '70s, I thought Evel Knievel was awesome. When I was about 7 years old, I was in the airport with my mom and her boyfriend and a friend of mine. My mother's boyfriend told us that Evel was in one of the lounges. He was sitting in a back corner, drinking a glass of some kind of adult beverage and engulfed in a cloud of smoke.

We both approached him excitedly and asked for his autograph. He was obviously under the influence, but he picked up a couple of cocktail napkins and scratched out his signature on both of them. Then he looked at us and said, "Before I give you these, I'm going to teach you something." My friend at I looked at each other, totally starstruck and grinning like idiots.

Evel proceeded to tap both of us on the arm. "Does that hurt?" he asked. We both shook our heads and said no. Then he poked us lightly in the chest. "Does that hurt?" Again we both said no in unison. Then he made fists out of both hands with the middle knuckle sticking out and brought them down sharply and simultaneously, protruding knuckle first, onto both of our heads. "Does that hurt?" he asked. Neither of us could really answer. I was holding back tears from the pain. He waited a few seconds and said, "That's why you wear a safety helmet" and handed us the napkins.

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#11 Kevin Spacey

I sat next to Kevin Spacey on the tube when I was in London with my dad. My dad was so pumped that he was next to Kevin Spacey. He's a huge fan, but he didn't want to ask him for a picture while we were on a crowded train so he just let him be. He was just happy to have seen him. Then this guy from the other side of the train shouts, "Hey Kevin, how's the acting going?" and everyone's faces turned to him. No one would take their eyes off him and everyone was taking photos and what not. Just felt sorry for the guy, he looked like he had just come back from a run or something and wasn't wanting to be recognized.


#10 Michael Phelps

A buddy of mine was a student at the University of Michigan while Michael Phelps was training there under Bob Bowman. He and a few friends were walking outside and ran into Phelps, who was eating a granola bar while heading to practice. They were pretty awestruck and headed over in hopes of a photo. Phelps quickly finished his granola bar in order to shake my buddy's hand. As they were shaking hands he transferred the wrapper to my buddy, leaned in, whispered, "You can keep that," and promptly walked off.



#9 Paris Hilton

My mom found Paris Hilton incognito in an airport, came to find me, brought me to a tiny lady in a hoodie and big sunglasses in the middle of the airport, and said, "Hi, are you Paris Hilton?" Then she pushed me in front of her and said, "Here, say hi to my son!"

She said "Sup?" I said "Sup?" then she did this weird little laugh. Then my mom said, "Okay, bye!"


#8 Richard Dawkins and Neil DeGrasse Tyson

I became interested in evolution and physical anthropology in high school after exploring the topic in books and discovered Richard Dawkins. I was in the process of reading another of his recent books when I found out he was doing a signing in the city. So I went to his talk and waiting in line to get an autograph.

All through the Q&A session, people had great complex questions for him about his theories and ideas on evolution or certain species. I thought I would be clever and ask a simple and fun question. So in the cover of the book, I wrote, "What is your favorite animal?" I expected this to be refreshing when he went to sign my book.

I got to the front and as he opened my book to sign it, he was a little thrown off. He gave me a look like I was mentally impaired and just signed his name.

I was crushed and felt really embarrassed that my recent idol thought I was stupid. I wandered off through the racks of books and found a small group of 5 people huddled around one man speaking.

I was curious and still trying to forget my last encounter, so I listened to this energetic man speak about the universe to this impromptu gathering. He was very knowledgeable and interactive. When I got a chance I asked him the same question, "What's your favorite animal?" He was very happy with the question and went on a long explanation of why the wolf was his favorite and when he first encountered one in Yellowstone.

I learned later that man was Neil DeGrasse Tyson. What a day.

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#7 Daryl Hannah

I once wanted to get Daryl Hannah's autograph for my friend who had been crushing on her since forever. I couldn't summon up my courage to approach her directly, so I just asked the dude sitting next to her. He put me off very politely.

I went back to my friends empty-handed and was complimentary of Mr. Nobody's manners. They told me I'd just asked John F. Kennedy, Jr. for Daryl Hannah's autograph.

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#6 Vince Vaughn

I met Vince Vaughn in a bar in Hollywood. He was with his entourage and had quite a few drinks. He hit on a girlfriend of mine, and I was amazed to see her totally blow him off. Not that she should have gone for it, but it was pretty incredible to see a multi-millionaire movie star get rejected by an accountant.

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#5 Sam Elliott

My saddest celebrity encounter was also my greatest. When I was in college I was an extra in a few scenes of We Were Soldiers, a Vietnam movie with Mel Gibson and Sam Elliott. While I was waiting for a bus to take me back to wardrobe one of the casting guys came up and picked me out of the crowd and asked me if I wanted to be in another scene with Sam Elliott. Of course, I was ecstatic. I sat in this van waiting for Sam to come out and it was going to drive us to the scene.

Finally, he comes out looking angry and sits in the front seat. Against my better judgment I said something like, "Mr. Elliott I'm a huge fan of yours and it's an honor to be in a scene with you." He snaps back: "Shut up, kid." So that's the sad part, though getting cussed out by a guy who typically plays the bad guy in movies was cool in some way.

We film the scene over and over and I'm just some soldier walking by in the background. Occasionally between takes Sam would look over at me and scowl. After it's done we get back in the van to head back and Sam is again in the van. He turns around and says, "Sorry about earlier kid, I just didn't want to ruin my mood for the scene. I appreciate the compliment." Suddenly it dawned on me that when he cussed at me he was trying to stay in character for the upcoming scene.

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#4 Betty White

It was right after the Golden Girls had ended. Her career was not in the best place at the time. I was at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles and saw a poster promoting Betty White signing her latest book about how much she loves animals. It was so sad. I'll always remember she was sitting alone at a big table with a stack of books in front of her. People were in the bookstore shopping but no one was buying her book or really acknowledging her. She just sat there, pen in hand, waiting. She would occasionally wipe off some imaginary dust to look busy. I'm getting the chills just remembering it.

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#3 George R. R. Martin

I met George R. R. Martin at the Blaze Pizza in Evanston when he was in town to accept an award from Northwestern University. At the time, I was listening to the audiobook of A Clash of Kings, and he very excitedly told me, "You've got a ways to go to catch up!" When I told him that I've already read what he's published three times, and am listening to the audiobook as a new way to experience the story, he just kind of deflated. He let out a big sigh and said, "Yeah, I need to finish the next book. People won't stop bothering me about it."


#2 Sammy Davis, Jr.

I was under the influence at a friend's bachelor party in Las Vegas. We are walking through the casino, and I see this glorious man with what can only be described as the aura of a movie star around him. I immediately recognize him as Sammy Davis, Jr. I run up and say "Sammy can I get an autograph?!" and he just turns around like he didn't hear me and starts walking. Thinking he couldn't hear me I yell "Sammy Davis Jr!" He turns around, looks right at me, and says "You're a real jerk."

I was pretty oblivious and had no idea why Sammy Davis Jr. was treating me like that. For a few years after that every time his name came up I told people how big of a jerk he was. Fast forward a few years later and I'm watching the movie Renaissance Man with Danny Devito and I'm like "wait I didn't know Sammy Davis, Jr. was in this movie" and I checked IMDB.com when it all finally clicked: the man I'd called Sammy Davis, Jr. was actually Gregory Hines, five years after Sammy died. It was probably the most delayed embarrassment I've ever felt in my life.


#1 Steve-O

I saw Steve-O do his stand-up tour. After his show, he said he would meet everybody there. We waited in line, and he was being super nice, laughing and taking pictures with everyone. Right before we got to the stage some jerk told him that he was funnier back when he was on substances. It killed his whole vibe. When we got to him he just took a picture with us and said thanks for coming, but he was clearly in a bad mood. I don't blame him at all. He was still extremely nice, but he was clearly irritated.




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