What celebrities have surprised you when learn what they are really like?
I was surprised to learn Vin Diesel is actually kind of a nerdy guy. He’s played Dungeons and Dragons for most of his life and is really into the sci-fi movies and so forth. He seems like a pretty nice guy in his interviews.
I’ve known or met quite a lot of famous people, although most of them will mean more to British readers than anyone else.
The best example has to be a man called Arthur Scargill. In the 70s and 80s he had a very high media profile as a strident trade union leader and activist, the very epitome of extreme socialist views. He was bitterly opposed to Thatcher and all she stood for, and apparently devoted to a class war that involved making outrageous pay demands backed up by utterly uncaring threats of strike action intended to cause maximumn disruption. In real life? A warm, intelligent, softly spoken man, charming and affable, utterly lacking in ego or self-importance, who took a genuine interest in those around him and could chat happily and knowledgeably about the arts, literature, ideas, pop culture and so on. Also had a likeable sense of humour, and could be endearingly self-deprecating. It was very hard to match him with his public profile and personality.
I also know Uri Geller very well. Of course, he is a controversial figure and I know he tends to provoke strong reactions here on the Boards. In real life, away from the press and the cameras? A very quiet, likeable, down-to-earth sort of character, completely devoted to his wife and children, who enjoys the simple pleasures in life such as taking his dog for a walk across the Berkshire countryside. Very sociable, very generous with his time and contacts, always ready to make time for anyone or to help anyone in need, and very fair and reliable in his dealings with people. Also one of the least materialistic people I’ve ever met.
Someone who makes his living as a con artist and has filed nearly a billion dollars worth of frivolous lawsuits against opponents, magicians, and video game publishers is “one of the least materialistic people you’ve ever met”? You must not know any other people.
I mentioned this before, several times, but it fits in this thread. I don’t know what kind of “rep” she has, if any, since she’s not tabloid fodder, but if someone only knew Milla Jovovich from being a model and starring in kick-ass zombie movies, they might have an idea that she’s stuck up and diva’ish or something, but in real life, she’s one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet. She’s warm and gracious and funny and interesting and cute and, well, sweet as all get out.
Also, Kate Bush does have a rep as being lofty and artsy-fartsy and a weirdo hermit, but nothing could be further from the truth. In real life she’s a very down-to-earth, funny, family-oriented, exceedingly normal person.
[li]Jane Siberry writes the most beautiful, open, emotionally truthful and powerful songs of anyone I can think of. But she’s a cold, nasty bitch in real life.[/li][li]Diamanda Galas makes the most frightening, demonic, too-scary-for-goth-nerds music, but IRL she sweet and quiet and as nice as anyone you’d meet.[/li][li]Elvis Presley, on stage, is animated and sexy and just oozing with life. IRL he’s dead.[/li][/ul]
Apparently Vince McMahon is a great person to know in real life. Always been surprised by that.
To the above poster, I think most things I have read about Elvis off stage indicate he was a polite and courteous man. Who did not look for special favours. IIRC Colin Powell knew him slightly when theyn were both serving together and mentioned that he did not make the connection that the Sargent was Elvis until told.
Years ago I read about an interview with Helena Bonham Carter, who used to portray mostly historical drama characters like Lady Jane Grey. In this interview, Bonham Carter said that she liked to drink Coke and burp, so she wasn’t always such a stuffed shirt in real life. Of course, she’s branched out a bit in her acting, as evidenced by Planet of the Apes and the Fight Club.
I can vouch for those two. Jane Siberry mocked Victoria Williams, one of the most beautiful and gentle souls on the planet, live on stage. Diamanda Galas* could make hard-core heavy metalheads whimper in the corner like a frightened little girl with just one note, but in real life she’s funny, silly, goofy, nerdy and so very nice!
Hmmm, Henry Rollins (used to be Black Flag’s singer) was quite an abrasive hard ass kinda dick. His head was so far up his ass back then I don’t know how bad he would be now. On the other hand, Greg Ginn (Black Flag’s guitarist) and Chuck Dukowski (base player) were either normal kinda guys or didn’t feel like they had to have their game face on. For Henry, it sure seemed like he was just an asshole and not wearing a game face.
Jello Biafra was another one that was pretty much a dick pretty much all the time.
Almost all of the American hardcore bands that I knew (and I met a lot of them) were pretty decent people. Not sure if they would be considered celebrities though.
Blues guys like Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Cotton, etc were all to a T good folks when I met them. Little Milton was in a shitty mood but he just said “I need to be left alone now.”
George Thorogood loves baseball (duh). He did a sound check at UC Davis around 1981 at Freeborn Hall (which holds maybe 1500 people) and then went to check out the afternoon college baseball game going on about 100 yards away. He was yakking it up with one of the teams and they didn’t have a clue who he was other than a guy that liked baseball at a very sparsely attended 3rd tier college game. Earlier in 1978 when he played at the UC Davis coffee house (which held about 200 people), he did a sound check to a very bored set of college students sipping bad coffee and eating cheap food. Ol George, he’s just got natural enthusiasm and energy, so he was like you jaded bunch of college kids check this shit out. He pulled out all the stops by playing while jumping up on some of the tables and just kicking out the jams just 'cause he loved playing music.