Fame dominates our current culture. We have become obsessed with the lives of celebrities, well beyond the content of their work. The personal lives and daily activities of movie and television stars has become the fodder for an entire industry of morally icky publications that thrive on salaciousness and innuendo. Social media has only heightened this obsession, creating insular groups devoted to picking over every detail of a specific celebrity’s existence.
Some stars have managed this veritable minefield better than others. Some even thrive on the attention, even when it's negative. Even if they didn’t necessarily get into their chosen fields to become famous, they’ve become dependent on the trappings of their fame, often to the detriment of their actual careers.
Others have made their disdain for the media circus and invasive paparazzi attention well known, prompting outbursts that, ironically, the paparazzi feed on. This type of star just wants to do the work without being constantly hounded and prodded about their personal lives.
We’re taking a look at the most extreme cases of both types of celebrities; those who can never say no to a crowd and those who would probably prefer to live on Mars.
These are 8 Stars Addicted To Fame (and 8 Who Hate Being Famous).
16 ADDICTED: Will Smith
Being famous probably comes as naturally to Will Smith as breathing. Smith was an early hip-hop stalwart on MTV by the time he was 20. He would parlay his musical success into wider fame as the star of the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. By the time that show ended its highly successful run, Smith was on his way to becoming the most reliably bankable movie star in Hollywood, headlining blockbusters like Bad Boys, Independence Day, and Men In Black, and more serious fare like Ali.
Smith has never seemed to suffer from the well-established downsides of stardom. He’s always happy to sing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song with an adoring audience, and has even taken the unconventional step of letting his children indulge in the limelight from a pretty young age.
15 HATE: Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford is one of the biggest movie stars of all time, and nobody seems more irritated by that fact than Ford himself. The Indiana Jones star has made a career of playing slightly grumpy charmers, though the charm seems to fade when it’s time for him to promote his projects. The best-case scenario for a Harrison Ford talk show appearance these days is something akin to a moderately painful visit to the dentist.
Maybe this disdain for the limelight has its roots in the fact that Ford didn’t find success until relatively late in his career; Ford was 35 by the time Star Wars made him a household name. The fact that he’s still making films as ambitious as Blade Runner 2049 well into his seventies makes his grumpiness easier to dismiss.
14 ADDICTED: Henry Cavill
There was a time not so long ago when actors were just a little bit embarrassed to play superheroes. Donning a cape and tights was seen as something of an undignified job, below the realm of serious actors. Even legendary Superman Christopher Reeve had mixed feelings about his time as the Man of Steel, wondering if it hindered his later career in more adult fare.
Current Superman Henry Cavill seems to have no such concerns. Not only is Cavill an enthusiastic ambassador for the idealistic worldview of Superman (sometimes more so than the actual Superman movies in which he stars), he’s professed his love for both the fame and fortune the role has brought him, a refreshingly honest admission that more blockbuster franchise stars could stand to embrace.
13 HATE: Anne Hathaway
As an actor, there’s essentially nothing Anne Hathaway can’t do. After getting her start in the teen romance realm of The Princess Diaries, she became one of Hollywood’s most versatile performers, excelling in serious dramas like Becoming Jane and Rachel Getting Married, as well as big budget blockbusters like Alice in Wonderland and The Dark Knight Rises. Her Oscar for her bracing performance in Les Miserables should have cemented her place as Hollywood royalty.
And yet Hathaway is often greeted with a level of venom that is inexplicable. Hathaway’s wide-eyed enthusiasm is often derided as inauthentic, which somehow justifies an incredibly nasty attitude toward her from both the media and the public. Hathaway has admitted the criticism takes a toll, but hopefully it never stops her from being one of Hollywood’s brightest stars.
12 ADDICTED: Woody Allen
The neurotic, self-aware sensibilities of Woody Allen's films like Manhattan and Annie Hall would color many movies that came after.
But Allen’s reputation took a massive blow when he left his longtime partner Mia Farrow for Farrow’s adopted daughter – Allen’s stepdaughter – Soon-Yi Previn. Even more disturbingly, allegations of sexual abuse were made against Allen by his Farrow's daughter, Dylan. The allegations were dismissed in court, but Dylan maintains that Allen abused her to this day.
Bizarrely, Allen’s career never really suffered in any tangible way; he kept making movies with A-list stars and continued to bask in the increasingly overzealous praise shoveled his way. Allen has referred to fame as being "disgusting - but I can't say I don't enjoy it."
11 HATE: Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence’s meteoric rise to Hollywood’s A-list seemed almost effortless. Lawrence seemed capable of virtually anything; after earning an Oscar nomination for the gritty indie drama Winter’s Bone, she took on the role of Mystique in Matthew Vaughn’s mutant reboot X-Men: First Class. 2012 would see her win her first Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook as well as headline the first entry in the Hunger Games mega-franchise. That Lawrence coupled her ample talent with a charmingly unfiltered personality made it seem like fame fit her like a glove.
But, as so often happens, Lawrence’s personal life has been magnified in ways that have been both uncomfortable and outright illegal, as she was perhaps the most high profile victim of the 2014 iCloud hack, which she pointedly described as a violation.
10 ADDICTED: Chris Rock
There are plenty of standup comedians who can fill arenas, but none of them bring the rock star energy of Chris Rock to the stage. After a largely anonymous stint on Saturday Night Live in the early '90s, Rock became a superstar as a stage performer. He remains among the most elite class of standup comedians over 20 years later.
Whereas a lot of standup comedians seem to be exorcising their personal demons from the stage, Rock’s approach is entirely different; he affects the guise of a profane social commentator, with a level of outward rage and passion that could light a city block. Most standup comedians eventually move on to other, more insular endeavors as they age; it seems unlikely Rock will ever tire of the adulation and energy afforded him in front of a massive crowd.
9 HATE: Daniel Craig
It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when Daniel Craig’s casting as James Bond was highly controversial. Craig was criticized as being too blond and brutish to portray the talk, dark, and handsome 007. Four films into his run as Bond, those criticisms seem silly, as entries like Casino Royale and Skyfall have made Craig not only an all-time great Bond, but an A-list movie star and household name.
Craig has bristled a bit at that latter reality, making his disdain for grueling press tours and constant media attention well known. Craig has said his next Bond film will be his last, and if that’s true perhaps he’ll be able to better navigate the less desirable aspects of his fame going forward.
8 ADDICTED: Charlie Sheen
There was a time when Charlie Sheen was among Hollywood’s most promising young stars. The son of legendary The West Wing actor Martin Sheen, Charlie followed in his father’s footsteps with highly successful roles in films like Wall Street, Major League, and Young Guns. But Sheen’s personal demons began to take a toll on his career in the '90s, which saw him transition from movie star to TV star, fronting such sitcoms as Spin City and Two and a Half Men.
His addictions and bizarre behavior would eventually overwhelm his acting career, yet he couldn’t stay away from the spotlight, conducting surreal interviews where he invoked “tiger blood” and “winning,” and starred in the sort of direct to video quality trash that should really be below someone of his talent. Sheen remains one of Hollywood’s saddest cautionary tales.
7 HATE: Shailene Woodley
After making a powerhouse big screen debut in the George Clooney drama The Descendants, Hollywood came to the obvious conclusion that Shailene Woodley was a star in the making. Woodley went on to star in the wildly successful drama The Fault in Our Stars, as well as the slightly less successful Divergent franchise, which seems likely to remain unfinished after its third entry bombed. She also played a key role in the acclaimed HBO drama Big Little Lies, opposite Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.
But Woodley is not a typical movie star. She’d much rather be campaigning for Bernie Sanders or protesting the construction of the Keystone pipeline than attend Hollywood awards ceremonies or conduct empty interviews with Jimmy Fallon. One gets the sense that Woodley understands there are much more important things happening in the world right now than Hollywood galas.
6 ADDICTED: William Shatner
It’s hard not to imagine that William Shatner wishes he’d come to prominence in a different era. After Star Trek was cancelled in 1969, Shatner’s career and finances largely floundered until the franchise was revived as a feature film in 1979. Shatner both relished that renewed attention and somewhat resented the fact he’d been typecast as Jim Kirk.
The original captain of the Enterprise is still going strong well into his 80s, routinely appearing at conventions and bantering with fans on Twitter. The notoriously vain and self-involved Shatner is always happy to bathe in the glow of his fans’ adulation, something he’s unlikely to ever get tired of. Imagine his social media game if he was 40 or 50 years younger!
5 HATE: Zach Galifianakis
Zach Galifianakis has been a breath of weird fresh air in the comedy world. After working in more underground alternative comedy avenues since the '90s, Galifianakis became an overnight star with the release of The Hangover in 2009. He became a fixture of late night TV, both as host of Saturday Night Live and a reliably bizarre talk show guest.
Galifianakis currently stars in the sweetly strange FX series Baskets, and he voiced the Joker in The Lego Batman Movie. He even interviewed President Obama on his cult web series Between Two Ferns.
But while Galifianakis relishes the creative opportunities fame has afforded him, the scrutiny on his personal life and family has grated on him. He lives with his wife and children on a farm in North Carolina when he’s not working, preferring to sidestep the circus that is day to day life in Hollywood.
4 ADDICTED: Lindsay Lohan
If Charlie Sheen is Hollywood’s number one cautionary tale, Lindsay Lohan is a strong second place. After mounting a charming career as a child actor, Lohan hit the big time as the lead in Mean Girls, which made it clear she was a major talent with a bright future ahead of her. But Lohan’s downfall was swift; her struggles with substance abuse and exploitative parents became popular tabloid fodder, and studios were unwilling to insure the volatile young star.
Lohan’s career hit its nadir with The Canyons, an embarrassing film that was one rung away from adult cinema – it actually employed adult film stars in prominent roles – that was the moment when popular sentiment toward Lohan shifted from ridicule to pity.
Hopefully Lohan has a second act in her; it would be a shame if such a promising career was permanently derailed.
3 HATE: Kristen Stewart
You have to feel for Kristen Stewart. She was still a teenager when she was cast in the Twilight films, which brought her a level of fame so intense it would have made The Beatles recoil. Her every move was scrutinized; her relationship with co-star Robert Pattinson was commented on by virtually every grocery store rack publication, and her reserved, quiet demeanor when promoting the films was characterized as rude and dismissive. That Stewart never had any sort of public meltdown is genuinely impressive.
After the Twilight films wrapped up, Stewart pursued decidedly lower key projects that revealed a surprising fact – she’s a fantastic actress. With the mega-stardom of her Twilight days behind her, she’s free to pursue the sort of daring projects that appeal to her, likely without the awkward late-night talk show chats she seems to despise.
2 ADDICTED: Robert Downey Jr.
Sometimes you have to lose everything to understand how much it really means to you. Robert Downey Jr. was one of Hollywood’s most promising young actors in the '80s and '90s. The first phase of his career reached its peak in 1992, when he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Chaplin. But soon Downey’s well-documented struggles with drugs and alcohol thoroughly derailed his career, reducing him to a supporting player in modest films and even some TV work that was decidedly beneath him.
Downey would eventually get clean and resurrect his career in 2008 with Iron Man. Downey has been very public and vocal about how much he’s enjoying his second act, basking in the adulation that Marvel stardom has once again granted him.
1 HATE: George Clooney
George Clooney is an old style A-list film icon. He’s one of the most acclaimed movie stars of his generation, fronting such beloved films as Ocean’s Eleven and Out of Sight. He tends to eschew franchise filmmaking – give or take an early career Batman blunder – in favor of more brainy adult fare. He is famously gregarious, throwing lavish parties for his friends and co-stars, and is easily one of the most charming actors alive.
And yet Clooney loathes the paparazzi with heat of a thousand suns. He’s been engaged in a three-decade battle with the more insidious aspects of the press, fighting for his personal privacy as well as the privacy of prominent people in general. While many view the paparazzi as simply the unfortunate price of fame, Clooney sees it as his mission to discredit and marginalize them. In that particular fight, he’s easy to root for.
How do you feel about fame? Would it be a blessing or a burden? Let us know in the comments!
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