If you don't know a celebrity, you probably know someone who does. After all, the world is a lot smaller than you think. Besides wealth, adoration, and all the other perks that typically come from being famous, celebrities are just like the rest of us. Anyone who grew up knowing a famous person can tell you what their really like behind closed doors, and sometimes their nothing like you'd expect. Read on to find out what these people had to say about celebrities they knew before fame. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My first job was at a Schlotzsky's Deli in Wichita, KS. When I worked there, a Wichita State University basketball player came in quite a lot. His name was Paul Wight. Now known as The Big Show.
He'd order a family sized Turkey sandwich cut in half, and ate it like a regular sandwich. He also drove a very small car. It may have been a Yugo, but I'm a little iffy on that these days. He had the front seat removed and drove from the backseat.
He was a great guy, very friendly and always smiling. I was shocked when he showed up on WCW as The Giant.
Before that, maybe 3 years or so, I was still in Boy Scouts. We went on a few joint campouts with other troops, mainly with one from Park City, Kansas. One of the Assistant Scoutmasters (or something, don't remember his title), was Denis Rader, a.k.a. the B.T.K. Killer. My dad thinks we might have been on three campouts with him. I honestly don't really remember him though.
My dad and I could never pinpoint the dates, really, so I'm not sure. There was one in particular that was certainly in the right time frame, but we just don't remember if he left to go on a killing spree or not. He wasn't part of our troop, but the other one, and neither of us really recall ever talking to him. But he was in some group photos for the three we could find.
I was in DC when Denis was caught, and we were watching TV together when the news broke. It was the first time I ever heard my dad curse. I was 30. He ran off to look through some old photo albums and sure enough, he was in a few of the group photos."
"Ariana Grande. This girl went to high school and middle school with me. She is, was, and will forever be a fake. All my friends know to turn the radio off when her songs come on. I will be the first to admit she has an amazing voice but, Jeez, girl, learn to be humble! But hey, it's hard to be humble when you're the queen of the jungle! I'm not even sure she knows what a real conversation sounds like. Everything she ever did and ever will do is to get attention.
By the time freshman year rolled around, she was hardly ever at school because she was acting full time in New York. Fun fact: her parents payed off our school to basically give her a diploma. She was also told she could not attend our high school graduation after she tried to bring, like, 50 people from her entourage and cancel the live streaming of the event due to security risks. We went to an international high school and many of our classmates' parents wouldn't see their child graduate without the live streaming. I have a million stories about her and I LOVE sharing them.
When we were in the 7th grade, she was asked by one of our fellow students if she was going out for the musical she said, 'I'm on Broadway. I'm too good for you,' then walked away.
Our school had uniforms so dress down days were huge things for us. Every year on Halloween, we got to dress down (wear our Halloween costumes). Ariana wore the same thing as another girl (who happens to be my best friend, so I take this crap personally). Ariana yelled at her, made a huge scene, and told my friend she needed to go home sick for the day if she wouldn't change. It was school Halloween, not the red carpet, Ariana, and even if it was the red carpet, that behavior is still not okay!
To sum up this rant, when I read she hoped all her fans would die... I wasn't even a little surprised. She would absolutely say something like that and mean every word."
"When I was in high school (early 1990s), my friends and I worked at a golf course that was across the street from Mr. T's house. During lunch, my friends and I would walk five minutes to the downtown area for lunch. One day, while we were walking to lunch, Mr. T was pulling into his gated driveway. We said, 'Hey Mr. T,' and waved at him. He asked us what we were doing and after finding out we were going to lunch, he invited us to have lunch with him since that is what he was doing.
We sat on his patio eating grilled chicken while Mr. T was telling stories about growing up poor and working really hard to earn what he had. It was pretty surreal. Mr. T was just the persona. He was actually a very funny, down-to-earth, and truthfully empathetic guy. I always greatly respected him after that day."
"I went to college with Anne Hathaway. She was the roommate of my best friend's girlfriend, so I was invited to the pre-party for this massive party she threw when she got paid for The Princess Diaries.
Honestly, it makes me very happy to say she was incredibly kind and generous. Even after she left school to pursue acting full time, I'd run into her on campus now and then (my girlfriend was a few years younger than me, so I was on campus quite a bit for a few years after graduating). Anne always said hi to me, gave me a big hug and a kiss, even though I suspect she didn't remember my name. Whatever, I wasn't going to complain.
It was obvious to everyone on campus that she was incredibly talented. I remember friends going to see her perform in a play on campus where she played an assault victim. They said it was probably the most moving live performance they'd ever seen, and they were amazed at her ability to cry on cue and really embody the role.
To this day, I smile every time I hear about her success. She was a really lovely girl, and I think she deserves what she's achieved. It also helps that she's been openly supportive of equal marriage rights, and has generally taken advantage of her 'soapbox' to spread a bit of goodness."
"I went to school with Halsey (then Ashley Frangipane) from middle school to graduating high school. We were never besties, but went to each other’s houses a couple times and were friendly over the years. We crossed paths at the same parties sometimes in high school. We were never very close. She was always very artistic in different areas, but she was a habitual liar, which everyone from my town recognizes still when she does interviews.
It was clear she was going to be famous after high school when she started her career, but you wouldn’t have guessed beforehand. She did and apparently still does possess a talent for aligning herself with people who can further her along.
She was well hated way prior to fame. The friend group I was close with for years knew her since childhood and they hated her since elementary school. I couldn’t be bothered enough to feel that strongly, but she was something else."
"I lived next door to Demi Moore's aunt in the 80's. I met her right before she became famous. She was really cool.
Somewhere, there is a video of her sitting on my lap talking to the camera about how I was her boyfriend and how we were going to get married. I was so embarrassed, my face was bright red and I could only stutter. I was in that awkward time when girls weren't icky anymore, but I couldn't publicity admit it.
She was dating Emilio Estevez at the time. He was kind of a jerk."
"My dad went to high school with George Lucas. According to him, Lucas was a quiet guy and was always writing or drawing in a notebook he carried around. He doesn't blame the fact that Lucas doesn't really like Modesto. It's an awful place.
My sister was in high school musicals with Jeremy Renner. She never thought he'd be as famous as he is now, but she said he was one of the hardest working individuals she'd ever seen. Once again, this was in Modesto, and she doesn't blame Jeremy for hating our horrible city.
Unfortunately, the only marginally famous person I went to high school with was the lead singer of Deafheaven, George Clarke. You may know them from the album Sunbather, and the incredibly polarizing view they have among metal fans. I think George would not like my saying this, but he was heavily involved in musical theater at the time. It's strange hearing his screaming vocals and reminiscing about the fact that he was the lead role in Bye Bye Birdie. To his credit though, he played the most amazing villain in Arsenic and Old Lace. And, of course, he also hates Modesto. We all do."
"My dad actually became fairly close friends with Robin Williams back in the 70's in California. He has a bunch of pictures of the two of them, and he would help take him to his comedy shows, go to his shows, try and support him.
Eventually, Robin Williams started to get really well known, book more bigger and better stuff, and the band my dad was in started doing pretty well. They just drifted apart. I remember my dad being very torn up after hearing about his death. He looked like a man who just heard his best friend had died, despite not having spoken to each other in 40 years."
"My parents used to be friends with Mötley Crüe before they made it big. I think they were party friends. But you know the whole glam rock costume-y look the band has going on? He said they just dressed like that day in day out, back before that was really even a thing. My dad said he went to get drinks with Tommy Lee once and Tommy was wearing some crazy outfit with some ridiculous boots like mid afternoon, just walking down Hollywood Blvd and people were yelling stuff at him and throwing stuff and Tommy just didn’t even bat an eye.
I think my dad was pretty heavily into the party scene and my mom was just kind of along for the ride. Neither of my parents were ever big drinkers once I was alive. Though, I later found out that my dad used to constantly smoke pot in secret. I doubt my mom has done anything else, but it wouldn’t surprise me if my dad was much more heavily into the illicit involved in that scene."
"When my girlfriend and I started dating, she was still living at home with her parents. Their local paperboy was Shawn Mendes. He lived just down the street and would come by a few times a month to collect $5 for delivering the paper a couple times a week. It's weird to see him on TV now.
Back when I was in high school, my friends would be playing in a local battle of the bands. They played against Sum 41 (who weren't very good at the time). I think they placed higher than them in the competition, if I remember correctly. The show was at some run down bar and there were maybe 40 people there. A couple years later, they were being played on Much Music and I was shocked. Then they really exploded and became known worldwide. I would see the guys from Sum 41 on a number of occasions around town and would talk with them. All really down to earth, chill guys. I talked mostly with Dave (lead guitar) because he was often at the grocery store I worked at."
"I grew up in a suburb of LA which was home to multiple Disney stars and other pseudo famous people. Everyone from this area has similar stories like this, but my favorite one ever was when my 9th grade boyfriend got into it with Taylor Lautner. This was like circa 2007 and Taylor Lautner was like mildly famous because of that movie Shark Boy and Lava Girl. Everyone in high school just called him Shark Boy.
One day, he cut my boyfriend in line for something and was just being a jerk, so my 9th grade boyfriend was like, 'Honestly let's throw down. I'm over this. Let's fight, like today.'
Taylor just looks at him and says, 'My face is worth way too much money to fight you.' It makes me laugh so hard to think about."
"I was friends with Katy Perry
Her name is Katy Hudson. Before she did pop music she was a Christian artist. My friend's dad was her manager and she went to my church. She was an awesome person who truly had an amazing voice. Our youth group at the time would listen to her songs and we actually had a listening party to help decide what would go on her final album. Her Christian album tanked, mostly because she was way ahead of her time as far as sound goes. She was writing a lot of her own stuff at the time and she was really talented. Really, she was too talented to be pigeon-holed in such a strange genre. When her album kind of flopped, she moved back to California and would return on occasion, but she changed a lot and you could see it in her. I think the last time I saw her personally was 2002-2003.
Next time I heard from her was when 'I Kissed A Girl' came out. I remember sitting at work and it came on the radio and instantly recognized the voice (seriously, listen to her sing, she has a very unique voice). They said her name after the song was over and I looked her up and made the connection. It was probably one of the strangest moments of my life. To think at one point in time I ate pizza in a closet with her.
She's a good person and I tell everyone that."
"Danny Whitney, a.k.a. 'Larry the Cable Guy,' graduated from our small Christian school. I always thought he was a goofball who wasn't that funny. I'm kind of the serious type and he was NEVER serious. It got old fast with me. I tried to avoid him.
He made a couple of cable specials and I still didn't think he was funny, but he was getting funny. Then, he invented 'Larry the Cable Guy' and the rest is history. Since then, we've crossed paths occasionally and he's very centered and a really nice person. He has a child with issues and that has made him compassionate.
Just for the record, the 'country thing' is just his schtick. He grew up in South Florida and was not country at all. He's still a bit crude for my tastes, but I feel a lot better about him now. He's one of those who doesn't seem to have become a worse person as he acquired more fame. I'm happy for his success."
"Justin Trudeau was my substitute teacher in high school. I had him for grade eleven socials. We were learning about the origins of WWI. He started telling us about this really cool band called Franz Ferdinand. He seemed really agitated that no one in the room had heard about them. Like he was taking personal offense at that and kind of spazzing. At the time I was just thinking, Wow settle down, man. A few months later, 'Take Me Out' became a smash hit and I thought, 'Man, that prime minister's son sure is hip. That's bad news for Ben Mulroney.'
On September 11, 2001, I was only 13 but I could tell that this was some serious stuff. For social studies that year I had a wonderful teacher named Tom Harpunik who'd won the Prime Minister's award for teaching and I knew that he'd have an excellent class discussion set up for that. Unfortunately, I didn't have socials that day. But my French teacher wasn't at school that day and our sub was Mr. Trudeau. At the time, I knew who Pierre was and I think I knew he had a son who was a teacher but I don't think I put that together at the time.
So, there I was in French class on 9/11 with this sub who said that he was actually a history and drama teacher, but he was from Montreal so he taught French from time to time. He wasn't going to teach us French that day. He wanted to talk about geopolitics, to the extent that 13-year-olds could. He had some thoughts, but he was more concerned with facilitating discussion. Unfortunately, I don't remember a lot of what was said, but I remember that he really did want to hear from every student about how they thought it would affect their lives.
I've got my problems with his policies, but given that day I'm not surprised that he's prime minister. He's got the name recognition, he's handsome, and he's really good at bringing people together and making them feel heard."
"I knew Debby Ryan. We didn't go to the same high school but we went to the same church youth group. She was nice, very bubbly (borderline obnoxious), and was involved in a lot of church productions. Major drama geek. She even played Mary for Christmas one year. I actually remember overhearing her, afterward, telling someone how she felt she had played the part so well it brought people to tears and she found it touching, or something. I thought it was hilarious.
Her brother played guitar in the youth group band and all the girls were crazy over Chris. Chris is his real name and I don't understand why he changed it to Chase. Ryan isn't their real last name, either, but I can at least understand why they'd change that. But yeah, he was hot stuff and one of my friends almost dated him, but he was notoriously hard to get.
I remember when she auditioned for Disney. She wouldn't stop bragging about it. Our church was in Keller, TX, and I wanna say her mom took her to Dallas for it? I remember thinking there was no way she'd land a part for Disney. That'd be like winning the lottery. It just doesn't happen to people you know. But then, low and behold, she actually landed a Disney gig.
I never thought she'd actually get famous, but then a few years later, she was. I'm actually pretty proud of how true to her values she seems to have stayed, honestly."
"I went to elementary school with Grimes. She was charismatic, but I got the feeling she was more of an introvert.
If I recall correctly, she was an average student. Keep in mind that this was a private Catholic school in an affluent neighborhood, so all of our parents had high expectations. I did not know her parents that well, but her mom was a crown prosecutor and her dad a professor, so I'm sure they expected her to be doing well. Her parents went through a messy divorce in either the fifth or sixth grade. Claire (Grimes) took it hard. She had always been artsy, but I think she got more into her art during this phase as she focused less on her academics.
One thing that may come as a surprise is she wasn't musical at all in these days. Apparently, she taught herself how to play the piano when she was 16 or 17, but this was after I lost track of her. Our school had a decent music program, but she wasn't into it. We had an excellent visual arts program at the school and that was her jam - drawing and painting. She liked drawing fashionable women.
She also loved animals, so she would paint them a lot. I think her dog's name was Toby and she liked to paint him. I think I remember her drawing and painting nature scenes from time to time. She also loved Barbie dolls."
"I went to school with Ellen Page. We were in the same group of friends, went to all the same parties, and ate lunch together. She kept thinking I was calling her 'Helen' all the time, which was weird.
I would say, 'Hi Ellen, how's it going?'
'My name is ELLEN! Not Helen!' she would say. I think it was a legit thing the first time, but she later started doing it purposely as a joke to get me riled up.
My best friend, a guy, dated her for a bit in 2005 and they were nice together. When she came out, I thought it was a tabloid rumor at first but, frankly, wasn't that surprised. It wasn't an overly serious relationship nor did it last long. He still hears from her every so often, but less now then he used to.
I have not spoken to her for a few years. She may not even remember my name, honestly. Weirdly enough, I work behind the camera in film and I've seen her at some film galas and around town occasionally. I always imagined if we did talk it'd just get a little awkward. Hey, Ellen, what are you up to these days? Making movies? Oh me too... Just small, little ones for much less money in Nova Scotia.
She's one of those people who acted exactly how you would expect. She's a bit timid and shy, but nice."
"My great grandfather was friends with John Steinbeck in California. He was a lettuce farmer and very poor. I have heard through my grandfather many drinking stories of his father. They remained friends for a long time. Later in life, he would still send some signed first editions to him and they are still in my family today.
I hate to see the books be split up. I fear I am the only one that appreciates them for something other than monetary value."