Bad-ass celebrities are usually only considered as such from the moment their movie begins until the credits roll. When they’re not playing make-believe war or participating in face action scenes, celebrities are just as normal, boring, and private as the next person.
But then there are those celebrities whose badassery goes beyond the big screen. Some celebrities have lived lives or are living lives that are actually just as cool as the movie roles they play. From racing sports cars to fighting Nazis and from being an expert martial arts fighter to saving lives during 9/11, these celebrities are just awesome.
Put it this way: while you’re out going about your daily affairs, the celebrities on this list are living or once lived a life of action, worthy of being depicted on the big screen in cinemas across the United States and Canada.
Without further ado, here are 10 celebrities whose real lives are somehow even more awesome than their fake ones.
10. Kurt Russell Was A Hell Of A Race-Car Driver And Baseball Player
Kurt Russell has established himself as a pretty cool guy with his memorable role in Big Trouble In Little China and for portraying Snake Plissken. As it turns out, Russell could’ve went down an entirely different, yet even more awesome career path.
Before he got the acting bug, Russell was a race car driver in his youth. He was actually so good at it that he won six national championships and one world championship. When racng cars didn’t earn as much as he wanted, Russell became quite a handy baseball player. After playing some minor league baseball, where he somehow maintained a .400 batting average, he was accidentally introduced into acting.
After proving himself to be quite a good actor, and finding out that acting paid far more than what racing or baseball did, Russell decided to take up acting full-time.
9. Rowan Atkinson Races Super Cars And Once Flew A Plane To Safety After The Pilot Fainted
Rowan Atkinson is most well-known to fans as the lovable and mischievous Mr. Bean or as the Machiavellian Blackadder. But when he’s not working, the real Rowan Atkinson is considerably cooler than his TV creations.
During a flight on a small private plane, the pilot passed out, leaving the controls unmanned. Since the only other people on the plane were Atkinson and his family, he immediately jumped into action. Despite having never flown anything before, Atkinson managed to steady the plane and stop it from losing height. The pilot was eventually revived and the rest of the flight went on without a hitch.
In his spare time when he’s not piloting out-of-control planes, Atkinson indulges in his passion for cars. In addition to owning a number of rare super cars, such as the Mclaren F1, Atkinson is also particularly fond of racing cars and has participated (and crashed) in numerous racing events.
8. Steve Buscemi Was Part Of The 9/11 Rescue Effort
Steve Buscemi is probably more well-known for playing smarmy and seedy characters with no physical presence whatsoever. Well, that’s just what he does for his second job. His first job, however, featured considerably less smarmy and seedy behaviour.
Before he put on a suit and became Mr. Pink, Buscemi became a firefighter in New York City. Granted he probably wasn’t one of those tall and hunky firemen, but none the less, Buscemi was a bad-ass fireman who put out fires and saved terrified cats from trees.
In fact, Buscemi is a bona-fide war hero of sorts. During the aftermath of 9/11, Buscemi returned to his old firefighting unit and volunteered for service. Whilst other celebrities helped out by handing out water and making unwanted PSAs, Buscemi put in back-breaking 12 hour shifts where he shoveled debris and searched for survivors.
That’s right, there are actual people out there who were saved by the guy referred to as “Crazy Eyes” in Mr. Deeds.
7. Mel Brooks Fought Against The Nazis
Mel Brooks is a comedy legend who has given the world great comedies such as Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and The Producers. Before he was messing around with Hitler in the satirical world of The Producers, Brooks actually played a part in messing around with the real-life Hitler.
Born Melvin Kaminsky, Brooks served as a combat engineer during WWII, which meant that he had to diffuse mines day in, day out. On top of tinkering with sensitive explosives, Brooks also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, where he proved to be a massive troll to the Germans. During the battle, the Germans would broadcast propaganda over their loudspeakers. In response, Brooks set up his own sound system and began broadcasting music from a famous Jewish musician.
After the war, Brooks took those comedic tendencies of his and channeled it into some of the best comedic films ever made.
6. Ed O’Neill Is An Expert At Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Older audiences may know him as the cynical and cheap Al Bundy from Married…With Children. Younger audiences may know him as Sophia Vergara‘s arm candy on Modern Family. What most fans may not know about Ed O’Neill is that whilst he may be getting on in years, he can still probably kick your ass in seven different ways without breaking a sweat.
After being introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when he was 40, O’Neill has been practicing the martial art ever since. O’Neill has been kicking ass for 29 years and has trained with many prominent practitioners of Jiu-Jitsu, including Rorion Gracie, the co-founder of the UFC.
After years of training, O’Neill received his black belt in 2007. Getting that black belt actually meant so much to him that he ranks it up there as the greatest achievement of his life after his children.
5. Creed Bratton Is As Cool As the Fictional Creed Bratton
Creed Bratton became known to audiences as that weird but awesome guy on The Office who only shows up to do or say something outrageous and hilarious. As cool as the fictionalised version of Creed may seem, the character still pales in comparison to the life of the real Creed Bratton.
During his youth, Bratton was actually the lead guitarist for the 1960’s folk rock band, The Grass Roots. So all those guitar chops you see on The Office are actually him. Dig even further and you’ll find that Creed Bratton isn’t even this guy’s real name.
Born as William Charles Schneider, he became a proficient guitarist and musician during his youth. After finishing college, he decided to travel to Europe with only a few friends and $25 to his name. Following a night of dropping acid, Schneider woke up to find a stolen table cloth with a heap of names crossed out and one was circled. It was Creed Bratton.
From that point on, William Charles Schneider became the one and only, Creed Bratton.
4. Christopher Lee – Britain’s Special Ops
The late Christopher Lee a carved out a reputation as being one of film’s greatest horror icons and for just generally being a great on-screen bad guy. As it turns out, Lee’s real life is probably more akin to James Bond than the villainous Scaramanga.
During WWII, Lee was part of Britain’s Special Operations Executive, which is basically a top secret spy agency that hire James Bond types. Those expecting some awesome espionage anecdotes from Lee will be sorely disappointed as the extent of Lee’s actions during his time with the group remains classified to this day.
But having been deeply involved in WWII, and nearly dying twice in his efforts, it’s probably for the best that Lee kept secret whatever horrors he witnessed until his last breath.
3. Bob Ross Was A Hard-ass Air Force Drill Sergeant
Watching someone paint a painting on TV is literally akin to watching paint dry. But Bob Ross did it and millions loved the way he combined painting lessons with lessons in life. There will probably never be a nicer person in history than Bob Ross, but there was a time when he wasn’t the kind and gentle soul he later became.
Before painting became his main trade, Ross was a First Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. That’s right, there was once a time when Bob Ross was that mean and strict hard ass who would scream at cadets to made their beds perfectly and who would punish those late for work with a profane-laced rant before sending them to scrub toilets as punishment.
Being a tough and mean person all the time didn’t sit well with Ross. When he was given the opportunity to paint for a living, he immediately hung up his mean streak and became the lovely person that everyone knows and loves.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis Is Good At Everything
Much has been said of Daniel Day-Lewis‘ complete commitment to every single movie role he takes part in. What is usually brushed over is how this crazy amount of preparation had forged Day-Lewis into a genuine bad-ass.
During the production of The Last of the Mohicans, he learned how to track and skin animals, build canoes, and fight with tomahawks. For The Crucible, he spent the summer on location before shooting without running water and electricity, and actually built some of the set. For The Boxer, he underwent a year of training with former pro-boxer, Barry McGuigan, who remarked that Day-Lewis was good enough to go pro. For Gangs Of New York, he dressed in period clothing all the time (and caught the flu), practiced everyday with a meat cleaver, and became scarily proficient at using knives.
With a method that is a couple of shades short of madness, it’s probably no wonder why everyone is always so excited to see Day-Lewis’ upcoming films.
1. Audrey Hepburn Was An Agent For The Dutch Resistance During WWII
Audrey Hepburn is regarded as the most beautiful woman ever and is one of cinema’s most treasured icons. Surely there couldn’t be anything hard-edged about a woman who was a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and is still considered the definition of elegance and beauty?
Well, during WWII, Hepburn was part of the Dutch Resistance.
Like most people during the war, Hepburn starved and struggled, and her envied figure was actually due to malnourishment. She coped with her harsh reality with art, music, and dancing. When she began making money with her dancing, she donated whatever she earned to the Dutch Resistance. Hepburn was also used as a courier for the resistance and she delivered sensitive messages to and from resistance workers. She and many other children couriers got away undetected as Nazis were less likely to search children for contraband.
So as it turns out, Audrey Hepburn is about as definitive of the phrase ‘looks can be deceiving’ as there ever will be.