Like everyone else, celebrities have fears and phobias. Most of them are irrational, of course, but this list wouldn’t be all that interesting if the fears were well-founded now would it? Actors seem to talk about their phobias a lot more than normal people, but maybe that’s because we’re listening a lot more. For the most part, an actor’s fears are no different than yours. The only way to learn if you have a phobia is to be confronted with it. When you come face-to-fear with your nightmare, you either run, pass out or face it head on. Everyone handles these encounters differently. As a celebrity, you travel around the world; you’re introduced to exotic lands and unique situations. Odds would have it that you’re going to be forced to face your fears more often than most.
This is the case with the celebrities on this list. Through their work, they’ve had to overcome their greatest fears, if only temporarily. Some of them did it with grace, while others did it like little babies, but all of them lived through them, these terrible things that give them nightmares. Celebrities, for the most part, are weirdos; it’s all part of their appeal. So it is fitting that many of them have weird phobias. It’s also fitting, at least for the actors, that their fears were sometimes used to enhance their performances in films or on stage. Maybe it’ll change the way you watch those specific movies or musical numbers next time you turn them on. Maybe you’ll gain a new respect for these celebrities. You might even lose some respect for them. Whatever happens, we’re happy to be the messenger. Here are 15 celebrities who lived through their worst nightmare.
15. Sylvester Stallone – Fear of Heights
When Sylvester Stallone took on Cliffhanger, he must have thought the cliff scenes were going to be done with CGI because when it came time to trek up the cliff to start shooting, he thought the film crew was joking. It might shock you, but Stallone suffers from acrophobia—a fear of heights. He told the director, Renny Harlin, “the highest I will ever go is the heels of my cowboy boots.” But Harlin knew what it took to get Stallone’s engine revving. He knew Stallone had a big ego, so he made him make all of his decisions in front of the entire crew, knowing full well that Stallone wouldn’t turn down any challenge in front of a large group. It worked. Stallone took on every shot head on and without visible fear. What a brave soul.
14. Robert Pattinson – Fear of Horses
You might think it’s a weird fear to have, but Robert Pattinson has a fear of horses. It’s a normal enough fear that it has a name, equinophobia or hippophobia, so Edward must not be alone. When he was filming Water for Elephants, Pattinson had to stare down this phobia because there was a particular scene in which he gets knocked down by a horse. And this wasn’t a little pony, either. Pattinson would say that this scene was the biggest challenge on the entire shoot for him: “That was terrifying,” he said. “It was just one split second but (it was) a fully grown stallion.” We’re glad that he made it through this because it really made the movie feel more authentic. Not really. Not only do we not remember this horse scene, but the movie was pretty boring overall.
13. Adele – Stage Fright
Adele may be one of the biggest celebrities on earth, but that doesn’t mean that she’s comfortable doing the thing she does best: perform. The star singer has admitted that she gets severe anxiety before and during her performances. She’s vomited a couple of times on stage and on people; she’s tried to escape shows, and she’s tried to dodge meeting other celebrities. Adele said, “I was about to meet Beyoncé and I had a full-blown anxiety attack.” The two met; Adele looked uncomfortable and then she walked away. The next thing she knew she was on a balcony crying, freaking out. So whenever you get nervous public speaking and vomit on the people in the front row. Just remember, Adele does it too, so it can’t be all that bad.
12. Scarlett Johansson – Fear of Birds
Scarlett Johansson may look perfect, but she does have one flaw. She’s afraid of birds. They call this fear ornithophobia, and it’s apparently pretty common. Johansson tells the world that she was confronted with this fear on the set of We Bought a Zoo. “I’m only scared of birds,” Johansson said. “Something about wings and beaks and the flapping. I’m terrified of them. That still hasn’t gone away. My uncle is terrified of birds, as well, so it runs in the family.” Johansson is a little silly for seeing birds as predators, but the real silliness is in her believing phobias are hereditary. We’ll let it slide this time. In the film and some of the photoshoots, there was a large peacock running around the set and that really creeped Johansson out. But she’s a trooper. She claims that she would have even carried a bird if they had asked he too. So she is perfect after all.
11. Matt Damon – Fear of Snakes
Not to be outdone by his co-star Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon also showcased his fear of snakes on the set of We Bought a Zoo. Johansson explains that Damon would “cry like a baby and rock back and forth when the snakes were spread all over the set.” Yet, even after crying, Damon eventually took hold of the snake and proved to the cast and crew that he was a man. He made sure to let others know that he wasn’t thrilled about it though: “I got bullied into interacting with them by Scarlett and the kids.” When asked why he was so scared, he said, “The size of the thing was so awesome and humbling. Something like that could just kill you by accident. They’re just so huge and strong.” Come to think about it, that’s a pretty good reason to fear them. Oh, and they call this phobia ophidiophobia.
10. Whoopi Goldberg – Fear of Flying
Whoopi Goldberg‘s fear of flying has been well documented if you were paying attention, but you probably weren’t. That’s ok. We were. The fear of flying, called aviophobia, was always something that the comic just accepted and never challenged until a theater performance of Sister Act was being put on in the UK and she was invited to attend. Well, Goldberg was determined to accept the invite, leading her to do some voodoo therapy in an effort to get over her crippling fear. It worked temporarily. She took the flight, the show was horrible (probably), but she still has the fear today. Want to know where it came from? The actress says that she was sitting on her balcony 30 years ago in San Diego when she witnessed two airplanes collide mid air. Yep, that would do it.
9. Orlando Bloom – Fear of Pigs
We know Orlando Bloom isn’t afraid of Justin Bieber. He tried to kill the singer in a crowded night club, jumping over tables to get at the little squirt and throw some punches. But he does have fears. For ol’ Legolas, his phobia is pigs, and he had to live through that nightmare on the set of Kingdom of Heaven. The story goes that they were shooting a scene when one of the background pigs got out and started running around. Bloom, who noticed this, broke off running, scared to death of the little cute piglet. They call this fear swinophobia. You know those people with the raised noses, the little piggy noses? You think Bloom would be freaked out by those people?
8. Britney Spears – Fear of Snakes
Remember back in 2001 at the MTV VMAs when Britney Spears performed “Slave 4 U” with that giant Boa draped all over her? Of course you do. It was your favorite song and she was your favorite artist. Even though the head shaving and the crazy bit might have made you lose a bit of respect for the one-time pop princess, this tidbit of information might help Brit get some of that respect back. Apparently, Spears has a major fear of reptiles of all kinds, snakes, lizards, whatever, they’re all gross to her. They call this herpetophobia. So how did she do the performance without freaking out? She didn’t. She was losing it the entire time. She even almost backed out of it last minute. But she’s a legend. She’s Britney. The show must go on.
7. Carmen Electra – Fear of Water
It isn’t everyday that you find a lifeguard who’s afraid of water. That would defeat the point, no? Luckily for any swimmers out there, Carmen Electra, a woman with hydrophobia, a fear of water, was never a real lifeguard. She just played one on TV. From 1997-1998, Electra played Lani on the hit TV show Baywatch, but let’s face it, none of those lifeguards were there for their athleticism or swimming abilities. Electra had one job, just run and bounce, stand and look pretty. Technically that’s like four jobs, but you get the point. There was never any need to swim for the former Playboy model. It is weird, though, for someone to take a job that was filmed in something you’re afraid of. Whatever, work is work.
6. Nolan Gould – Fear of Spiders and Tight Spaces
Nolan Gould, the kid who plays Luke Dunphy on Modern Family, is afraid of two things, spiders and tight spaces. These are both pretty standard fears, arachnophobia and claustrophobia, but he says they both bother him equally. Now, if he was able to keep these two things at arm’s length, they would be nightmares and nothing more, but that wasn’t an option for Gould during one particular day of filming for Modern Family. In the episode, aptly called “Fears,” Gould was forced to crawl under the house to get his car, braving both spiders and tight spaces in one go. He’s a champ, though. He did it without bellyaching and we love him for it.
5. Kevin Hart – Fear of Roller Coasters
Even though many of the actors on this list were forced to face their nightmares for their jobs, not many did it on camera for a national audience like Kevin Hart. When he went on Jimmy Fallon‘s show, Fallon made him go on a roller coaster to face his fears, so he did. The visibly uncomfortable comedian went on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Orlando, which is not a coaster for babies, and it was hilarious. Hart screamed and cried, barely able to look ahead of him. It takes a lot of guts to do something like that, even if it is strictly for laughs and promoting his next film. It would seem natural that Hart is afraid of these since he probably wasn’t able to ride very many growing up, or even as an adult. You know, because of the “you must be this tall to ride” thing.
4. Johnny Depp – Fear of Clowns
They call it coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. It’s odd, but it’s also fairly common. Johnny Depp, a man who seems like he would love clowns, is actually terrified of them. He says that it’s “something about the painted face, the fake smile. There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil.” You would think that being scared of them would keep him from acting like one, but in Alice in Wonderland, Depp played the Mad Hatter, which is nothing short of a glorified clown. He said he did this to try and protect him: “I think that if I surround myself with them it will ward off all evil.” Maybe we’re wrong, but it’s unlikely that things work like that.
3. Uma Thurman – Fear of Small Spaces
So many people suffer from claustrophobia, but not very many people ever have to experience being buried alive. That’s what Uma Thurman was faced with. In one particular scene in Kill Bill 2, Thurman’s character was buried alive in a coffin and forced to break out. When asked about the scene, Thurman said, “Well, I am claustrophobic but you don’t really have to be claustrophobic to feel [scared] being buried alive.” So why did she do it? Couldn’t they film it using tricks of the camera? Apparently they did it for the sound. Thurman said, “The sound effects ended up being so effective. I mean, the raw sound … and the sound of dirt hitting the wooden lid.”
2. Walt Disney – Fear of Mice
There’s been some debate about the validity of this claim, but it seems that most people believe that Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, was afraid of mice. He apparently came up with the idea for Mickey while watching some mice playing in his garage (which doesn’t really sound like the hobby of someone who’s afraid of the rodents). Even though he was scared of the little critters, Disney saw mice as sympathetic—or he wished to picture them this way to assuage his fears. Maybe by putting a smiling face on a mouse, it would help put him at ease. No matter what, if the fear was true, Disney lived every day with his own personal nightmare.
1. Sarah Michelle Gellar – Fear of the Dead
There’s a rumor going around that Sarah Michelle Gellar is necrophobic, which is a fear of the dead. She said she’s uncomfortable in graveyards and around dead people, which pretty much makes her normal in our eyes. Well, this fear had a bit more impact on Gellar than most because she was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the slayer of the undead. She basically lived in a graveyard on that show. There’s a good chance the actress was just having a laugh with this claim, but, if this list taught us anything, stars will do whatever it takes to get that next paycheck. It wouldn’t be all that shocking to learn that Gellar was being completely serious, that she really was afraid of the dead, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer was just her way of facing her fears—and making millions of dollars to do it.