Celebrities are the apex of cool. They’re great looking, impossibly sexy. They don’t wait in line for chic clubs and five-star restaurants. Every interview is smooth, each appearance polished. They’re built for the cameras and wear the best clothes. They’re dreamy to their fans and effortless in their success. George Clooney. Angelina Jolie. Brad Pitt. You hear their names and think grace, style, perfection. In short, you think “cool.”
But not every celebrity is built the same. For every Will Smith and Sandra Bullock, there’s a superstar who doesn’t handle their fame quite as well. Those individuals who stand under the bright lights and just can’t find their footing. Whether it’s making headlines for goofy reasons, giving terrible interviews, cultivating a weird look or generally acting like a spazz, for these celebs, the spotlight is an awful, uncomfortable place. Sometimes it’s intentional, sometimes it’s not. But regardless, their clumsy agony is our enjoyment. Being famous is a skill, and these people just don’t have it…
Here are the top 20 most awkward celebrities who clearly aren’t ready for their closeups.
20. Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza is a master at playing “Awkward Girl.” Actually, it’s “Awkward Girl With A Shade of Scary.” Maybe it’s her deadpan style of comedy, or maybe it’s the fact that she’s voicing Grumpy Cat in the upcoming Lifetime movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Either way, the young actress has a knack for making you feel uncomfortable. Although a quick wit wouldn’t usually put someone on this list, Aubrey is just different from the normal celebrity, and she always seems like she enjoys going against the grain in social situations, acting or otherwise. That gets her a mention.
19. Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Christopher Mintz-Plasse came to fame playing socially awkward nerd best known as “McLovin” in 2007’s Superbad, starring alongside the similarly awkward duo of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill. Since then, he’s taken his nerdy appearance and way of speaking and run with it, building himself a reputable career playing variations on the same role, and audiences can’t get enough. If you’re doing “awkward” as well and as funny as Mintz-Plasse, there has to be something to it, right? He continues to make audiences laugh and squirm with each new, uncomfortable role he plays.
18. Rachel Dratch
Rachel Dratch just looks awkward. In fact, she’s the most awkward looking celebrity…maybe of all time. The one exception would maybe be Steve Buscemi, who now that I think about it could easily pass as her twin brother. Talented, hysterical and good-humored, she nonetheless always looks odd standing on red carpets next to A-listers. Hollywood celebrities just don’t come in that mold, right? Though she’s a bit obtuse and definitely awkward – in speech, posture, movement and style – she plays her roles proudly and always gets a laugh.
17. Tom Cruise
It’s hard to hate on someone who’s been mega famous for 30 years, made an astounding number of hits, has women (and men) swooning over his every move, and is unquestionably one of the biggest A-list movie stars of all time. But due to his, ahem, set of beliefs and recent willingness to share them, Tom Cruise‘s interactions in the past decade have been anything but smooth. From jumping on Oprah‘s couch, to his bizarre marriage to Katie Holmes, to publicly arguing with Matt Lauer about the evils of Ritalin in his “Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt” rant, the erstwhile Ethan Hunt’s actions can’t be called anything else but awkward. Here’s hoping his rising-again-star will continue to sweep that awkwardness under the carpet.
15. Ben Stiller
This one’s on purpose. By all accounts, Ben Stiller is talented, well-adjusted, hysterical, and a great interview. He has a beautiful wife and family, projecting nothing but “normal” (or as normal as a star can be). But Stiller has perfected the “awkward guy” in every one of his roles, and has played them so perfectly it’s hard to see him as anything else. From the cringingly-awkward male nurse Gaylord Focker in Meet the Parents, to his blundering turns in Along Came Polly, Dodgeball and even Night at the Museum, Stiller is so good at tripping over his own feet it’s become his go-to move. What do you expect when you go see a Ben Stiller movie? Someone who’s going to be so insanely awkward that you’ll squirm in your seat from start to finish. Well, point made.
14. Zooey Deschanel
Zooey Deschanel is about as awkward as a cute girl can be. In fact, she relishes in it. Saying the wrong thing, getting herself into awkward situations and fumbling over herself is not just a staple of all her roles – it’s a flag she lets fly in her public life as well. She manages to play it up for laughs and adorability (as everyone with a crush on her will tell you ’til they’re blue in the face), but that doesn’t change the fact that Ms. Deschanel has a habit of not exactly acting “smooth.” It earns her a spot on this list.
13. DJ Qualls
DJ Qualls just projects awkwardness. Tall, gangly, 85 lbs and 6-ft-9 (all numbers approximate), Qualls basically looks like a hangar with limbs. There aren’t many celebrities who look less the part than DJ. Cleverly, he’s managed to play up his unathletic look and turn it into comedic gold – stealing scenes as memorable and hysterical introverts in films like Road Trip and Delta Farce. Qualls hasn’t let his awkwardness stop him from living the dream.
12. Al Roker
Not one we’d traditionally refer to as a “celebrity,” Al Roker has been a staple of the national news scene for decades and has become a household name to millions of Americans. His personality is endearing, and he’s famously known for saying what’s on his mind in the most lovable ways possible. But when you have gastric bypass surgery and “poop your pants in the White House” – then tell millions of people about it afterwards – you’re making an awkward celebrity list. There’s just no way around it.
11. Jay Baruchel
Jay Baruchel is another celeb who’s peddled his gangliness into gold. Looking like a human stick figure and seemingly never comfortable regardless of the situation, he’s played the “in-over-his-head awkward guy” in Undeclared, Knocked Up, Tropic Thunder, She’s Out of My League, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and How to Train Your Dragon. All to great success (except for Apprentice). Coming across more as twitchy than anything else, Jay’s awkwardness doesn’t stop him from being consistently hysterical. For proof just watch This Is The End, in which he plays himself and acts just as awkward as any of the other characters he’s played over the years.
10. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato isn’t known for being particularly awkward. Actually, she’s not known for being particularly anything, one way or another. But when you hit yourself in the face with your own microphone – on stage, at your own concert – you better believe you’re making this list.
Seriously, just look at this:
9. Thomas Lennon
Dangle. Lieutenant Jim Dangle. Need we say more? The booty-short wearing Reno 911! star has perfected the art of making audiences uncomfortable. With his long, awkward stares and offbeat sense of humor, there are few celebs in Hollywood who relish making people squirm more than Thomas Lennon. He’s continued his awkward assault on screens in I Love You, Man, How I Met Your Mother, and pretty much everything else he’s ever done. Lennon is concentrated awkward. And he loves it.
8. Miley Cyrus
Everything Miley Cyrus does is awkward and out of place. Every. Single. Thing. Billy Ray must be proud that his little Hannah Montana has grown into sideshow we have become accustomed to seeing in a different scandal every few months. She seems to think she’s being sexy when she’s on stage, on Twitter, in life…but 100% of the time it comes off as either creepy, weird or both. The twerking, the revealing outfits (that no one wants to see), the overt sexuality – it all comes off as strange. Can Miley do anything but make audiences uncomfortable? Spoiler alert: No.
7. Jesse Eisenberg
The Social Network star perfectly played his part in that 2010 hit – socially awkward and unaware. It’s the same successful type of character Jesse Eisenberg has played in nearly all his roles since he burst onto the scene. But doesn’t everyone get the feeling that’s EXACTLY how he is in real life, too? Nervous, fast-talking and (presumably) sweaty, Eisenberg doesn’t just seem geeky – there’s a high level of awkwardness that just won’t go away. Add in this fantastically awkward (though potentially staged) interview before Now You See Me, and you have the recipe for one abnormal dude:
7. Michael Cera
There are very few people – celebrities or otherwise – who take “softspoken and awkward” to a higher level than Michael Cera. His perpetually uncomfortable George-Michael Bluth on Arrested Development is fantastically perfect, and it’s only outdone by his scene-stealing role in Superbad where he turned the awkward high school experience into a fine art. Add that to the odd way he poses/dresses (google him sometime) and the fact that he tragically looks like a bird from every angle, and it all adds up to an awkward celebrity who’s cast in his own, unique mold. Luckily, Mike seems to have a great sense of humor about every last bit of his image, which makes for great entertainment.
6. Zach Galifianakis
Here’s another “intentional career awkwarder,” though few have ever done it better than Zach Galifianakis. Just watch his squirm-inducing turn in The Hangover to see what we mean. Or, even better, any of his Between Two Ferns videos. They’re all equally brilliant, not to mention exceptionally, unavoidably, perfectly awkward. He’s one of the ones responsible for the recent run of awkward humor popular today (influencing comedians even before he blew up nationally), which makes him a truly special individual. When you’re an Awkward O.G., you get a spot in our top 10.
5. Crispin Glover
Crispin Glover is the forgotten first-ballot selection in the Awkward Hall of Fame (note: how great would it be if that was real?? Actually, maybe it wouldn’t be that fun of a place to visit, come to think of it…) The Back to the Future star was cast as George McFly for a reason – there was not a single person on Earth who played awkward better than Glover in 1985. Unsurprisingly, this vibe bled into real life, resulting in some of the most cringeworthy interviews since the invention of television. Don’t believe us? Just try to get through this clip without watching through your fingers…
4. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift just has an awkward way about her. And oddly enough, it seems like she attracts even more awkward situations in her life without even trying. Why would anyone write a love song about every boyfriend who’s ever broken up with her? Doesn’t that seem crazy and awkward? Wouldn’t any normal person realize that? Yeah, that behavior falls on the awkward spectrum (not to mention waiving about 12 red flags). She dances like a loon, doesn’t seem to understand what to do when cameras are on her, says absolutely ridiculous things, and can’t stop telling everyone exactly what’s going on in her love life (and her life) to the point that it’s…well, awkward. Oh, and she somehow spent New Year’s Eve with an ex-boyfriend – on camera – who she had broken up with via text message – in front of the whole world. Take a timeout, Taylor. Just…sit a few plays out.
3. Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart never smiles. And when she does, she looks like Wednesday Addams. Pale, standoffish and emotionless, Stewart looks uncomfortable literally everywhere she goes. The current theories are that she has no personality. Or she’s made of cardboard. Or possibly that her light has been extinguished and her batteries need replacing. But one thing’s for certain: she is most awkward on the red carpet, when the cameras are on, and there are other human beings in her vicinity.
Then of course, there’s this quote from Kristen herself: “I totally agree when people say I’m, like, the most awkward person.” If you can say that about yourself, you’re in the top three.
2. Larry David
Larry David is the reigning King of Awkward. He’s the mastermind behind not one, but two historically popular shows centered around life’s various shades of awkwardness. First there was Seinfeld, which captured fans’ hearts with the excellent and awkward George Costanza (based on David’s exploits). But with Curb Your Enthusiasm, the writer-comedian has risen to a new level. Quoted as saying “Curb” is “myself on steroids,” the show is cringe-inducing with every joke, and David is absolute perfection in the leading role. Larry steers himself willfully into the most awkward situations he can imagine, then knocks them out of the park by additionally acting as awkwardly as possible. There is not another man in Hollywood who embodies uncomfortability as well as Larry David.
1. Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence is a case of being incredibly, bumblingly, perfectly awkward…and we can tell you firsthand, it’s a really really good thing. Time after time, the beautiful Lawrence trips over her dress at the Oscars. Or spills mints at a press junket. Admits to “being awful” at interviews. Gets cold and asks to get under a blanket with David Letterman – on air. Refers to herself as a monkey. Blurts out that she “beat Meryl (Streep)” at the Golden Globes. Or visibly loses her sh*t and turns into a fangirl when Jack Nicholson talks to her at an awards show. The list goes on and on. But in this rare circumstance, all her awkwardness only makes her more adorable. More endearing. And sets her above the rest. This most awkward celebrity holds a very rarefied distinction – her awkwardness is an incredible positive.