From spiders and snakes to cemeteries and open water, everyone has something that makes them feel scared. Even thinking about the thing can get your heart pumping faster! Whether our phobias stem from a scarring incident in our lives or we feel a more irrational fear, nothing is worse than being confronted with the things that make your skin crawl. Just like the rest of us, celebrities feel scared of a whole range of things. Money and fame don't mean a thing to your brain's fears! On this list, you will learn about stars who are afraid of more normal fears like heights and others with very specific, weird phobias, like antique furniture! Once you read about some of these strange celebrity fears, you will definitely feel better about any odd anxieties you may have.
While most of us can push our phobias aside so we can go about our daily lives, some fears are more inhibiting than others. For the celebs on this list, many of them almost had to give up their dreams of working in show business because of their fears! It is pretty hard to put in global appearances when you are scared of flying and meeting important people who could give you a job is suddenly harder when you are a germaphobe. Lucky for us, these famous people face their fears each day so we can enjoy their talents. Keep reading for a list of 20 celebs whose phobias almost kept them from becoming stars!
20 Howie Mandel - Germs
One of the best-known celebrity fears is Howie Mandel's phobia of germs. While he has often joked about this so-called "germaphobia," this fear is part of a larger mental illness. Mandel suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD. This disorder causes the sufferer to have constant, inescapable thoughts that all center around one or more sources of anxiety. Like millions of others who live with OCD, Mandel's source of anxiety is germs. He says he is "always on the verge of death in [his] head" because of all the possible germs he could have come in contact with that day. Mandel told ABC News that he sees his hands as a "petri dish" full of bacteria and that he used to spend hours in the bathroom "scrubbing and scalding" his hands until he felt they were cleansed of germs.
To fight his fear, the TV personality has strict rules for his life. He always fist bumps instead of shaking hands. His makeup artists have to use fresh sponges every day, and he won't touch money unless it has been washed. Mandel never touches handrails and doesn't wear shoes with laces because tying them would mean touching the dirty shoelaces. The comedian has been suffering from obsessive, repetitive behaviors since childhood. When he first broke into show business, he shook people's hands so they wouldn't know about his disorder, but as a result, he used so much hand sanitizer that his immune system was compromised. But now, he uses his fame as a platform for OCD awareness. Good for him!
19 Pamela Anderson - Mirrors
Considered one of the most beautiful women of our time, everyone loves looking at Pamela Anderson. Everyone, that is, except for her! This gorgeous lady is not afraid to bare her body, but she is terrified of seeing her own reflection. The actress is not only scared of seeing herself in the mirror but also refuses to watch herself in any of her films or TV shows. She even told the U.K.'s Daily Mail that if something comes on that she appears in, she will "make them shut it off or [she leaves] the room." It seems hard to believe that someone so stunning would hate seeing themselves so much, but the world is just full of irony!
This fear sounds rare and odd, but it is actually common enough to have a name. Eisoptrophobia is the irrational fear of seeing your own image or reflection. Psychologists think that it may stem from the superstition of breaking mirrors and/or a fear that looking in a mirror will connect you to an alternate world inside the mirror. Like other phobias, this psychological disorder is often treated either with psychotherapy or medication. Sufferers may learn to challenge their thinking in order to change their behavior towards their phobia's source or take beta blockers or antidepressants. However, it seems that Anderson has not sought treatment for her fear of mirrors. Hope she doesn't come in contact with any on the sets of her projects!
18 Helen Mirren - Talking On The Phone
The classy, beautiful, and talented, Helen Mirren seems like nothing could be wrong with her life. She is super successful and everyone seems to love her! But her strange phobia could have kept her out of the limelight completely. Mirren is apparently terrified of talking on the telephone. She has been quoted as saying: "I never, ever return calls. I'm definitely very frightened of the phone. It makes me so nervous. I always avoid picking it up if I can. To me, the invention of the answering machine was amazing. But then, I never return the calls anyway, so it wasn't much use." I definitely can relate to that! A fear of using the phone may stem from a larger fear of social interaction in general. In some people's cases, on the other hand, they rely on facial expressions and social cues in face-to-face conversations, and they feel nervous communicating with someone else without those helpers present.
Dame Helen Mirren is so lucky that she got famous in spite of her anxieties surrounding chatting on the phone. She became an actress before the days of computers and emails, so phones were basically the best way to communicate at the time! She must have had a good agent who found jobs and talked to her potential bosses for her. Can you imagine a world without this elegant star? It's not a world I would want to live in, that is for sure!
17 Megan Fox - Paper
Megan Fox is known for her sultry good looks and her roles in popular action films. But we almost lost out on getting to know her work as an actress, due to her strange phobia. The actress apparently can't stand the feeling of dry paper! She once told Jimmy Fallon on his talk show, "Scripts, newspaper, or anything that’s not laminated, I can’t touch it with my hands! I have to constantly lick my fingers before I turn every page or on my really crazy days, like if I’m sitting down to read a script, I’ll have a little cup of water and I’ll dip my fingers in it before I turn every page. I’m really neurotic – only every once in a while.” This is one fear I have never heard of, but it definitely could have hindered her work in Hollywood! Without the ability to read through physical scripts and contracts, Fox might never have become an actress if she hadn't found ways to face her fears.
The fear of paper, also known as papyrophobia, is a catch-all name for the disorder. Some people who suffer from it don't like dry paper, like Fox, while others hate touching wet paper. Some others don't like the sight of blank sheets of paper or torn paper. This weird phobia is definitely not common and it is hard to say where it stems from. Like many other fears, it can be treated by desensitization, cognitive behavior therapy, or anti-anxiety medication.
16 Nicki Minaj - Escalators
Nicki Minaj is known for her super cool attitude. The rapper and singer doesn't care what anyone thinks of her and has an air about her that says, "I'm not afraid of anything!" Well, that persona is clearly only skin deep. Why? Minaj suffers from a debilitating fear of escalators. Though her fear has not officially been confirmed by the rapper herself, an incident back in 2011 makes her phobia pretty apparent. This diva was attending the NBA Players' Association Gala and needed to take an escalator down one measly floor. She could not or would not do it, so the paparazzi came up to meet her! The star was also wearing crazy high heels at the time and may have wanted to avoid tripping, but I guess the world will never know.
This phobia, known in the psychology world as escalaphobia, is one that many people live with. It usually stems from another, related fear. Many sufferers of escalaphobia are also afraid of heights, falling, or moving too fast. Others are scared to ride escalators because they fear they will be sucked into the mechanisms, especially if they had an incident as a child where their shoelace or pants got caught in one of these moving staircases. Some people even have an irrational fear that there is a monster hiding inside the escalator that will suck people in or throw them off. I guess the next time Nicki has a big event, she will need to take the stairs!
15 DJ Khaled - Heights
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard of DJ Khaled. He is known for producing and collaborating on some of today's hottest tracks, as well as for his hilarious and relatable Snapchat stories. However, despite the fact that he is on top of the world, being literally on top of the world is this guy's biggest fear. Khaled is super scared of heights! His fear is so crippling that he refused to travel by plane for over a decade. He finally worked up the courage to hop on a flight in 2017, thanks to his baby son, Asahd. The Palestinian DJ stated in an Instagram video that the little miracle "made [him] overcome [his] fear of flying" and noted that fatherhood has changed his entire view of the world. The video came with a sweet caption: "God is the greatest! Thank you to my son!!! Asahd, you are amazing!!!!!"
DJ Khaled is by far not the only person in this world to be afraid of soaring up in the sky. Millions of people suffer from this phobia and often, like the DJ, opt for different modes of transportation when they can. Other celebs who hate flying include Sandra Bullock and Whoopi Goldberg. Not liking to fly is bad enough for everyday people like you and me, but when your job in show business requires you to travel all over the world, it must really be horrible! Here's to hoping that DJ Khaled always has his son (or at least anti-anxiety meds) with him when he flies.
14 Kendall Jenner - Tiny Holes
One of the famous Kardashian-Jenner sisters, Kendall Jenner, has made a real name for herself. Though she grew up in the limelight, thanks to her family's show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, this gal has moved on from reality TV. She is now a legitimate model, with runway, print, and TV campaigns. You may remember seeing her in that controversial Pepsi commercial or in ads for Estee Lauder and Fendi. She is one of today's it girls and seems to have it all, but a debilitating fear haunts her each day. Kendall suffers from trypophobia, the fear of tiny holes "in weird patterns," as she puts it. This phobia might sound silly, but take a look at a honeycomb or lotus heads and see if it brings out a feeling of anxiety in you. The model shared in a blog post that even pancakes with air bubbles can "set her off" because "who knows what's in [those holes]?"
Though it seems many people also share this fear with Kendall, it didn't become big in the news until 2017. When the show American Horror Story focused on trypophobia as one of its storylines, as well as a main character's fear, the world suddenly realized how gross and weird tiny little holes really are. Having this fear must really be hard when working in the fashion world. You never know what strange new fabrics or designs you will be forced to model!
13 Scarlett Johansson - Birds
Having a fear of a certain animal is very common. Maybe you are afraid of creepy crawly insects or poisonous snakes. Perhaps big barking dogs make you feel scared or skittering rodents make your skin crawl. These fears are usually rooted deep in our psychology as a way to protect us from predators. Our brains know what's up, even if those animals are no longer a real threat to us! However, have you ever heard of someone being afraid of birds? If so, they are in good company with the gorgeous and talented, Scarlett Johansson. The actress is terrified of all things avian, which became a big problem when she co-starred with Matt Damon in the movie, We Bought a Zoo. On set, she had to work with a wide array of wild creatures, but only the birds made her heart race. Johansson told New York Magazine, "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.”
The actress tried to be a good sport, though and said that if the director had asked her to hold a small bird for the movie, she would have tried it. However, she couldn't stand to even be near her peacock costars, saying that she "was terrified of them" because they are "mean." My advice to Scarlett: don't do any more movies with animals in them. And don't watch The Birds!
12 Matthew McConaughey - Revolving Doors
Matthew McConaughey always appears to be cool, calm, and collected. He has a slow Southern charm about him and a great sense of humor. He never seems stressed or uptight. But everything is not "alright, alright, alright" when this actor comes upon a revolving door. Matthew has said, "I get anxious just being near them." Well, that would certainly be a problem for someone in show business! How are you supposed to go into a building to meet your agent, or a director, or give an interview? This strange phobia has surely hindered the actor in his career, but he is by far not the only person who suffers from this fear.
A lot of people who fear revolving doors are afraid of its mechanics. They are scared that it will stop moving and they will get trapped inside, or that they won't hop in fast enough and the door will smush them. People with this fear may also have entamaphobia, a phobia of doors in general. This fear may stem from yet another fear of the unknown (what is on the other side), small spaces (if the door is closed), or public embarrassment (if you trip when walking through the door). Fearing doors (especially revolving doors) is likely connected to a childhood trauma in some way. This phobia is pretty irrational, but it is nice to see that even someone who seems as perfect as Matthew is anxious about something weird. Stars, they're just like us!
11 Orlando Bloom - Pigs
Dreamy actor, Orlando Bloom, can do no wrong in the eyes of '00s girls like me. He is smart, successful, and pretty nice to look at. But did you know that he has a super strange phobia? Bloom is deathly afraid of pigs! That's right, the cute pink farm animals. According to a source, a pig got loose on the set of the movie, Kingdom of Heaven, in which Bloom starred as a medieval blacksmith, and the actor simply could not handle it. Apparently, he "ran like crazy" when he saw the oinker coming his way! This wild and irrational fear is commonly known as swinophobia, a name which comes from the word swine.
Being afraid of pigs can happen for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you didn't grow up in the country and never saw one before, so you're scared of something unknown. Perhaps, you don't like their piggy smell. Pigs often make loud grunting sounds, which can be startling, too. It could even be related to a scary incident you had on a farm as a kid. Whatever the reason, lots of people feel anxious at the sight of swine. Though we do not know what Orlando's reason for fearing piggies is, it must have been pretty funny to see him running away. At least this odd phobia will only hinder his job if he lands a role as a farmer! He should stick to playing city dwellers instead.
10 Oprah - Chewing Gum
Actress, former talk show host, and queen of her own media empire, Oprah lives comfortably on the top of her industry. After growing up poor, she clawed her way to the top and has enjoyed a decades-long career where she is now a household name. Everyone loves Oprah! But there is one weird thing about her that you never could have guessed. Oprah has a weird phobia that affects not only her, but everyone around her as well. This businesswoman absolutely abhors chewing gum! In fact, she hates it so much that she told People magazine in a 2010 interview, "I hate chewing gum. It makes me sick just to think about it. When people chew loudly or smack it and pull it out of their mouth, that's the worst."
Not only would she never chew it herself, Oprah has also banned chewing gum from her production studios and offices. She even tried to get her Wrinkle in Time costar, Reese Witherspoon, to stop chewing gum on set, but to no avail. Oprah told Stephen Colbert on his talk show that her strange phobia comes from childhood memories of her grandmother. Back in Mississippi, her family didn't have much money, so her grandma would save chewed gum for the next day by sticking it to furniture around the house. Oprah would accidentally bump into the gum and it grossed her out so much, she can't stand it to this day. If any of these celeb fears are understandable, it's this one! Yuck!
9 Jennifer Love Hewitt - Small Spaces
The demure actress, Jennifer Love Hewitt, isn't one to make a scene— unless it's for a project. Even when she was a teen star, she mostly saved the drama for on her TV shows and movies. However, one weird secret about her might cause her to act a little crazy. Hewitt is super scared of enclosed spaces! The actress suffers from intense claustrophobia, which includes any situation where she feels trapped. This could include a crowded room, an elevator, and a number of other things. As you can imagine, this phobia has sometimes negatively affected her acting career. I mean, how are you supposed to get to the top floor of a fancy office building for important meetings? Take 25 flights of stairs? Hewitt tells a story of a time when her fear of small spaces gave her real problems, “I had to do a scene in one of those tanning beds … and they had to light it for the movie we were doing, so it was, like, 100 degrees. We were in Mexico, which was really hot, and the room we were in had no air conditioning and I passed out right in the middle of the tanning bed.” Scary!
Claustrophobia is a very common fear. In fact, one study predicts that up to 7 percent of the world's population have this phobia! People feel its symptoms from different stimuli, everything from a room with a closed door to tight collars on shirts. This seems like a fear that could really hinder your show business career, so we are lucky Hewitt works through hers!
8 Cameron Diaz - Doorknobs
Goofy actress, Cameron Diaz, has a fear that seems stupid at first— she is afraid of doorknobs! But not just any doorknobs. Like, she would not feel anxiety if she went to a home improvement store and bought a brand new doorknob. No, she is afraid of the large number of germs that linger on doorknobs. In fact, she is so disgusted by the idea of the bacteria that hangs out there, that she used to clean her house multiple times a day and sanitized the doorknobs so much that the paint came off of them! She also compulsively washes her hands after touching a doorknob. As you might have guessed, Diaz's weird fear stems from a larger mental health disorder: OCD.
Like Howie Mandel, the actress lives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, though she claims that she has been successful with controlling her symptoms lately. She is afraid of catching people's germs and always fears the worst. I can understand not wanting to touch a public door (because you don't know where people's hands have been!) but being afraid of germs in your own house? That is wild! This phobia must have made it hard for Diaz to become a star. If you can't open the door to get into a building or an office, how can you meet with important people who will give you acting jobs or interview you for media outlets? It is nice to hear that she is controlling her disorder well, though.
7 Rita Ora - Toilets
Singer, Rita Ora, burst on the music scene a few years ago and hasn't stopped blowing us away since. She has worked with big names, like Kanye West and will.i.am, and has a figure as beautiful as her singing voice. But each day is a struggle for this diva, due to her strange and irrational fear. Ora is afraid of going to the bathroom! She says, "I always feel that when I go to the toilet that something's going to come out of the bottom. I have this thing where I think this tunnel must start from somewhere, and sometimes, I think, 'What if something comes out of the toilet?' That's been one of my fears. I always make sure I put the light on when I go." Now that she explains it, it doesn't seem like such an irrational fear after all!
This phobia may stem from a larger fear of tunnels. Ora says that she doesn't like that she can't see where the toilet begins, and many people have a similar fear when they drive through tunnels and can't see the end. I'm hoping that the diva can get some help for her fear because that one is just plain weird! Not wanting to use the bathroom, especially in strange places, is a definite hindrance to your job if you have to travel a lot like singers do. Hopefully, she never has to go to the bathroom in a power outage!
6 Uma Thruman - Being Trapped
Statuesque actress, Uma Thurman, always puts out a confident, strong vibe. She seems super cool and based on her roles, she seems like nothing could ever bother her. However, like Jennifer Love Hewitt, this actress is deathly afraid of enclosed spaces. She can't stand feeling trapped and suffers from intense claustrophobia. One time that this fear really hindered her work was while shooting a scene for the film, Kill Bill 2. Thurman's character had to be buried alive, which was legitimately terrifying for her. "There was no acting required, real screams available. It was horrific. You don't want to have that experience," she told ivillage.com. While this, of course, would be especially horrible for someone with claustrophobia, I do not think anyone would particularly enjoy the feeling of being buried alive, even for a movie!
As I mentioned before, claustrophobia is a very common fear. However, only a tiny fraction of people who have this phobia actually seek professional treatment for their symptoms. Psychologists say this phobia can be learned or may be a result of either genetic predisposition or physiological difference in the brain. It may be treated with either cognitive behavior therapy or exposure therapy, depending on the person. Thurman should seek help for her extreme fear of small spaces before she has to do any other physically restricting scenes. It will surely help with the day to day stuff actors deal with like crowded parties and packed elevators, too!
5 Billy Bob Thornton - Antique Furniture
If there was ever someone with a devil may care attitude, it is Billy Bob Thornton. This talented actor always seems cool and smug, like nothing has ever ruffled his feathers in his life. But that is just the kind of person who would be prone to a strange phobia. Of all the strange fears on this list, I would argue that Thornton's is the weirdest by far. Believe it or not, this actor is deathly afraid of antique furniture! While this already seems like a very specific fear, Thornton explains that he is only afraid of "that French/English/Scottish old mildewy stuff... that kings were around." Why, you might ask? "It was too big to be functional," he told the New York Times. "It creeps me out."
This is a pretty strange phobia but Thornton is a strange man, so it feels fitting somehow. Because of his phobia, the actor would be a great person to take antiquing. "I can spot the imitation antiques a mile off. They have a different vibe. Not as much dust," he told The Independent. While this fear would be pretty easy for a regular person to work through since you can simply avoid going to antique stores and museums, it's harder for an actor. What if he gets cast in a period piece with authentic set pieces for the scenes? My guess is that the furniture would be tossed from the set long before Thornton would.
4 Nicole Kidman - Butterflies
To many of us, butterflies are one of nature's finest creations. They are pretty to look at and represent how something boring can change into something new and beautiful. But these insects are not everyone's cup of tea. For Aussie actress, Nicole Kidman, butterflies are her worst nightmare. Kidman suffers from lepidopterophobia, the fear of flying insects. "It’s so bizarre. I’m not scared of snakes or spiders,” the actress says, but she reveals she "can’t go outside if I can see a butterfly. I love their colours, and their patterns, but their bodies scare me and I’m terrified if they land on me." Kidman even tried to face her phobia by going through a live butterfly exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History, but didn't make it through the exhibit without panicking.
People who fear butterflies not lots of reasons for their phobia. Some say that the scales on their wings gross them out or that the constant fluttering of the wings puts them on edge. Others, like Kidman, don't like the idea that the insect has the ability to fly and crawl on them. Butterflies are just creepy crawlies with wings, after all! Because butterflies often hang out in swarms, people may also associate them with bees or locusts, which we are taught to have a negative view of. Though this fear probably doesn't affect the actress too much at work, she needs to be careful whenever she is shooting a scene outdoors!
3 Christina Ricci - Houseplants
Former child star and now, sultry actress, Christina Ricci, is known for taking on dark roles. So it makes sense that more typical fears like death and darkness don't scare her. Instead, Ricci is afraid of something that almost everyone has in their home: houseplants. Why on earth would you be afraid of those? She explains, "They are dirty. If I have to touch one, after already being repulsed by the fact that there is a plant indoors, then it just freaks me out." If you think about it, Ricci probably has to face this fear pretty often for her career. Many people keep plants in their office to add some nice greenery and they make indoor sets look more believable. Everyone keep the cacti away from Christina!
Ricci's fear of houseplants may stem from a larger fear of plants in general, also known as botanophobia. Some sufferers of this irrational fear think that insects or bees may be hiding in plants waiting to crawl on or sting them. Others are afraid that plants will evolve enough to start eating people. This variation on the phobia is probably a result of movies like The Ruins and Little Shop of Horrors. Still, others fear the germs and toxins in both the soil and the plants themselves. Whatever her reason, you won't see a nice succulent display in Ricci's house anytime soon! I guess you could say she has the opposite of a green thumb.
2 Madonna - Thunder Storms
Madonna. Madge. The Queen of Pop. The Material Girl. Whatever you call this diva, she is one of the most beloved musical icons of our time. With tons of hits under her belt and a career that has spanned decades, the triple threat is not going anywhere anytime soon. When you are as famous as Madonna, you can pay to take away pretty much any problem you encounter. Whether it's a physical feature you don’t like or a rule you don't want to follow, being a star means you can get your way a lot. However, there is one thing that Madonna hates with a passion that she can't throw money at to get rid of it. That thing is thunderstorms.
Like many people, Madonna suffers from intense astraphobia (sometimes called brontophobia), which is defined as the fear of thunder and lightning. People who experience this fear are usually afraid of how the storms could negatively affect them. From losing their belongings in a flood to getting struck by lightning, astraphobics panic when bad weather is looming. They may also be scared of loud, unexpected noises, which is why animals can suffer from astraphobia, too. Those with this fear will feel panicky and may even faint when they see lightning outside. Apparently the singer demands to know daily weather report updates before her outdoor shows because of this phobia. You would think that with all of her fame and fortune, Madonna could afford to get some therapy for her strange fear!
1 Kylie Minogue - Clothes Hangers
Australian-British singer and actress, Kylie Minogue. has a career that has been going strong since the 1980s. She first gained stardom playing a role on the Australian soap opera, Neighbors, but she is best-known for her delightful dance pop hits on the radio. When you see her dazzling smile, it seems like nothing in the world could bother Minogue. But there is one strange thing that she can't stand the sight of. And you most definitely have some in your house right now! That's right, this songbird is terrified of clothes hangers. In a 2010 interview with Elle magazine, she explained, "The problem is I hate putting things on hangers." She went on to say “I have a hanger phobia – I don't like the way they sound when you put them in the wardrobe." In fact, Minogue hates the organizing tools so much that she doesn't even have a proper closet. Instead, "It's a room in [her] home where everything is laid out. It never looks like other people's wardrobes."
This unusual phobia is so uncommon that there isn't even a word for it in the world of psychology. That makes it hard to say why one would be afraid of such an odd thing. Maybe she is afraid of the metal part poking her or getting her fingers pinched in between the hangers. Perhaps organizing her closet seems like such a chore that it gives her anxiety. Whatever the reason, I'd say I left the strangest celebrity phobia for last here!