People say that you should “never meet your heroes.” And judging by some of the super awkward celeb encounters on this list, I’d say this is probably good advice. You might have rehearsed what you plan to say to them a thousand times over and might even have a totally-not-creepy-at-all surprise gift for them, but chances are, the reality isn’t going to match up with the dream scenario in your head.
For some lucky fans out there, though, meeting their idols can go well, if not even better than they ever imagined it would, so we’re not saying give up trying. But, perhaps remember to choose your moment well. And if some stars seem like a-holes in interviews, it probably means you won’t get such a warm reception from them when you bump into them on the street.
Spotting a much-admired celeb at an event where they’re expected to meet and greet fans is one thing, but interacting with them in their off-duty mode can either mean a sweet story to tell the grandkids or a complete and utter disaster. It’s nice to know that some stars actually treat their fans with kindness and respect, but for the most part, stars can be complete d-bags to the people who put them there.
15 Reese Witherspoon (Nice)
Earlier this month, a Legally Blonde fanatic got the best reaction she could’ve ever hoped for when she surprised and delighted Reese Witherspoon with a touching tribute. While interviewing Witherspoon and her Wrinkle In Time co-stars, Mindy Kaling and Oprah, entertainment reporter Lucy Ford kicked off the chat by revealing to Reese that she had written her college dissertation all about Legally Blonde and modern feminism. Knowing that most actors might just shrug and smile politely, Ford was prepared for an awkward and humiliating moment, but it was anything but that. Witherspoon was genuinely excited when she took her pink ribbon-tied dissertation and said,
“Thank you – that really touches my heart!” This could’ve backfired in the worst possible way but ended up being one of the most boss celeb-fan encounters ever.
Reese even asked, “Is it scented?” in reference to her character spritzing perfume on her pink resume!
14 Demi Lovato (Awkward)
Demi Lovato might have been through a lot in recent years with her struggles with addiction, but it shouldn't excuse being this rude to a fan, especially to a young girl who looks up to her. The singer is normally very appreciative of her supportive young fanbase, but it seems that you probably need to get Demi on a good day. And for one poor girl, this was not one of them. While in a restaurant,
one Redditor shared the time she and her 9-year-old sister saw Lovato sitting only a few booths away.
The young girl was a huge fan and was working up the courage to go ask her for a picture. As she walked over to Demi’s table, her older sister overheard Lovato yell, “Can’t you see I’m F**king busy?!” Her sister burst into tears and they left without touching their food. Horrible.
13 Kelly Clarkson (Nice)
It’s always awesome if a star goes the extra mile to make your meet-and-greet with them special, and this is exactly what Kelly Clarkson did for one mega fan. When one of Kelly’s fans camped out for the chance to meet Clarkson ahead of her show that night, she expected a quick photo op before being moved along, but it turned out to be well worth her camping out. Redditor StraightLineStitch said of Clarkson:
“She was just the sweetest person I’ve ever met.”
The former American Idol winner apparently chatted with her, took several photos together, and gave her a big hug. The best part of her meet-and-greet happened just as she was walking away from the meet-and-greet queue. “I stopped and asked for another quick hug and Kelly threw her arms open and said, ‘Of course, sweetie! Come here!’”
12 Justin Timberlake (Awkward)
Meeting any celeb at a scheduled meet-and-greet must be nerve-wracking enough, but what happens when you bump into a high-profile star on the off-chance? Most people might feel too starstruck to even say anything to them and let them walk on, but one guy took the opportunity to compliment them, and it took an unexpectedly awkward turn. While riding a hotel elevator where he worked, Redditor phreeznic could hear Justin Timberlake singing and warming up for a show later that night on the other side of the door. When the elevator stopped, he was face to face with the singer and told him,
“I dig your sound, man.” Instead of thanking him or even smiling, Timberlake said in a self-satisfied tone, “You should. I get paid for it.”
What a d-bag.
11 Gene Simmons (Awkward)
The KISS legend must have had plenty of groupies and wannabe rock stars approach him in his time, so he should’ve become an expert on how not to treat his fans. Apparently not, though, according to one red-faced Gene Simmons fan. Reddit user Domashna recalls the time when his brother and avid KISS fan was given the chance to meet the rock legend backstage. Little did he know he was about to have his hopes and dreams crushed by the guy he idolized the most. So awkward. After the gig, Simmons met with the fan who heard him play guitar. It seemed like it was going well when Gene told him he played pretty good. That is until he followed it up with this,
“Too bad you’ll never make it,” before walking away.
Wow, talk about setting somebody up for a fall. That’s cold.
10 Stan Lee (Nice)
It’s one thing to meet your hero, but how about your superhero (or the guy responsible for creating them at least!)? Marvel comic legend Stan Lee was at a comic book convention in the late 90’s when he made one boy the envy of all comic book fans all over the world. Writing on Reddit, Nick Cooper recalls what happened when he was complimented, aged 10, by the Marvel mogul himself.
While standing in line to get his Avengers comic book signed, Cooper took a chance and produced a drawing of a character he had created himself and showed it to Lee. The comic book icon took the picture, smiled, and told him: “Wow. People might think I did this!” Cooper was on cloud nine to hear praise like that, admitting that it was like a “passing of the torch” moment: “He could’ve dismissed my idiotic drawing, but he didn’t and that always meant a lot to me.”
9 Rachel Weisz (Awkward)
Actress Rachel Weisz is the only rude celeb on our list to actually play the ‘Don’t you know who I am’ card when a fan (or in this case, not) failed to give her a name check on a flight. Reddit user Shark realized he was sitting next to Weisz on a long haul flight and began a nice-enough conversation with her when The Mummy actress became more and more withdrawn before eventually giving him the silent treatment.
It later became apparent that Weisz was more than a little disgruntled by the fact that the guy had never once acknowledged who she was.
(God forbid stars are treated like normal human beings, right?) When Weisz got up to use the restroom in a huffy mood, her nanny leaned over to the guy and apparently said, “She gets upset if you don’t recognize her.” Wow.
8 Kel Mitchell (Awkward)
If you grew up as a 90’s kid, you’ll probably have fond memories of the hit Nickelodeon show Kenan and Kel. The teen sitcom about two chalk and cheese buddies featured the catchphrase “Who loves orange soda?” in almost every episode. (You can probably see where this one is going) As one heartbroken fan of Kenan and Kel found out, though, certain actors aren’t always up for responding to the one line that made them famous.
Reddit user YaBoyWillMess recounts the cringe-worthy time he spotted one of his childhood heroes, Kel Mitchell, at a bar one night. “I ran over to him, made awkward eye contact, and then the child in me yelled, ‘Who loves orange soda?!’ Kel Turned really slowly from where he was sitting, looked me in the eye, and said in a very disappointed voice, ‘F**k off, white b*tch.’” Harsh.
7 Samuel L. Jackson (Awkward)
Turns out that it isn’t just ‘snakes on planes’ that Samuel L. Jackson has had enough of these days. It’s also his fans asking for a simple autograph. While taking part in a celebrity golf tournament a few years back, Jackson swung hard enough to land his golf ball in the rough and this was spotted by a Pulp Fiction fan who went over to return it to him. When the guy approached Jackson to return his golf ball, he also asked the actor if he would mind signing his wallet which was emblazoned with Jackson’s Pulp Fiction quote, “Bad motherf—er.”
Despite returning his ball to him and having a marker pen ready, Jackson looked him up and down before simply saying, “No chance.”
Ouch. That had to be embarrassing.
6 Jason Segel (Nice)
It’s pretty rare that you hear of celebs striking up a conversation with a total stranger, especially if they’re out grocery shopping or on an errand. We can imagine most people in the public eye would prefer to keep their head down until they got back to their car or even let their assistant do their grocery shop for them! But not Jason Segel.
The star of How I Met Your Mother made a shop workers day once when he stopped by his local store near Yosemite. Redditor Steffinily remembers Segel coming into the store around Halloween and playing with a headless horseman prop to make his GF laugh. He then began chatting with Steffinily at the cash register and cracked jokes like a regular guy. “He had a very welcoming presence. I’m sure he knew I was nervous, but it was awesome.”
5 Michael Phelps (Awkward)
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps might be able to wow audiences in the pool lanes, but he probably needs to work on his people skills when it comes meeting fans. One Reddit user named bubba3517 shared a weird encounter his friend experienced with the US champion when he spotted Phelps out and about.
The retired Olympian was eating a granola bar just as bubba’s friend asked to shake his hand.
Phelps quickly finished eating in order to shake his hand, but as he did so, he leaned in and whispered, “You can keep that” (the empty granola bar wrapper). WTF? I’m not sure which is worse in this anecdote—that Phelps thinks it’s totally okay to treat a fan like a trash can or that he believed the guy would be overjoyed with having his used food wrapper as some kind of souvenir.
4 Larry David (Awkward)
We’d like to believe this isn't true, but it turns out that Larry David may not be a million miles away from his crabby Curb Your Enthusiasm persona. In a scenario that sounds like it could have featured in the comedian’s super awkward sitcom, David was approached by a sincere Seinfeld mega fan while they were both standing in line in a sandwich shop.
The gushing Seinfeld and Curb fan shared the awkward encounter in a Reddit post, explaining that he approached Mr. David and said, “Sorry to interrupt but I am a big fan of your work.” He went on to thank the comedian for making him laugh for so many years and finished up with, “It would be an honor to shake your hand.” David simply looked down at his food and at the guy’s hand before muttering, “I just washed my hands, sorry.” Oh, Larry.
3 Robin Williams (Nice)
The late great Robin Williams has a reputation for being a warm and welcoming guy both on and off screen, but this sweet celeb encounter is proof that his moments of being genial wasn’t just because he felt obligated to at a premiere of some kind of organized event. Showing kindness to people off the cuff is a good indication of whether a celeb is decent, and if anyone knew how to ad-lib with strangers (or anyone), it was Robin Williams. One Reddit user named Ansky recalls the time that William’s 1991 film, The Fisher King, was being filmed near his neighborhood in New York City. One day, Ansky was riding the bus to school when heavy traffic caused their bus to stop meters away from Robin doing a scene.
The actor noticed a bus full of kids stranded and bored and went over to chat and crack jokes with them.
2 Alfonso Ribeiro (Awkward)
When you meet a celeb who’s well-known for a particular catchphrase or quirk, the temptation to do the said quirk in front of them must be too overwhelming to pass up. The problem is, it’s easy to forget that while we might find it cute and hilarious, it’s not so cute to the celeb. In fact, they’re probably bored to tears by the whole thing.
Unfortunately, one Redditor didn’t think this through when he posed for a picture next to Alfonso Ribeiro, a.k.a Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-air, while doing the ‘Carlton Dance.’ Carlton’s goofy dance moves have become one of the defining images from American 90’s sitcoms, but I think Ribeiro’s face says it all in this picture. He desperately wants to live a normal non-Carlton life and wishes people would just take him seriously.
1 Avril Lavigne (Awkward)
Why do fan meetings always have to be so complicated? We’re not sure, but apparently, they are if you’re Avril Lavigne. When the pop-punk songstress was on the Brazil leg of her 2014 tour, she got the wrong kind of publicity when some of her super cringy meet-and-greet photos with fans went viral. The reason? Because she seemed to have the same “get me out of here” expression on her face, and it looked painful.
The worst part about these so-called meet-and-greet pics is the fact that her fans had paid $400 for the privilege!
We’re not sure this was worth it when Avril could barely crack a smile for their memento. Fans were also told by Avril’s security that no one was allowed to touch her under any circumstances (which explains why everyone is standing at an uncomfortable distance from her). Awkward.