For years, people have been obsessed with celebrities. They lead such glamorous lives, so it's only natural the public wants a glimpse into their lives. Some people are lucky to have done so, and they've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Just ask these people.
People on Reddit who knew celebrities before they made it big share what they were really like. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My Grandpa owned a grocery store in Miami in the late 70s'. Wesley Snipes and his friends once stole some candy from his store, and when he caught them he let them have it. Since then Wesley and his friends were regulars. Once, Wesley left his bike in front of the store and it got stolen (was a pretty bad area). My grandpa gave him his old bike that he kept in the back of the store.
My uncle took over in 2001 when my grandpa died. In 2007, he came back to the store while my uncle and cousin were there, to ask about my grandpa. My uncle said they talked for a little over an hour about how my grandpa treated him like a son. When he found out my grandpa passed, he felt guilty he didn’t visit sooner. He embraced my uncle and cousin and left.
My uncle said he told him they plan on having the building repainted while they talked. About a week, later a crew of painters arrived and told my uncle they were already paid to have the building repainted. Such a genuine dude."
"I went to high school with Sandra Oh. She was funny, dynamic, smart, outgoing, and very into drama. In one school play, she played what I will call sort of a mime character - she didn’t have lines but was still a big part of the action, commenting on what was going on through her actions.
Anyhow, in one scene as she was exiting the stage, she banged her head on one of the props - you could hear the loud bang- but she was a pro and just carried on. It has been great to see her have such success, and I love that she has kept in touch with her close friends from high school (you can spot them at awards show sometimes)."
"I live in the town where Dolly Parton grew up. Practically everyone above the age of 50 who grew up here claims to either be a distant relative of Dolly’s, or they claim to know her in some way. Everyone has their story of the time they met Dolly. It’s pretty obvious, but regardless of whom you talk to, Dolly has always been sweet and generous, but everything has simply grown exponentially due to her fame.
Examples are the millions of books she gives out for free to children around the globe each month, or how she gave out $10,000 cash to many of my close friends after their houses burned in a fire a couple of years back. Thousands of people are employed here and work for one of the businesses she owns, and it’s a tad strange to see when you walk in, but the birthing center at the local hospital is funded by and named after her. I honestly can’t think of one person I know who doesn’t like her. Dolly’s heart has only gotten bigger because of fame."
"My ex-wife's aunt and Holly Hunter were best friends since childhood, growing up together, and all the way through high school. They were both in drama classes in high school, and even both left the small town they grew up in. Together, they took drama and acting classes in college.
Holly Hunter was scouted and given some bit parts in movies at a young age, my ex-wife's aunt was not. Holly went from college to Hollywood, and got bigger and better parts and became a well-known star. My ex-wife's aunt dropped her acting classes and went into a clerical college, got a degree, and moved back home and got a low paying job working for the same business for 40 years. She's lived with her parents and taken care of them. She's never moved very far up in her career other than being a secretary for years, and never got married.
Holly has to this day remained best friends with my ex-wife's aunt and once to twice a year, she flies back into town and takes said aunt out on shopping trips/dinners. Holly has flown this aunt to Hollywood to her home for vacations, taken her on other international vacations, paid for this aunts Christmas for over 40 years now, bought her new cars, and paid for family expenses, like medical bills, the aunt could not otherwise afford.
This aunt's parents passed away a few years back, one after the other, and Holly paid for every expense. The aunt has always lived a low-key life, nothing ostentatious, worked her low paying job at the same business but apparently has never wanted for anything because anything she's ever needed Holly Hunter has paid for.
This has always been a huge secret in my ex-wife's family. No one in the family really talks about it, but it's always been known that Holly has helped this woman out her entire life, even with her retirement. Holly could have become a huge star and forgotten about this woman years ago, but both have remained best friends since they were small children, and are still best friends to this day."
"Jennifer Lawrence. I moved to Louisville middle of my seventh-grade year. She was my first friend, and the first person I had a sleepover with. We hit it off. She was very different from me, a cheerleader, came from a lot of wealth, but her family was really awesome and we were both kinda weird and outgoing so we become good friends very fast. Her family owned a farm that had a children’s summer camp (Hi-Ho), and we went to it a couple of times, she had one of her birthday parties there! I remember her kissing our friend Jon under a trampoline. We talked about it for way too long! We hung out fairly often until she moved to NYC a year and a half after we met.
We started taking acting classes together in 8th grade at a local theater here in town, Walden Theater. It’s funny because on our first day, we had no idea we were both taking the class. I walked into the first one, and there she was. We were both so excited to have a friend! We were in the first level of the theater but after a couple of weeks, both of us moved to the intermediate class (we were the oldest people in the class, so that’s why they moved us up so fast).
We carpooled together to Walden Theater every Tuesday and Thursday for acting class. I would ride the bus home with her, her mom would take us to class, then my mom would pick us up and take her home. She was a natural at acting, I’ll tell you that. I was still somewhat shy, but she could pretty much be given any character and even though she was 14, you’d believe it. She always talked about how she had a photographic memory, and that’s how she was able to remember lines so easily. And she did. It was insane."
"I went to high school with Emma Chamberlain. She was a huge bully in high school, and pretty much a brat who thought she could get away with whatever she wanted (before she got famous). Her parents were divorced, which led to them both always trying to be her friend and never actually parenting her. So, they basically let her do whatever she wanted.
When she said that people from her high school made fun of her because she was 'poor,' and that the parking lot was all BMW's and Range Rovers, I lost my mind. She was the bully in high school, and while the school definitely had some wealthy students, it was mostly a middle-class crowd."
"I was local a production contact on Hugh Jackman’s touring theatre production, where he sang his favorite numbers from various musicals. Usually, when a show comes in with big-name stars, the star usually has a bunch of assistants and they do the job they are paid to do and that’s it. The actor comes on stage when needed, then back to their dressing room. If you need anything or if they need anything, you talk to the assistant.
Prior to the first performance, I am on stage dealing with a few little issues, trying to stay on schedule when Mr. Jackman walks out on stage. My first thought was he was going to be angry we have kept him waiting to do his soundcheck. Instead, he walks directly over to me, introduces himself, asks me my name and asks a couple of questions and doesn’t even mention the delays.
So we spoke for a few minutes, and then he went around and introduced himself to more of the local crew. I was a little blown away by meeting him, as I am a fan and thought that was really cool of him.
Fast-forward a week and I am backstage after the performance, and I bump into Mr. Jackman in the hall. I say hi, but don’t want to bother him. But he stops me, he remembers my name (after meeting 100’s of people that week). He asks a few questions related to our first conversation.
Here’s the thing though. The guy just did a two-hour performance and instead of just politely returning my greeting he stopped and talked for a few moments with no false sincerity. To this day, I am still blown away by how genuinely nice he was and always wondered what he was like before he became famous. He would also spend a huge amount of time after the show signing autographs and answering questions at the stage door."
"My brother and I met Robin Williams when he was filming the movie, Patch Adams. One of the people running the AC machine outside gave us a hint Robin liked to avoid crowds, and likely wouldn't be walking out of the front door where everybody was waiting, and looked over at a side door. My brother and I went over and, fearing if he saw people near the door he would choose another exit, we hid in some bushes.
About 10 minutes later he came out, and I was just so excited I jumped out of the bush and ran towards him as he was getting on a bicycle. He got off and with a huge smile said it was nice to meet us, and asked how long we were hiding waiting on him. He thought it was hilarious, shook our hands, and signed the copy of Mrs. Doubtfire I had brought. He asked what our favorite subjects in school were, and what we liked to do for fun.
Then the crowd in front of the building figured out he must have exited out the back, and about 30 people started heading our way, all excited that they found him. He then said he had to go as he wanted to avoid the crowd and attention, but thanked my brother and me by name for meeting and talking with him. He gave me a high five and then hopped on the bike and rode off, waving back to us. He was such a nice guy and it was an awesome experience.
I showed that VHS to every friend that ever came over, but eventually over a few years, the signature practically faded away. I was so bummed and I decided to write a letter to him. I figured nothing would come of it but I wanted to anyway. I wrote although I was sure he didn't remember me, I was one of the two kids who jumped out of a bush to meet him while he was filming Patch Adams. I mentioned how I was sad the signature faded, but it was okay because I got to meet him.
A couple of months later, I received a handwritten letter from him saying he remembered us! He also included a signed copy of Mrs. Doubtfire as well as a signed headshot. I was over the moon! I was very sad and upset years later when he passed away."
"I went to a very small, arts-oriented high school with Amelia Meath, one half of the duo Sylvan Esso. She was a grade above me.
Never friends, barely acquaintances. Hung out a few times at a party or where kids smoked weed at lunch/after school. Can’t really recall.
But I do strongly recall her having a wonderfully friendly, creative, and uninhibited personality. I admired her. I’ve hung onto a little memory of her for years, since way before she got famous with Mountain Man and Sylvan Esso.
I remember her jovially approaching silly, stoned, freshman me as we crossed paths in a foyer, and commenting excitedly about the shirt I was wearing - dark blue with a ring of little brown platypuses encircling it.
'Are those platypuses?? I LOVE platypuses. Awesome shirt!'
It was my favorite shirt and I loved her enthusiasm for it.
As far as I can tell she’s still a unique, genuine, creative, eccentric person. Super happy she’s found some recognition making cool music and doing her thing."
"I'm from Oxford in the UK, and knew Emma Watson when I was in school. She was a massive bully, a strong Regina George vibe going on. She bullied my friend's sister in her year so bad my friend's sister had to leave school. The school refused to do anything about the bullying issue because Emma was their marketing tool.
At every open house even, all the teachers would proudly tell prospective parents in a reverent, hushed tone, 'Did you know Emma Watson goes to our school?'
Emma just has a terrible rep in Oxford. At one point, she dated one of my friends from another school, and let's just say that the relationship did not last because of her extreme anger management issues and cruelty towards people whom she considered 'beneath' her (like restaurant staff, etc).
I was younger than Emma, so thankfully I never needed to interact much with her. But here is an incident that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. I was hanging out with friends in central Oxford, one weekend and we decided to go to the Covered Market. As we were making our way to the market through the little alleyways, we ran into Emma Watson with her gang of 'friends' standing around some girl, who was clearly younger than her and at least a foot shorter than her.
Emma was screaming at her (I don't even remember about what), and hitting the girl on the shoulders and the chest with her bag. I'm ashamed to say my friends and I did not do anything. We just kind of ran away (which was dumb in retrospect).
To summarize, Emma Watson was badly miscast. She would have made a brilliant Draco Malfoy."
"Justin Bieber went to my high school' he was in grade seven or eight at the time, and he used to walk around school telling people to give him money. This was before he got really famous, it was around the time he had started sending YouTube videos to Usher.
He used to say 'Hey give me lunch money don't you know who I am? I'm Justin Bieber!'
People would just laugh and walk by. One time, my boyfriend caught Justin and his friend pulling flowers out of the garden bed at our school. My boyfriend made Justin and his friend replant the flowers before they left the scene.
On another occasion, my younger sister was at a hockey game with her friends, and Justin, and his friends. Justin asked my sister if he could put his arm around her and she said no. He then called her a pizza face except he used the insult wrong as he was referring to her freckles.
I hope he is a better person now then he was back then! He used to walk around his home town with such arrogance."
"I worked at a coffee shop with Madelaine Petsch, who is now on the CW show Riverdale.
All my co-workers thought she was a brat because, well, she would say rude things to people. One day she said something that got under my skin a little, so I clapped back with an insult to her.
She stared at me in stunned silence for a moment before saying 'There we go!' and offering me a high five.
Suddenly, boom, I understood her.
She is a gorgeous girl but from then on... I don't know, I saw her as a sister. She's actually super warm and kind and funny, her sense of humor is just so dry it can sometimes come across as her being mean.
I now work at a hotel where famous people end up. I've bumped into her a few times (mind you, this is YEARS after she left that coffee shop). and she still runs over to me and gives me a hug, remembers inside jokes, and seems to have not changed at all! Awesome human and I hope she continues to climb the Hollywood ladder!"
"I knew Craig Ferguson when I was a kid in Cumbernauld. He always came across as very self-confident in a way I found quite scary.
He was a couple of years older than me, but he and some of his mates used to hang out at the riding school outside of town where my family kept a pony.
It was a scruffy, rat-infested kind of place run by an old bloke. A lot of kids, early to mid-teens maybe, used to congregate there. Some had horses/ponies of their own and some just hung out. I don’t know why his wee gang started coming, maybe they were friends of the old bloke’s daughter. They were always to the fore with whatever ‘projects’ were afoot, knocking down old walls, whitewashing buildings, hosepipe fights, rugby in the paddock...
I kind of thought of him as a bully at the time, but think really it was just that his personality was so overwhelming to me as an introverted younger girl. If I saw them in town I’d get teased, if I was on my own I would try to avoid the streets they hung out on.
However, when the local paper sent a reporter and photographer to do a piece on the riding school, and I was getting left out of it all because I had broken ribs from a riding accident, he brought the photographer over to me and made sure I got included.
So probably he was like a big puppy that didn’t realize how scary it could seem to smaller creatures, but no actual harm in him."
"I vaguely knew GuGu Mbatha-Raw before she became a successful actress (lived in the same town, had a mutual friend). Our mutual friend was one of her best friends, so that's how I met her a few times. Really sweet, bright girl, def had something about her. This was 1998.
Many years later, in 2011, I'm working in a phone shop when I see her coming in. She's done several films and TV shows by this point, and is pretty well known, though not hugely famous (despite one of the shows she'd done being Doctor Who). She comes in by herself and has a problem with her phone, so I help sort it out. I don't think she remembered me, as we were never really friends, but we chat and she's still totally cool, funny, engaging, and down to Earth. She's also the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in life. As I was helping with her phone, I ask if she's got plans for the summer, and she casually mentions that she's doing a bit of traveling in the States.
Turns out she was doing a promotional tour of her latest film: Larry Crowne, with Tom Hanks.
Years after, I'd still see her occasionally walking through town, after she'd done more movies, TV series in the US, and was definitely more high profile. Always by herself, no entourage, no security or anything. Just happily chilling in the town she grew up in."
"My mom went to school with Heath Ledger.
Apparently he was a brat in high school. He was like those exaggerated jock-bully-guys in movies and TV shows. He walked into a room with his lackeys behind him and just commanded the space. At some school dance or something, he was in the middle of the room doing his thing, and literally everyone else was lined up against the walls because they didn’t want to get in his way.
He went to this prestigious boarding school, everyone knew that his parents were rich, but he dressed all grunge and tried to act like a troubled kid living in poverty.
He was apparently really rude. He pushed people around and pretty much was only ever nice to people in order to manipulate them.
My mom says that he could’ve got better and nicer as he got older, but she knew him as that exaggerated bully character."
"I went to school with Steph Curry when I was really young. I was at a Montessori school in 2nd and 3rd grade. He was a year behind me (1st and 2nd). This was in Charlotte, NC in the mid 90’s.
A few of the Charlotte Hornets players had their kids there. So I also knew Hersey Hawkins and Muggsy Bogues’ kids.
I don’t remember much about Steph’s personality (I mean, I was in 2nd/3rd grade), but I would frequently play basketball with him at recess. He was always a great shooter from what I remember, and I know his dad was working with him even back then.
I would later play against him twice in high school, and though he was good, nothing about him made me go: 'This kid's going to the NBA.'
Obviously, I was wrong. He jammed one of my fingers on a pass at the end of the game, so that was my punishment for doubting him.
The only thing I regret is not accepting his invitation to his birthday party at the Hyatt when I was in 2nd grade. That was stupid of me."