Behind the photo shoots, designer bags, and movie premieres, there is a much darker side to fame. The consequences of always being in the public eye can destroy the lives of celebrities, and potentially harm the ones they love most.
Scarlett Johansson knows this all too well. She recently opened up about an incident that has her begging lawmakers for change. Without serious developments, she said, celebrities might never truly be safe.
From the outside looking in, the life of a celebrity looks like a fantastic gig. First of all, the massive checks that come along with having your name in lights are envy inducing for anyone. But Scarlett Johansson’s warning proves it isn’t a worry-free job.
Beaute People / Flickr
It started when Johansson was leaving a taping of “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” She got into her vehicle exhausted and looking forward to getting home to her young daughter. But right away, she noticed something wasn’t right.
Jimmy Kimmel Live
In the rearview mirror, she spied multiple cars driving erratically. Five cars full of men followed her. They ran red lights, almost hit pedestrians, and drove at dangerous speeds just to keep her in sight. Each vehicle had blacked-out windows, creating an eerie anonymity.
Black Panther / Marvel Studios
Now, ScarJo was no stranger to hoards of adoring fans. They’re part of the celebrity lifestyle. Whether mega-fans are looking on from a stadium of 100,000 seats, or watching their favorite actors on movie screens, the obsession is very real.
krystinaarielle / Instagram
Now, she knew crazed fans came with the territory. She knew, too, that the people chasing her weren’t those looking forward to her next movie. No, it was a more sinister group on her tail.
Charles Trainor / Miami Herald
These men were the dreaded paparazzi, and for ScarJo, they were living up to their name (the term paparazzi was popularized by Italian director Fellini in his 1960 film La Dolce Vita. He reportedly took it from an Italian word that describes an annoying noise).
The actress believed they were following her to find out where she was staying so they could stalk her and her daughter. Concerned for her safety and the safety of others, she took matters into her own hands.
Instead of keeping up the dangerous chase, she pulled into the Hollywood police station. Of course, the nefarious gentleman chose that moment to take their leave, no doubt to chase after another celebrity. After speaking with officers, she returned home safely.
John Schreiber / mynewsla
An annoying noise, she thought later, was an apt description of the paparazzi. They buzz around in groups, stalking their subject until they strike, parasitically taking for their own person gain.
And this put a huge target on Johansson’s back. It stands to reason, the more famous you are, the more paparazzi try to get photos of you. Even shots of certain celebrities picking up their dog’s poo will sell for big bucks.
@normieandbambijennar / Instagram
The whole incident was a huge wake up call for Johansson who came to a staggering conclusion. “All of this is perfectly legal,” she stated in disbelief. Because she is famous, and they are photographers, no laws are in place for her protection.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! / ABC
If Johansson had been a “normal” person, being pursued and stalked would be a different story. But, because she is famous, there is nothing she can do. Nothing, besides speak out about the incident and plead with lawmakers to impose much needed regulations on paps.
lewisha1990 / Flickr
Just because the paparazzi are technically doing a job shouldn’t give them a pass to do whatever they want. In Johansson’s case, the paps went past annoying and invasive and became something closer to criminal. And for them, the behavior is incentivized.
Aurelijus Zemgulis / Flickr
Competition between paparazzi has caused more and more risky behavior in the pursuit of the perfect photo. This has caused law enforcement to get involved on a more consistent basis, but the legal system has yet to catch up to the changes in protocol.
thepaparazzigamer / Youtube
Johansson even went as far as to mention one of the most extreme paparazzi cases in her plea for change. She referenced Princess Diana’s death as a worst-case scenario of the “lawless and criminal” acts that paparazzi engage in to get the scoop on stars.
tommy476 / Flickr
Stalking laws in general are lacking, a point touched on by Johansson. “Women across the US are stalked, harassed and frightened and a universal law to address stalking must be at the forefront of law enforcement conversations,” she explained.
You / Netflix
“Until paparazzi are considered by the law for the criminal stalkers they are, it’s just a waiting game before another person gets seriously injured or killed, like Princess Diana,” she said. She hoped her message resonated.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr
After all, her Hollywood career continues to grow, and putting a stop to the papparazi now can only benefit her moving forward. Even her co-stars are forced to endure undue harassment.
Adam Driver’s unique acting style isn’t lost on him, and he even characterizes himself as being a “misfit” in his younger years. It obviously all worked out, as he’s now one of Hollywood’s most interesting leading men — and highly sought after by paparazzi.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
Born November 19, 1983, in San Diego, California, Driver moved with his sister and mother to Indiana when he was seven years old. A self-proclaimed “misfit,” a young Driver set stuff on fire when he wasn’t singing in the church choir.
After seeing the movie Fight Club, Adam claimed that he and some fellow misfit kids from school would meet on a field in the middle of the night and beat each other up. Now we know where his explosive performances come from!
Marriage Story (2019)
And that weird time after high school but before college is always rough, especially when you have to support yourself by selling vacuums door to door! Adam did this and more, as he also worked as a telemarketer for a basement-waterproofing business.
The Report (2019)
However, after 9/11, it suddenly became clear to Adam what his next step was meant to be: The Marine Corps. Enlisting in the Marine Corps is such a rare choice that, according to Adam, the recruiter thought he was on the run from the police!
Today, he gives back after his life-changing time in the Marines, founding Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit organization aimed at bringing “high-quality arts programming to active duty service members, veterans, military support staff, and their families.”
With his service complete, his acting success didn’t happen overnight. He was rejected by Juilliard the first time he applied, and, despite trying to make it as an actor without a degree, he just couldn’t get any gigs.
His Hollywood beginnings were as humble as they come, considering how he barely made it into California. His car broke down on the way, and his low funds forced him to return home two days later!
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018)
In the midst of the pre-fame acting grind, Adam was getting rejected left and right…so he came up with a way of making it sting a little less. He trained himself to hate the people he was auditioning for! If he didn’t get the job, he’d tell himself that he “didn’t like them anyway.”
Remember how Adam was rejected from Juilliard? Did you catch how he was rejected the first time he applied? Sure enough, he was finally accepted the second time he applied, reinforcing the phrase “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”
Saturday Night Live
Adam found more than educational fulfillment at Juilliard. He actually met his future wife, Joanne Tucker, while at school! They got married in 2013 and will no doubt have some hilarious stories for their kids about their college shenanigans.
Every Adam Driver fan knows that his role on Girls was his big break, but would you believe it almost didn’t happen? He admitted that he initially passed on the role because he was uninterested in TV work. Thank goodness his opinion changed!
There’s a reason Adam’s acting style is considered more intense than most: His military training. “I made people in my school cry because it was just the way I was used to talking to people,” he once admitted. “I needed to calm down a little bit.”
Adam takes method acting to the extreme: He kept his Kylo Ren helmet on even when the cameras weren’t rolling, spent a week in silence for a role as a monk, and got his bus license to bring his character in Paterson to life.
When Adam got the lead role in Martin Scorsese’s film Silence, he went all out in a way most doctors wouldn’t recommend. “I don’t think I’ve ever taken it to [that] extreme before,” he said of the 50 pounds he lost for the role.
And he’s a truly multi-talented individual, even outside of the acting world. He showed off his musical skills in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis, and he can also sing and play the piano. He even sang in his church choir growing up!
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Actors aren’t always obsessed with their own voices. Adam is proof of this, as watching his performances on screen makes him profoundly uncomfortable. He claims his discomfort began after watching his performance on Girls, and he hasn’t yet overcome it.
Vianney Le Caer
Despite his phobia, he admitted to sitting down and watching the entirety of The Force Awakens. “I literally can’t believe that I was in it,” he said of the surreal experience. Adam’s as starstruck by Star Wars as the rest of us!
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
While Adam achieved icon-status as Kylo Ren, that role wasn’t always a guarantee. The studio seriously considered Hugo Weaving for the role instead, which seems odd considering the twenty year age difference between the two actors.
The actor is famously private, so fans were shocked when it was reported that he and Tucker have a young son! He’s said that he has to “be a spy” when it comes to having a personal life as well as a high-profile acting career.
Hungry Hearts (2015)
If Adam seems like a uniquely mysterious person, it may be because of his social media habits…or his lack thereof. He’s “very scared” of technology and especially of the power social media has on our lives, so much so that he doesn’t use it at all.
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
Adam Driver may be one of the most in demand unconventional actors in Hollywood right now, but he has a lot to live up to. With his equally-unique look and passion for public service, Steve Buscemi has been Hollywood’s off-kilter go-to for years.
The Dead Don’t Die (2019)
For the first half of his life, Steve Buscemi pronounced his surname “boo-SEM-ee” instead of “boo-SHEM-ee.” It wasn’t until he visited his father’s family in Sicily that he realized he had been pronouncing his own name wrong.
In 1980, a “directionless” Buscemi decided to take the civil service exam and wound up becoming a New York City firefighter. He served in the FDNY’s Engine Co. 55 in Little Italy for four years while also attending auditions and improv classes at night.
Early on in his career, Buscemi gave stand-up comedy a try… and failed miserably. Luckily, he met future Sons of Anarchy star Mark Boone Jr., and the two actually formed a sketch-comedy duo together.
While Buscemi is mostly known for his collaborations with the Coen brothers, he’s been featured in more Adam Sandler flicks than anything else. To date, he’s appeared alongside the comedian in ten films, including Billy Madison, The Wedding Singer, Grown Ups1 & 2, and the Hotel Transylvania trilogy.
Born on Friday the 13th, Buscemi couldn’t escape his bad luck as a kid, as he was hit by both a bus and a car on two separate occasions. He used the settlement from the bus accident to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute.
Fans of The Sopranos will recognize Buscemi as Tony Soprano’s cousin, Tony Blundetto, but the actor also played a significant role behind the camera as well. During the show’s eight-year run, Buscemi directed four episodes, including the critically acclaimed “Pine Barrens.”
It’s no secret that Buscemi’s characters are prone to early and oftentimes outrageous deaths, yet the actor himself is fully aware of his typecasting. In fact, he even admits to reading ahead in his scripts to see if – or, more likely, when – his character will kick the bucket.
Buscemi claims his 1996 directorial debut Trees Lounge – which he also wrote and starred in – was based on his early life on Long Island. “I was truly directionless,” Buscemi said. “I was driving an ice-cream truck and working at a gas station… The drinking age was 18 then, so I spent every night hanging out with my friends in bars.”
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Buscemi (far left) actually returned to his old engine company and worked 12-hour shifts in search of survivors. The actor refused publicity for his heroic actions, and it wasn’t until over a decade later that his presence at Ground Zero was made public.
It’s Buscemi’s crooked smile that’s really become his moneymaker; he’s used to playing crooked criminals. That’s why, despite a handful of offers from dentists to fix his teeth, Buscemi has insisted on leaving his trademark chompers exactly as they are.
Buscemi earned critical acclaim for playing Enoch “Nucky” Thompson on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, though when he first got the call about the part, he didn’t believe he’d actually gotten it. He even thanked showrunner Terence Winter for the consideration before realizing what he’d said was true.
Buscemi’s first acting role came in 1985 when he starred in The Way It Is, a popular art film during New York’s “No-Wave Transgressive” period. He then followed up with a more mainstream role in ’86’s Parting Glances (below).
Fans of Buscemi’s death-prone characters often cite Carl Showalter’s grisly demise in Fargo as their favorite death, though the man himself has another untimely end in mind. According to the actor, his character Donny Kerabatsos’ death by heart attack in The Big Lebowski is his favorite.
In 2003, Buscemi was one of 19 people arrested for protesting the closing of several firehouses, including his former Engine 55. This, along with his role in the aftermath of 9/11 and his outspoken support of the FDNY, earned him the distinction of Honorary Battalion Chief in 2014.
Following a shoot for 2001’s Domestic Disturbance, Buscemi joined co-star Vince Vaughn for a night out. Vaughn wound up getting into an altercation with another bargoer, and as he tried to split up the fight, Buscemi was actually stabbed in the face, throat, and hands with a pocket knife.
Buscemi’s serial-killer character Garland Greene in 1997’s Con Air was actually written specifically for him. Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg, who is a close friend of Buscemi’s, wrote the part with him in mind and was over the moon when he agreed to play it.
If you’ve ever taken a tour of Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, you might have noticed a familiar voice coming through your headset. Well, that’s because Buscemi, who’s a big fan of the prison’s history and architecture, actually narrates the audio tour.
A well-circulated rumor about Buscemi is that he auditioned for the role of George Costanza on Seinfeld, a belief that Jason Alexander himself also supports. However, on a 2015 episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the actor debunked the rumor as pure gossip.
Although he plays a major role in Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 classic Desperado, Buscemi’s character is never actually referred to by name. So, to have a little fun with the audience, Rodriquez dubbed the character “Buscemi” in the credits.