17 Major Celebrities Who Actually Hate the Spotlight
These stars may love their work, but they haven't always loved being famous.
If you're someone who gets annoyed about celebrities who say they "hate" being famous, these quotes from huge stars might rub you the wrong way. But you may want to take a more empathetic approach, because fame sounds downright awful sometimes. These celebs haven't always enjoyed being in the spotlight, and once you hear what they have you say about it, you'll understand why. While being a celebrity comes with its perks—money, clothes, travel, getting to have a really cool job—there are also a lot of downsides that, to some celebs, mean it doesn't always feel worth it.
Being stalked by paparazzi, losing privacy, depleted self-esteem, and substance use disorder are just some of the issues these actors, musicians, and one royal family member have dealt with while being famous. And while some of them have gone from absolutely hating their notoriety to becoming more accepting of it, it will become clear to you why they had those feelings in the first place.
So read on to find out more about these celebs who are weary of the spotlight, from the stars of huge movie franchises to tabloid fixtures to a few of the biggest child stars of all time. And for celebs who came close to walking away, check out These Huge Stars Almost Quit Hollywood.
Prince Harry, like many members of the British royal family, has used his fame for good, including bringing awareness to charitable organizations. He was born into this, so what else can he do but use his platform? That said, it's no wonder that Harry has complicated feelings about the press considering the way his mother, Princess Diana, was killed. "I think being part of this family—in this role, in this job—every single time I see a camera, every single time I hear a click, every single time I see a flash, it takes me straight back," Harry said in the ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey (via Harper's Bazaar). "In that respect, it's the worst reminder of her life as opposed to the best."
For stars who've been open about their mental health issues, here are Celebrities That Have Spoken About Their Depression.
Robert Pattinson definitely disliked the spotlight during his Twilight days, but now, things have shifted. During the height of the franchise's popularity, Pattinson couldn't go to the grocery store, had paparazzi constantly waiting outside of his home, and described how "lonely" fame made him. "It's lovely now that the mania is not so intense," he told USA Today in 2019. "People come up [to me] and just have very fond memories of [Twilight]. It's a really sweet thing. I think the only scary part was right in the thick of it all, when it was very, very intense. Now the intensity has died down and it's just very warm memories."
George Clooney is one of the most famous actors there is, and the fact that you don't hear about him all the time is on purpose. Instead of living in Los Angeles, Clooney, his wife Amal Clooney, and their two children live on secluded properties in England and Italy, out of the spotlight. "Fame can be very dangerous, because you can start to enjoy that part of it," Clooney told Omega's Lifetime magazine in 2012 (via IndieWire). "And that's not the good part of what I do for a living. The good part is the making of films. The unpleasant part is the fame part, if you're not careful."
For stars who've dabbled in the genre, check out 30 Celebrities You Forgot Were in Horror Movies.
Selena Gomez has also had to deal with getting more attention for her personal life than her work at certain points in her career, and it really took a toll. While speaking with Amy Schumer for Interview in April 2020, Schumer said that Gomez "can't cough without it being trending news." Gomez responded, "The sad part is that I don't remember a time when that wasn't the case. What has kept me afloat is that I know eventually it'll be someone else—and I don't mean that in a negative way." She added that her fame has allowed her to talk about things that are important to her, like mental health, which could help others. "A huge part of why I have a platform is to help people. That's why I think I'm okay with the magnitude. I mean, I'm not really okay with it—but I'm going to say that I am because it's worth it."
He's played some of the most iconic characters of all time—Han Solo, Indiana Jones—but Harrison Ford is not about the fame. "There's nothing good about being famous," he told WENN in 2010 (via Digital Spy). "You always think, 'If I'm successful, then I'll have opportunities.' You never figure the cost of fame will be a total loss of privacy. That's incalculable. What a burden that is for anybody. It was unanticipated and I've never enjoyed it. You can get the table you want in a restaurant. It gets you doctor's appointments. But what's that worth? Nothing."
Ford just wants to be an actor. "Success has been very important to giving me options in my life. I am very grateful for that," he told the Irish Independent in 2020. "I didn't want to become an actor to become rich and famous, I wanted to become an actor because I wanted to do that job."
For the most popular celebrity who was born in your birth year, check out The Biggest Star Who's the Same Age as You.
One young star who is facing a lot of scrutiny right now is 18-year-old singer Billie Eilish. It's no surprise that she hasn't always loved the spotlight. "I like being famous, but I used to hate it. I hated doing press and I hated being recognized and I hated kind of everything that had to do with it. There's a lot in fame that's … gross and horrible and just miserable," she told Vanity Fair in 2019. But, she said, she doesn't want to focus on the negative anymore. "I'm very grateful for it, and it's really rare and I'm very lucky, so I'm done with complaining about it."
Musician The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) isn't huge on the celebrity aspect of his job. As he explained to Billboard in 2016, he used to get caught by paparazzi early in his career when he had his old distinctive hairstyle and had bought some new cars. "If I had a great car, with my old hair, it was hard," he said. "Now? It's a breeze. I just put the hat on. My life is one hundred times better. I respect the paparazzi, it's their job, I got no beef with them. Luckily, for me, my career is putting out the hits and interacting with the fans. I don't need pictures of me being generated all the time." The Weeknd, who doesn't do a ton of interviews, also told Time in 2018 of the nerves he'd have doing a live TV interview, "I think I would puke."
For the artist who defined your adolescence, check out This Was the Hottest Pop Star the Year You Graduated.
Emma Stone struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since childhood, so when her career started taking off some of the issues she'd been dealing with came roaring back. "Losing my anonymity after Easy A, it was like being seven years old all over again," the actor told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017. Stone also explained that interviews—a common aspect of her job—make her very anxious. "Before any interview, I have to sit with myself for five minutes and breathe and get centered because I get so nervous." Stone has been followed by paparazzi in the past, and during a couple of outings with her then-boyfriend Andrew Garfield, they found a good way of putting their fame to use: writing a message about charities they support on signs they held over their faces.
Daniel Radcliffe went through the most fame one can experience as a young child when he was cast as Harry Potter. This led him to question his own emotions, cope with losing his anonymity by drinking (he's now sober), and to be sure to keep his personal life private. "I don't have Twitter and I don't have Facebook, and I think that makes things a lot easier because if you go on Twitter and tell everybody what you're doing moment to moment and then claim you want a private life, then no one is going to take that request seriously," he told SkyNews (via BBCAmerica) in 2013. He also noted that he doesn't attend events or premieres that he isn't involved with in order to stay out of the spotlight. Through it all he's felt "lucky" that he actually does love acting and being on set. "Even at my lowest point I still loved my job so much," Radcliffe said on The Off Camera Show.
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Singer and songwriter Sia was so determined not to become a celebrity that she has spent much of her time in the spotlight concealing her face, often with an oversized wig. In 2013, she wrote an article titled "My Anti Fame Manifesto" for Billboard, which begins, "If anyone besides famous people knew what it was like to be a famous person, they would never want to be famous." She explains that being around so many well-known fellow musicians through her songwriting led her to never want that recognizability for herself, so when cameras are around she tends to cover up. Still, you can see Sia's face sometimes, especially in recent years, but she's handling fame of her own terms.
If you quit acting when there is a very good chance you could add to your collection of three Academy Awards, then you clearly aren't in it for the attention. That's what happened with Daniel Day-Lewis, who retired in 2017, and who has always been a very private person, not giving many interviews over the years. During a 2017 interview with W magazine, Day-Lewis wouldn't be styled for the photoshoot and the interviewer noted that he doesn't like to be in front of the camera unless he's acting. He said in the interview that he put out a statement about retiring specifically to stop him from going back on it. "I knew it was uncharacteristic to put out a statement," he told the outlet. "But I did want to draw a line. I didn't want to get sucked back into another project. All my life, I've mouthed off about how I should stop acting, and I don't know why it was different this time, but the impulse to quit took root in me, and that became a compulsion."
"I found it pretty horrific," Keira Knightley told Variety of becoming famous for Pirates of the Caribbean in her late teens. "I'm not an extrovert, so I found that level of scrutiny and that level of fame really hard." The actor explained that she's protective of younger actresses she works with now, because of how harsh the world can be to them. "It was traumatic, but it set up the rest of my career," she continued. "So looking back, would I do anything different? No, I wouldn't because I'm unbelievably lucky now, and my career is in a place where I really enjoy it, and I have a level of fame that's much less intense. I can deal with it now, and that's great. But at the time, it was not so great, and took many years of therapy to figure it out."
Justin Bieber has been very open about how hard fame has been for him after he became a celebrity at a young age. In an Instagram post in 2019, the singer, who went through a very rough period including legal issues, admitted to doing drugs and being unhealthy in his relationships by the time he was 19. "I went from a 13-year-old boy from a small town to being praised left and right by the world with millions saying how much they loved me and how great I was," he wrote. "Everyone did everything for me so I never even learned the fundamentals of responsibility. So by this point I was 18 with no skills in the real world, with millions of dollars and access to whatever I wanted. This is a very scary concept for anyone." More recently, Bieber released a song called "Lonely" about his time as a child star.
Megan Fox faced sexism and sexualization from the media during the time that her career was taking off. So, it's no surprise that she hasn't been huge on being a star. "What people don't realize is that fame, whatever your worst experience in high school, when you were being bullied by those 10 kids in high school, fame is that, but on a global scale, where you're being bullied by millions of people constantly," Fox told Esquire in 2013.
In 2019, she opened up further about her experience during a conversation with Jennifer's Body screenwriter Diablo Cody for Entertainment Tonight. "I think I had a genuine psychological breakdown where I wanted just nothing to do," Fox said. "I didn't want to be seen, I didn't want to have to take a photo, do a magazine, walk a carpet, I didn't want to be seen in public at all because the fear, and the belief, and the absolute certainty that I was going to be mocked, or spat at, or someone was going to yell at me, or people would stone me or savage me for just being out."
In 2005, comedian Dave Chappelle abruptly left his Comedy Central show, Chappelle's Show and his $50 million contract and went to South Africa, because he felt emotionally discontent despite his success, as he explained on CBS This Morning in 2018. Asked if the fame scared him, he said, "Fame, yeah, but not so much that I get on a plane to Africa. Fame is not that kind of scary. But it is—fame is a horrifying concept when it's aimed at you, you know? At the end of the day … you don't have that much control over it. You just try to conduct yourself as best you can."
Back in 2011, Shailene Woodley told Paper magazine (via E! News), "I'm fine with saying the normal 'F' and 'C' words, but 'famous' and 'celebrity' are off-limits in my book, I just think they are nasty words." She's since come to shift her understanding somewhat. "The 'fame' word was hard for me because it felt like there was a separation between me and everyone else," Woodley told the AP in 2019. "And I feel like that word alone is so stigmatized and there's so many connotations associated with it that for a long time I refused to even acknowledge it." She added that a turning point came when she was visiting Indonesia and realized people were pointing their cameras at her instead of the show they were attending. "I don't have to agree with the definition, but I should acknowledge that it's a reality of my life," she said.
Sienna Miller was a tabloid fixture at the beginning of her career thanks to her style and her relationship with Jude Law. The worst part came when her voicemails were hacked by a tabloid. The actor recognizes that some good came with the bad. "I've had experiences I couldn't dream of," she told Elle in 2019. "But the experience that I had with it? It's not worth it for me. It was way too intense." She also said that she wishes she had made it as an actor before she became an It Girl. She added, "There have been moments when I was incredibly famous and it doesn't suit me. I just can't. I'm terrible at it."