Because celebrities often have the funds and clout to obtain just about anything they want, when they want, we often assume their famous status creates an informal - yet very real - barrier between themselves and the rest of the world. It's not uncommon to read about stars spending time in the elite circles they've created, paying little attention to their fan bases, the crews who provide them with support on-set, or even other actors.
It may come as a surprise, then, that some celebrities notorious for playing villains or relentlessly hostile characters are actually likable and kind when they aren't acting for a part. This list features stories of celebrities who are unexpectedly nice.
For years, Alan Rickman was well-known for his villainous Harry Potter character, Professor Severus Snape. But when he wasn't acting, he used the money he earned from the notorious role to treat his friends. As Kate Winslet remembered:
He was always a great big softy. If there was one word I could use to really describe Al, it would be kind. He was so kind… At Al’s memorial, [British actress] Juliet Stevenson told the story of how whenever Al would go out to supper and anyone else would try and pay, he would somehow have phoned ahead or slipped his credit card ahead of the meal so no one even got a look at the check. He’d just say, “I’ve got two words for you: Harry Potter.” And he became known for doing that.
Rickman passed on January 14, 2016 due to cancer.
Despite his depiction of some horrific characters, the Silence of the Lambs star seems genuinely kind, as he openly shares his admiration and praise for other actors. After admitting to binge-watching Breaking Bad, Anthony Hopkins wrote a fan letter to star Bryan Cranston and the rest of the cast - a missive that was very specific and detailed:
Dear Mister Cranston.
I wanted to write you this email - so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber - I take it we are both represented by UTA. Great agency.
I've just finished a marathon of watching "BREAKING BAD" - from episode one of the First Season - to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. (I downloaded the last season on AMAZON). A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing. [Editor's note: There are in fact five seasons of Breaking Bad; this might have been wishful thinking.]
I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant! Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen - ever.
I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullsh*t in this business, and I've sort of lost belief in anything really.
But this work of yours is spectacular - absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers…. every department - casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.
From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearian or Greek Tragedy.
If you ever get a chance to - would you pass on my admiration to everyone - Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada - everyone gave master classes of performance… The list is endless.
Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.
You and all the cast are the best actors I've ever seen.
That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It's almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.
Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.
On his Twitter account, Hopkins prefers to keep a light and airy persona; he shares videos and pictures of his travels, along with behind-the-scenes footage of his latest projects.
With a long list of box office hits and TV ads, it's hard to believe anyone wouldn't recognize Matthew McConaughey. Still, the actor, producer, and director hasn't let his supreme celebrity status go to his head. According to fans, he's completely chill, even when their brains don't immediately register who they're interacting with:
Was in NYC for the first time with my mom and grandma. Stopped in front of a Starbucks and was looking for someone to take a pic of us. Saw a dude get out of the Starbucks and asked him without really thinking much. The dude says yes of course and is really nice about it.
Only realized he was Matthew McConaughey when I asked for my phone back and thanked him… Apparently, he thought it was really funny that we didn't recognize him and just asked him to take a picture of us. Chill dude and very down-to-earth.
- 4539 VOTES
Nick Offerman was the dude. Met him after an American Ham show at his (now our) alma mater for a pic. He got down on a knee for it because I'm in a wheelchair, hence lower to the ground. I sort of joked that he didn't have to do that, and dead serious he goes, "Son you should make everyone take a knee for you." Took me a while to figure out he wasn't joking, he was saying have enough self respect to ask people to accommodate you. That guy is operating on another plane of existence.
Known for playing deep, often villainous characters, Javier Bardem has an on-screen persona and large stature that could easily lead fans to believe he exudes a menacing presence off the screen. However, the supporting actor in films like Skyfall, No Country for Old Men, and Dune is characterized as having a bubbly, good-humored personality when not acting.
Bardem fell to his knees to hug AC/DC lead guitarist Angus Young when he first met Young because he felt so grateful for the band's music and credited it with helping him to learn English. Bardem recalled the event in a 2018 interview with writer Jessica Pressler by showing her a picture of the meeting, and exclaiming:
Look at how little is Angus. He came into the room, and I fell to my knees. I almost cried. He was probably like, “Who the f*ck is this guy?”
During Bardem's time on the set of No Country For Old Men, where he played psychopathic antagonist Anton Chigurh, he said directors Joel and Ethan Coen had a less-than-macho nickname for him:
The Coens called me the Spanish Ballerina… because every time I had the gun, when they called cut, I'd give it back and say, “Take this sh*t out of my hands!” [They] were laughing, like they couldn't believe I was supposed to be the villain.
Bruce Willis told me that I have "some pretty cool Spiderman skills."
I was in Walmart and there was something that I needed on the top shelf and near the back. At the time I was only 5 foot (I'm a bit taller now). And so I scaled up the shelf and over to the side to get the food item that I needed. When I got down I noticed this guy watching me, and I realized it was Bruce Willis. And he complimented my shelf climbing.