Accidental encounters with the rich and famous

Me and Diego

Me and Diego

Almost everyone has a story of an accidental encounter with a famous person at some point in their life. An old school friend provoked great jealousy among our group of friends in declaring that he had spent many an evening at home alone with Kim Wilde, a legendary British pop singer of the early 80s. That he was only 6 at the time and she was his babysitter made little impact on the bragging rights that the story gave him.

Living in New York, everyone seemed to have a story about a celebrity that they chatted with in a line at the sandwich shop, or with whom they shared an apartment building. We also shared a building with a Yankees baseball star, but not knowing anything about the game I never took the time to identify him, much to the disdain of my work colleagues.

Our most notable encounter with the sporting elite occurred back in 1998 on a flight to Sri Lanka. We had opted to pay the extra to Air Lanka to upgrade for the 15 hour flight, and were pleasantly surprised to find the entire business class section empty as the boarding process was coming to an end.

It was at that point that the captain made an announcement. He reminded all the passengers that the previous day the Sri Lankan cricket team had made history by beating England at Lord’s, the home of English cricket, for the first time in their history. With that he invited all the passengers to give the team a warm welcome as they boarded the flight. And there we were, alone among the victorious Sri Lankan team and their partners.

We exchanged numerous conversations with the players in the course of the overnight flight, and in contrast to the likely antics of an England football team, the players were quiet, respectful and polite. As a cricket fan I was excited to see so many of those I’d previously paid to watch, and have remembered some of those little inconsequential exchanges we shared on our way to their homeland.

On arrival in Colombo the airport was thronged with local supporters waiting to greet their heroes, while we were able to slip away quickly and enjoy the start of our holiday.

Which famous people have you met on your travels, and did they live up to their public reputation?

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15 Responses to “Accidental encounters with the rich and famous”

  1. The evening I met ‘The Queen’…

    I happened to meet celebrities more than once, many years ago. One of the most memorable encounter is the with the rock group ‘Queen’.

    Back to (OMG! 1979-1980…), when I was a teenager, I lived in Switzerland in a small city on the lake Geneva, close to Montreux. People of my generation and fond of music will know about ‘Montreux Jazz Festival’, one of the most famous musical events in the world. Moreover, at that time Montreux held one of the best recording studio attracting a good number of musicians.

    One night, I was having a beer in a pub in Montreux with a few friends when suddenly the table beside us, which was empty, was now occupied. A quick glance was more than enough to recognize Freddy Mercury and Brian May. What an emotion! At that time, The Queen were one of the top rock band in the world! We chatted a little and knew they were in Montreux for recording. But what’s even more astonishing is that a few weeks later I was in London for a Summer language class, and I met them at the airport! Life sometimes has funny coincidences…


    June 10, 2010 at 1:29 pm Reply
  2. Being a lifelong New Yorker I bump into celebs quite often. Here are just a few highlights worth mentioning…

    1) I was an intern for the Maury Povich Show in high school. One day diet guru Richard Simmons was a guest on the show. He actually stopped before leaving, looked at me and said “I love your hair…I wish I could straighten it like yours.” Yes it was as awkward as it sounds.

    2) Speaking of awkward, years ago I was at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in NYC and was using the urinal in the little boy’s room. As I am about to finish my business, in walks in WWE wrestler the Undertaker. Yeah kind of hard to miss a seven foot 400 lbs guy walking into the bathroom. He was there for some autograph signing. I gave a head nod and he completely ignored me.

    3) Last one is not awkward, but I saw Gwyneth Paltrow jogging in Central Park.

    June 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm Reply
  3. katie mae #

    Was an extra on Tom Cruise “War of the Worlds”. Had rehearsed flight scene in Athens, NY ad nauseum in bitter December cold & wee hours of the morning.

    Was in one scene that required X number of extras be “on their mark” for continuity. We stood stamping of feet and blowing on our hands in an attempt to keep warm. The setup (cars going into the Hudson River off ferry dock) seemed to take forever and then some. Finally, got a cue that stars would ready to go. Slight tap on my shoulder and someone saying “Excuse me. I need to get to my mark”. I was cranky and cold and ready to snap at the intruder. Turned around to see Tom Cruise waiting patiently for me to scoot aside so he could get to his mark. Super smile when he said “Thank you” and moved on. Always the professional, I think that scene only took 2 takes. And boy ws the fleeing crowd glad. :)

    Every time he arrived on the set he took time to smile and chat with the crew and the extras. Not an extra expert by any stretch of the imagination but I was mightily impressed every time I saw him, Dakota Fanning, Steven Spielberg, et. al.

    Of course, having been behind the scenes and knowing what was CGI and what was real world, I will never look at a movie quite the same again. :D

    June 10, 2010 at 4:34 pm Reply
  4. Great stories – thank you! Seeing Freddie Mercury and co. twice in a matter of weeks is some coincidence. And sharing a bathroom with a 400lb wrestler conjures all sorts of bad images :-)
    Katie, your experience as an extra sounds uncomfortable but well worth it. Did you see yourself in the movie when it came out? That would make it worth the effort. And was Tom Cruise as short as he looks?
    Thanks again – keep them coming!

    June 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm Reply
  5. It’s a small world after all… so we always bump into celebrities somewhere in life :)

    I bump into celebs quite a lot in my life, by coincidence or in my line of work, be it Hollywood stars, Sportsman or Asian celebs, would like to share some here:

    1. Brad Pitt , I was driving along Olympic Blvd in Santa Monica and stopped in a traffic light when he pulled over next to my car. At first I didn’t even recognize him, thanks to my friend who screamed like crazy that he noticed and smiled and waved at us.

    2. Jackie Chan, I happened to bump into him 3 times in my life so far, twice in the US, over at different boutiques at different times on Rodeo Drive. The 2nd time he and I were into the same shirt and we pulled it together from the rack, a gentleman because he smiled and let me have the shirt. The last one is in HK International Airport.

    3. Koby Bryan, also O’neal spotted both in Forum Shop at Las Vegas

    4. Ziyi Zhang, in a shopping mall in Beijing

    5. I saw a Sumo wrestler in Japan but I can’t remember his name, but according to my friend, he was world’s no2 at that moment

    6. At work, I met quite a few like Ricky Martin, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, NSYNC, etc

    June 11, 2010 at 7:53 am Reply
  6. Well thirty years ago I was once offered a cabbage by Russell Harty as I got on a train. Being offered a random brassica by somebody quite camp who you have a worrying feeling you recognise is an oslightly disturbing experience. I took me the entire journey from london to Manchester to work out which minor celebrity he was (aided by lots of loud talking about TV shows on his part).

    June 11, 2010 at 8:39 am Reply
  7. katie mae #

    Actually, I *did* see myself on screen….larger than life….and looking like I was exhausted, desperate, and fleeing for my life from the as yet-to-be CGI’d aliens. Got to set every day at 2:30pm and went home next day along about 5:00am-6:00am. Serious rehearsing started once the sun went down with extras “back in the barn” periodically for warmth and food. Actual filming usually done, if I remember correctly, after midnight till that magical “go home” direction.

    I don’t recall Tom Cruise being exceptionally short. But then I’m just 5’3″ so everybody and their cousin is taller than I!!! :D

    June 11, 2010 at 11:19 am Reply
  8. I met with the legend Sourav Ganguly accidentally in the lift of a mall.Then we have a chat for about half an hour.I will never forget that day.

    June 11, 2010 at 6:46 pm Reply
  9. Wow, some excellent encounters there. Vewe, what do you do? You see most stars than a chat-show host! :-)
    Russell Harty. Hmm, I think I would struggle to name him too, although I might recognise him as someone mildly famous. The cabbage part is bizarre!
    Katie, that must be so cool to see yourself in a scene in a major Hollywood movie (and yes, I think TC might just top 5’3″;-))
    And Mr Ganguly! How did you manage to keep chatting for half an hour? Did you talk cricket or something unrelated?
    Great stories. Thank you to everyone for contributing.

    June 12, 2010 at 12:10 pm Reply
  10. Susan Kramss #

    Going back in time – Michael Caine in London – didn’t even recognize him. We were lost and he accompanied us to Herrods. He loved thee fact that we didn’t recognize him or bother him for pictures. He told us one day we would figure it all out. In the late 70′s I was on the set of the original Bionic Woman and spent the evening hanging with my cousins watching TV in Lyndsay Wagner’s trailiar. It was a sureal moment when she came in to watch her show sitting next to me. Met Dave Amato (REO Speedwagon) at a small Italian restaurant in his hometown. Bought huim dessert and met the guys he grew with. Met Henry Winkler in Hawaii at our resort, shook hands and spoke until he was surrounded by girls looking to pose with him saying “Ayyy”. Bumped into Yoko and John the summer before he was murdered. Several others, but these were the most pertsonal.

    June 14, 2010 at 8:59 pm Reply
  11. Susan, how do you do it??? You could publish your own edition of a celeb magazine! That’s an impressive list you’ve got there… I especially like the idea of watching the Bionic Woman with…. the Bionic Woman! Thanks for sharing. Great stories.

    June 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm Reply
  12. I went for dinner with Bernie Clifton in the Peak District last year. Does that count?

    June 18, 2010 at 10:53 pm Reply
  13. Depends. Did he bring the ostrich? In fact, was ostrich on the menu?

    June 18, 2010 at 11:05 pm Reply
  14. Oh, I met Farhan Akhtar, a very famous Bollywood actor, in a cafe while taking a break during a long bike trip I and my friends were coming back from. He was friendly, but didn’t smile a lot. Probably has to do that too much for the cameras anyway.

    June 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm Reply
  15. At least he was friendly. Always a good sign that a celeb can still be civil to strangers :-) Thanks for sharing Abhi

    June 29, 2010 at 10:35 am Reply

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