Celebrities who’ve been heroes in real life

Being a celebrity can be a tough gig. Pretty much everybody you run into wants a piece of you — whether it’s an autograph, a selfie or a rescue from a life-or-death situation.

OK, that last one isn’t quite as common as the others, but it’s happened more times than you’d probably guess. Listed below are celebrities who’ve behaved like heroes in real life.

Ken Jeong

Best known for being very funny (and sometimes very naked) in “Community,” “Dr. Ken” and the Hangover movies, Jeong was actually a doctor before making it big in the entertainment business. Earlier this year, he put his medical training to good use by helping an audience member who was having a seizure during one of his stand-up comedy shows! Jeong jumped off stage and stayed with the woman until medics arrived before continuing his set.

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Getty Images | Dimitrios Kambouris

Tom Cruise

In 1996, Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman were sailing in the Mediterranean when they spotted a boat that had caught fire, along with five castaways who were floating nearby. Cruise was able to get all five of them to safety before their yacht sank. His publicist told People magazine, “If I ever get in trouble, I hope Tom Cruise is nearby.”

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Getty Images | Alberto E. Rodriguez

Kate Winslet

In 2011, when Winslet and her family were staying as guests at Richard Branson’s island home in the Caribbean, a fire started that eventually destroyed the entire place. As the blaze was roaring, Branson says Winslet helped carry his 90-year-old mother out of the burning house to safety. That’s showing a lot more selfless heroism than Winslet did in “Titanic” when Jack needed to get on that door!

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Getty Images | Rich Fury

Tom Hardy

In 2017, Hardy proved his action star credentials by busting a suspected criminal in his native London. The actor witnessed two teens run a red light on their moped and crash into a car before trying to run away from the scene. Hardy chased after one of them and caught him, allowing police to make the arrest.

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Getty Images | Matt Winkelmeyer

Ryan Gosling

In 2012, a British woman says she was saved by Gosling while visiting New York City. In a series of tweets, the woman said she stepped into the street while “not looking the right way” (because the cars drive on the other side of the road where she’s from) and Gosling grabbed her and pulled her back. Note: This is not a smart tactic for trying to attract a dashing movie star’s affections.

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Getty Images | Christopher Polk


John Krasinski

When Krasinski was 17 years old, he spent a few months teaching English in Costa Rica. While he was there, he saved a girl’s life during a trip to the beach. In March 2018, the actor told Playboy magazine that he saved a Costa Rican girl who was being pulled away by a vicious riptide.

“That changed my entire life,” Krasinski said. “All of a sudden I grew up.”

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Getty Images | Matt Winkelmeyer

Steve Buscemi

Before becoming one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, Buscemi worked as a New York City firefighter in the 1980s. When the 9/11 attacks happened, Buscemi went back to his old job and spent several days working 12-hour shifts with the FDNY, looking for survivors in the rubble at Ground Zero.

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Getty Images | Noam Galai

Tyler Perry

Heroism comes in different forms, and for actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry, being a hero meant paying off thousands of dollars of strangers’ debts at two Walmart stores.

Perry embodied the holiday spirit in early December 2018 when he paid off $432,635 in layaway debt at two Walmarts in the greater Atlanta area. Perry aimed to do this anonymously, but word got out that he was behind the acts of kindness, which relieved the debt of about 1,500 families. After the news broke, Perry posted a video on Twitter about his actions, saying: “I’m just really, really grateful I’m in a position to do this.”

Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Tyler Perry Studios and BET Films Present the World Premiere of 'Nobody's Fool'
Getty Images | Roy Rochlin

Kid Rock

How great is this story? Kid Rock saw the news about Tyler Perry paying down the Walmart layaway debt for strangers in Atlanta, and he decided to do the same at his local Walmart in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Great idea!” Kid Rock wrote in a tweet to Perry. “I followed your lead and paid off the layaway at my local Walmart in Nashville. Merry Christmas and God Bless You!”

The store on the receiving end of Kid Rock’s generosity said he paid off layaway for about 350 families.

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Getty Images | Dia Dipasupil

John Malkovich

In 2013, Oscar-nominated actor John Malkovich was performing in a stage production in Canada when he played the role of a real-life hero. On a street in Toronto, Malkovich saw a 77-year-old man trip, cutting his throat on some scaffolding as he fell. The actor applied pressure to the man’s neck, using his scarf to stop the man’s bleeding until medics could reach him. The man needed 10 stitches to close his wound.

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Getty Images | Monika Fellner

Demi Moore

In 2009, Moore became one of the first celebrities to use social media heroically. When a woman sent her a message threatening to commit suicide, Moore replied, “Hope you are joking,” which brought attention to the message and eventually led her followers to figure out the location of the suicidal woman. California police found the woman unharmed and decided she needed to be held for a psychological evaluation. Moore said she was “uncomfortable” just letting such a stark message go by unnoticed.

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Getty Images | Rich Fury

Brad Pitt

When Pitt was making his movie “World War Z” in 2011, he potentially saved another actor’s life. While filming a scene that included about 700 extras, a female extra fell to the ground and could’ve been trampled by the others if it weren’t for Pitt’s quick thinking. He grabbed the woman and picked her up, leading her to only suffer a scraped knee.

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Getty Images | Rich Fury

Chris Rock

In 2010, the legendary comedian was shopping at a New Jersey mall when a pregnant woman near him went into labor. Rock helped the woman stay calm, making her laugh until medics were able to help her.

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Getty Images | Ethan Miller


When rapper T.I. was driving to a music video shoot in his native Atlanta in 2010, he heard the news that a man was threatening to kill himself by jumping from a downtown building. He decided to drive to the scene and offer to help. He recorded an encouraging message on video for the suicidal man, which police played for him, eventually leading him to step down from the ledge and come back to safety.

“He didn’t have to stop,” police later said about T.I. “He could’ve kept on going about his business.”

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Getty Images | Matt Winkelmeyer

Amy Winehouse

When singer Amy Winehouse was in the Caribbean in 2009, she saved a woman who could’ve drowned. The woman was taking a sailing lesson when a wave sent her flying off the boat into a rock near the beach where Winehouse was relaxing. The Grammy winner ran over and pulled the woman away from the tide.

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Getty Images | Dan Kitwood


Jamie Foxx

In 2016, the Oscar-winning actor was hanging out at his California home when a man crashed his truck, flipping it near the gate to the house. The truck caught fire and Foxx, after hearing screaming, was able to help pull the driver out of the burning vehicle before the situation got worse.

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Getty Images | Christopher Polk

Zoe Saldana

While driving through Culver City, California, in 2012, the “Guardians of the Galaxy” star witnessed a car crash and immediately went to the aid of an older woman, who was one of the victims. Saldana called 911 and walked the crash victim to a nearby curb, where she waited with her.

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Getty Images | Jason Kempin

Heidi Klum

In 2013, the supermodel and “America’s Got Talent” judge made headlines when she was photographed rescuing her son and two nannies from drowning in Hawaii. Klum and her family were swimming in the ocean when a riptide dragged the three victims away. Klum and her boyfriend helped rescue the trio, pulling them back to shore.

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Getty Images | Christopher Polk

Miles Teller

In 2015, Teller was lauded for more than his screen acting. The “Whiplash” star was at a Miami beach with his girlfriend when a distraught pregnant woman and her toddler came up to him in the water asking for help. The woman apparently thought she’d seen a shark and was terrified, so Teller grabbed her hand and led her onto the shore.

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Getty Images | Jamie McCarthy

Gerard Butler

Before he became a big-name actor in Hollywood, Gerard Butler saved a boy from drowning in his native Scotland. In 1997, the actor was having a picnic with his mother when he heard a boy screaming for someone to help his friend. Butler saw the teen victim struggling in the River Tay. He jumped in and grabbed the boy, pulling him to safety and saving his life. Twenty years later, Butler spoke at the guy’s wedding!

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Getty Images | Alberto E. Rodriguez

Patrick Dempsey

Similar to Jamie Foxx’s heroic story, “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey saved someone from a dramatic car crash outside his home. In 2012, a 17-year-old boy crashed his car, flipping it several times in Malibu. Dempsey freed the boy from the mangled car and stayed by his side until medics arrived. He even called the teen’s mother to tell her what was happening!

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Getty Images | Alexander Hassenstein

Mark Harmon

In 1996, the future “NCIS” star acted like a real-life hero when he witnessed a car crash near his home in California. Two 16-year-old boys were trapped inside a burning car as a result of the wreck, leading Harmon to smash the windows of the vehicle and pull the teens out.

“The youths owe their lives to the action of Mr. Harmon,” a firefighter told the Los Angeles Times.

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Getty Images | Hannes Magerstaedt

Luke Wilson

Yet another famous actor who’s pulled someone from a terrible car crash is Luke Wilson. In February 2018, Wilson was involved in a three-car crash in Los Angeles, which left a woman’s car flipped on its side. Witnesses saw Wilson get out of his own wrecked vehicle and pull the woman from her car to safety, all while she was screaming and crying. The crash was apparently caused by a man driving a Ferrari, who died at the scene.

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Getty Images | Rich Polk

Daniel Radcliffe

Professor Dumbledore would have been proud of the heroics shown by Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in 2017. The actor rushed to the aid of a man who’d been mugged and had his face slashed on a London street. The muggers rode away on a moped after taking the man’s bag, but it wasn’t all bad for the victim once he realized who was helping him!

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Getty Images | Jamie McCarthy

Prince Harry

When Harry was playing in a charity polo match in 2012, he rushed to the aid of a fellow player who was thrown from his horse. Likely using first aid skills he learned during his military career, the young prince immediately got off his horse and rushed to the man, flipping him over and helping him regain consciousness.

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Getty Images | Stuart C. Wilson

Clint Eastwood

Like Michael Keaton, Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood can credit the Heimlich maneuver with his ability to save lives. In 2014, when the actor and filmmaker was attending a party before a golf tournament, he noticed a man was choking. Eastwood grabbed him and performed the Heimlich maneuver, which dislodged a piece of cheese the man was choking on.

“He recognized it immediately and saved my life,” the victim told the Associated Press.

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Getty Images | Frazer Harrison

Anderson Cooper

When Cooper was covering the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, he actually became part of the story himself by helping save a boy’s life as CNN’s camera rolled. When a fight broke out, the boy was hit in the head with a piece of concrete right in front of Cooper. The veteran reporter jumped in and grabbed the bloodied child, pulling him to safety.

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Getty Images | Dimitrios Kambouris

Michael Keaton

Keaton became as heroic as Batman in the eyes of one of his friends when he saved him from choking. In 2017, the actor told talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that he gave director Dennis Dugan the Heimlich maneuver when he was choking once. Keaton said Dugan started choking at a party, with his face turning blue. That’s when the actor got behind him and gave him the Heimlich maneuver until a piece of food “shot across the room.”

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Getty Images | Rob Kim

Blake Shelton

In 2015, the country singer came to the rescue of four men who were stuck in a mudslide in Oklahoma. One of the guys flagged Shelton down, who tried to pull the others out with his truck but was unable — leading him to go to his home nearby and get his tractor, which did the job. He even posed for a picture with the group of pals after saving them!

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Getty Images | Isaac Brekken

Arnold Schwarzenegger

When Schwarzenegger was governor of California, his action star moves came out while on vacation in Hawaii. In 2004, the actor-turned-politician saw a man struggling in the water off Maui and swam out to help him. The man was reportedly clinging to a boogie board and told Schwarzenegger he couldn’t make the swim back to shore because his body was cramping. Schwarzenegger helped pull the man about 300 feet back to shore.

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Getty Images | Robert Cianflone

Harrison Ford

In 2000, the Hollywood icon put his pilot skills to good use by rescuing a stranded hiker from a mountain in Wyoming. The woman had become dehydrated and exhausted from the climb and was unable to go any farther, leading someone else to call for help. Ford swooped in using his personal helicopter and rescued the woman, who didn’t recognize him at first.

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Getty Images | Vittorio Zunino Celotto

Garth Brooks

When a wildfire broke out in Brooks’ native Oklahoma in 2000, he helped rescue two teens from the blaze. The boys were home alone when Brooks and another man helped get them out of their house, which was directly in the path of the rapidly spreading fire. The boys apparently didn’t even realize who had saved them at first.

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Getty Images | Anna Webber

Dwayne Johnson

The hulking star has played heroes in plenty of movies, but did you know that Dwayne Johnson actually saved his mother’s life when he was younger? Johnson recently revealed that when he was a teenager, his mom tried to kill herself by walking into oncoming traffic. Johnson, already massive for someone that age, grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back to the roadside.

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Getty Images | Kevin Winter


Orlando Bloom

In 2015, Bloom used all he’d learned from Captain Jack Sparrow to help rescue a stranded jet skier in the Pacific Ocean. While the actor was celebrating Father’s Day with his 4-year-old son in California, he saw a person on a broken-down jet ski in the water. Bloom helped tow the person’s water vehicle to the shore and get them onto the beach.

orlando bloom horizontal 2016 photo
Getty Images | Frazer Harrison