Celebrities With Strange Phobias
What's no big deal to one person can be terrifying for another — even when you're a celebrity.
Though they may have no problem performing a stunt in an action film or singing in front of thousands of people, that doesn’t mean Hollywood’s actors and musicians are fearless. Plenty of well-known celebrities, from Kristen Bell to Matt Damon, have admitted to struggling with certain phobias. Their fears encompass everything from ordinary objects (like spoons — yes, spoons!) to specific animals (let’s just say there’s one bird Tyrese Gibson really doesn’t like).
These admitted celebrity phobias, ranging from unexpected to downright weird, are sure to take you by surprise.
Martin Freeman — Choking
During an appearance on “The Graham Norton Show,” Martin Freeman shared that he’s seriously afraid of choking — especially when it comes to avocados.
“Every time I have an avocado, every time I cut through an avocado, and I see the stone, I envision that stone being lodged in my windpipe,” he said. To avoid that, he says he doesn’t eat much avocado.
Norton and the guests chuckled, as did Freeman, but he continued: “No, I’ve got a real thing, though, I’ve got a real thing about choking.”
Tyra Banks — Dolphins
Tyra Banks has been open about her longstanding fear of dolphins. In addition to talking about it on her now-defunct talk show, she also once told Howard Stern that she used to have nightmares about the animals.
“I am afraid of dolphins … I used to have dreams that I was in a swimming pool and dolphins were, like, bumping into my legs,” she told the radio show host.
Khloe Kardashian — Belly Buttons
In 2016, the reality TV star took to her website and app to reveal her unexpected phobia: belly buttons.
“I hate belly buttons,” she wrote on the app, per People. “You can’t touch mine and I don’t want to touch yours. When I’m in the shower, I wear hand mitts and I scream every time I wash my belly button, LOL!”
Liam Payne — Spoons
The former One Direction star has made it public that he’s afraid of spoons — and specifically, other people’s spoons.
“See I’m not so much scared of spoons, I’ll hold one,” he told Capital FM. “But I don’t like eating with them, if they’re not my spoons, if that makes sense.”
He says this phobia stemmed from his younger years.
“It is a bit weird. When I was a kid I was a bit naughty at school and when you were naughty they made you do the washing up,” the singer stated. “I had to wash all these nasty spoons and then it’s just stuck with me after. I don’t know what people are doing with their spoons. I don’t want to know!”
Kendall Jenner — Tiny Holes
In 2016, Kendall Jenner revealed that she struggles with trypophobia — an aversion to the sight of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps.
“Trypophobics are afraid of tiny little holes that are in weird patterns,” Jenner explained on her app. “Things that could set me off are pancakes, honeycomb or lotus heads (the worst!).”
Scarlett Johansson — Birds
While promoting her movie “We Bought a Zoo,” the actress revealed the one animal she’s most afraid of: birds.
“I’m only scared of birds,” she told New York Magazine in 2011. “Something about wings and beaks and the flapping. I’m terrified of them. That still hasn’t gone away. My uncle is terrified of birds as well, so it runs in the family.”
Nicole Kidman — Butterflies
The Oscar-winning actress has been afraid of butterflies since childhood. In an interview with Contact Music, Kidman shared her experience of coping with her fears while growing up in Australia.
“Sometimes when I would come home from school the biggest butterfly or moth you’d ever seen would be just sitting on our front gate,” she said. “I would climb over the fence, crawl around to the side of the house — anything to avoid having to go through the front gate.”
Christina Ricci — Houseplants
Christina Ricci admits she can’t go near an indoor plant at someone’s house because the “dirty” soil grosses her out.
“They are dirty! If I have to touch one, then it freaks me out. Honestly, I can’t go near them,” she told Contact Music.
Sarah Paulson — Clowns, Bees and Tiny Holes
During a 2017 appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Paulson revealed that her “American Horror Story” character’s greatest horrors — including clowns, bees and clusters of small holes — are based on the some of her biggest fear from real life.
“I could be carrying a small child, and if a bee came around, that baby’s getting dropped,” she said. “I can’t manage my feeling about it.”
She also talked about her trypophobia, saying, “I just think they’re disgusting. I can’t look at a coral reef or a natural sponge.”
Kristen Stewart — Horses
Kristen Stewart has had a phobia of horses since she was a child.
“I hate ’em,” the actress, who suffered a riding injury as a child, said at WonderCon, per People. “I fell off a horse once and hurt myself really badly. I broke and dislocated my elbow when I was, like, 9.”
She was forced to face her fear of the animal while filming “Snow White and the Huntsman,” saying, “I was really, really not happy about having to do all that [horseback riding]. I don’t like that — I hate that.”
Jennifer Aniston — Being Underwater
The actress says she has a real fear of going underwater, due to a traumatic experience she had as a child.
“I was a kid and I was riding this tricycle around a swimming pool and I drove my tricycle into the swimming pool and I didn’t let go and my brother tried to [help me],” Aniston said at a screening, per E! News. “So, I can’t go underwater and no one will believe me. I honestly can’t.”
Billy Bob Thornton — Antique Furniture
Billy Bob Thornton has long expressed his serious fear of antiques.
He explained his phobia to the New York Times, saying, “It’s that French/English/Scottish old mildewy stuff. Old dusty heavy drapes and big tables with lions’ heads carved in it. Stuff that kings were around. That’s the stuff I can’t be around. It was too big to be functional. It creeps me out.”
Oprah Winfrey — Chewing Gum
Oprah Winfrey has an intense dislike for chewing gum that goes back to her childhood days.
“I grew up poor in Mississippi and my grandmother — absolutely no hyperbole whatsoever — my grandmother used to try to save gum, so she would put it on the bedpost, she would put it on the cabinet,” she told Stephen Colbert during an appearance on his talk show. “As a child, I used to bump into it and it would rub up against me, and you know what it’s like when you’ve taken it out of your mouth and it’s been out a couple of weeks? It’s bad. And so I was afraid of it.”
She admits that she has barred gum-chewing in her offices, but still has to confront it everywhere else.
“When I go out to the world, I can’t bar it. I have no powers there,” she said.
Kyra Sedgwick — Talking Food
In an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Kevin Bacon revealed that his wife Kyra Sedgwick is apparently terrified of talking food. He said she has to leave the room every time she sees commercials featuring talking food.
He even turned down a well-paying M&M’s commercial due to her phobia.
“I thought about it, and I said I can’t do that to my wife, because my marriage is more important,” he said on the show, per The Huffington Post. “I really think she would’ve left me.”
Megan Fox — Dry Paper
Megan Fox is not a fan of the feeling of dry paper, as she told Jimmy Fallon during an appearance on his show.
“Some people don’t like nails across a chalkboard because it gives them goosebumps,” she told Fallon, per Digital Spy. “I don’t like dry paper. Scripts, newspapers or anything that’s not laminated, I have to keep licking my fingers.
She admitted that she’s also afraid of the dark.
“I’ve been afraid of the dark all my life,” the actress explained. “I leave the lights on all the time and if the light is off, I have to run across the room to get to the switch. I can’t walk through a dark room. I’m afraid of what I can’t see.”
Kylie Minogue — Clothes Hangers
Back in 2010, Kylie Minogue revealed that she has a serious issue with hangers.
“I have a hanger phobia – I don’t like the way they sound when you put them in the wardrobe,” she said. To avoid activating her fear, she says she lays out her clothes rather than hang them up.
Katie Holmes — Raccoons
Katie Holmes has been open about her longtime fear of raccoons. During a 2011 interview with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show,” she recounted one specific experience with the animal that left her to take unusual measures.
“I was recently sitting outside and this raccoon comes right up, like right there, and I’m expecting it to be more afraid of me,” she said, adding, “And I’m staring at it and it’s staring right back like he’s gonna kick my butt, and I didn’t know what to do so I just stood up and barked at it and he just ran away.”
Jake Gyllenhaal — Ostriches
Jake Gyllenhaal developed a phobia of ostriches while filming “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.” The actor explained his fear during a 2010 London premiere of the movie.
“They would say, ‘Don’t make any noise around the ostriches. They’ll tear out your eyes and rip out your heart.’ So, I was naturally terrified,” he said at a premiere, per People. “They look like they’re innocent, but they’re really not.”
Rita Ora — Toilets
In 2012, Rita Ora revealed that she has always had a fear of bathrooms — and specifically, toilets.
“I always feel that when I go to the toilet that something’s going to come out of the bottom,” she said, according to The Sun. “I have this thing where I think this tunnel must start from somewhere, and sometimes I think, ‘What if something comes out of the toilet?’”
Helen Mirren — Phones
The actress says she relies on her answering machine to help assuage her longtime fear (or perhaps it’s more of a distaste) of talking on the phone.
“I never, ever return calls. I’m definitely very frightened of the phone. It makes me so nervous,” she told OK! magazine, per the Daily Mirror. “I always avoid picking it up if I can.”
Channing Tatum — Porcelain Dolls
In a 2014 appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Channing Tatum explained the reasoning behind one of his biggest fears: porcelain dolls.
“I just think they’re freaky!” he said. “I just think they’re really super freaky. They have, like, real eyes and they look real.”
A “Friday the 13th” episode featuring a possessed porcelain doll may have started the phobia, he said.
“I just imagine when I walk by them their heads turn with you the whole time,” he said of the dolls.
Tyrese Gibson — Owls
Tyrese Gibson may have no problem performing stunts in action movies, but there’s one thing he’ll never try — getting near an owl. The actor once told IMDb that he has an overwhelming fear of the bird — so much so that he has to avoid anything associated with the animal.
“I’m terrified of owls. It started when I was young. I can’t even look at the image of an owl,” he said. “I’ve never been to Hooters in my life and I’ve never seen any of the Harry Potter movies because they have owls throughout.”
Adele — Seagulls
Adele still holds a fear of seagulls after a scary incident in her childhood.
“I was walking down the promenade in Tenby (in Wales), eating a 99 (ice cream), when this huge … seagull came down and swiped it off me,” she told CelebNow. “I’ve still got a scar from its claw on my shoulder. I thought it was going to take me away with it.”
Alfred Hitchcock — Eggs
Strangely enough, Alfred Hitchcock, the man behind some of the scariest movies in history, battled with a fear of a seemingly ordinary item: eggs.
The Telegraph wrote that the late famed director once explained his complicated relationship with the food to an interviewer, saying, “I’m frightened of eggs. That white round thing without any holes … have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid?”
Matt Damon — Snakes
Matt Damon was forced to confront his fear of snakes while filming his 2011 movie, “We Bought a Zoo.” His co-star Scarlett Johansson revealed his fear, joking that the scariest moment of the film “was watching Matt Damon cry like a baby and rock back and forth when the snakes were spread all over the set.”
The actor later recalled the experience, telling People, “I’m afraid of snakes. And I got bullied into interacting with them by Scarlett and the kids.”
P. Diddy — Toes
In a 2008 appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” P. Diddy (aka Sean Combs) revealed that he has a phobia of people with a long second toe. The rapper even admitted that the fear influences his dating life.
“I somehow get to see the toe on the first date, it’s mandatory. I may not go for a kiss, but I’m definitely going to see if that second toe is long,” he said, according to Digital Spy.
Ellen Page — Tennis Balls
Ellen Page has a phobia of tennis balls, as she revealed during her promotion of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” The actress said using tennis balls as props during computer graphic-heavy scenes in the movie made it easy for her to convey fear.
“It really worked out for me, because I’m really afraid of them,” she said, adding, ”I couldn’t tell you what it is. Tennis comes on, I have to leave the room, it’s intense, yeah.”
Johnny Depp — Clowns
Johnny Depp’s phobia of clowns reportedly dates back to childhood, when he would have nightmares of clown faces.
“There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil,” the actor has explained of his fear, per The Guardian. “I guess I am afraid of them because it’s impossible — thanks to their painted-on smiles — to distinguish if they are happy or if they’re about to bite your face off.”
Ironic, given his penchant for starring in clownish roles in Tim Burton movies.
Kristen Bell — Pruney Fingers
Kristen Bell’s husband Dax Shepard revealed his famous wife’s strange fear on Instagram. The actor posted this photo with the caption, “My bride wears gloves in the pool because she hates the feeling of pruney fingertips on skin. #Hollyweird #iloveher.”
He later elaborated on Bell’s fear during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” saying, “When her fingertips are pruney she doesn’t want to touch other people’s skin” — hence the wearing of what she’s dubbed “pool gloves.”