Friday Question of the Day – Who was your favorite celebrity encounter?


Time for another random fun Friday question. Yesterday’s royal visit got me thinking about famous people. What’s your favorite celebrity encounter? Your worst?

When I was 12 years old I met Joe DiMaggio at a baseball card convention. I think I paid like $40 for an autograph which was obviously a ton of money for a 12 year old back then. Anyway, when I went to get his autograph the handlers at first wouldn’t let him sign my baseball because baseballs cost extra. I went nuts screaming at the handlers how long it took me to save this money, how hard I worked for it etc. Joe DiMaggio finally waved them off, called me over and said “kid you remind me a lot of me” and signed the ball. His seat was on a platform (probably so folks couldn’t take photos with him) so he was up way high and at the time it felt like God was speaking to me. Of course, many say Joe D wasn’t a particularly warm person but it remains the best celebrity encounter of my life.

What about you guys? If no story, who’s the most famous person you’ve met? What were the circumstances?

192 Comment

  • Chris Meloni (Stabler from Law & Order SVU)
    Walked up to a massive man standing in the foyer of my restaurant, looked up and bam! All I could get out was love the show. His server said he was nice, and my rough and tough male boss and me had a geek out moment. Server asks who is he? Does he play on some cop show? We’re like girl, you don’t even know; some cop show are you kidding me. It was too funny!

    • Ahh I love Chris Meloni! He seems like such a nice and hilarious guy.

    • Chris is a very good guy. I’d often see him at 6am on the dancefloor at various clubs in NYC (Vinyl for Danny Tenaglia, Junior Vasquez, etc). He was pretty big into the circuit parties back in the 00’s. He’d usually show up by himself, even at the height of his fame on Oz and SVU.

  • George Takei

    • Oh, and should have mentioned, NOT at a Star Trek convention… We were both at a conference and shared a table for breakfast. My boyfriend and I also ran into Zach Galifianakis in the 7-11 behind the Washington Hilton after the WH Correspondents dinner one year. My BF said, “Hey Fat Jesus!” and shook his hand.

  • Blithe

    My favorite: When I was in college, I went to a convenience store to get a snack. Also in the store was this very attractive older gentleman with gorgeous eyes. When he noticed me looking at him, he smiled, and I grinned back. I completed my purchase and left the store. The person I was with said: “You know that was Paul Newman, right?” I wasn’t quite sure who Paul Newman was, but I still remember his eyes.
    – Second most oblivious: I got in an elevator with this woman who was wearing a simple but beautiful hat. I admired it, and we chatted pleasantly about hats and hat shops until I got off the elevator. Later that day, someone asked me if I had seen Diane Keaton earlier. D’uh.

    • I also met Paul Newman while he was filming Message in a Bottle on the Maine coast. I was only 15 or so at the time and knew of him, but barely. He said hello and I said good morning.

      • When I was in college in Ohio, I organized a lot of stuff for Kerry. Newman came and spoke on campus. For that day I was my father’s hero, because I got to introduce him to Butch Cassidy.

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar was incredibly warm and social when she didn’t need to be.

  • This wouldn’t be cool anywhere else but DC, but I saw James Carville and Mary Matalin fighting with each other in Dupont Circle in 2006. I also waited on Tim Russert at a restaurant I worked at when I was in college. Really nice guy, great tipper too.

    • Hah! I went to AU and ran the speakers bureau on campus. James Carville spoke the night before the 96 election, but didn’t have a way to get home so we drove him home in the AU van. He had forgotten his key to the house, so stood out on the lawn of the condo building yelling “Mary!”. She never heard him, so we drove him to 7-11 to use the pay phone (Uber and cell phones would kill this story!). He got back in the van and said “Just in time. She was on the phone with my nephew trying to get him to vote for Dole.” And she apparently could hear him yelling but was mad at him for something he had said in his speech!

      • I worked at a bike shop near where he lived and he would come in and chat. He would talk about his wife and stuff but nothing political until another customer would come in and start talking about some political stuff. He remembered my name but I had no clue who he was. Really nice guy.

      • Haha! That’s an awesome story, StubsDC!

  • I Dont Get It

    Andy Warhol in the ABC suite at the Kentucky Derby.

    • That’s real good! Winner.
      Anything with Warhol is going to be weird.

      • I Dont Get It

        Plus there were lots of B List ABC stars. It was bizarre scene. I may have also thrown up in the same men’s room with him but I’m saving that story for later.

  • Only really a celebrity for DC, but a few years ago my then-fiancรฉ and I lived on the same floor as a young Congressman. I frequently saw him around, especially in the mornings. He would try to get me to let him give me a ride to work even though I worked nowhere close to the Capitol. Whenever he saw me alone he would find a reason to chat me up, but if he saw me with my fiancรฉ, he refused to even look at me.

  • Owen Wilson & Vince Vaughn. Cafe Citron. 2004. …Wedding Crashers.

    • I remember seeing them at LuLu’s (RIP) around that same time. They were mobbed by undergrads…

    • Vince ducked into the portico in front of my house when it started raining, while they were filming in Georgetown. Dude is huge.

  • Anne Coulter used to live somewhere near Cleveland Park in the 90s. I’d see her frequently around the Park n’ Shop and the coffee shop that used to be up that way (Quartermaine?). I once even encountered her at a house party in Mt. Pleasant… Malcolm Gladwell was at the party as well.

  • Ran into Lynda Carter (literally with a shopping cart) at the Social Safeway. I was very apologetic and blurted out something about Wonder Woman being my second favorite TV show as a kid after Magnum P.I.

    • I was right behind Ron Silver in line for the Acela to NYC just after his atrocious show Skin was canceled. I muttered under my breath, “His father is the District Attorney!!” He glared and me, I grinned at him, he relented and smiled at me, then we went out separate ways. RIP, Ron.

  • I was in Chicago for a conference and rode an elevator with Booker-T, yup…

  • binpetworth

    Not an encounter exactly, but when I was in college I wrote to Emma Thompson about a movie she was in, Carrington, that corresponded to my thesis on female artists. She sent me a handwritten 2 page letter back!

  • Not terribly big celebs but I saw Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein coming into Whole Foods on P St as I was leaving one day. Had to do a double take. Turns out they were performing Portlandia downtown at the time.

  • My best DC-celebrity sighting was Alan Greenspan at my dentist’s office, walking past me in the hall. Now every time I go I try to surreptitiously peer into the exam rooms, but I haven’t seen him since. And I bookstore-stalked Justice Kagan around Kramerbooks a couple of years ago; didn’t have the nerve to say anything to her. Non-DC celebrities I’ve seen in DC include John Slatterly (smiled at me when we passed on an empty block in Georgetown) and Sean Penn outside the Four Seasons (even hotter in person).
    My brother works at a hot restaurant in LA. He sees so many celebrities there that he doesn’t even bother to keep track. A few years ago while visiting him there we sat a few feet away from Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, and their daughter at a restaurant; Matt Stone was a few tables away and Tim Robbins had just almost hit me on his bike outside earlier.

    • Yes to Sean Penn being hotter in person! I saw him at a restaurant in DC several years ago and had to try really hard not to stare.

      • It was the day before the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Weirdly, he looked pretty rough in the photos from the dinner. But in person he looked hot and super sharply dressed.

        • If it’s the same year I’m thinking of, he was sloppy drunk at the dinner and making out with ScarJo in the hallways and alleys. lol I didn’t know they were publicly dating so I thought I had gotten the big scoop! Womp womp.

          • I have a pretty dirty ScarJo story ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

          • (OP Anon, I’m listening!)

          • Tell us!!!

          • (Please? ๐Ÿ™‚ )

          • Not fair to drop a tidbit like that unless you’re prepared to tell the whole story. If you can’t/won’t, then don’t mention it at all.

          • I have faith that The OP Anon is just taking a while to type it out because he’s giving us all the juicy details (or…I guess he could be doing actual work). He wouldn’t leave us hanging like that…would he!?

          • Calm yo’self, Textdoc. I’m just throwing a little bit of chum out there for the gossip sharks….got to tease your audience ๐Ÿ˜€
            Back in the 00’s, ScarJo was a regular in the East Village dive bar scene. We’d often see her at Lit Lounge, Max Fish, etc. She liked to party hard on the weeknights when the scene was locals-only.
            One night, she approached my buddy while we were all out. It was after 1am and everyone was lit up, dancing. She walks up to him and strikes up a conversation (I’m watching this go down from across the room, his girlfriend standing with me and laughing her ass off). She flirts a bit – doing the hair twirl, touching his chest, laughing at all his dumb jokes, etc. Eventually she asks him (1) for some blow, (2) to take her in the bathroom to do said blow, and (3) promised to “make it worth your while back at my place.” Basically, he was propositioned by ScarJo for a drug-fueled, sex fest. Of course he declines (his GF is watching all of this) and she says something along the lines of “Too bad. It would have made a great story. For both of us.” He’s now married to his GF but even she gives him crap for turning down ScarJo ๐Ÿ˜€

          • PS – I took a while because I had to do some work and then went to lunch ๐Ÿ˜›
            Such impatience!

          • Haha, fabulous story. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Well work the wait ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ooh, forgot about this one. My latest trip to LA appeared that it’d be a bust wrt celebrity sightings. But on my last day, saw Brett Ratner at a restaurant. He was waiting for a table (for quite a while, for a somewhat big name celeb) standing about six feet away right in my line of vision for about 20-30 minutes. We weren’t sure it was him until we noticed he was canoodling with a 23 year old underfed six foot tall Brazilian woman. To his credit, when they eventually sat down, I could see that they were dining with her grandmother, which was sweet of him.

  • Met Kid Rock in an elevator once at a Detroit Pistons game. I was about 13, addressed him as Mr. Rock and had him sign my arm cast. Seemed like a nice guy.

  • My friend and I got to spend a night in the club with Terrell Owens in Puerto Rico. Just as ridiculous as you can imagine. I have a picture of him giving her bunny ears.

  • Renee Zellweger at St. Ex a few years ago. She had a very sweet, southern accent and was talking to the bartender about her lack of knowledge about how to tell good wines.

    Jill Biden a few months ago at my nail salon in Gtown. Very sweet and low key. Very pretty and fit in real life.

  • Quotia Zelda

    Judith Martin

  • I met a lot of Manchester United players when I lived in England, and it was at the time when they were the world-champion unstoppable team. So I met David Beckham, Roy Keane, the Giggs brothers, and others. Also randomly bumped into Tony Blair when he was going into Granada Studios for an interview (they do not do security there like they do here). Saw the Queen and her douchey husband open an aquatics center (he gave two fingers to the Student Communists who were protesting, which I found infuriating and oddly amusing at the same time). However, all of this is trumped by my daughter who got to do message time at school with the president last year.

    • Oh, and my DC favorite was seeing Gordon Peterson at brunch. I grew up watching him, it was a real treat for me. My companion, however, had no clue who he was!

  • When living in NYC about 10 years ago, my friend who was a private wealth banker said, get dressed, we’re having dinner with Dr. Dre (at least that is what I thought she said). I wasn’t terribly excited about the prospect. When I showed up at the restaurant, Dr. J and Clyde Drexler were seated at the table. I was so psyched, and nervous. We hung out with them and other folks for the evening. They were super nice and respectful.

  • An Olympian gave me advice during a training trip, then took a picture with us in college. I’ll probably never forget that!

  • burritosinstereo

    Best celeb I have ever met: Dick Clark (and his wife). It was around 1999/2000, I was on a trip to France with a bunch of other French students from my high school. On our way to Nice we had a layover at De Gaulle, and while we were hanging around our gate waiting to board, we noticed Dick Clark and his wife nearby. They were incredibly kind and gracious – of course we were obnoxious teenagers so we all wanted pics with the celebrity – his wife actually offered to take the photos! they were both really, really tan but very nice. When boarding, I walked past them on the way to my seat and they were sitting in coach!

    Worst celeb: So I didn’t technically meet him, but I rode in an elevator with Dane Cook and he was (unsurprisingly) a massive tool. I didn’t realize who he was at first, although his voice grated my soul in such a way that I knew he was from SOMETHING, but I will never forget him telling the woman he was with “well, YOUR philosophy is bullshit!” – as soon as he got off I and I placed him I was like oh right, ok, that makes sense.

  • palisades

    I worked at a golf course in high school. PBS was filming a show about famous people’s heritage and family history. I came into work one day and a big entourage of vans and cars were at our dinky little golf course. Brooke Shields was there. Apparently her great grandfather or somebody fought in the civil war where the golf course was located. She was super nice and almost as tall as me (I’m 6’3″).
    God I wish I still worked there. Best job of my life.

  • I was walking really fast around a corner in a museum that I used to work in and I ran smack into Geraldo Rivera, nothing can quite prepare you for that mustache.

    Also met Busta Rhymes once, he was really very nice.

  • not my favorite, but definitely an amusing one. back in the summer of 2005 I was interning in nyc and I was heading to a photo shoot in soho. we walked past the back door to this fantastic home store called moss and I see a brand new Mercedes cls–it had just come out– with the engine idling. two seconds later a guy pops out of the back door. we’re both walking at each other and i’m thinking oh I know him, just can’t remember how. my coworker grabs my hand and doesn’t say anything. just before he gets into the car, we all kinda stop, I say hey how’s it going. he nods and just stands there. we keep walking. kanye west.

  • One summer I was an apprentice at Williamstown Theatre Festival. I had the chance to meet and learn from a bunch of celebrity-like folks including my ALL TIME biggest crush from growing up, Eric Stoltz. Oh yeah, “you look good wearing my future.” (For those who are not Some Kind of Wonderful fans, I take pity.)

    I had seen him a couple of times around campus but was too shy to say anything. My friend Grace took matters into her own hands. As he was leaving the main office, she stopped him, introduced us (*blushing*) and told him she needed his advice for a song she was using to audition (there was no audition, btw). He said, let me see it. Without skipping a beat, she performed Blame It On The Boogie ala Michael Jackson with hand movements and questionable dance moves. He was a really good sport, and told her he needed her to do it again. So she did. And he told her that it was really “something.” HA! I walked away, mortified.

    A couple weeks later, I got an assignment. Read lines with ERIC MFing STOLTZ. Say what?! Walked over to the house he was staying in (with Tate Donovan — who is the NICEST guy, btw), and when I reminded him about our first encounter he laughed and shared the story with his housemate. We then read lines for the show he was in, and talked about life and choices, and all HOLY CRAP, I just shot the shit with Eric Stoltz.

    A couple weeks after that, my sister came to see the show he was in. I took her backstage. Eric walked by and said, “Hey, Jill.” My sister’s mouth dropped open.

    Yeah, that was awesome.

    • Aglets

      yay williamstown! i didn’t work there but i have a lot of friends who did!

      • Being an apprentice there was a great experience. Really, really hard work, but so many good memories.

        • Aglets

          yeah- summer stock is brutal. I remember working for another theatre on Cape Cod in 1997 and at 5pm every friday this one radio station would play like a steam whistle and then a collage of ‘workin’ for the weekend’ type songs which made me so angry because we had 2 days off the entire summer! ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Yep. Sounds about right. Another great celebrity story? We were all working crazy long shifts (unusually long, even by the normal standards of summer stock), and morale was really low. Our stand-up instructor decided it was time he did a performance just for us. Not only was he funny, but he shared some really sweet stories about why he does the work he does. He may be an angry comic, but Lewis Black is a good man.

    • skj84

      What summer were you Jill?! I was an apprentice in 2008. It was the best summer of my life. It was hard work, but made me appreciate the work that goes into producing live theatre even more. My year had Wendell Pierce, Gias Charles, Kristen Johnson and pre Hangover Bradley Cooper. Wendell Pierce is awesome and loved the apprentices. Kristen Johnson is nuts, but in a good way. SHe would bring us donuts and let us pet sit her dog. Bradley Cooper was reserved, but very nice. I had to interact with him for a scene change and we would chat sometimes. I’m so happy that his fame has risen in the past few years. Best Bradley Cooper story is how he broke up a fight between one of the directors townies who tried to crash a party. Did you guys have Zoo parties? I missed it because I was rehearsing a one act I was directing.

  • Viggo Mortensen when he had a gallery show in town. It was just after the height of Lord of the Rings and I was a big fan of him and the movies. He’s ridiculously more attractive in person but very quiet.
    More recently, Steve Buscemi. He was very soft-spoken but a nice guy.

  • Dick Cheney. My HS gig was a starbucks barista in McLean, and one morning at some godawful hour with the sun shooting its death rays into my eyes (I didn’t really drink a lot of coffee) some middle aged white guy came in and got coffee and left. My coworker actually had to tell me that it was Dick Cheney. In my defense I was 16 and tired. (this would have been 7 years ago)

  • Eric Foner!! What was he like?

    Anyway, my best was sharing an elevator with Pat Ewing and Pat Riley when Patrick Riley was coaching the Knicks.

    • Quotia Zelda

      He was great. We had some mutual acquaintances who introduced us at a conference, and he was so kind to me (at the time I was a young, newly minted history PhD).

  • When I was in college at American, I volunteered to work for the Student Union Board and guard the backstage door for a Talib Kweli show (I had no idea who he was). While “guarding” the door, I ended up talking some guy, who I later realized was him when he went on stage.

    Also, in 2006, I worked at Fort Dupont Ice Arena and they had an event where Brooks Laich and Donald Brashear were to skate with their kids hockey team. Everybody was particularly excited about Brashear because the majority of the kids who play are from the neighborhood and wanted to get the Black NHL player out there. He got stuck in Philly, but Laich was still able to make it out and I have an awkward picture of the two of us.

  • Aglets

    Judith Light. I got to work with her when she was in town for Hedda and she sent us the most thoughtful (and delicious) thank you basket for opening night. To which we arranged and sent a flower arrangement. To which she sent a lovely letter- i had to stop my boss from writing a thank you letter for the thank you letter…. She was super lovely tho.

  • Joey Ramone. On the field at RFK Stadium at a HFStival. Ramones were playing later that day, and he just walked out of the dugout to check things out. So I said hi to him.

    • At least for me, this is THE BEST celebrity sighting in this thread. Did you talk to him at all? I imagine Joey was always incredibly shy.

  • A drunk Betty White. Or Mindy Kaling who took my phone and said “let’s take a selfie!”

    • This is amazing. Please say these both really happened!

      • Haha they did! Betty White had red wine stained lips and linked arms with me (I think to help keep her balance lol). She was super sweet. And Mindy Kaling was just as charming and funny as I had always imagined her to be! She kept saying “You know… I hope everyone loves Danny. Even though he’s short. I know he’s so so short. But he’s great.” : P

        • When you get frustrated with your job, can I remind you of these stories? ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Gasp! I am so jealous of your life. ๐Ÿ™‚
          Mindy’s right. Danny Castellano is my dream man (as is Chris Messina, but that’s just because I imagine he’s just like Danny).

    • Mindy Kaling? I would not be able to handle it. Where was this???

    • I think this encounter wins. (Yes-even over Andy Warhol).

  • Pablo Raw

    As I was getting to the exit of Machu Picchu, I noticed some commotion happening, and there among a group of Peruvian security guys was Jim Carrey! photo here:

  • When I was in high school, I saw Bjork shopping at a clothing store when I visited Toronto. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more starstruck, honestly. I also almost knocked over Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth when I was in college, also while clothes shopping. I wouldn’t have realized who she was, but my friend thought it was really hilarous that I almost took her out and had no idea she was in a band I liked.

    • Oh! How could I forget! I met Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving when they were in a play at the Kennedy Center a few years ago. Cate Blachett was unbelievably radiant — even more gorgeous in person, if that’s possible. And I wound up having a really fun discussion with Hugo Weaving about oil drilling in Nigeria. I like to pretend that we would be friends if he lived in DC ๐Ÿ™‚ Although I think I would always imagine that there are infinite numbers of him out there, like in the Matrix.

  • Tom Selleck. I stalked him into a corner at Zitomers pharmacy a few years ago, until it was just the 2 of us. Pretty comical, since he’s well over 6′ tall and I’m 5’2″. Once I got him alone and was just inches away, I slowly looked up-up-up and he gave me a slow grin (the Magnum PI one) and winked behind his sunglasses. I shrieked very loudly and ran away!! Not very blasรฉ, I’m afraid. Saw him later the same day walking down Madison Avenue, but he didn’t recognize me then. Wonder why!!

  • I met Vlade Divac last Saturday when he was here for the Sacramento Kings vs. Wizards game and he was really, really nice, especially given that he wasn’t trying to create a scene.

  • Hillary Swank – during her 90210 years. She was incredibly nice and we chatted for a good time about the cast and the show – she indulged my 90210 obsession. Class act.

    As for DC celebs – I’ve run (nearly literally) into Jill Biden a few times in my ‘hood. She looks amazing and is so friendly. I nearly mauled her/Joe’s puppy last time.

  • When I was in middle school my mom used to let me occasionally skip school and we’d drive up to NY to stand in the lobby of 30 Rock waiting for Jimmy Fallon to come into work in his SNL days. We would always take pictures and chat and nobody else was around so it was pretty cool. Once Tina Fey was walking by and dropped her purse and I helped pick up a bunch of tampons that fell out…good times.

  • Celtics legend Red Auerbach. Went to get him to sign a ball at his DC office. At 830 he was finishing a cigar. On the phone he was saying, they won’t even get out if bed for less than 100 grand. He then drove me down to K St to my office, he was on his way to play handball at GW.

  • I stood next to Drake at the Z Burger in Columbia Heights one afternoon last year. Later that day (it was the day after his birthday, or before) he was seen at a strip club with a literal bucket of money.

  • Oh jeez, where do I start? NHL teams, Olympians (teams and individuals), Sec Jewell on the metro randomly, movie stars, politicians, etc., etc.

  • I celebrated my 30th at the now defunct Kinkead’s with a small group of friends. It was very special. The menu read my name and we opened an expensive bottle of champagne. It took me a little while to notice, but Ted Kennedy was sitting on the table next to me. He came over and shook my hand and bought us a round.

    • That is so fucking awesome!!

    • SusanRH

      I had an awesome experience with Ted too. I was doing some grunt work in a Senate office building when I came across two Portuguese Water dogs (before he gave one to the president and they became well known). I stopped to pet them and two seconds later Ted rounded the corner and he was so impressed that I knew the breed that we talked dogs for about 15 minutes. He really loved his dogs!

    • Ted Kennedy was just the nicest guy. I would run into him from time to time when I worked on the hill and we would smile and nod. After several of these meetings he finally told me he always remembered me because I reminded him of his wife when she was younger. I ran into his son (Patrick) shortly after he passed and mentioned how much I’d like his dad and his son nearly started crying – I felt terrible.

  • When I was a kid growing up in Florida, I was at a mall in Tampa when I ran into Derek Jeter and his tall friend (the Yanks have Spring Training in Tampa, and Jeter has his house down there). I was completely starstruck so I had to have my cousin go over so she could do the talking for me. We were in an FYE, so all I had was a computer brochure for him to sign. I still have that pamphlet with The Captain’s signature. A few years after the encounter I was watching the 2001 World Series and I realized that Jeter’s tall friend that day was Andy Pettite – unintentionally snubbed him by not asking for his autograph!

  • I ran into Paul Rudd at the Red Derby a few years ago. He seemed really nice, but had a giant head as I remember. I also met Jonah Hill in New Orleans during Jazz Fest a couple of years ago. Super nice, even though he wouldn’t let us take a picture with him (doesn’t like his picture to be taken….kind of in the wrong business for that!)

  • I went to elementary school with Joe Theismann’s kids. Joe’d come to pick them up periodically and would frequently bring some of the other players with him. Got to meet lots of the Hogs as well as some of the other players, including Darrell Green.

  • Growing up in LA and spending the prime of my early adult life in NYC gave me a ton of really good celebrity encounters. Just a few…..I have so many more….
    1. My HS girlfriend and I decided to spend the day down in La Jolla on the beach (near San Diego) back when we were 16. It was a secluded cove and pretty empty. I brought my kite and started flying it. A mother and her child came up, as the kid was fascinated with the kite. The mother asks if I could teach her daughter – around age 5 – how to fly a kite. I look up and realize it’s Madonna and her daughter Lourdes, with two HUGE bodyguards (one male, one female) about 50 feet behind them. Lourdes loves the kite and I end up hanging out with Lourdes, Madonna, and her bodyguards for about an hour. Madonna was nice, but also very reserved and a little detached.
    2. The same year, a friend’s older sister asks me if I would like to be a “seat filler” at the MTV Movie Awards. Of course I jump at the opportunity. That night was totally crazy – this was the award show where Jim Carey was dressed like a long bearded hippy and made rambling speeches (he was making Man on the Moon and was doing the method acting thing, refusing to break character IRL). I sat a few seats down from him at one point and he was completely incoherent and annoying all the other A-list celebs seated near him. I also met Kid Rock and Joe C (RIP), really nice dudes and very humble. I was completely starstruck when I met Selma Hayek – drop dead gorgeous but the tiniest person I’ve ever met. Even in heels, she was only 5’1″ or 5’2″.
    Best moment of the night was when Guy Ritchie won the award for “Best New Director”. It was right before Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was about to hit American theaters, so no one knew him yet. Guy won the award, so I got to fill his seat. Of course, he’s surrounded by the entire cast of Lock Stock – Vinnie Jones, Jason Stratham, Dexter Fletcher, etc. At this point, they are pretty drunk and ask me about my job filling seats (who have you met tonight? which celebrities have drugs? etc), what I’m studying in school, etc. They are just a bunch of drunk English lads, with no business being anywhere near the Hollywood scene. The grab the waiter and we all start doing shots together. Eventually Guy Ritchie makes it back to his seat and he’s dumbfounded by the scene: all his actors are getting rowdy and drunk with a 17 year old American kid camped out in HIS seat. I apologized and excused myself….though the guys protested to kick Guy out and keep me there ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I was in LA a few weeks ago and we went to a random bar by my brother’s house and ended up playing darts on the board next to Josh Hutcherson’s for a good two hours. He seemed alright.

    A few years ago I was eating at an Italian restaurant (Fiola I think) and saw Elena Kagan’s name on the reservation list, so naturally had to take a lap around the restaurant to spot her. You’d think they’d exercise some discretion with their list to combat people like me.

    Oh and sat behind Pat Sajak at a Caps game

    • skj84

      When I worked in restaurants many times if someone famous had a reso it would be under an assistant or another friends name. For this very reason. We printed out notes called “chits” to be handed out to the server, manager, and kitchen whenever a reservation of significance came in. Most of the time they were for birthdays or allergies, but sometimes because someone of note came in. If a server dropped a chit with a celebrity name on it there would be hell to pay!

  • Emmaleigh504

    Shaq left LSU the year before I got there, but he would come back and visit. One night as I was walking home from work with this chick in my dorm he and his pal stopped us to chat. His pal wanted to go out with the girl I was with (he saw her earlier & waited til she got off work to ask her out) and Shaq was playing wing man. So as wing man he had to entertain me. So he invited me out with them. The dumbass girl didn’t want to go out with the dude, no matter how many awesome things Shaq added to the date, she would not budge. And that is how I *almost* dated Shaq. I have never forgiven that cow.
    Fun fact: For the longest time at LSU the favorite pickup line was to tell a chick you were in Shaq’s old room, and invite her back to see the bed.

  • Several years ago, I was having a tortuous outdoor brunch with the in-laws in South Beach, looked at the next table, and thought, “that guy’s wearing a Keith Richards costume”–Union Jack pants, foofy shirt, orthopedic high tops. Then I realized it WAS Keith Richards. The Stones had played in Rio the night before in front of like a million people, and we figured he had just flown home and was brunching with his kids (who live in Miami) still dressed in his stage getup. Or maybe he dresses that way all the time, who knows. After they finished, they jumped in a huge 60s white Cadillac convertible that was parked in front of a fire hydrant, and Keith flipped an illegal u-turn and sped off. I dreamed about being freed from the in-laws, in the back of Keith’s car, swigging Jack from the bottle, cruising Miami Beach. . . .
    When I was five, I was on the JP Patches show. Any oldsters from the Seattle area will know the reference. This actually tops Keith.

  • These are more sightings rather than actual “encounters” per se, but:
    I was visiting L.A. and at a restaurant with a friend who lives there when we spotted Beck having dinner with Christina Ricci and some other people.
    When I was visiting New York City with some grad-student friends while we were all in grad school, I spotted Woody Allen and Soon-Yi on the sidewalk. My friends were oblivious and looking in store windows, and I had to quickly get their attention.

  • goaldigger

    Sam Waterston. This summer I was walking from my office near Metro Center to return a book at MLK library. As I was walking down 11th St I see this gent cross 11th at G that looks familiar (I’m like no damn way, that can’t be!). I’m a huge L&O fan. I pick up the pace as I round the corner and catch up to him at G and 10 (red light karma!). I get up next to him and lean over and whisper, “are you Sam Waterston?”. He leans back and whispers, “yes”. The light changes and we go on our way. He was much shorter than I thought he was (he looks so imposing on TV).

  • SouthwestDC

    I guess I’m the only person that’s never had a sighting/encounter? Unless you count that Obama impersonator…

  • Back in the 1990s I ran into Mr. Rogers (of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) at the Watergate CVS. I froze in my tracks! I watched that show all the time as a kid and was in the presence of greatness!

    And more recently, I was standing next to Joyce Carol Oates at the National Gallery and asked her if she was “That author Joyce Carol Oates” (so delicate!) and she laughed and said, “Why yes I am, who are you?” Wish I had read some of her books so I could chat but I hadn’t. Since amended though….

  • jim_ed

    Most of mine seem to revolve around athletes, though my most “DC” one was when my wife took me to Rasika for my birthday one year, our reservation had to be delayed 20 minutes because CIA director Leon Panetta was squatting on our table. His security detail outside included several K-9s, which was kinda interesting.

    Most of the Gilbert-era Wizards used to come into the T-Mobile I worked at in Tysons during college because they all had sidekicks as their road groupie phones. Antonio Daniels was the coolest of them all, and would hang out for an hour if we were slow and talk hoops, like who was the biggest trash talker (Kobe), who was the most overrated player he ever gaurded (also Kobe), and who was the most talented (Bron). Clinton Portis would come in as well, and was incredibly nice. He’d sign autographs and take pictures with basically anyone who would ask. There’s also one hilarious encounter with Steve Francis I’ll write later if I have time.

    • First time I went to Rasika, (then Senator) Hillary Clinton and Dianne Feinstein were sitting a couple of tables away from us. Tons of security.

    • I had the opportunity to meet Leon Panetta when I was 16, I was in DC for a summer program on international security and politics and staying at AU. One of the girls in my small group happened to be his niece and she asked if he would swing by to talk with us. There were maybe 8 of us that had the good luck to be in her small group and meet him/talk with him for about half an hour.

  • SusanRH

    Chatted up Bill Murray while waiting in Passport Control at Newark, he was on his way home from George Clooney’s wedding. He was really nice and completely down to earth!

  • Emmaleigh504

    Trent Reznor and his decorate used to shop at my Restoration Hardware. They had really crap taste and bought really ugly and expensive stuff. He was always stand-offish and let the decorator interact with the peasants.
    I also got to serve ice cream to Alec Baldwin. He always ordered a brownie milk shake with a scoop of peanut butter something ice cream on the side. I didn’t recognize him at first b/c he was dressed like a dad (khaki pants & blue button down). I thought he was 1 of my parents’ friends & I was panicking b/c I couldn’t remember his name. He was super duper nice and chatty and conveniently “forgot” his change on the counter. He paid with a $20 so it was a good amount of change.

  • I met Spike Lee at a dairy queen once. He asked how the blizzards were and I told him they were good.

  • skj84

    I worked at a luxury hotel for 5 years and met many celebrities along the way. It was an interesting experience, as staff we were definitely supposed to recognize and note anyone famous, yet not acknowledge who they were or get star struck. Privacy and discretion were expected. Nothing was to be said to the public or posted online. I would tell friends about who I met long after the fact. But I do have some stories! I would say my favorites were Whitney Huston( and that WAS a story!), Betsey Johnson, Fred Armisen(loved me!) Jon Hamm(the personification of “tall, dark and handsome) Harry Connick Jr. My big story is how the cast of Lincoln came to eat at my restaurant. Everyone including Daniel Day Lewis and Steven Spielberg. It was the only time I ever almost came close to losing my cool. They didn’t even have a reservation, just walked in at the end of a lunch shift one day.

    • Blithe

      Betsey Johnson!!!! Do you remember what she was wearing?

      • skj84

        I don’t remember, though I was very her. She was so sweet! I actually had on a green leopard print sweater dress by her under my uniform. I really wanted to show her, but didn’t want to get fired.

    • I think I would actually pass out if I saw John Hamm in person.

      • skj84

        He had this magnetic force. I don’t think he’s very attractive in pictures, but in person. Oh my. Even my straight male boss was feeling him.

        • palisades

          It’s unfortunate that his wife’s face is made of plastic. I feel he could do so much better.

          • palisades

            (I’m still convinced he and Kristen Wiig will end up together)

          • Nooo. He was such an unpleasant person when I met him (sorry, Shawess but he was kind of a d*ck) and I love Kristen Wiig. I do not support this hypothetical union!

          • In a way, that’s a relief, SKT. One human should not get -all- of the good human qualities ๐Ÿ™‚

          • palisades

            I never enjoy these anecdotes. Sometimes people are just in a bad mood or having a bad day. You never know.

  • Julianne Moore, I met her at the Smithsonian exhibit of Kitchens in America, we bonded at Julia Child’s kitchen. She was very nice and kind, was hanging with her sister and daughter. John Ashcroft at the Rhode Island Home Depot in the return line. Bill Clinton at a gift shop in Heathrow Airport, he had on jeans, a navy blazer and loafers. The man was hot!

    • Bill Clinton is big!!

    • I also saw Julianne Moore once with her family and agree she seemed like a lovely person. We were seated next to her at lunch in Woodstock, NY a couple of weeks after after September 11, when she was in town for their film festival and I was looking to get the hell out of NYC for the weekend. She was very polite about the fact that my friend and I were probably looking at her table a little too much, and flashed us a big smile when her family left, as if to thank us for not being too obnoxious and acknowledge that yes, she was Julianne Moore.

  • Muhammad Ali. He was at a charity boxing event that I attended in college. Walked right up to him sitting in the front row to say hello (I thought security would stop me). He offered me some popcorn and then motioned for me to kiss him on the cheek….

  • My favorite was Robert Reich, at some reception. He was super friendly and easy-going and confident and warm. We were both standing alone in that awkward between-conversations kind of way, and he just walked up and introduced himself: “Hi, I’m Bob.” So now I get to call him Bob. This story can only be told in DC.

  • jburka

    Growing up in the area, we had all sorts of politically connected neighbors. Peter Bensinger, DEA director was across the street (I played with his daughter), eventually-disgraced Senator Bob Packwood was around the corner (my brother and I played with both of his kids), and director of the FBI (and later CIA) Bill Webster was next door.

    After Bill’s pet doberman (Jenny, well-trained and vicious, but really sweet once she knew you) died, Bill bought his wife a bassett hound, Babs, who would often get out of their fenced-in backyard. G-men would regularly see me in the neighborhood and ask if I knew the dog, and I’d go off to find her for them.

    One year in high school, I worked at a movie theatre in Montgomery Mall and sold tickets to Sugar Ray Leonard and Ted Koppel, with whose son, Drew, I had gone to summer camp.

    And in college I scooped ice cream at the late, lamented Bob’s Famous Homemade Ice Cream alongside Ivor Hanson, a drummer who was big in the DC hardcore scene (e.g. he was in Henry Rollins’ first band)

    • I love this: “G-men would regularly see me in the neighborhood and ask if I knew the dog, and Iโ€™d go off to find her for them.”

  • nightborn

    My best friend and I are standing in line waiting to board a flight to London in 2007, and all of a sudden the gate agent motions for me to stop and my friend starts tugging at my sleeve. I’m oblivious and just keep on trying to hand my passport to the agent. Finally my friend just grabs me and pulls me back a little. I turn and apparently Billy Zane (Demon Knight!!) is politely trying to get past me (of course they didn’t make him stand in line.)

    He is really tall and was so incredibly well groomed – I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a perfectly put together person. Perfect glowing skin, manicured hands, wearing a beautiful pressed cream colored linen suit (not a wrinkle in sight!), and smelled really nice.

  • Michael Jordan in the Verizon Center’s freight elevator; Leon Panetta’s dog sniffed my dog’s butt; a thumbs-up gesture from Bill Clinton when we crossed paths jogging on the Mall; a chat with Jim Fowler of Wild Kingdom regarding female buzzard episode; eye-lock with Ted Turner

  • Back in the day my girlfriend at the time and I went out with a coworker of hers and her bf–Doug Limon. It was after he had directed Swingers but before it really hit. He was definitely the neurotic artist type. It’s where I learned that they always wet the roads/sidewalks in outdoor shots for consistency in case it ever rains one day of shooting. The more memorable part, though, was that the dinner was at the original Lauriol Plaza location (where Rosemary’s Thyme is today). That’s more of a bit of history than Doug!

    I also was on a flight to LA for work that was right after one of the Kennedy Center honors events. I was in the first row of coach and could see into first class, where Kelsey Grammer was with his wife and mother, who was in a wheelchair. When we get to LAX a friend from college meets me at the gate (back when you could do that) with her two kids, one of which is in a stroller. I tell her Kelsey Grammer is on the plane, and she basically said “that’s cool, let’s go.” So we start heading to the baggage claim but have to take the elevator because of the stroller. Before the door closes we see Kelsey coming in as well because of his mother being in a wheelchair. My friend goes to hit the door open button but instead hits the alarm button. Of course it makes everyone look over. Luckily the alarm ended quickly and my friend apologizes for creating the small scene. Kelsey just laughed it off though and was great to people in the baggage claim area as well who said hi or wanted an autograph.

  • I love all these stories! My favorite was just a few years ago. I was in line at security at LAX and this older gentleman spoke to TSA and TSA closed down the security line right next to me. Through some back door with a curtain comes Sandra Bullock and her little boy, Louis. She’s holding him and explaining that he doesn’t have to take his shoes off and he gestures to me, now taking my shoes off, and asks why not? She explains that he’s too young and she proceeds to set him down and take off these amazing black boots. He waddles a few steps over to me and tries to take his shoes off. It was adorable and she actually apologized. I said, “I like your boots.” She said thanks and was gone before I even made it through the scanning machine.

  • I delivered clean underwear to Ivan Watson in Haiti.

  • My boss on the Hill did a lot of Title IX stuff, so I met Mia Hamm. She’s was kind of snotty and not into it. She was wearing khakis and a sweater to a Hill event. But her ring (she was married to Nomar at the time) was HUGE.

    Billie Jean King – the nicest, sweetest, most down to earth person you’ll ever met. I want to adopt her as my cool aunt.

    Juliette Lewis – itty bitty, very nice, but crazy hyper.

    Diane Lane was on my flight back from LAX once. Even more gorgeous in person, immaculately put together even after a five and half hour red-eye.

    John O’Hurley (J. Peterman) in Vegas. He was King Arthur in Spamalot. We went for a drink in the casino before the show and he was there eating dinner and watching the Red Sox before the performance. We said hello and break a leg, since it would have been awkward not to say something, and that we knew better than to interrupt the Sox. He was beyond nice, asked us where were from, told us DC is beautiful, etc. He looks and sounds exactly the same in person. He was my favorite.

  • Though I’ve lived in DC for 15 years, I’ve seen fewer famous people than if I lived in Iowa.

    Best encounter was Senator Joe Lieberman when I worked as a doorman at Georgetown’s The Tombs. His head looks like the Telletubbies sun. Large, glowing, smiling. Say what you will about his politics, the man exudes charisma.

    • We see Joe all the time walking to temple in Georgetown. He belongs to the one with the pervy rabbi.

  • Daryl Hannah…How could I forget.
    Came in to eat after getting out of jail for protesting. Another person covered the bill for her whole table. She was really nice and it was the lips that made me notice her even in a dimly lit space.

  • I was on a flight with some friends from Chicago to DCA in March 2006 and one of my friends was seated several rows in front of me in coach. Shortly after we boarded, a tall, thin black man says “hi” and sits down right next to him. All through boarding people walking down the aisle stopped to introduce themselves to the man and said things like “thank you, sir” or “I want to say I’m a huge admirer.” He shook hands with maybe half the plane.

    My friend wants to strike up a full conversation but doesn’t know who the guy is, so they make some small talk about the NCAA tournament (we were traveling back to DC after watching Georgetown fall to Florida in the Sweet Sixteen). He thinks the guy might be a retired athlete. Several people say things to the guy like “I really hope you run.”

    We get off the flight and our friend says “I think I was sitting next to someone famous on the flight, do you know who that was?”

    We were like “Dude, you were sitting next to Barack Obama!”

    He says “Who’s that? What do people want him to run for?”

  • sighting: Prince William in London 2007, he waved
    encounter: James Marsden on the streets in New Orleans, super friendly and took pictures
    encounter: Queen Latifah at the W, not very friendly
    encoutner: Ty Pennington in a hotel lobby, super super tan, really nice

  • Jimmy Smits – I was a White House intern back in 2000, and Tipper hosted a fundraiser at the VP’s Residence for Jimmy Smit’s Foundation. I was helping to staff the event when he arrived and he walked right up to me at the front door and said “Hi, I’m Jimmy Smits” and shook my hand. I didn’t realize how attractive he was until I met him in person. Blew my mind.

  • Another sighting: On my first trip to London, I was walking through a Tube station and noticed a very tall woman. Then I realized that it wasn’t a woman, it was a man, and that it was Mike Edwards, the tall and somewhat androgynous-looking singer of Jesus Jones.

  • I went to visit a friend who worked on a set in LA and gave me tickets to see a live taping. As I’m standing in line to get into the studio, I almost got ran over by a crazy driver in a red convertible. Turns out it was Sara Gilbert.

    • That reminds me… the first (?) time I went to Shakespeare’s Globe in London, I spotted a very expensive-looking convertible — I think something Italian and/or historic — being driven by Globe director and highly regarded British actor Mark Rylance, who is probably going to be much better known in the U.S. soon as a result of playing Cromwell in the “Wolf Hall” TV adaptation.

  • When I worked on the hill, I prepped both Richard Simmons (80’s exercise guy) and Usher (teenage heartthrob) for hearings. Simmons was very friendly but kind of manic, never sat down. Usher was sweet, reserved, and utterly petrified – it was like he didn’t know what to do when not fending off hordes of girls.

    I also live right down the street from Ezra Klein and frequently see him walking his dogs. He’s almost always on the phone, his dogs are not particularly social (they’re fine with people, don’t seem to like other dogs).

  • Another one of my favorite stories is when I hung out in Dustin Hoffman’s NYC penthouse on CPW for an entire weekend. I didn’t know it was his apartment until I answered the phone and he was on the line. We had a good chat for about 20 minutes and he told me to “enjoy the view!” ๐Ÿ˜€

  • When I was in 8th grade (1991 or 1992) I won backstage passes to the Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch concert. This was during his Calvin Klein modeling/pants dropping stage. My mom has a picture of 13year old me with Marky Mark on her fridge!

  • My boyfriend and I ran into DMX in NOMA about a year ago. He was outside of the hotel right next to the metro with a big group of people, and as we drew level, my boyfriend yelled, “hey man, are you DMX?”. He smiled, thanked us, took pictures with us, and kept saying, “God bless you guys, thank you, god bless, god bless”. He could not have been nicer!

  • Tia Carrere — I was living in the South Pacific and learned she was on the island visiting. Called a few hotels and they patched me right into her room. Told her that I wanted to interview her for a “newspaper” and arranged to meet with her the lobby of her hotel and conducted an interview, took a photo with her. One time I also hung out with Wade Boggs and Jack MacDowell at a bar in KC when they were in town with the Yankees. Best story is one my dad has of a verbal altercation with a man who took his coveted aisle airplane seat during a stopover — turned out to be Truman Capote.

  • A few years ago I was waiting to cross a street in Santa Monica and realized I was standing right behind Josh Brolin. He was chatting with some guy about making a movie with Ron Howard. We walked the same direction so I was behind them, eavesdropping for a while – and DAMN does Josh Brolin have a sexy ass! He’s not very tall, but wow that ass.

  • Cesar Romero — Batman’s original TV Joker! I had a broken arm at the time and he signed my cast.

  • Saw Grover Norquist at the Home Depot in Seven Corners, Falls Church.

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