Monday, June 9, 2008

Mag & Andy's Celebrity Encounters

Until now, I’d always wished I’d bumped into more celebrities while walking through my daily life. You’d think that having lived in places like the Bay Area and London, the odds would be good that I’d run into someone at some point, yet it seems like certain friends have been a lot luckier than me. My friend Sasha ran into Huey Lewis in the San Francisco airport a number of years ago (lucky dog!).

Huey - this photo is an oldie but goodie

Huey was my favorite singer of all time growing up, and I know my knees would still get weak if I saw him today. An ex-coworker of Andy’s had Bonnie Raitt walk into the vitamin store where he was working and discuss natural remedies. Apparently she was really nice and down to earth – not a surprise. That’s another one that would have made my day, month, year.

Andy’s friends have been remarkably lucky at celebrity sightings too. His friend James saw Steve Perry in a Florida airport once – he said he was ‘short, dressed like a cowboy, and short’. (Andy just suggested that perhaps Steve Perry was taking the midnight plane going anywhere... sigh.) James also said that very recently he almost ran Sandra Bullock over with his car as she was riding her bike the wrong way down a one-way street. Even better, Andy’s friend Dave met Bill Cosby when he was nine years old. Apparently Dave’s hair was messy and standing on end, and Bill told him he looked like he’d been electrocuted.

I guess I’m not totally unlucky - Andy and I did see a local celebrity last year before we left the bay area: Adam Savage from Mythbusters. We were in a local theater seeing an improv show, and before the play started, in walked red-haired Adam and his family. I frantically elbowed Andy and exclaimed: ‘That’s the guy on TV!’. Mythbusters is a much loved show in our household, so we both thought it was a real score to see Adam in person. And he really did look / act just like he does on TV.

A mischievous Adam Savage

To be fair, I did have an encounter with a celebrity in an Andronico’s Supermarket a number of years back. I was in a hurry to find my groceries and head home for dinner, so I rushed into to the Mexican food aisle, only to see someone blocking the tortillas. I was immediately annoyed – she looked on the old-ish side and was moving slowly. So I hovered behind her hoping she would move, and of course she sensed me there, so she suddenly turned around, smiled and said hello. Her manner was so kind that I immediately felt like a jerk for having essentially tail-gated her in front of the tortillas, so I said hi in return and chilled out. She then walked away and I remember thinking how warm and kind she was… and a little bit familiar. A few aisles later, it dawned on me who she might be, so I snuck around the store until I saw her again – and this time she was surrounded by about 4 huge tall bodyguards. My suspicion was confirmed that it was Maya Angelou! All I can say is that she managed to convey a lot of warmth in a very small interaction, and I was really touched by that. She was super-nice and I was really impressed – and she made me think twice about my brusque, harried manner.

Despite this cool interaction, it still wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I feel I had a true celebrity real-life spotting – my first bona-fide movie star run-in. Andy’s parents were in town, and we’d all gone to see a play at the Gielgud Theater called ‘The God of Carnage’. Despite the weird title it was a great play, starring Ralph Fiennes and Ken Stott, the guy who plays Inspector Rebus on British TV. (These weren’t the celebrity sightings by the way – people on stage in plays don’t count). Anyway, we all thoroughly enjoyed the show, and headed out of the theater afterwards onto the busy London street. Suddenly Andy’s Mom feverishly whispered: ‘It’s Tony Soprano!’

I did my best to play it cool but I have to admit I was intrigued. Sure enough, standing about five feet away was James Gandolfini. He had clearly come out of the same play and was talking to a few friends about it, right there on the street in London. He looked just like he does on TV, although he was also notably tall. We all walked right by him and tried to act nonchalant, which was hard. After we were a few blocks away we chattered excitedly about having seen him. It was fun, and not surprisingly, in a way he just looked like a normal guy.


Doug said...

woah! tony soprano, thats awesome. i was watching 'Terminal Velocity' purely for comedic value not long ago and spotted him in it. He plays a goon and i dont believe he does any skydiving. Though the thought is pretty entertaining. ok, i lied, i was watching it because i feel it's probably one of the greatest movies of our generation.

Somehow my roommates see the Mythbusters all over the place, i have yet to encounter a single one. I'm especially waiting for the chance encounter to hit on Kari and be the coolest nerd on the planet. Great segue into my next point. Speaking of nerds and celebrity spottings, I ran into Kevin Rose at a bar in the Mission a few months ago. I know you're probably thinking, who the heck is Kevin Rose? Well let me tell you. He is the founder of the popular website and also hosts a video podcast discussing funny stories on the site to which i subscribe. Hes my age, a millionaire many times over, and a moderate big wig in the tech industry. I leaned over and told my roommate, he couldn't have cared less. I didn't have the nerve to go up and say anything to him. Thats my big and only celebrity encounter in San Francisco.

Anonymous said...


I am hurt that you failed to mention that John and I spotted Ron Jeremy in the LAX airport, in flip flops no less.


Anonymous said...

Wow Doug, that's pretty cool you saw Kevin Rose. (Clearly I'm a nerd too cause I genuinely think it's cool).

Lyle, oh dear - I forgot about the Ron Jeremy encounter! Yikes. I don't like imagining him in flip-flops...

Andy M. said...

Hey, and don't forget that I saw the guy who played "Sucre" on Prison Break. Now that was a celeb highlight if I ever saw one. Certainly cooler than the time I recognized Faber, the carpenter from Trading Spaces, which, now that I mention it, is something I should probably never admit publicly.

Also, one of my former students was a vampire on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and in Never Ending Story II, which might explain why she was back in school.