Billy Bob Thornton
Fears, phobias and fixations have haunted Hollywood for years — even legendary horror film director Alfred Hitchcock was an ovophobic, going "Psycho" if he ever saw an egg. But the difference is today, celebrities aren't afraid to admit to being a little neurotic.
“Bizarre preoccupations and phobias have been around a long time,” said Jean De Niro, professor of culture and communications at New York University. “The only difference is that nowadays we can discuss them openly, and medics have given every little fear a name of its own.”
For those who are still scarred by the vision of "It" the clown crawling from the drain to capture the kiddies in the popular 1985 film, you aren’t alone. Depp and Sean "Diddy" Combs suffer from claurophobia, meaning they can’t handle being around clowns either.
"Something about the painted face, the fake smile," Depp told reporters while promoting “Sleepy Hollow" in 1999. "There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil."
And when it comes to getting friendly at the farm, several celebs prefer town to country.
According to Sky News, Orlando Bloom might be bold when it comes to fighting "Pirates of the Caribbean," but he'll run a mile if he sees a pig. And country singer Lyle Lovett is afraid of cows.
“A lot of people have an intense fear of particular animals,” said Australian spiritual healer Janet Mullins. “But even more are absolutely terrified by insects."
Sultry screen siren Scarlett Johansson sees red when it comes to cockroaches, Nicole Kidman gets the flutters around butterflies and Justin Timberlake is by no means a fan of snakes, spiders and sharks.
When it comes to confined spaces, there is no way claustrophobic Uma Thurman can “Be Cool."
“There was no acting required. Real screams available,” the actress told reporters when referring to the scene in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” where she is buried alive in a coffin. “It was horrific. Nobody wants to live that experience.”
But actresses Kim Basinger and Daryl Hannah would think quite the opposite. They’re both agoraphobics who fear wide, open spaces.
“It can often be quite ironic what stars are afraid of,” said Mullins. “Things that they’ve had to do in their careers are sometimes things they loathe the most.”
One would think Pamela Anderson wouldn’t mind sighting her reflection, but it turns out she is frightened of mirrors.
And it’s just as well her "Baywatch" co-star Carmen Electra spent most of the time running up and down the beach in slow motion, because she can’t swim and is scared of water.
“I get terrified near it (water) and have a panic attack,” she told Sky News.
Don’t assume vampire-slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar is accustomed to tombstones — she holds a grave hatred of graveyards. A fake graveyard had to be built from season two of "Buffy" onward, as she refused to film in real ones.
And no doubt Keanu Reeves is also relieved that "The Matrix" is just a movie, because he is a scotophobic who dreads darkness.
Madonna may have been careful in 1993 to sing only about “Rain” due to her terror of thunder, while “Papa Don’t Preach” cover singer and Playboy wannabe Kelly Osbourne has a thing about personal contact.
“All you have to do is just touch her collarbone,” brother Jack told British newspaper The Sun. “It’s awesome, she starts dry-retching.”
Wandering the woods when she starred in “Little Red Riding Hood" must have been treacherous for Christina Ricci, as the actress is terrified of plants (botanophobia). The former “Mermaid” also doesn’t like swimming pools, and fears that a shark might just emerge.
If you want to lose Matthew McConaughey in less than 10 days, just make him go through lots of tunnels and revolving doors.
And if you’re someone who freaks out over flying, you’re in good company with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Cher, Michael Jackson and Whoopi Goldberg, who are all aviophobics.
“An enormous number of celebs have strong fears of flying as their jobs require lots of travel,” said De Niro. “And 9/11 has made the situation much worse.”
Jesse Blanco, a Los Angeles television director and producer, said the pressures of constantly being in the public eye can cause many stars to get very nervous.
"The more fame, the more insecurities," she said.
Well, if fears really are a measure of fame, then we have a few winners.
Angelina Jolie’s ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton is not only afraid of airplanes, but is also a chromophobic (he fears bright colors) and is scared of antique furniture. The “Bad Santa” star refuses to stay in a room with furniture built before 1950.
"I get creeped out and I can't breathe and I can't eat around it," Billy Bob admitted to Sky News. “I've had friends tell me that maybe I was beaten to death with an antique chair in a former life."
Giving Thornton a run for his money is 90210’s newest neighbor, ataxophobic David Beckham.
This doesn't mean the soccer star dreads tax time — ataxophobics despair disorder and untidiness.
In Beckham's closest, everything must be color coordinated, his soda cans are lined up perfectly in the fridge and he evens buys clothes to match his furniture.
"Everything has to match in the house," his wife, Victoria, told People magazine two years ago. "If there are three cans of diet Coke, he'd throw one away rather than having three because it's uneven."
But taking the golden statue for the number of neurotic tendencies is, of course, Woody Allen, who has strong phobias against insects, sunshine, dogs, deer, bright colors, children, heights, small rooms, crowds, cancer and anywhere except Manhattan.
Or perhaps a more accurate diagnosis is that Woody just can’t let himself have fun. In fact, the original title of “Annie Hall” was "Anhedonia," the inability to feel pleasure.
But does going public with a phobia sabotage stardom?
“It is very risky coming out if the problem is a serious one,” said De Niro. “You run the risk of people focusing more on your phobia than your craft. But when a celeb admits that they feel a particular fright it shows vulnerability. Fans really identify with their honesty and look up to them for speaking out.”
It comes as no surprise then that along with an agent, a publicist and a BlackBerry, one of the requirements of stardom is a shrink.
“With the right help, anybody can overcome their phobia,” added De Niro. “When it starts to interfere with day-to-day life, that’s when professional help is required.”
Just look at Tyra Banks.
The supermodel turned talk-show host took the first step to overcoming her childhood fear of porpoises and sea mammals by confronting dolphins and killer whales for a segment of her show last year at California’s Sea World in San Diego.
“The fear is not over. I've gotten a little past it but there is something that still lives inside me,” Banks said tearfully to her live audience.
But Banks may be more the rule than the exception in Hollywood.
“Everyone has some madness in them,” said Mullins. “Especially in show biz. If you want to fit in, you’ve got to be at least a little crazy.”