From Bjork and Bill Murray right through to Lady Gaga, everyone loves an eccentric celebrity. Maybe it’s an offbeat dress sense, a penchant for unusual humour, or a large catalogue of zany, possibly apocryphal anecdotes about ‘that time someone met them in a bar’.
Whatever the reason, they’re entertaining, but eccentricity doesn’t always have a public face. Here’s how the rich and famous embrace the weird and the wonderful – entirely in their spare time.
1. Rod Stewart is obsessed with model trains
For 23 years Rod Stewart has been working on a masterpiece – and it has nothing to do with music. A model train enthusiast of the highest order, Sir Rod used to book out an extra room while on tour to work on his models before and after performances.
He revealed the fruits of his labour to Railway Modeller magazine last year – a 1500 square foot metropolis named Grand Street and Three Rivers City, replete with soaring skyscrapers, tweeting birds, and who knows how many yards of train track. “When I take on something creative,” the singer told the magazine, “I have to give it 110 per cent.”
2. John Lennon collected stamps
Stamp collecting has never been exactly rock n’ roll, but you’ll find no keener philatelist than Beatle-in-chief and hippie icon, John Lennon. A boyhood obsession, Lennon started collecting aged 10, and his album is now on display at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in DC.
He inherited the passion from his cousin, and Lennon has now featured on nearly as many stamps as he accumulated.
3. Leslie Mann is a pro at unicycling
This Is 40 actor Leslie Mann got a unicycle for Christmas when she was 11, and she promptly learnt a variety of tricks such as cycling backwards and jumping off curbs. “The tyre has been flat for years,” she told Lorraine Kelly in 2018, “but I can just get up and do it.” It’s like riding a bike – you never forget.
She’s not the only celebrity to have been intrigued by a one-wheeler – James McAvoy and Mark Ruffalo have both demonstrated impressive unicycle skills during appearances on The Graham Norton Show.
4. Tom Hanks collects vintage typewriters
So taken with typewriters he literally wrote the book on them (Uncommon Type: Some Stories), double Academy Award winner Tom Hanks has owned hundreds of the machines over the course of his career, and bought his first when he was only 19.
Hanks uses his typewriters to tap out messages to friends, and even has an app, Hanx Writer, which can simulate the typeface on your phone. “Typewriters are essentially worthless,” he said in an interview with Nerdist, “but I love them.” Whatever floats your boat.
He recently appeared in the news after giving away one of his typewriters to a young Australian boy named Corona. The boy wrote to Hanks to wish him well after being diagnosed with the virus and revealed to the star that he was being bullied at school due to his name. Hanks replied with a letter wishing him well and included a Corona typewriter as a gift.
5. Justin Bieber is extremely good at Rubik’s Cubes
When he was a kid (well, an even younger kid), Bieber would often solve Rubik’s Cubes during interviews as a sort of party trick, and he’s still regularly snapped by paparazzi clutching completed puzzles.
For those keeping score, he can reportedly crack a cube in 83 seconds – that’s seven seconds faster than Ed Miliband, but 28 slower than Will Smith.
6. Pierce Brosnan used to be a fire-eater
Long before landing the role of cinema’s suavest spy, Pierce Brosnan ran away to join the circus. Okay, he didn’t exactly ‘run away’, but his reported three-year stint as a big top fire-eater was pretty outlandish even for the future Bond.
The actor hasn’t practised his art since a fire-breathing performance on The Muppets in 1997 when using the wrong lighter fluid left him with a badly burnt mouth.
7. Kendall Jenner makes amazing bird noises
Last year, James Cordon’s Hidden Talent show revealed a reservoir of celebrity eccentricity: Andrew Garfield does a mean backflip, Stevie Nicks is a dab hand at baton twirling, and Kendall Jenner can do superb bird noises.
The A-lister took the stage, pursed her lips, and emitted a string of disarming chirrups of which any passerine would be proud. We can only assume the studio windows were closed, as she wasn’t immediately mobbed by sparrows, skylarks and buntings.
8. Mike Tyson keeps and races pigeons
In the annals of the world’s greatest love affairs, there’s Romeo and Juliet, Kath and Kim, and Mike Tyson and his pigeons. The man known as ‘Iron Mike’ has credited pigeons with saving him from a life of violence in and out of the ring, and at one point he’d apparently accumulated a whopping 350 birds.
“I’ve loved pigeons since I was nine,” he says in a documentary for the Discovery Channel, “they were my escape,” and after losing his final title fight to Lennox Lewis he jetted home and sat with his birds for an entire day.
Do you have any unusual hobbies?
– With PA
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