Every Terrible and Embarrassing New York Celebrity Encounter I’ve Had

Every Terrible and Embarrassing New York Celebrity Encounter I’ve HadEvery Terrible and Embarrassing New York Celebrity Encounter I’ve Had.

It’s not all Alec Baldwin all the time.

Whenever I tell people I live in New York, one of the first questions they ask me is if I’ve seen any celebrities. I have, of course — it’s hard to go to NYU and not see celebrities during your daily commute or as you float aimlessly about between classes. I’ve had the (mis?)fortune of encountering quite a few famous people over the course of my 6 months in New York City, and though I’d have loved for all of my encounters to be cool, suave, and savvy, unfortunately, that has hardly been the case. It seems that I have a penchant for making what should have been a lovely and dream-like encounter with the globally adored into an awkward, somewhat traumatizing situation for every party involved.

Steve Carell.

I have been lucky enough to encounter Steve Carell twice in the past six months. Both times were at the Build Series studio on Broadway, a popular destination for celebrities in upcoming films or TV shows to do interviews.

The first time I met Steve at Build, he was there with Timothee Chalamet to promote Beautiful Boy . As they left the studio, Steve stopped and took pictures with almost everybody waiting, including myself — we had a beautiful and brief selfie session in which he literally had to sorority squat to match my 5’3” stature and be able to fit into the picture with me.

After we took pictures, he ran to a group behind me to take more, and on his way back, I suppose he forgot he had already taken photos with me, so he stopped and took them again, with another Sorority Squat. And then he came back a third time because apparently, I’m just that forgettable, and with the dirty looks I was getting from those around me I finally put my phone away to avoid Round Four with the forgetful Mr. Carell. It was awkward, to say the least — what with the squatting, me being damp from the rain, Steve forgetting who I was not once but twice.

The second time I met Steve was at Build yet again (because apparently I never have anything better to do than wait around for celebrities to get photos with them) except this time I had tickets to the actual taping of his interview. He was with Amy Adams promoting Vice — at the end of the interview, Build takes questions from the audience.

It seemed that Steve and I were both under the impression that for an audience member to pose a question, all they had to do was raise their hand rather than be selected in advance by the producers. So when the interviewer said “Let’s take questions from the audience,” Steve looked me directly in the eye, as if he were waiting for me to raise my hand (I was in the front row and therefore directly in his line of sight).

I stared back uncomprehendingly; I didn’t have a question, and we engaged in a 5-second stare-off in which neither of us knew what to do. When an audience member finally asked a question, he looked away — only for the same thing to happen during the next question. Again, he expectantly looked at me, and I sat there with no question to ask, looking back, wondering if I was successful in communicating with my eyes that I had seen every episode of The Office at least seven times apiece.

Ansel Elgort.

Though you expect to see actors in New York, you never quite expect to see your favorite actors; it’s like spotting a unicorn, too rare, too lucky in a city full of people. The last people I expected to see on a subway platform were Ansel Elgort and his girlfriend (whom I also adore), Violetta Komyshan.

It was nighttime, and they clearly didn’t want to be recognized or approached; Ansel wore a beanie, sunglasses, and a hood, but I’d recognize the pair anywhere. It would have absolutely traumatized me if I approached Ansel and he was in any way rude or dismissive, so I didn’t dare; instead, I watched them from afar for what was probably an indecent amount of time. It was only when Ansel made direct eye contact with me and saw me watching him, then turned and said something to his girlfriend, who looked at me over her shoulder, that I realized I was absolutely starstruck and finally looked away.

RIP my one and only chance to meet Ansel Elgort — you may have proceeded to make out with your girlfriend against the subway station pillars shortly after (very unsanitary, by the way), but I will always remember you as the dude who Really Really Didn’t Want To Be Approached.

Willem Dafoe.

Late in fall, I went to a screening of Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate at the MoMA, courtesy of my art history professor.

Following the film, Julian Schnabel and Willem Dafoe, the star of the movie, came onstage for a Q&A. So Willem emerges, wearing a black turtleneck tucked into black jeans with black Doc Martens.

The outfit seems in good taste, and eerily familiar.

I look down at myself.

I am wearing the exact same thing.

It seems that when attending film screenings, Mr. Dafoe and I have roughly the same idea on what appropriate attire would be.

Daveed Diggs.

It was cold, raining, and late on a Thursday night, and I’d just gotten back to my dorm from Kimmel with a huge cup of Starbucks coffee. It took me all of the 10-minute walk back home to decide that, no, I don’t want a hot coffee in this 30 degree weather, I want an iced coffee, which meant that after being home and putting on my pajamas, I now had to go hunt for ice to put in my Kimmel cup.

I enlisted a friend to come with me to the 7-Eleven around the corner from us — it was dark now, and still cold and wet, but dammit, I needed my iced coffee. As we emerged on Broadway, headed toward 7-Eleven, a figure was approaching us.

That hair — that silhouette — I recognized it all. I was sure it was none other than Daveed Diggs from Hamilton . As we passed each other like ships in the night, I stared Daveed in the eyes (to ensure it was him) as he gave my terrible outfit a somewhat judgmental once-over before meeting my eye contact, slightly lifting his eyebrows, and then continuing his walk, disappearing into the darkness like a phantom who was never there at all.

Natalie Portman.

I was spending yet another autumn afternoon at the Build Studio; this time, Natalie Portman was to arrive, promoting Vox Lux .

The thing is, I was there unintentionally. I was walking by after class and saw a crowd, and I didn’t really have anywhere to be (it was the last day of term), so I just stayed.

I figured it would be someone from a sci-fi movie, because the crowd was made up entirely of dudebros who had crawled out of their mothers’ basements to be there.

I waited for about 30 minutes, and lo and behold, a shiny black car pulls up and none other than Natalie Portman steps out. She (understandably) completely avoided mingling with the crowd, and instead marched straight into the building, her head down.

The Dudebros didn’t appreciate this; even once she was in the building, they yelled cruel things after her, calling her a “prissy princess” and so forth. This time, it wasn’t me and the celebrity who made the encounter terrible — it was the other people nearby.

Antoni Porowski.

Around Christmastime, I saw an ad on my Instagram explore for a launch party for Facebook’s Portal device. It was to be held only a few blocks away from me, and promoted by Queer Eye ’s Antoni Porowski, who would also be in attendance.

I couldn’t care less about the Portals, but I wanted to meet Antoni, so I went. As it turned out, you had to wait, like, 45-minutes after the Portal presentation was done to meet Antoni. The Portal people ushered those of us who stuck around into a little room with Christmas cookies to wait, and I was hungry, and it would be a long wait, so yeah, I ate a cookie.

Just as I had stuffed the entire chocolate chip delight into my mouth, none other than Antoni came into the room, announcing he was leaving the premises briefly to use the restroom but wanted to say hi to us before he left.

He turned to me, and said he absolutely loved my outfit (a pink coat with a white sweater and a pink hair scrunchie). Apparently not realizing my mouth was Quite Literally Stuffed, he engaged in conversation, saying “no seriously, this coat is so cute, where did you get it? I want one for Christmas.”

I was delighted, but I still had a whole ass cookie in my mouth, so I just mumbled “mmfank you” as decently as I could, and I think I scared Antoni away, because he said, “Okay, well, I gotta run, but see you soon!” and dashed out of the building as quickly as humanly possible. I’m sorry, Antoni, really.

Alec Baldwin.

I live on the same street as Alec Baldwin, which essentially means I’m bound to see him a lot. Last semester, everyone saw Alec before me; it wasn’t until the day before Thanksgiving break that I finally spotted him. I was on my way to my 8 a.m. Stats midterm, when I heard arguing. I looked over, and sure enough, there was Alec Baldwin, very pink in the face, having a loud argument with his apartment doorman.

Alec’s Lawyers, I hope you don’t sue me for libel for this, but that man is just very pink in person. I was sure it was a bad omen right before my midterm (luckily I did okay) and have spent every test day since taking a different route to class, trying not to pass Mr. Baldwin.

Paul Rudd.

Beloved boyband Brockhampton came to Terminal 5 last October, so of course, I went to their show. As it turns out, so did Paul Rudd and his two sons.

After the show, a group of us were waiting at the stage doors to meet the members of the band. But before any of them came out, Paul and his sons did, each of them clad in a baseball cap. As they crossed the street, some people in the crowd started shouting at him, “Paul, say ‘I’m gay!’” as a joke relating to Brockhampton, who commonly uses that as a chant in their concerts.

After a few shouts of this, Paul, now across the street, smiled at us but shook his head. He would not be declaring his homosexuality today.

His younger son, however, loved the attention, and took off his baseball cap, waved it in the air, and yelled at us: “I’M GAY!” The crowd went wild. Paul ushered his son in front of him and kept walking.

(Also at this concert, when Matt Champion came out of the stage door later, I put my hand up for a high five. He missed entirely and slapped me across the face. Two terrible encounters in one night.)

Bonus: Bernie Sanders.

I haven’t seen Bernie within the past six months of being in New York, but I did see him here several years ago, and I can assure you, it was embarrassing.

I was at Hamilton with my family, and during intermission, I left my seat to go hunt down the bathroom. There was a large crowd gathering in the lobby, and from the vantage point I had, I saw the tiny and white head of Bernie Sanders. It was April 2016 then, well before the November elections, and Bernie was still in the running. He had my support, though I was far too young to vote.

Still, I was determined to meet him. Thanks to my small 15-year-old stature combined with my aggressive 15-year-old strength, I was able to squeeze between the grown humans in the crowd and land right in front of Bernie himself.

“Mr. Sanders,” I said, “Could I possibly get a photo with you?” He obliged, of course, but I hadn’t realized I’d publicly disgraced the both of us by calling him Mr. Sanders instead of Senator Sanders.

I tried to cover up my error by saying, “I can’t vote, but if I could, I’d vote for you,” and the sweet, sweet old socialist just smiled and said something about how young people are the future.

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