Most of us have fantasized about being famous at one time or another. The swag bags! The flawless photo shoots! The Hamilton tickets!
Some celebrities have confirmed that our wildest dreams about fame aren’t far from the truth, while others have done their best to help us appreciate our lowly, forgettable existences.
See if these opposing stars can convince you once and for all whether the grass in Hollywood really is greener:
Pro-fame: Will Smith
The blockbuster star got candid about owning his fame on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “I want people to recognize me,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of people where fame can be a burden, and I just love it.”
The actor went on to share an anecdote proving that the perks of fame can come in handy even at unexpected times. “I was driving and I realized I was on ‘E,’ ” he recalled. “I pulled into the gas station and I didn’t have my wallet.” Not wanting to ask his wife to drive 30 minutes both ways to come and rescue him, Smith opted to gleefully play the fame card.
“I looked over on the other side and I saw a dude. He was, like, 36, and I was like, ‘That dude is a Fresh Prince fan.’ You can spot ’em!” Smith said. “So I kinda rolled the window down and after a couple of minutes, he was like, ‘Will?’ ” The fan ended up asking for a picture and spotting him the cash, and even refused to give Smith his info so that he could repay the favor.
Anti-fame: Justin Bieber
In a forthright 2015 interview with NME, Bieber revealed the struggles that came with his early fame. “When I started out I just wanted to sing and make music. I was young, didn’t read celebrity blogs or see what the f— was going on, but then I got famous and people started recognizing me. I was like, ‘Dude, I didn’t sign up for this.’ ”
“[I get depressed] all the time. And I feel isolated. You’re in your hotel room and there are fans all around, paparazzi following you everywhere, and it gets intense. When you can’t go anywhere or do anything alone you get depressed … I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone,” he added.
Pro-fame: Henry Cavill
Superman tells it like it is when it comes to the joys of fame and riches. “I’m slightly wary of saying this, because it can be frowned upon, certainly by members of my community and people outside my community. But I’m not just doing this for the art. The money’s fantastic and that’s something which I deem – and again, it is frowned upon – very important,” he told Man of the World magazine about his high-profile career.
The Batman v. Superman star explained that he cherishes the opportunity to give to his friends and family. “When I’m making money I’m spending it on nice stuff, whether that be lavish holidays for me and my friends or just seeing something and going in a shop and saying, ‘Yeah, I want that for the house,’ I’m buying it,” he said. “Spending money on my friends, buying dinner for everyone, drinks for everyone, it’s a nice place to be, and I like people to feel cared for.”
Anti-fame: Shailene Woodley
The Divergent franchise star explained her distaste for the word “fame” to iVillage in 2012. “To me the C-word is ‘celebrity,’ the F-word is ‘famous,’ and the S-word is ‘star.’ I despise those words. Unless you’re Tom Hanks or anyone of that caliber who can’t leave their house without being mobbed, I don’t think that those words should be used and applied to you,” she said, going on to express her issues with the culture surrounding celebrity. “As far as the perks go, you know, it’s kind of one of the disgusting things about this industry. The more money you make, the more free stuff you get. I think that that’s weird, and I’m not a huge fan of it.”
Pro-fame: Woody Allen
The iconic director is honest about the pragmatic reasons for appreciating fame. “Because the perks are better. You get better seats at the basketball game, and you get better tables and reservations places, and if I call a doctor on Saturday morning I can get him. There’s a lot of things that you don’t get if you’re not famous,” he said while promoting To Rome with Love in 2012. Adding, “Now, I’m not saying it’s fair – it’s kind of disgusting – but I can’t say I don’t enjoy it.”
Although many celebrities have lamented the hardships of sporting a famous face, Allen insisted that “the bad stuff is greatly outweighed by the dinner reservations.”
“[The negatives of fame] are not life-threatening. You know, if the paparazzi are outside your restaurant or your house and actors make such a big thing and scurry into the car and drape things over their head – you think they’re going to be crucified or something – but it’s not a big deal. You can get used to that.”
Anti-fame: Kylie Jenner
Perhaps the most recognizable teenager on the planet at the moment, Jenner has often discussed the pitfalls of being in the spotlight, and even plans to eventually pursue a low-key life. “If I could do whatever I wanted, I would have a successful makeup line, and I would want to hopefully start more businesses, and just be, like, a businesswoman. And then, hopefully, I’ll go off the map. When I’m, like, 30, I want to go off the map, have a family, and live in Malibu with a farm, and just raise my own chickens,” she told Interview magazine in 2015.
The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star even divulged that she would ditch her glam looks if it weren’t for the constant presence of cameras in her life. “I would probably just never dress up,” she said. “I would never wear makeup, because I honestly hate wearing makeup. Lately, I’ve just been so over it. I feel like I’m way too young to wear such heavy makeup all the time. It’s just bad for your skin, but I’m always doing photo shoots or red carpets and events, so I just obviously want to look good.”
In her 2016 Complex cover story, Jenner clarified that she is grateful for her privileged experiences, though she wishes she could get a chance to see life on the other side: “I don’t hate my life. I’m happy. But everything that comes with it — the paparazzi and not being able to do normal things? I’ve been famous for what feels like my whole life. I just want to know what it feels like not to be.”
Pro-fame: Chris Rock
The comedian said he “loves” being famous, and has compared it to being a “hot chick” and “almost like being white.”
“Are people wrong to want to be famous? No!” he said on The Approval Matrix. “It’s what [David] Spade always says, ‘being famous is just like being a hot chick…’ You ever go to a baseball game or a football game and a hot chick walks through the crowd and goes to the bathroom? Guys clap. Everybody looks. It’s just famous.”
Anti-fame: Zach Galifianakis
Galifianakis makes no secret of his disinterest in fame. “Being a celebrity is s—,” he said at a 2014 New York Film Festival press conference. “It’s dumb. I’m not interested in it. I like to be an actor and that’s it. The blurred lines are, I think, man-made. I think celebrity is a man-made thing. It’s not innate in us. We have people telling us we should pay attention to these people for the wrong reasons — their personal lives and that stuff.”
The actor pointed-out the greatest proof of all that he never strived to be famous in a 2011 chat with TIME: “I would have changed my last name if being famous were my goal,” he said.