10 Stars Who Have Opened Up About Living with a Stutter

These stars have talked about their experiences struggling with — and surmounting — a stutter. Hear their stories, in honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day

01 of 10

President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden frequently addresses the nation with ease, but has struggled with a stutter since childhood. The president opened up about his history with the speech impediment during a CNN town hall, revealing that he'd read poetry in front of a mirror for hours to improve his public speaking.

Biden said he still stutters "occasionally, when I find myself really tired," and keeps in contact with a few young people who stutter, serving as a mentor.

"The point I make to these young people that I still work with, is that in fact it's critically important for them not to judge themselves by their speech and not let that define them," he told CNN.

He was similarly candid to PEOPLE in 2011, reflecting on painful childhood teasing because of his stutter.

"You get so desperate, you're so embarrassed," Biden said.

02 of 10

Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran. Kevin Mazur/MTV VMAs 2021/Getty

The "Shivers" singer had to work to get his words out as a kid, explaining that rapping along with an Eminem album helped him shed his stutter.

"I learned every word of it back to front by the age I was ten, and he raps very fast and very melodically, and very percussively, and it helped me get rid of the stutter," Sheeran said while accepting an award from the American Institute for Stuttering. "And then from there, I just carried on."

In a word of advice to kids struggling with a stutter, he stressed that "stuttering is not a thing you have to be worried about at all."

More importantly, "just be yourself 'cause there's no one in the world that can be a better you than you."

03 of 10

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt
Emily Blunt. Jason Mendez/Getty

"I started noticing it at 6 or 7," the actress told PEOPLE of realizing she stuttered. "My grandfather, my uncle and my cousin all stutter. It feels like you've got this imposter living in your body."

A few years later, she was bit by the theater bug when a teacher encouraged her to try out for the play after noticing she didn't stutter when she launched into impersonations — and the rest is history.

Today, Blunt works closely with the American Institute for Stuttering, a cause she says will always be close to her heart.

"I know it in every nuance and so to be able to help and to be able to offer up any advice or assistance or emboldenment that I can, it just is the greatest pleasure for me because it's a very misunderstood, misrepresented disability, and … it's one that is very often bullied and laughed at because people look funny and sound funny when they stutter," she told PEOPLE.

04 of 10

Samuel L. Jackson

samuel. jackson
Mike Smith/NBC/Getty

Though the steely star never skips a beat in his high-profile roles, he kept quiet as a kid because he had a stutter.

"I stuttered really, really, really bad for a long time ... to the point that I stopped speaking for, like, almost a year in school," he said on The Howard Stern Show.

In addition to breathing exercises and reading at the library, Jackson said that repeating a certain four-syllable expletive helped him crack the worst of the impediment.

"I have no idea," Jackson said when Stern asked why the word helped. "But it just does. It clicks a switch."

05 of 10

James Earl Jones

egot-winners-6
Walter McBride/WireImage

The legendary actor, who iconically voiced Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King, developed a flair for theatrics while working through his boyhood stutter. While appearing on The Dick Cavett Show in 1972, Jones explained that he was a "very quiet" kid due to his impediment – until a caring teaching intervened.

"I had an English teacher in high school who discovered that when I read my own poetry, I didn't stutter, because I wasn't in confrontation with other people's feelings or thoughts," he told the host. "I practiced reading poetry for awhile, and I think that's what got me into the feeling for reading dramatic things."

06 of 10

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis. TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty

"The hardest thing I remember was being a kid stuttering. My advice to the young people in this room is to never let anyone make you feel like an outcast, because you will never be an outcast," the Die Hard star said while accepting an award from the American Institute for Stuttering.

"It's easy to get frustrated with a child who stutters, but believe me, the one who stutters is much more frustrated," Willis continued.

"To the parents of stutterers … be patient, always listen. Offer encouragement, give positive reinforcement always."

07 of 10

Tiger Woods

tiger woods
Tiger Woods.

The professional golfer stuttered as a child, and reached out to a teenage fan who attempted suicide after struggling to fit in due to his stutter, CNN reported.

"I know what it's like to be different and sometimes not fit in I also stuttered as a child and I would talk to my dog and he would sit there and listen until he fell asleep," Woods wrote in a heartfelt letter.

"I was younger than most of the kids I competed against and often I was the only minority player on the field. But, I didn't let that stop me, and I think it even inspired me to work harder. I know you can do that too."

08 of 10

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman, Jimmy Fallon
Nicole Kidman. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

The Oscar winner makes every role look effortless, but previously revealed to Newsweek that she had a frustrating stutter as a child.

"I just remember everyone always saying to me, 'Calm down, think about what you're going to say,' " she told the outlet. "I remember when I was little, just being so excited to get it out and I couldn't."

09 of 10

Kendrick Lamar

kendrick-lamar-1-2000.jpg
Paras Griffin/Getty Images.

"As a kid, I used to stutter," the 13-time Grammy winner told The New York Times Magazine.

"I think that's why I put my energy into making music. That's how I get my thoughts out, instead of being crazy all the time."

10 of 10

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe
Gamma-Rapho via Getty

The screen siren's breathy voice came about on advice from a speech therapist, who suggested she try the tone to beat an on-again, off-again stutter she had since childhood, Vanity Fair reported.

As an adult, the actress revealed she once stuttered through lines so severely while filming an unnamed movie that the director became livid, per The Washington Post.

"The director was furious. He said, 'You don't stutter,' " Monroe explained. "I said, 'That's what you think!' "

Related Articles