Superstitions are beliefs or notions not based on reason or knowledge. They’re usually based on folk stories and old wives tales surrounding luck and fate, and are often tied to spirituality or even psychology. Celebrities are especially known to have superstitions, and this often applies doubly to those who perform in theatre. Some involve animals, objects or words… and some even border on the realm of the obsessive-compulsive. Here are eighteen celebs who take their superstitions to the limit.
Grey’s Anatomy heartthrob Patrick Dempsey has charmed many women as the dashing McDreamy. He’s confident, intelligent, and quite a talent, but even he feels the need for a lucky charm. It’s quite an interesting one — his red Puma racing shoes. He has to bring them everywhere, “no matter what.” Odds are those shoes are pretty ripe about now…
Jamie-Lynn Sigler follows many theatre superstitions when performing in shows. She does the same warm-ups, wears the same underwear — in between shows of course. But she isn’t that way with filming, only with theatre, which has a whole slew of superstitions all to itself.
Christian Bale likes to provoke superstitions. Instead of avoiding paths under ladders, he chooses to walk underneath them. “I do all that stuff,” he proudly says. On the other hand Emma Roberts, American teen actress, is deathly afraid of them and will avoid ladders at all costs. According to her, she’s never walked under one.
Atonement star James McAvoy says “white rabbit” on the first of every month, to the first person he sees. His grandmother taught him that it brings good luck. It might sound random (and ridiculous), but the practice of saying “white rabbit,” or other variants of the phrase on the first of the month is a common superstition that originated in England.
Socialite Paris Hilton often knocks on wood if someone says something she doesn’t want to happen. The phrase “knock on wood,” as well as the action itself, is common to many cultures and thought to stave off bad luck. If she only heard half of the things said about her, she’d be knocking all day long.
Emmy-winning actress Kristin Chenoweth is afraid of walking under ladders, but also says a prayer before she gets out on stage. That in and of itself isn’t so odd, but her explanation is: “So that lights never fall on me.” We don’t blame her, stage lights are heavy and hot, who on earth would want one to fall on them? Everyone remembers Michael Jackson’s run in with stage lighting, right?
Giada De Laurentiis
Food Network’s sweetheart Giada De Laurentiis has two superstitions: no cats on the bed and spilling the salt. The cat superstition began in 16th century Italy, where it was believed that if a black cat lay on the bed of a sick man, he would die. Spilling the salt has been unlucky since ancient times, for reasons tied to its (then monetary) value and also as a symbol of friendship.
Melora Hardin, best known for her role in The Office, is superstitious when it comes to her marriage. When she and her husband are walking hand-in-hand, and a light post gets in between, she always says “bread and butter.” The superstition dates back to the 19th century and according to her, “if you don’t say ‘bread and butter’ before letting go of your hands for a light post or pole it means you’re going to break up.” This one’s still cute.
American actor and model, Sean Faris, is superstitious much like Paris Hilton: He knocks on wood too. But not only does he knock on wood, he knocks on his own head when he boasts about anything. Wait, is he trying to tell us something?
Rainn Wilson — a man we all know better as Dwight Schrute from The Office — has deep roots in the theatre, and his superstitions align with it as well. He never says the word ‘Macbeth’ in the theatre because, according to the superstition, the play will be beset with horrible luck — ranging anywhere from accidents on stage to deaths in the cast. According to Rainn, he said it once and a light fell from the ceiling and crushed his foot.
Another Office star, Angela Kinsey, gets superstitious when she flies. She’s been flying since she was two-years old and used to get very scared. To combat her fears, her dad told her to give the plane a little pat before boarding. From then until now, every time she gets on a plane, she gives it a little pat. Good plane.
Ruth Brown & Richard Chamberlain
Theatrical superstitions are adhered to by many celebs and include: never saying the name of the play backstage, never wish anyone luck (hence, “break a leg”), don’t bring peanuts backstage, and never whistle backstage. Ruth Brown used to follow those superstitions to a tee, but actor Richard Chamberlain takes them very seriously. If someone does whistle in his dressing room, he gets them to go outside, close the door, and turn around three times before they return. Apparently this is the antidote.
Dave Annable, ranked one of the Sexiest Men Alive in 2007, has quite random superstitions. He has to have two Splendas and the coffee has to be measured to a black line in the cup. And he does this every morning to make himself feel better. Sounds more like OCD to us.
Remember that childhood rhyme, “step on the crack, you’ll break your mother’s back!” Well, Without A Trace star Poppy Montgomery follows that superstition to this day. She never steps on cracks, which we imagine would be challenging. Not only that, she doesn’t mix black and white clothes, which is yet another theatre superstition.
Watchmen actor Matthew Goode mixes his superstitions with sports. When he plays cricket, he always taps the ball the same number of times, looks at the ball, and taps again. He says it doesn’t work but he insists on following his superstition. Sounds like another mild case of OCD, honestly.
Hip-hop superstar Missy Elliot adheres to the old superstition about black cats. If a black cat crosses her path, she will immediately turn around and go home — even if she’s on her way somewhere. Black cat superstitions date far back in Western culture as the cats were often the symbol of bad omens. Let’s just hope she doesn’t see one before an important event.
Julie Walters, best known as Ron Weasley’s mum in Harry Potter, combats her superstitions with lucky charms. People throughout the ages have used charms, amulets and talismans to bring luck and good fortune, but Walters has an interesting take on the concept. She kept a piece of coal in her bag on Oscar night.
Richard Gere is one of many celebs that are said to believe in the energy and healing powers of crystals. The practice of crystal healing is thought to date back to ancient times. Past studies have drawn inconclusive evidence, but these practices are still common to this day in certain spiritual and religious ceremonies. Even if not involved with spirituality, some people simply feel connected to an object. Kind of like our cellphones or laptops today? To each his own!