2014 Tip of the Day #28: Celebrity Encounters and Etiquette

bigfoot-ts300You’ve heard the mythical stories of the once in the lifetime rare encounters during the San Diego Comic-Con. Could they be true? If you are new to Comic-Con, one of the reasons that may have enticed you to come are the epic stories of chance sightings of a celebrity. Whether it’s Joss Whedon, Robert Downey Jr, or Nathan Fillion, most of us hope to have at least one magical moment during the 4-days in San Diego. While not as rare as Bigfoot, celeb sightings in the sea of other SDCC fans can have the odds stacked against you. However, the migration patterns of these sought after creatures have been tracked over the years- so while It’s not guaranteed, there are a few places that will increase your chances to catch a glimpse…or a photo…or a hug (before you get arrested):


1. The Hilton Bayfront
2. Omni Hotel
3. Hard Rock Cafe and Hotel
4. The Hilton Gaslamp
5. Marriott Marina and Marquis

screen-shot-2013-06-28-at-12-18-20-amBy trolling the lobbies, bars, or entrances of these areas, you greatly increase your chances of crossing paths with the object(s) of your obsession(s). During Comic-Con, there is so much star gazing that it would make Galileo jealous (see what I did there?). If you have never been before, the celebrity encounters can get pretty surreal at times and they happen at the most unexpected moments. Crazy thing is that no one has the same experience twice. I have gone some years and ran into big names every day and other years I hardly saw anyone. That’s the beautiful unpredictable nature of Comic-Con. But a bad encounter can lead to a lifetime of regret. So to prepare you for that chance encounter, here are some tips:

  • Don’t gawk. This is your one chance to meet someone you have admired for a long time. Don’t let the opportunity pass and seize the moment. If not, then just leave. Lingering and gawking is super common and super annoying for many celebs.
  • Respect their situation. If a celeb is engaged in business or in a serious conversation then patiently wait. Don’t stare or take pics.
  • Remember, that celebrities are people too. Treating them like such will go a long way. Most of them are just as awkward and uncomfortable as you are- so the best thing to do it to talk to them like a respected friend. Overly gushing may be instinctual but it just wastes your short moment with them and creates embarrassment. They are not expecting you to kiss their ring, just to be natural and normal.
  • Speak to them not at them. Which means asking them normal questions: “How are you enjoying Comic-Con, what it what you expected?” “Would you ever dress up in costume, if so what?” “What is the craziest thing you have seen so far?” As soon as they see that you are are not afraid or freaked out by them, they will most likely interact with you.
  • If the actor is older, I call them by their last name. In business you wouldn’t call someone older by their first name if you didn’t know them so I don’t think it’s ok to do that with celebs. This is my personal preference. For instance, If I saw Sir Gandalf the Grey, I would not be saying “Ian, wassup?!”
  • Keep it brief. Nothing like the target of your affections slowly walking away backwards while fake talking into their phone.
  • No weird request. No kissing, no inviting yourself to their party, no asking for the shirt off their back. Don’t be weird.
  • ALWAYS ask to take a picture. These guys are daily hounded by paparazzi so politely asking will be appreciated. Just do one pic too- multiple pics are a whip.
  • I would not initiate a handshake unless they do. Whether it’s because of germs or personal preference, some celebs do not like the physical contact.
  • If autographs is important to you, then always have a Sharpie with you and know what you would have signed- like your Comic-Con badge.
  • Finally, keep it ‘breezy’ (Friends reference)

matt_smith_bart_simpson-416916One last tip. The recognizable celebs are asked not to walk through floor to avoid causing a traffic jam. However, between panels, celebs like to burn time by checking out the the hype incognito with the help of a mask. A couple of years ago, Matt Smith went out as Homer Simpson! So if you see a normal (or nicely) dressed person in a random mask being followed by an official looking entourage, it might be a celebrity! Don’t out anyone but there might be an opportunity for a quick hello. Well I hoped that helped. I know there are a TON of stories out there of your celebrity encounter from past Comic-Cons. Share your story below and give us your tips below!

Check out the rest of my Tip of the Day for this year.


18 thoughts on “2014 Tip of the Day #28: Celebrity Encounters and Etiquette

  1. I’ve never been to Comic-Con before, but I’ve managed to meet a lot of people. Probably the most thrilling was meeting Jane Goodall. She was doing a talk for a book she released a few years ago, and was signing and doing photos afterwards. We were all told not to talk to her, but I took a chance anyway and just thanked her for all her work – she actually responded! A quick (normal) comment was all it took to make the encounter that much more memorable for me.

  2. I’ve had some really random–or maybe they all are?–with celebs at SDCC. There was that one time I accidentally followed Joss Whedon to the bathroom, but realized what was up and stopped before entering. The time I saw the guy from Kyle XY at an outside restaurant and told him that he was cute–I was exhausted and a bit tipsy–Always finding Jeph Loeb around, wanting to meet Bryan Fuller when he wasn’t promoting anything and the man offered to send me a shirt from Heroes that I had told him about. Now last year was the most interesting when I had an inkling to go to the Hilton and I saw Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy in cars.

    Always keep an eye out wherever you are going. And watch out for masked and spandex clad cosplayers. Some might be celebs in disguise. They like to mingle. And if you do find one out, respect them and do not let their identity slip.

    • Great stories! I too had an awkward encounter with Joss Whedon in the bathroom down a quiet hallway. However, I waited till we walked out together before saying anything. He was nice about it! Thanks for commenting!

  3. In the years I’ve attended SDCC, I’ve encountered Simpsons creator Matt Groening at least three times. Two times were on the Exhibit Hall floor (I have a photo with him as a somewhat nerdy 18-year-old) and one time was while his family was having Sunday Brunch at the Marriott Marquis. (For the record, I didn’t bother him then… :D)

    I always feel flustered when meeting celebrities and freak out when I try to talk to them. But as long as you just talk to them like normal (i.e., not saying “OMG YOU’RE A GOD I WANT TO TOUCH YOUR FACE), then it should all be fine. 😀

  4. I’ve met a lot of celebrities and had the privilege of working with them in the music industry and in a movie when I was an extra in so I have a lot of stories. But I’ll share an embarrassing one:

    I was doing business and approaching a group of celebrities. I patiently waited my turn for introductions and when it was, I had to walk through an open space to get to them (so everyone’s focus was on me). I whipped my business cards out ready to hand it over to the “main” celeb and BAM! All my business cards fly out of the card holder and all over the floor right in front of him and everyone else. I was mortified. And yes, he laughed a bit but he smiled and BENT DOWN AND HELPED ME. He said, “It’s okay, you’re okay.” I was surprised and grateful as we both laughed. It actually relaxed us both.

    So I agree about what works best is being normal and don’t spaz out when meeting them. Some appreciate the gushing, most don’t, but even if you “gush” do it in a civilized manner by using your “inside voice”. It even helps to tell them, “I’m nervous just talking to you, but thank you for stopping for a moment so I could tell you I appreciate your work.” or something along those lines. They might become more open to talk to you in the few moments they have.

  5. A few of years ago I was eating dinner at Vela (Hilton Bayfront) with the kids after a looong Con day and on our way out we bumped into Olivia Munn. At the time Attack of the Show was our favorite so I couldn’t believe my luck that she was right there in front of me! My daughter was 3 at the time and her name is also Olivia so I said, Olivia, please meet Olivia Munn she is SO funny and beautiful, your daddy loves her show! Olivia Munn was very gracious and shook my daughter’s hand then took a picture with us right there. When we got back to the room I told my husband about our encounter and needless to say he was totally jealous! So I teased him “I met Olivia Munn, I met Olivia Munn” for a couple of minutes. My daughter was pouting in the corner and she was looking bothered so I said “what’s the matter?” She replied “Stop saying that to daddy, I’m the princess!” To this day whenever my husband or I are feeling a little dissed we say “I’m the princess!”

  6. Great advice! I met Jeff Dunham by accident two years ago. He was driving around in the Michael Keaton Batmobile and I casually sprinted to the Batman display tents. After he got out he was immediately engaged in conversations with other people behind the velvet rope. I patiently waited until he was not busy and got his attention. He came over and chatted with me for a couple of minutes and I asked the person with him to take our picture (I was assuming they were part of his entourage at the time). After getting my picture, his companion returned my camera and she told me they had been looking for one just like it. This led to a twenty minute conversation with both of them about cameras! After I left I checked online and found out that the woman taking our pic was actually his WIFE (also a well known fitness personality)….oops!!

  7. Couple of years ago I bumped into Colin Ferguson (Eureka) around the gaslamp on preview night. I said hello and told him I loved his show and was sad that it was ending. He was with two other friends and it looked like they were heading somewhere so I decided not to ask for a photo, instead I raised my hand for a high five… haha, but he wasn’t having any of that and I got a handshake instead! Hehe.

    I’ve also bumped into Joss Whedon in a quiet area of the gaslamp. He was alone, had his head down and was walking fast. Instead of stopping him I let him be and was more than content to have just seen him in person. I did get to meet him later while waiting in the overnight line for Ballroom 20 when they had the Firefly Reunion panel. Joss came out to greet the fans and although it got a bit crazy, I was able to ask him for a photo!

    • That’s hilarious! Yea some will give you love and others not so much. It’s great that Joss is so accessible. Thanks for sharing and commenting!

  8. A few years back at the end of a con day, I was hanging with friends drinking at the bar Nerd HQ was at. We were All tipsy and my friend had just informed us that she saw Nathan fillion walk to the back where the bathrooms were at. My friend and I pretended to bump into him as he was leaving (I know, I know) he shook my hand and I told him how we had camped out for the firefly reunion. He was so kind and gracious. Totally made my year! A few cocktails and hours later we went to the sci fi diner and he walked through and we met eyes. I wanted to ask for a picture or an autograph but I felt like I had already invaded his space enough! I nodded at him and he nodded back. Good enough for me! What are the chances of seeing him twice in one night! I’ll never forget that con.

  9. I have a funny story of my friend meeting someone in the bathroom and then asking for a picture without thinking it through. It was Brian Posehn, so being the comedian he is, made a bathroom picture joke and embarrassed the HECK out of my friend. We still tease him about it, but he did take a selfie with him later outside of the bathroom with no qualms.

  10. Last year was my first time going to SDCC and I was very lucky to run into Jenna Coleman and Matt Smith. My friend and I were walking past the Omni and we saw Jenna walk in (she actually had a fan hounding her for an autograph but she didn’t stop). I said hi to her and she smiled at me. My friend insisted that we stay outside because she was probably going to come back out and sure enough, she did AND Matt was with her. I said hi to Matt and he said hi back and smiled (and I swooned). I wanted to take a picture but they were in a hurry to go their panel at Nerd HQ. But honestly, having Matt say hi to me and ask how I was doing was enough. And by the way, there was no one in front of the Omni. I was so surprised. However, I don’t wanna encourage loitering around that area. I felt weird enough waiting. I think I’d rather if my encounters were “random” haha.

    I also found that there’s way too many people waiting at the Hard Rock so I’m not sure if more personal encounters are really possible. I’ve heard of people running into celebs in parking lots too.

  11. Some people are really nice too! I treasure my memory of meeting the legendary DC comics editor, Julius Schwartz, who even gave a hug! Didn’t hurt that I’m tall and blonde… 😉

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