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6 celebrities you didn’t know have phobias


Netflix’s Bird Box is all about the fear, these six celebrities have revealed what truly makes their skin crawl

Ever watched Bird box on Netflix? If you haven’t, you could be missing a terrifying treat. In the  post-apocalyptic horror, ‘the force’ has wiped out most of humanity, but the bigger catch is, you can’t look at them or you go mad. It delves into the realm of fear and the only way to combat this invasion is by blind folding your eyes.

An estimated 10 million people in the UK have a phobia

It’s a fight for survival in Netflix’s Bird Box, they must not take off the blindfolds or the fear will take over.

Sandra Bullock plays mother of two, Malorie, who struggles to survive in the new harsh world. She, along with other survivors, must venture into the wilderness without looking at the creatures. If they do their fears will come to life and their minds will unravel.

Thankfully this is only fiction but for millions around the world fears and phobias play a real and devastating reality in their lives. Imagine not being able to leave your house because of the fear of having a panic attack. Imagine not being able to fly on a plane because the very idea strikes fear into your very soul.

If you have a phobia you’re not alone. It is estimated that around 10 million people in the UK have a phobia, according to NHS Wales.

But don’t get confused between a ‘phobia’ and a heavy disliking of something. The difference?  Phobias cause physical symptoms such as sweating, increased heart rate and nausea.

1# Shailene Woodley – fear of heights

Shailene Woodley really dislikes heights (acrophobia) but to her it has become a ‘sick addiction’ to challenge herself, despite her fear. Image from PR photos.

When you peer over a long drop or tall building you can often feel a sense of vertigo, some people even feel as though they want to tip over the edge. Dizziness is quite common but for some travelling up an escalator or standing on a tall hill will be a struggle.

In a survey done by YouGov, 58 percent (nearly a quarter) of the public are afraid of very high places.

Most known for Divergent and The Fault in our Stars, the 27-year-old actress, Shailene Woodley is not a fan of heights, but that doesn’t stop her.

Shailene explains in Female First, ‘One of my biggest fears is heights. I love it, though – it’s like a sick addiction. I’m so afraid of heights but I love pushing myself and going higher and higher, and getting sweatier and more nervous. It’s weird.’

Fears can be conquered and it seems that Woodley’s phobia will not stop her playing roles to the max. She tells People ‘The movie really taught me that there is just no room for fear. Zero … I’m like Tris in that fear stimulates me in a way. If something is a little bit scary, I am going to do it, because I want the challenge. I want to see what my body and mind and heart can do.’

2# Sandra Bullock – fear of flying

Sandra Bullock doesn’t like flying but she bites the bullet whilst flying to the Ocean’s 8 UK premiere, 2018. Image from PR photos.

Nowadays transport is so easily accessible and flying on an airplane makes it so much quicker. But, when you hear about plane crashes and disappearances it can make you a bit edgy, especially when it come to planning your next holiday. But, according to many statistics you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than be involved in a plane crash. Of course, that doesn’t always put people at rest.

Aerophobia is ‘believed to affect 1 in 10 of the population, although women report this more frequently than men,’ says Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK.

Sandra Bullock hated flying, but taking the role of Dr. Ryan Stone in Gravity changed all that. The film is set in space and Bullock was told that she would have to use a special airplane called the ‘Vomit Comet’. The name itself does not conjure up any pleasurable feelings. But they needed to replicate anti-gravity to make it authentic.

In an interview with Vogue, she admitted ‘I’m petrified of flying,’ she says, ‘Plummeting out of the sky was not my idea of how I wanted to work with Alfonso Cua­rón. But at one point I sat down and said, ‘What is it about this movie that is telling me to get off my ass and get over something that has paralyzed me?’’

3# Emma Stone – Agoraphobia

Emma Stone has suffered from anxiety since she was a child, but she doesn’t let that stop her whilst attending the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, 2019. Image from PR photos.

Is not only very common, it is also one of the most misunderstood and complex phobias. Many mistake this for the fear of open spaces, but this isn’t quite true. In ‘fact, most people who experience agoraphobia are afraid of feeling panic and where this may occur,’ says Anxiety UK.

Such places like shopping centres, highly crowded areas and transport pose a real threat to agoraphobics, that’s why home becomes their ‘safe’ place.

According to the Mayo clinic it ‘usually starts in the late teen or early adult years — usually before age 35.’ But more women are often diagnosed with agoraphobia than men.

As it turns out Emma Stone is no stranger to anxiety and panic attacks. According to, Emma was borderline agoraphobic and had suffered from panic attacks since the age of 7.

‘After first grade before I went into second grade, I had my first panic attack,’ Stone opened up in Elle.

‘It was really, really terrifying and overwhelming.’ She says. ‘I was at a friend’s house, and all of a sudden I was convinced the house was on fire and it was burning down. I was just sitting in her bedroom and obviously the house wasn’t on fire, but there was nothing in me that didn’t think we were going to die.’

Emma seems much improved thanks to managing her anxiety ‘by seeing a therapist, meditating and reaching out to her friends and loved ones when she feels the most isolated.’ She speaks in Elle.

4# Uma Thurman – Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia made Kill Bill a tough role for Uma, but gone are the days she has to be buried alive. Thurman at The Fashion Awards 2018. Image from Pr photos.

Claustrophobia is perhaps one of the most well known fears and those that have struggle with enclosed spaces. ‘There are varying degrees of severity,’ says Anxiety UK, ‘each person has a different perception of what they would class as an enclosed space.’

This doesn’t always mean being locked in a small box room but crowded transport such as tube trains can cause panic.

‘However, for some people they can feel claustrophobic in many situations and this can have a big impact on their quality of life.’ States Anxiety UK.

Actress Uma Thurman suffers from claustrophobia, and when filming Kill Bill 2 this proved somewhat difficult as her character, the bride, got buried alive. Thurman says on Zimbio, ‘There was no acting required, real screams available. It was horrific. You don’t want to have that experience.’

‘The sound effects ended up being so effective. I mean, the raw sound … and the sound of dirt hitting the wooden lid.’ Thurman said in the Daily Mail.

5# Scarlett Johansson – fear of birds

Scarlett Johansson has a fear of birds but turns out its inherited. Scarlett at the 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 2018. Image from PR photos.

Many people have experienced the aggressive beady eyed seagull snatching away your food straight from your hands. This would frighten anyone, especially children. But for some, like Scarlett Johansson, it can cause a real aversion to those flapping wings and sharp beaks.

Ornithophobia (its proper name) can develop after a negative encounter, but in some cases it can even be passed down in the family.

This phobia can ‘be passed on from parents or other significant adults, with many recalling an adult they know having a fear of birds,’ speaks Anxiety UK.

Luckily for Johansson, when filming We bought a Zoo she had no problems with the animals, just the birds.

‘I’m only scared of birds. Something about wings and beaks and the flapping. I’m terrified of them. That still hasn’t gone away. If they’d asked me to put a bird on my shoulder I would’ve done it, but it would’ve been hard.’ Johansson admits, reported in Cosmopolitan.

‘Actually, my uncle is terrified of birds, as well, so it runs in the family.’

6# Sarah Paulson – fear of tiny holes

Tiny holes make you squeamish? Sarah Paulson can’t stand them. Paulson at the “Glass” New York City Premiere, 2019. Image fro PR photos.

Ever looked at tiny holes and started to feel nauseous? Trypophobia can evoke many squeamish sensations and Sarah Paulson knows all about that.

Best known for her roles in American Horror Story (AHS), experiences trypophobia. In fact, after confiding in friend Ryan Murphy (creator of AHS) about her fears, he then based season 7 of AHS: Cult on Paulson’s real life phobias.

Reported in Los Angeles times ‘I think I saw a natural sponge in a store once,’ Paulson said at the L.A. Times video studio. ‘It gave me — like, the hair on my arms stood up. I felt my throat close up. And I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t like seeing all those gaping holes touching other gaping holes.’ And then I told Ryan one night and he thought it was hilarious, of course. He’s like, ‘That’s crazy, lady! That’s funny.’ But I told him that five years ago. I did not think he would inflict that on me in Season 7.’

And if one phobia wasn’t enough Paulson also has Coulrophobia: the fear of clowns.

How can you treat a phobia?

There are many treatment options available to treat phobias which include counselling, exposure therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). ‘CBT is a very effective way to deal with phobias,’ says Anxiety UK, ‘CBT therapy encourages the individual to see the link between thoughts and mood.’ Anxiety UK also have their own nationwide approved therapy service.

If you are concerned visit your GP or you can head over to Anxiety UK for more information or contact their infoline on 03444 775 774.

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