Some people would do anything to be famous. Others will go to grand lengths to avoid all the trappings that celebrity comes with. Below we’ve collected a list of actors, musicians and authors who have won fame and acclaim, but would rather you forget their faces.
1. Daft Punk
This French duo has put out such hit tracks as “One More Time,” “Around The World,” and “Get Lucky.” But despite Grammy wins and world tours, few of their fans could pick Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter out of a line-up. That’s because the pair religiously makes public appearances in futuristic helmets. Below you can see them perform with Pharell Williams and Stevie Wonder at the 2014 Grammys.
2. J.D. Salinger
His novel Catcher In the Rye is a classic that made him world famous along with its troubled teen hero Holden Caulfield. But the introverted Salinger rejected the world’s attention, and became notoriously reclusive, closing himself off to the public, and even his family. The more people sought him out, the less he published. But it’s believed he wrote every day up until his death in 2010. Since then, some of these long-hidden stories have been released, against the believed wishes of their deceased creator. And the 2013 documentary Salinger unearthed a lot of new information about the perniciously private author’s personal life.
3. Joaquin Phoenix
He’s starred in blockbusters like Gladiator and art house darlings like Her and The Master. But while being one of Hollywood’s most coveted leading men, Phoenix regularly shuns the spotlight. He’s sidestepped mainstream movies for a decade. He’s infuriatingly quiet in press junkets, and has called award season campaigning “total, utter bullshit.” Most famously, he tried to derail his own image by making a “documentary” about his leaving acting behind to become a bearded rapper. When I’m Still Here drew more rage than acclaim, Phoenix and director/brother-in-law Casey Affleck claimed it was a mockumentary that was never meant to be taken seriously. Both promptly went back to acting in slightly less puzzling pictures.
The Australian pop star built a rep on killer lyrics and quirky music videos which often featured her coated in paint, chasing Polaroids, or playing part-puppet. But after some personal trauma, Sia decided to step out of the spotlight and let her music speak for itself. Her 2014 album 1000 Forms of Fear featured her signature platinum blonde bob on the cover, but not her face. Since then, she’s had dancing stand-ins perform in her videos, like Maddie Ziegler and Shia LaBeouf did in the one below for “Elastic Heart.” Even in television interviews and talk show performances, Sia resolutely positions herself with her back to the camera. She also refuses to tour.
5. Shia LaBeouf
Child star turned troubled thespian, LaBeouf went from starring in the massively popular Transformers movies to performing in polarizing art films like Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. And somewhere in there came plagiarism allegations, a bizarre apology tour, and a strange art installation that put him face to face with the public. But most memorably, LaBeouf took to the red carpet for Nymphomaniac’s premier with a paper sack over his head that demanded “I’m not famous anymore.”
6. Thomas Pynchon
He is the American novelist celebrated for Gravity’s Rainbow, The Crying of Lot 49, and Inherent Vice. The last of these titles recently got spun into a star-studded movie adaptation, complete with red carpet and glamorous film festival exhibitions. But Pynchon has hid from fame for four decades, evading the press to the point where the only known photographs of him are from his high school and college years. But this didn’t stop Pynchon from earning a cameo on The Simpsons, where he’s depicted with a bag over his head. Maybe that’s where Shia got the idea?