Famous Celebrities With Terrifying Stalker Stories

We're all fascinated by celebrities. But if there's anything we've learned from Joe Goldberg from the Netflix stalking series "You," it's that obsession often compels one to walk dangerous roads. Actors, singers, and icons at large are forever in the public eye, attracting attention both wanted and unwanted. Many famous artists have faced stalking encounters over the years. Jack Levin, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston, has noted that celebrity stalkers fantasize about being in personal relationships with their idols: "Any small bit of sympathy, no matter how faint ... can inspire a stalker," ABC quoted him as saying. 

The murder of actor Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989 was a watershed case that highlighted celebrity stalking in Hollywood. The 21-year-old "My Sister Sam" sitcom star was shot dead by a stalker named Robert Bardo at her Los Angeles home (via Entertainment Weekly). The tragedy prompted a landmark anti-stalking legislation in California, which was notably America's first, and Bardo was given a life sentence. 

From Brad Pitt to Beyoncé, several A-listers have since dealt with fans who became a bit too friendly in uncomfortable or even terrifying ways.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Keira Knightley's stalker stood meowing outside her home

Keira Knightley became the target of a cat-obsessed stalker who frequented her London home for months in 2016. Mark Revill would turn up at Knightley's residence, drawing on nearby pavements and (curiously enough) meowing through her mailbox (via The Telegraph). He reportedly also left her a memory stick "containing music about cats." Knightley's husband James Righton, with whom the "Atonement" actor shares two children, attempted to confront Revill by chasing him down the street. 

When the case reached the courts, Revill's counsel argued that he had been trying to initiate contact with Knightley to promote his music. Knightley's legal rep claimed that Revill was "in love" with her (via Metro). Revill was given a suspended sentence with a restraining order and was later committed to a psychiatric institution (per Daily Mail). "When I return home, I have to look behind me," Knightley said, with Page Six reporting that the incident prompted her to amp up security on her property. 

Michael Douglas' stalker threatened to hurt his wife

Suave celebrity couple Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones once came within the purview of an alarming stalker situation that involved violent threats and unrequited love. In 2004, reports surfaced of Dawnette Knight hovering over the lives of the Oscar-winning pair, claiming that she was in love with Douglas and professing intent to hurt Zeta-Jones. According to the New York Post, Knight had sent letters to people close to Zeta-Jones between at least 2003 and 2004, with one particularly disturbing note talking about how she would like to "slice [Zeta-Jones] up like meat on a bone." She had allegedly been besotted with Douglas since his 1987 film "Fatal Attraction," per ABC News

Knight, aged 32 at the time, was charged with multiple felony counts related to stalking and threatening, reported the Los Angeles Times. Before an LA court, Zeta-Jones recounted her harrowing experience, likening the violent letters to terrorism. Douglas, who claimed he had once seen Knight in Vegas, told the court that her threats drove his wife to an "emotional breakdown." In 2005, Knight was sentenced to three years of prison (with credit for the 600 days she'd already served) and Zeta-Jones was granted a restraining order against the stalker. While Knight appeared apologetic, Zeta-Jones contended she was "evil" (via Today).  

A woman broke into Brad Pitt's home and slept in a bedroom

Brad Pitt is the heartthrob of millions, with some members of his fan club professing themselves to be more than fans. One example is an incident from January 1999, when a woman reportedly entered Pitt's home in Hollywood Hills through an open window and was inside for about 10 hours. According to the Los Angeles Times, Pitt wasn't home when the offender, 19-year-old Athena Marie Rolando, broke in. She was found wearing the Oscar winner's clothes — "a blue hat, green sweatshirt, black sweatpants, and tennis shoes," per a police statement. The BBC reported she also had a letter to Pitt, a book on witchcraft, and a safety pin festooned with ribbons that she described as a doll. A member of Pitt's staff first discovered Rolando sleeping in one of the bedrooms, per the Associated Press. 

When charged with trespassing, Rolando reportedly pleaded no contest. The court ordered her to undergo psychological counseling and placed her on probation for three years, per the BBC. People further reported that the court instructed Rolando to steer clear of harassing or stalking Pitt, restraining her from being within 100 yards of him and his property. 

Sandra Bullock hasn't been the same since a stalker broke into her home

In a chilling incident, Sandra Bullock and her stalker came face-to-face in the early hours of June 8, 2014. The "Miss Congeniality" star awoke to sounds inside her Bel-Air home and saw an unidentified man inside, when she promptly shut herself in her bedroom and dialed 911 (via The Seattle Times). Joshua James Corbett, who was consequently arrested, believed himself to be Bullock's husband, per notes and letters procured from the 39-year-old man. TMZ reported that Corbett had with him cutouts of the Oscar-winning actor and a written note that read: "I will forever be thinking of you and Louie [the name of Bullock's son is Louis], my son, as you are my wife by law, the law of God, and you belong to me and me to you."

Corbett had reportedly been keeping tabs on Bullock's movements in the days prior to the break-in. Authorities found several firearms during their search of Corbett's house, and he was charged with 26 offenses (via Case Law). Corbett was convicted in 2017, put on probation, and assigned to mental treatment, per USA Today. In 2018, it was reported that Corbett killed himself at his California home after cops approached him with a search warrant linked to the original stalking case. 

Appearing on Red Table Talk in 2021, Bullock said that she "wasn't the same" after the 2014 shock. 

Jennifer Aniston's stalker had planned to abduct her

Lots of people harbor dreams of marrying the sensational Jennifer Aniston. In July 2010, a man actually tried to follow through with that fantasy, and terrifyingly so. Jason Peyton, 24, traveled all the way from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles in an alleged attempt to abduct the "Friends" star, the BBC reported. Peyton apparently had spent eight days searching for Aniston before being apprehended by the police, who were alerted by his mother (per TMZ). Among Peyton's possessions were a sharp object, duct tape, and a vehicle into which he had carved love messages about the actor.

Following his arrest, the stalker was placed on psychiatric hold by the LA police, while Aniston secured a temporary restraining order against him. According to court documents, Peyton was on a "mission" to marry Aniston, whom he believed he was dating. He was further under the impression that he was related to the likes of Courteney Cox and Donald Trump. Describing him as "obsessed, mentally ill, and delusional," court papers noted that he had a criminal history of assault against his mother and that he was previously on anti-psychotic drugs (via TMZ).

A convict obsessed with Justin Bieber planned to murder, castrate him

To the horror of Justin Bieber fans everywhere, reports surfaced in 2012 of police unearthing a murder plot against the "Baby" hitmaker. The insidious plan was apparently hatched in prison by a convicted killer named Dana Martin, who convinced his former fellow inmate and the latter's nephew to carry out the crime, reported The Guardian. The perpetrators, who intended to travel from New Mexico to New York City in pursuit of Bieber, also had on their hit list the names of two others they would allegedly castrate and kill. According to CNN, the men were apprehended by U.S. officials at the Canadian border, which led to the revelation of their shocking agenda. Weapons, including pruning shears, were procured from the men (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

Bieber, then 18, was identified as the conspirators' "ultimate target," according to an affidavit in the case, reported CNN. The plot's mastermind Martin, who flaunted a tattoo of Bieber on his leg, was allegedly upset that the singer had not responded to his letters. That, coupled with his "perception of being a 'nobody' in prison" — per the affidavit, via CNN — prompted him to conspire against the pop icon.

Selena Gomez sold the home where she was stalked

Selena Gomez's encounter with a stalker prompted the actress and singer to actually move houses. Mere days after the "Only Murders in the Building" star bought a lavish 7,200-square-foot property in Calabasas, the house was broken into. A trespasser first came looking for Gomez by turning up at her front door. A few days later, he reportedly tried to get into the house again. Gomez was home on both occasions. The alleged stalker, 21, was ultimately arrested and charged with trespassing and burglary (via TMZ). 

Gomez's fears didn't end there. Reports indicate that she was compelled to dial 911 a few more times during the course of her stay at the Calabasas house. Despite the fact that the property was located within a gated area monitored by security cameras (per Teen Vogue), Gomez moved out of the house after just 18 months. In 2020, she splurged on a grand $4.9 million mansion in Los Angeles that once belonged to singing legend Tom Petty (via Elle). Hopefully this one's stalker proof! 

Beyoncé's stalker was convinced she was an imposter

The incomparable Beyoncé, who has 28 Grammy wins to her name, had a stalker who accused her of being an imposter. Bassey Essien from Britain was under the impression that the "Single Ladies" singer had killed the real Beyoncé and taken her place (via the Mirror). He reportedly met the star in 2009 and tried to hand her a book of his religious writings, and had also sent her threatening messages. According to court documents, the man claimed he had dreamt Beyoncé was in danger and was only trying to help. In 2011, a U.K. court ruled in favor of Beyoncé, ordering her harasser to refrain from contacting her or the people around her. "There's a lot more to this than meets the eye," Essien was quoted as saying. 

When Queen Bey was due to perform at Twickenham Stadium in London in 2013, it was reported that security was amped up due to persisting fears of Essien (via the Daily Mail). A source told the British tabloid The Sun that "it is believed similar letters to the ones that Essien sent have been received." Staffers were told to keep their eyes peeled for Essien, whose pictures were reportedly circulated among the security team.

A man stalked Gwyneth Paltrow for 17 years

Imagine being showered by unwelcome attention for almost two decades! Gwyneth Paltrow's stalker pursued her for approximately 17 years. Ohio native Dante Michael Soiu consistently attempted to woo the "Emma" actor in hopes she would marry him, sending her lewd letters and even sex toys (via The Guardian). On one occasion in 1999, Soiu even tried to meet Paltrow. While legal action was reportedly initiated against Soiu in 2000 — when he was found not guilty on grounds of insanity and was committed to a mental facility — he proceeded to make contact with Paltrow again between 2009 and 2015 (per the BBC) and was arrested.

The letters Soiu sent contained "religious to pornographic to threatening" content, as Paltrow told a court in Los Angeles in 2016. The counsel for the defendant claimed Soiu was conveying biblical messages. He reportedly restarted correspondence with Paltrow in hopes of a reconciliation after their early 2000s encounter and "wanted to have a pen pal." Soiu was said to have sent Paltrow a total of 66 letters and packages in recent years (via the Los Angeles Times). A jury ultimately acquitted him. 

Lana Del Rey's stalker allegedly planned to kidnap the singer at her concert

Lana Del Rey was the target of an alleged kidnapping plot in 2018, with a man threatening her before she was due to perform in Orlando. ABC News reported that 43-year-old career criminal Michael Hunt had shared a series of social media posts between January and February that prompted safety concerns for Rey. Police reportedly found tickets to Rey's concert and a knife among his possessions. In a tweet on February 4, 2018, Orlando police announced they had arrested Hunt for "aggravated stalking."

Hunt was captured by police near the concert venue, reported the Orlando Sentinel. Social media posts reportedly attributed to Hunt reflected his infatuation with Rey; one such post made before the show read: "I want to see my queen on Friday and from that day forward our decisions will be as one." In court, he insisted he only wanted to deliver paintings to Rey (via the Tampa Bay Times). By then, Hunt had served five prison terms and was last released from prison in 2014.

A man spent the night lying in wait at Rihanna's house

Rihanna wasn't home in May 2018 when Eduardo Leon, 27, climbed a fence and made his way onto her property, according to the Observer. Leon reportedly managed to disable the alarm system within the mansion and stayed inside for 12 hours before Rihanna's assistant discovered him in the living room. He was tased and arrested, with several charges including stalking, burglary, and vandalism brought against him. Leon had broken into another house in the neighborhood a few days prior, thinking it belonged to the "Diamonds" singing sensation.

The accused man told police he had wanted to have sex with the Barbadian beauty, reported the Observer. The pop star is believed to have been in New York at the time for the launch of her lingerie brand. According to Sky News, Rihanna was granted a 10-year protection order against the accused, who was also placed on a five-year probation period. Though he pleaded guilty to the charges, Leon ended up not serving any jail time for the incident, The Blast later reported. 

Leonardo DiCaprio's stalker believed she was married to the star

Like his fellow A-listers, Leonardo DiCaprio has had his share of stalker encounters. A notable example was in 2010, when a woman named Livia Bistriceanu alleged that she was DiCaprio's wife and was expecting his child. Bistriceanu reportedly traveled all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles and tried to contact the "Titanic" actor many times (via CBS News). Bistriceanu, 41, even showed up in the vicinity of his home and office.

In one handwritten letter for DiCaprio, as presented in court, Bistriceanu mentioned, "You wrote to me two years ago that you love me and you don't love another woman" (via TMZ). In another, she reportedly wrote, "Do you want to be with me for real and to be the father of Jesus?" Jesus, per court filings, is the name Bistriceanu used to refer to the child she claimed she was carrying. The Oscar awardee secured a restraining order against Bistriceanu through an LA court, saying that he was "frightened" of her and that she was jeopardizing his safety.

Taylor Swift's stalker climbed onto her roof, rang the doorbell for an hour

Taylor Swift is one celebrity whose life has consistently been plagued by stalkers. The string of people who have obsessively pursued the "Folklore" hitmaker is so long that "her security team installed facial recognition software at the venues she performs in to specifically distinguish her stalkers from her fans," as mentioned in the true-crime podcast Disgraceland (via the New York Post). In one such case, Swift was targeted by a man named Mohammed Jaffar. According to TMZ, Jaffar's interest in the pop singer can be traced back to at least 2014, when he tweeted threatening messages to her. 

Jaffar soon took his pursuit of Swift offline, reportedly turning up at her home in New York City multiple times between 2016 and 2017, allegedly ringing her doorbell for an hour straight and climbing onto her rooftop (via Page Six). Jaffar reportedly also called her management no less than 59 times in hopes of meeting her. He was arrested on March 6 and committed to a psychiatric facility. He was given a six-month prison sentence in 2018, per reports.

John Lennon's obsessive stalker shot him after taking his autograph

John Lennon's encounter with his stalker is among the most notoriously legendary stories of all time. One-quarter of the iconic English rock band the Beatles, 40-year-old Lennon was shot dead outside his apartment building in Manhattan on the night of December 8, 1980, by Mark David Chapman, a tragedy that sent shockwaves across the world. 

A few hours before he killed the musician, Chapman had stopped Lennon for an autograph — and there is even a chilling photo of their meeting (via Daily Mail). Lennon was later returning home with his wife, Yoko Ono, when Chapman approached him and said, "Mr. Lennon?" before releasing multiple rounds from his revolver, per The Sydney Morning Herald.

Chapman, who was later sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, was a diehard fan of the Beatles but gradually became disillusioned, especially after Lennon's infamous remark about the band being "more popular than Jesus" (via The Scotsman). He came from Hawaii to New York City with a hit list that reportedly included the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Johnny Carson (per the Daily Mail). Chapman made no attempt to flee after killing Lennon, and instead sat reading his copy of "The Catcher in the Rye" at the crime scene. In subsequent years, Chapman has stated that he shot Lennon for "self-glory" (via ABC News). Requests for his parole have been denied repeatedly and he remains in jail.