Victoria Philpott booked a week long trip to LA in the hope of spotting Hollywood film stars on every corner. Although the celeb count ended up “low”, the hunt led her to discover the best of the ‘City of Angels’…
I wanted to see Johnny Depp in the flesh, so off I went to immerse myself in the city with the highest concentration of celebrities known to man, LA. If I didn’t see the great man himself, then any of his A-List contemporaries would do it: Cruise, Diaz, Jolie. Turns out they’re a little trickier to find…
I was hot on the celeb trail to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It’s where the A-list get their body parts immortalised in cement and the guidebook assures me it’s the celeb mecca. I’m guessing the other 200+ swarming tourists have the same book. I causally admired the ornate façade for a good hour, checking over my shoulder every few minutes to see if Spacey or Hanks decided to drop by. No luck, so I invested in the ‘VIP tour’ to see inside the world’s most famous movie theatre. The highlight was seeing the handprints of Johnny Depp, Julie Andrews and my favourite Hayley Mills – no celebs in person, but the backstage tour was cool. By the time I surfaced it was dark and the façade looked even more magical lit up.
The next day I decided to do as LA tourists do and joined the obligatory tour to Universal Studios. There’s got to be a few celebs milling around a film set, surely? After a ride around Jurassic Park, a few photos of the Bates hotel from Psycho and a trip past The Truman Show set where he walks off into the horizon, I went to the amusement park area and… snapped a real life celebrity! Well, Princess Fiona from Shrek. Not quite Johnny Depp, but there’s still time. Today’s fun count was high, but the celeb count stalled at one, and a foggy one at that.
The following morning I saw the Hollywood sign and in my, now desperate, books, that counts as a celebrity sighting. It’s been in more films and TV shows than any human could lay claim to. No photo of me sat in the ‘O’ though – it’s closed to tourists.
I needed to think harder about my location choice so I joined the Stars’ Homes tour. A whizz around the celebrity homes of Beverly Hills should be an excuse to get the camera out – spot of gardening Pacino? I saw Hugh Hefner’s playboy mansion, Christina Aguilera’s sprawling house and the Osbournes’ ex abode, among others. As much as I craned my neck to see the back gardens I didn’t spy any Oscar-nominated sunbathers, although the tour guide assures me people have.
The next day was hot: perfect for the beach. Off I went to the most famous of them all, Venice Beach. It was lined with stalls selling Bob Marley memorabilia – not where I imagine Blake Lively getting her chic beach-look jewellery from – and I found the muscle building gym. There are just two words for that place, ‘wow’ and ‘yikes’. I found out the celebs are more likely to be at the Will Roger State Beach volleyball courts or Newport Beach in the nearby Orange County.
Another day, another dollar – for the bus driver anyway. I decided to give Melrose Place a try, hoping to see the stars hunting for bargain Balenciagas. Instead I was greeted with endless designer shops that I was too intimidated to go in. I’d need some serious cash – and no flip-flops – if I was going to make like Julia Roberts and Pretty Woman my way up Rodeo Drive but window-shopping and people watching it was for this average girl. Robertson Boulevard is apparently the place to go to spot fame-hungry celebrities ‘hanging out’, so grab a coffee there and get your zoom camera out.
I had tickets to an LA Lakers game that night, hoping to see the likes of Vanessa Hudgens, David Beckham and co on the front row, but after obsessively scanning the room on arrival I actually lost myself in the game and forgot to be bothered that today’s celebrity count amounted to none.
On the last night I decided to hit the LA nightlife hard. I went to the notorious celeb magnet club Avalon and ended up chatting to a guy who was apparently in the next Harry Potter film – nope, couldn’t even spot him on slow play – and he told me one of the best places to spot A-listers is the Santa Monica Airport. All the Hollywood movie stars keep their private planes there – John Travolta is guaranteed. Eat at the on-site Typhoon restaurant and the place would be streaming with celebrities. He also said any star with a sprog takes them to Coldwater Canyon Park.
Too bad the tips came on the last day – a few handprints, a Hollywood sign and a Harry Potter film imposter does not a celebrity make. Next time I’ll get tickets to a premiere beforehand, trawl the ‘spotted’ magazine columns for hot tips, and take heed of my own advice gleaned from this trip. For now, I guess I’ll always have my treasured photo of Princess Fiona.