Actors who are shy often report taking up the craft as a way of coping with shyness or learning to better express themselves. It is therefore no wonder that many well-known Hollywood actors are shy. Although few of these actors suffer with extreme social anxiety, many of them feel nervous or anxious about the social demands of the acting profession.
1. Alexis Bledel
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Alexis Bledel is an American actress who began her career in modelling, attended New York University for film. She later went on to debut on the television series Gilmore Girls. Bledel's parents enrolled her in community theater programs at age 8 in an effort to help her overcome childhood shyness. She admits to still being shy, but is able to rise to the occasion when necessary for her career.
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Swedish-born Ann-Margret Olsson moved to the United States at the age of 5. She was discovered by George Burns in Las Vegas and later landed an RCA record deal and film contract with 20th Century Fox. Ann-Margret has since become a cultural icon, appearing in such films as Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas and Grumpy Old Men. She describes herself as a shy and different person than you see on screen. She also reports not watching her own movies because it makes her nervous and uncomfortable.
3. Annie Oakley
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Annie Oakley was a star and exhibition sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill's Wild West, a traveling roadshow in the late 1800's. Though Oakley was bold in public and when performing, she was shy and retiring in her private life. Oakley was known for looking at the top of people's heads when talking to them because she did not want to look them in the eye.
4. Barbra Streisand
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Barbra Streisand is an American actress and singer who appeared in such films as Hello Dolly!, Yentl and Meet the Fockers. Streisand forgot the words to a song during a 1967 performance in New York's Central Park and did not perform in public afterward for nearly three decades. She has talked publicly about her problems with stage fright and performance anxiety, and how she received both medication and therapy as part of her recovery.
5. Blake Lively
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Blake Lively is an American actress known for her roles in the film Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and the television series Gossip Girl. Born into a family of actors, Lively credits the acting craft with building her confidence and helping her overcome shyness. She reports sometimes feeling shy even during situations that require outward confidence, such as at red carpet appearances.
6. Brad Pitt
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Brad Pitt is an American actor and film producer known for his roles in such films as Thelma & Louise, Legends of the Fall, 12 Monkeys and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Pitt was married to actress Jennifer Aniston for five years before starting a relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie. He has been described as a man of few words and someone who likes to play outgoing characters to break away from his natural shyness.
7. Carol Burnett
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Carol Burnett is an American comedian and actress best known for her variety show that featured music, dance and comedy sketches from 1967 to 1978. A shy person in her private life, Burnett reports only being able to perform when in character. She gets nervous around people she holds in high regard.
8. Cathy Rigby
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Cathy Rigby is an Olympic gymnast, entertainer and motivational speaker and was the first American female medal-winner at the World Gymnastics Competition. Rigby retired from gymnastics at the age of 20 and went on to a career in theater and television despite being shy. She and her husband formed a touring-theater company best known for its production of Peter Pan.
9. Cher Bono
Photo: Getty / Michael Buckner
Cher Bono is an American actress and singer. Cher and husband Sonny Bono became famous for their music and variety show The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. Cher starred in films such as Mask and Moonstruck and is one of only two women to have won an Academy Award for best actress and also have a No. 1 hit song on the Billboard charts (Barbra Streisand is the other). Cher described herself as shy and ugly during childhood; she also suffered with undiagnosed dyslexia, which may have contributed to feelings of inadequacy.
10. Courtney Cox Arquette
Photo: Getty / Mike Coppola
Courteney Cox is an American actress best known for her role as Monica Geller in the television sitcom Friends. Cox started her career as a model with the Ford Modelling Agency and had her first big break with a part in the Bruce Springsteen video Dancing in the Dark. She later went on to play Michael J. Fox's girlfriend on Family Ties. Cox feels that her shyness has stopped her from pursuing more of a career on the big screen, as she does not have the confidence to audition.