The glitz, the glamour — and the grime.
Despite the image of A-list celebrities cruising around New York in sleek Towncars, tinted-windowed SUVs or even taxis, many utilize a less lavish form of transportation: the subway.
Big-name New York residents including Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Kevin Bacon, Katie Holmes and Oscar winner Anne Hathaway have frequently been spotted taking the train, albeit oftentimes hiding behind sunglasses or wearing hats.
In some cases, celebrities’ subway rides are merely publicity stunts to garner media attention. But a lot of the time, they take the train out of convenience — and because there is an innate sense of anonymity amid a sea of faceless riders who usually don’t deign to make eye contact with one another.
“I think in New York, it’s obviously the most efficient way to get around,” said Suzy Byrne, Yahoo!’s entertainment editor. “Just because they’re A-listers doesn’t mean they’re immune to gridlock.”
Those in the limelight are also used to being fawned over and having a team of managers, assistants and publicists at their disposal, but sometimes they want to do things independently and create some sense of normalcy in their lives.
“People with kids, too, like Hugh Jackman, want to expose them to a normal world,” Byrne said.
When Jay Z rode the R train to the last performance of his eight-show concert series that opened Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2012, there were camera crews and bodyguards surrounding him; but for the Kings County native, it may have been more than a publicity stunt.
“He wants to show that he’s proud of where he’s from,” said celebrity lifestyle expert Dawn Del Russo.
For other celebrities, taking the subway is meant to foster a grounded public image. When reality starlet Kim Kardashian, known for her extravagant lifestyle, took her first subway ride in 2010, she tweeted a photo of herself and her sister Kourtney Kardashian on the No. 6 train — both wearing fully done-up hair and makeup, no less.
“Sometimes I think their PR advises them to do normal things,” Del Russo said.
Added Byrne: “It’s fun to see all the glitz and glamour, but it’s also good to see them being normal.”