Fencing, figure skating, and a frankly unsettling (but very cool) aptitude for knives.
Much like Ron Swanson, the character he played on Parks and Recreation, Nick Offerman is an accomplished woodworker. Around 20 years ago, he founded the Offerman Woodshop; in the beginning, it was only Offerman “knocking out commissions between acting jobs,” but after he landed the Parks and Rec role, he hired a manager and other woodworkers to help him craft “everything from kazoos to canoes to gazebos.”
After Parks and Rec wrapped, Offerman used wood from the set to make canoe paddles for the cast and crew. Of course, they were emblazoned with the official seal of Pawnee, Indiana.
Will Smith is a Rubik’s Cube prodigy. In The Pursuit of Happyness, his character Chris Gardner quickly solves one of the puzzles to “impress a stockbroker and gain entry to an intern program.” Tyson Mao, the world record holder for solving the Cube blindfolded, was hired to help fake the scene, but Smith wanted to do it himself, so after 10 hours of Mao’s instruction, he learned how to solve the puzzle from “any configuration.” It was not rigged or preset for the scene in any way.
Justin Bieber is also a Rubik’s Cube pro, and he can solve one in under two minutes. He showed off this talent during a “Carpool Karaoke” segment on The Late Late Show With James Corden.
Terry Crews can play the flute. He took lessons for around seven years during his childhood, after his great-great-grandmother gifted him a flute for Christmas and his mother insisted that the money she spent on it wouldn’t go to waste.
Andrew Garfield was “an accomplished gymnast” before he became famous for acting. He obviously remembers some of his old tricks, and he was able to pull off a backflip on Ellen. He pointed out the absurdity of attempting it in loafers and “very tight pants,” but that didn’t stop him from sticking the landing (and raising $30,000 for breast cancer research in the process).
Harrison Ford is a trained aviator. He took flying lessons right after graduating college, but stopped once he was no longer able to pay for them. At the age of 54, he picked up the hobby again, partly because he felt like he hadn’t “learned anything in a long time.”
In addition to being a comedian, actor, and writer, Larry Wilmore is a magician. He started doing magic during his childhood and is a member of the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, where he has also performed. When asked if he had ever considered doing magic professionally, Wilmore replied, “There’s an old joke…what’s the difference between a pizza and a magician? And the answer is a pizza can feed a family of four.”
Neil Patrick Harris is a fellow lover of magic and a member of the Magic Castle, where he was once president of its board of directors. While growing up in New Mexico, Harris used his allowance to shop at the local magic shop, Fool’s Paradise. He’s since written a young adult series called The Magic Misfits, and he’s demonstrated his tricks on pretty much every talk show out there.
Angelina Jolie is a knife enthusiast who’s been collecting the weapons since childhood, so it’s only natural that she’s very skilled at handling them. She showed off her talent with a butterfly knife during an interview with Conan O’Brien.
And here’s a close-up look at what, exactly, a butterfly knife looks like:
Mark Ruffalo is a unicyclist. Well, he can ride a unicycle. He learned when he was 12, and after not getting on one for around 25 years, he was able to get right back in the saddle during an appearance on The Graham Norton Show.
Elliot Page is pretty amazing at juggling. During a 2014 appearance on Conan, he showed off his skills using fruit thoughtfully provided by Conan himself.
Susan Sarandon adores ping pong. So much so that in 2009, she helped found Spin, a ping pong bar, in New York City. (The franchise now has multiple locations across the country, plus one in Canada.) And in 2014, she starred in a movie called Ping Pong Summer as a skilled player. Sarandon was drawn to the game because, in her own words, “Ping pong cuts across all body types and gender – everything, really – because little girls can beat big muscley guys. You don’t get hurt; it is not expensive; it is really good for your mind. It is one of the few sports that you can play until you die.”
Conan O’Brien is a trained tap dancer. When he was a kid, he told his parents that he wanted to work in entertainment, and therefore needed to learn how to tap dance. They accepted this logic and hired “Stanley Brown, who had been the protégé of Bill Bojangles Robinson” to be their son’s teacher.
Jason Statham was such a good diver that he represented Great Britain at the Commonwealth Games in 1990. He didn’t make it to the Olympics, which he called “a bit of a sore point.” He elaborated, “I started too late. It probably wasn’t my thing. I should have done a different sport.” Luckily, he had a long career as a Hollywood star in front of him to soften the blow.
Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs and Somebody’s Gotta Do It, can sing opera. In 1984, Rowe couldn’t get into either of the actors’ unions he needed to join, so he found a third option: the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA). If he gained entrance into AGMA, Rowe was permitted to buy his way into one of the acting guilds. He said he realized he had “a better chance of faking my way into the opera than I would into the movies,” so he auditioned for the Baltimore Opera with “the shortest aria I could find” and got in.
Gene Wilder was pretty great at fencing. The actor, who is perhaps best known for bringing Willy Wonka to life, won the Old Vic Theatre School’s fencing championship while he was a student there, and upon his return to the United States from England, he worked as a fencing instructor.
Fashion designer Vera Wang began figure skating at the age of 8, and she became so skilled that she and her partner James Stuart competed in the 1968 US National Championships. However, they didn’t make the Olympic team, a turn of events that “devastated” Wang. The resultant “nervous breakdown” led Wang to do a semester of study abroad in Paris, where she realized her “passion for fashion.”
Here’s one of the costumes Wang designed for Kerrigan to wear at the 1994 Games:
And here’s a costume she designed for Michelle Kwan to wear during the 2002 Games:
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