2007 was a big year for Michael Cera: both Superbad and Juno came out that year, sending him into a new stratosphere of fame after starring in the cult hit Arrested Development. If you know a bit about Cera’s public persona, it might not surprise you to learn that this level of fame made him pretty uncomfortable. In fact, he tells The Guardian that in the years following, “I really didn’t know if I was going to keep being an actor.”
At the very least, he “wanted to stop taking jobs that would make me more famous.” He even turned down a Saturday Night Live hosting gig at the time: “I was kind of having a bit of a crisis … I was really not enjoying the level of heat.”
Superbad super fame “was sort of overwhelming,” he explains. “I didn’t know how to handle walking down the street. Fame makes you very uncomfortable in your own skin, and makes you paranoid and weird. There were lots of great things about it, and I met a lot of amazing people, but there’s a lot of bad energies, too, ones that I was not equipped to handle.”
This is not the first time Cera has reflected on fame, nor his struggle with “how to respectfully establish my own boundaries” when it came to interactions with “toxic” fans. “I’m just a very sensitive person, and very sensitive to the people that I meet and to other people’s energies,” he previously described himself. “I think when you get really famous, you’re just like a magnet to people. And all kinds of people come up to you, and I just can’t handle it. I’m not really cut out for that level of interaction with so many different types. I don’t have a strong enough personality for that.”
This was compounded by the fact that he was only 19 when his fame peaked, as he shared with The Daily Beast in 2022. “I think if you kind of get famous and you’re my age now or you’re 40 or something, you have your own sense of personal boundaries that you’re able to uphold. But I was just 19 and I felt so confused about how to be graceful in those situations with those people, especially when you feel very imposed upon and very encroached upon, even physically. It took me a long time to kind of get my hands around that whole aspect of my life and figure it out.”
Fame “was embarrassing,” he admitted to the outlet. “More than anything, it was embarrassing because I would be hanging out with friends, walking down the street, and people were constantly shouting things at me and recognizing me and wanting something. And I just felt embarrassed. It kind of made hanging out with friends difficult and not that much fun for me or for them. I really bristled at it.”
While he adds that “obviously it was great” to have success in his career, “all of the social challenges that suddenly arose were challenging”—no wonder he “kind of freaked out a little bit.” It seems that Cera has achieved a better balance (and better boundaries) now, even if he’ll never be Jack Black-levels of comfortable with the spotlight.