Sink your teeth into these A-listers’ tell-all, behind-the-glitz stories – all in their own words.

We know them extremely well and not at all. Images of celebrities fill our heads whether we like them or not, emblazoned across magazines, social media and newspapers, gazing out of the TV and on the sides of buses – and that’s without the content we go looking for ourselves (hello Daily Mail sidebar of shame and its ilk).

Some celebrity memoirs – whether self-penned or, very often, ghost written – are simply deeper dives into the self-regard that must, to some extent at least, be a requirement when it comes to the pursuit of fame. But, just occasionally, the publishing industry throws up a real gem: a celebrity autobiography that is insightful, illuminating, hilarious or heart-breaking – sometimes all of the above – and even, gasp, really well-written. The most recent of these is Matthew Perry’s new tome – and what better excuse than that to look back at some of the other excellent celebrity memoirs to pick up – just in time for Christmas.

Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing

Matthew Perry

On the set of Friends, the most successful sitcom of all time, Matthew Perry was the only member of the six-strong core cast who routinely wrote his own lines. And given that his character Chandler relied on one-liners – as opposed to the more physical comedy of Joey’s hunky dim-wittedness and Ross’s comic righteous indignation – we might expect him to be pretty good with words. And so it has proved. His new memoir, Friends, Lovers And The Big Terrible Thing, takes a candid look at his struggles with addiction and loneliness, as well as allowing us behind the scenes of the beloved series. Unflinching and honest, it’s a must for Friends fans everywhere. Buy it.

To The End Of The World

Rupert Everett

If he hadn’t become an actor, Rupert Everett could doubtless have made it big as a writer. He is genuinely gifted. This memoir – his third – tells the story of his obsession with Oscar Wilde, and the decade-long, ultimately successful, quest to direct and star in a film about his hero. The making of The Happy Prince, the picture that eventually saw the light of day in 2018 and which examines the final, lamentable act in Wilde’s life, is brought vividly alive on the page. But what makes this book so wonderful is Everett’s total, unflinching honesty. As Rachel Cooke wrote of it in the The Guardian, ‘Everett is old, he insists, and ‘the wrong kind of queen’; Hollywood has zipped itself up and turned its back on him. Does this mean that we worry for him? Do we picture him, just occasionally, as the leather Norma Desmond? No, never. However wasteful and capricious his first profession, we know that he is perfectly safe. The blank page will henceforth always be his. He is a writer to his (aching) bones.’ Buy it.

Dying Of Politeness

Geena Davis

The release of this two-time Academy Award winner’s retrospective collection of essays on a life in Hollywood has made instant waves. Why? Thanks to its candour about her working relationship with Bill Murray and, specifically, his inappropriate behaviour, which has spawned a series of others to come forward. Read it for that, but also because this is an often funny, always frank account of her life, which highlights how unkind Hollywood still is to women over 40. She writes, ‘…just about every popular American film actress who isn’t Meryl Streep fades into the wallpaper as soon as she hits her forties. That quote from The First Wives’ Club still rings true: ‘There are only three ages for women in Hollywood: babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy.’’ Curiously unsung as an actress despite being a double Oscar-winner, this book examines the perils of being nice and decent in a cut-throat industry. The Times says, ‘Dying of Politeness is a strange title to give the memoir of an Academy Award-winning actress, but Davis’s frank appraisal of her psychological and physical merits, and demerits, is not only disarming, but likely to strike a chord with many of her readers — especially those of us who have been inculcated since birth to try to please as many people as possible and to suppress the more unruly aspects of our personalities to keep things running smoothly for everyone else, at work or at home.’ Buy it.


Elton John

Take the famous extravagance, absurdity and wild talent of Elton John and add the wit and flair of ghost writer and music journalist Alexis Petridis. Mix them up together, and you get Me. On that basis alone, this unflinching and often hilarious book was always going to fodder to greedily devour in just a couple of sittings. The stories are hardly in short supply – the time he asked one of his lackeys to stop the wind from blowing is just one in a laundry list of cocaine-induced ludicrousness – and the way they’re told – with winning self-mockery – makes this a laugh-out-loud read. There is no denying John’s narcissism and grandiosity, but nor can you ignore the self-awareness, the loneliness, the desperation or the self-deprecation, that makes him not just palatable but actively likeable, despite the whirlwind of excess and, famously, tantrums. Buy it.


Matthew McConaughey

Greenlights opens arrestingly. Specifically, the Oscar-winning actor takes us back to his childhood, asking us to imagine a scene in his kitchen in 1974. The young McConaughey witnesses a fight between his parents. But it’s not any old fight; this is one that opens with his mother breaking his father’s nose and ends with the pair of them having sex on the floor. It’s not your average Hollywood memoir, this. Partly, in fact, for not actually being a memoir at all, instead telling the stories of his life from which he has learned lessons and gleaned wisdom. It is, in short, a guidebook for how to be more Matthew McConaughey. The films feature, of course. But really, this is a love letter to life. He says, ‘I've been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life.’ Buy it.

Faith, Hope & Carnage

Nick Cave

This affecting and profound book is an edited collection of conversations between Nick Cave and the journalist Sean O’Hagan. It covers everything from Cave’s musical career to the tragic death of his teenage son, Arthur. It is deeply sad, extremely moving and also uplifting, as Cave discusses the relationship between grief and creativity to powerful effect. Buy it.

This Much Is True

Miriam Margolyes

There is a reason that Miriam Margolyes is one of the Graham Norton’s favourite guests. To say she is good value is an understatement of epic proportions. She is ebullient – irrepressibly so – and she spares no blushes, and that is exactly why we love her. Her memoir is frank about the mutual disdain between her and her fellow Cambridge Footlights alumni (John Cleese and Graham Chapman get short shrift), while no celebrity is afforded an easy ride (she was, for example, immune to the charms of Leonardo Di Caprio). Fun, tell-all and brutally frank, this is a jolly, laugh-out-loud and, at times, poignant read. Buy it.

By Nancy Alsop
November 2022

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.