Let’s be honest: We don’t often frequent our favourite celebrities’ websites, and frankly, we don’t know many people that do. Why would we, when most of them are just clickable advertisements for past, present, and future projects. If we want true insight into the lives of those we idolize, then their Twitter and Instagram accounts are usually a better bet. However, there are a few celebs that have realized the potential of a really well thought out website, and have chosen to do something about it. Here are 5 Hollywood celebrities that have said no to Geocities, and yes to online innovation…
Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP
Poor Gwyn has received a lot of flack over the years for her wildly out-of-touch lifestyle newsletter, and with good reason. In what she officially refers to as a “digital media and e-commerce company,” the Academy-award winning actress dishes advice on how to eat, travel, dress, and essentially live life just as happily as she does. The only problem is, Paltrow is a movie star (read: her life is incredibly expensive to maintain). That means: don’t just wear any pair of yoga pants, wear $350 dollar yoga pants! Are you craving gluten? You’re better off killing yourself. Feel like roughing it in the wilderness? Instead of camping, go glamping, which is just luxury, 5-star camping for all you blue collar folks out there. The bottom line is, unless you’re actually a movie star, it’s virtually impossible to live, dress, and look like a movie star. But what all us provincials with empty wallets can do, free of charge, is hate-read, and for that, GOOP is unmatched.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hitRECord
If Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP is a site by a movie star for movie stars (or movie star wannabes), then Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s passion project hitRECord is pretty much the exact opposite. The growing online community and production company invites artists from all walks of life, both established and outsiders alike, to collaborate with the actor on songs, short films, and everything else in between. As if that weren’t interactive enough, JGL then posts user contributions on his tumblr and allows other people to mess with them in any way they see fit. If the end result is to his liking, JGL will actually pay you for your work. In 2010, $50,000 worth of cheques were doled out to contributors, who today, by the way, number in the 80,000 range. JGL, a movie star for the people.
Jim Carrey’s jimcarrey.com
Jim Carrey may not be the global movie star he was a decade ago, but in the world of celebrity websites, the elastic-faced canuck is still very much on the A-list. Though the actual content of his site may not be as groundbreaking as Gordon-Levitt’s – think an extensive digital resume of his life and career – the way it’s all presented is a masterclass in web design. Every page takes us deep into the whimsical, haunting, and sometimes disturbing mind of one of our generation’s greatest comedic geniuses, and navigating the damn thing is an adventure in itself. It’s as if Salvador Dali himself designed a living, breathing digital environment, with Carrey as his personal muse. Bonus points for the heavy T-dot references in the “origins” section. Enter at your own risk.
By now we’ve come to expect everything Beyonce does to be next level awesome, so it really comes as no surprise that her personal website is miles ahead of those of her pop tart contemporaries, both in terms of design and content. Especially content. Aside from the requisite back catalogue of Bey’s career, the reigning Queen of Pop gives fans an inside look into her personal life, posting intimate photos from those few and far between moments when she’s not Beyonce the superstar, but Beyonce the woman, wife and mother. And you know what that means: Blue Ivy Carter! And lots of her. Though somehow we can’t exactly picture Beyonce herself up at 3AM posting photos, her fingers stained with Cheetohs. But if this is as close as we can get to being Facebook friends with her, we’ll take it.
Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die
When you start a website intended to make other people laugh, maybe your grandmother will tell you it’s cute, and your dad will forward it to his friend in Baltimore. But that’s it. When Will Ferrell does it, he does it with a sizeable investment from venture capital shingle Sequoia Capital, and then develops it into a major multimedia company worth an estimated $300 million (with the help of a foul-mouthed 2-year-old looking to collect rent, of course). Such goes the story of Funny or Die, which the SNL alum conceived in 2007 with producing partners Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, and which began as a forum for anyone with a funny bone – including major celebrities – to produce and post funny videos. If users dig them, they stay, and live a long and prosperous life on the interweb. If not, they get sent to a video purgatory referred to as “The Crypt.” Today, Funny or Die has transcended the web by becoming a full blown production company that counts HBO as one of its many producing partners. There’s nothing funny about that.