Celebrity phobias: Travis Barker's fear of flying to Rihanna's fear of fish

Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Adele, Jennifer Aniston and Matt Damon have spoken publicly about their biggest fears

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For anyone who has been keeping a close eye on Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian’s very public romance, there is one thing for sure: they are in love.

However, more than the Instagram proclamations, PDAs and Kardashian's new head-to-toe black wardrobe, the Blink-182 drummer, 45, has made one very clear statement that this is no fling. He got on a plane for the first time since 2008 for a holiday with the reality TV star, conquering his almost 13-year fear of flying.

There’s a million things that could happen to me. I could die riding my skateboard. I could get in a car accident ... Anything could happen, so why should I still be afraid of airplanes?
Travis Barker

On September 19, 2008, Barker was one of six people onboard a Learjet 60 that crashed during take-off from Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina.

Barker was one of two survivors in the fatal crash, along with DJ Adam Goldstein, better known as DJ AM. The plane's two pilots and two passengers died in the crash.

Following the accident, Barker was in hospital for months. He had a total of 16 surgeries and several skin grafts to treat third-degree burns covering his body and his foot was so badly damaged, doctors considered amputating it.

“I stayed in burn centres for, like, the next four months. That feels like hell,” Barker told ABC at the time.

He has spoken frankly about the toll the crash took on him, but was determined to fly again, even if he suffered from PTSD in the years after.

In May, Barker spoke to Men’s Health about the ordeal and his mental health following the accident.

“I was dark. I couldn’t walk down the street. If I saw a plane [in the sky], I was determined it was going to crash, and I just didn’t want to see it,” he said.

“It’s gotten better the further I get away from it. The closer I was to it, it felt like I was closer to the bad stuff than I am to the good stuff.”

However, he also opened up about his road to recovery, telling the publication that he had an agreement with “someone very close to him” to help him get back on a plane for the first time in years.

The agreement was simple: the friend would tell him he needs to pack a bag and be ready to go in 24 hours, and he would then be picked up and taken to an airport.

Speaking of his fear, Barker said: “There’s a million things that could happen to me. I could die riding my skateboard. I could get in a car accident. I could get shot. Anything could happen. I could have a brain aneurysm and die. So why should I still be afraid of airplanes?”

In mid-August, Barker conquered his fear by jumping aboard Kylie Jenner’s private jet for a flight to Mexico. He has since flown to Italy with Kardashian to attend the Dolce & Gabbana shows in Venice.

"It's a huge deal that Travis flew to Cabo. The plane crash many years ago was extremely traumatising. He has needed a lot of help to get to this point," a source told People. "Kourtney has been very supportive. She never pushed for him to fly. They have managed to travel in the US without having to fly and Kourtney has been totally fine with it."

Here, we round up 12 more celebrities who have spoken frankly about their fears and phobias …


Rihanna has ichtyophobia, a fear of fish or any aquatic life. Getty Images

It’s not water that the Umbrella singer is afraid of, but what lives in it. The Barbadian billionaire singer, 33, has ichthyophobia, a fear of fish.

“I’m super-scared of sea creatures. Even tiny fish,” Rihanna told Blender. “One time I was in the water – and the water in Barbados is so clear you can see your feet – I saw all these tiny fish swimming around my feet, and I had a panic attack. I just froze. This man had to lift me out of the water.”

Johnny Depp

US actor Johnny Depp poses upon arrival to attend the world premiere of the film 'Murder on the Orient Express' at the Royal Albert Hall in west London on November 2, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN

The Pirates of the Caribbean actor has coulrophobia, which is more commonly known as a fear of clowns.

“There always seemed to be a darkness lurking just under the surface, a potential for real evil. I guess I am afraid of them because it's impossible, thanks to their painted-on-smiles, to distinguish if they are happy or if they're about to bite your face off," says Depp, 58.

Jennifer Aniston

A handout photo of Jennifer Aniston and her young co-star Cooper onboard the A380 in the new Emirates TVC (Courtesy: Emirates) *** Local Caption ***  on06oc-scene-aniston.jpg

A particularly turbulent flight left Friends star Jennifer Aniston, 52, with aviophobia or aerophobia, a fear of air travel, which is ironic for someone who was the face of an Emirates campaign in the past.

Speaking to UK TV host Lorraine Kelly, she said: “I’m afraid of flying. You can’t get a big enough drink and it doesn’t help. I’ve actually gotten much better.”

Scarlett Johansson ­

Scarlett Johansson says her fear of birds, or ornithophobia, runs in the family. AP

The Black Widow actress has ornithophobia, a fear of birds. While promoting We Bought a Zoo in 2011, Scarlett Johansson, 36, told New York Magazine: “I’m only scared of birds. Something about wings and beaks and the flapping. I’m terrified of them. That still hasn’t gone away. My uncle is terrified of birds as well, so it runs in the family.”

She added: “That still hasn’t gone away … I was terrified of the peacocks on set [of We Bought a Zoo]. Like, ‘Ahh, don’t get too close.’ They’re mean.”

Matt Damon

Matt Damon, Co-Founder, Water.org, USA speaking at the Annual Meeting 2017 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 17, 2017.
Copyright by World Economic Forum / Boris Baldinger *** Local Caption ***  bz19ja-wef-14.jpg

Johansson’s We Bought a Zoo co-star Matt Damon, 50, has also been open about his animal phobia, namely ophidiophobia, a fear of snakes.

Speaking about his experience while shooting the animal-centric film, he said that he “cried like a baby and rocked back and forth when the snakes were spread all over the set".

Johansson recalls of Damon: “He was definitely sweating a bit, and maybe the sweat formed in the corner of his eye.

“I said, ‘Matt, these kids are practically juggling the snakes. Hold it together.’”


Adele's specific fear of seagulls has something to do with a stealing bird. Photo: Matt Sayles

Hello singer Adele, 33, suffers from a very specific form of ornithophobia, directed at seagulls specifically.

The singer told UK newspaper Metro: “I was walking down the promenade in Tenby, [Wales] eating a 99 [ice cream], when this huge seagull came down and swiped it off me.

“I’ve still got a scar from its claw on my shoulder. I thought it was going to take me away with it. I’ve got a phobia of seagulls now.”

Oprah Winfrey

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Oprah Winfrey attends a taping of "Queen Sugar After-Show" at OWN on November 7, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, 67, has a fear of chewing gum that dates back to her childhood. It’s so severe that she has banned gum in her offices, but concedes: “When I go out to the world, I can’t bar it. I have no powers there.”

Speaking about the origins of her fear, she told Stephen Colbert: “I grew up poor in Mississippi and my grandmother – absolutely no hyperbole whatsoever – my grandmother used to try to save gum, so she would put it on the bedpost, she would put it on the cabinet.

“As a child, I used to bump into it and it would rub up against me, and you know what it’s like when you’ve taken it out of your mouth and it’s been out a couple of weeks? It’s bad. And so I was afraid of it.”

Tyra Banks

Most people find dolphins cute and adorable, but not Tyra Banks. AP

America’s Next Top Model star Tyra Banks, 47, says she has been scared of dolphins since her childhood.

Speaking to People, she said: “I’ve been afraid of dolphins ever since I was 8 or 9.

“I have dreams that I am in a pool and there are dolphins bumping me and I’m frightened.”

Kendall Jenner

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 12:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been digitally retouched)  Model Kendall Jenner attends the screening of "Girls Of The Sun (Les Filles Du Soleil)" during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival at  on May 12, 2018 in Cannes, France.  (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Model Kendall Jenner, 25, has spoken publicly about having trypophobia, a fear of small holes.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I have really bad trypophobia. Trypophobics are afraid of tiny little holes that are in weird patterns,” Jenner wrote in a 2016 blog post.

“Things that could set me off are pancakes, honeycomb or lotus heads (the worst!). It sounds ridiculous but so many people actually have it! I can't even look at little holes – it gives me the worst anxiety. Who knows what's in there?”

Pamela Anderson

Everyone loved to watch former 'Baywatch' star Pamela Anderson, but she hates seeing herself owing to eisoptrophobia or a fear of mirrors. EPA

Baywatch star and model Pamela Anderson, 54, has a phobia that doesn’t befit her beauty queen image. She has eisoptrophobia, which is a fear of any reflective objects, such as mirrors.

She told the Daily Mail: "I have this phobia, I don't like mirrors.”

She said: “And I don’t watch myself on television. If anything comes on, I make them shut if off, or I leave the room.”

Jennifer Love Hewitt

Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt cannot step foot inside a lift, especially if it is crowded. Getty Images

Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt, 42, has a fear of lifts or, more specifically crowded lifts.

Speaking about her fear, she has said: “I simply cannot set foot in a lift if there are too many people in it. If there’s four or five people in it, then I just about manage it … I prefer it when it’s empty so I can scream if I want to.”

Matthew McConaughey

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 28, 2019, US actor Matthew McConaughey arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of "The Beach Bum" at the Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood. McConaughey is preparing for the first shots of what he says will be a "100-year war" when Austin F.C. make their much-anticipated Major League Soccer bow this weekend, the actor said on April 13, 2021. The Hollywood star is a minority owner in the MLS expansion side and is determined to help the club successfully embed itself in his hometown as the franchise's "minister of culture." / AFP / Chris Delmas

Dallas Buyers Club star Matthew McConaughey, 51, has a fear of both tunnels and revolving doors.

Speaking about tunnels, he said: “I really don’t like that blind spot when you’re driving and go into a tunnel. You know that spot where you can’t see for about 10 feet. You can’t see what’s in front of you or if someone’s broken down or something in front of you.”

Speaking about revolving doors, he said he “gets anxious being near them".

Updated: September 03, 2021, 5:22 AM