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20 unexpected celebrity sightings in Kent including Johnny Depp, Ed Sheeran, David Beckham and Tom Hardy


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Many celebrities have made Kent their home over the years... but we also get a number of surprising big-name visitors to the county.

Hundreds of stars have been spotted filming out on location, whether it be a Hollywood blockbuster or TV documentary.

On the train, near the seaside or at a fish and chip shop, celebrities have cropped up in all corners of Kent
On the train, near the seaside or at a fish and chip shop, celebrities have cropped up in all corners of Kent

Yet here, we look at the most unexpected visits to Kent - when celebrities were going about their normal lives in the towns we call home.

Ranging from film stars in art galleries, to footballers in KFC and music legends at the cinema, celebrity sightings - no matter how bizarre - are always memorable.

Below is a list of 17 recognisable faces who have been spotted in recent years.

Sir Anthony Hopkins

The Academy award-winner was hailed for his "great humility" when he stopped for a lengthy chat during a shopping trip in Sandgate.

Anthony Hopkins' approachable personality proved a hit with a stunned passer-by
Anthony Hopkins' approachable personality proved a hit with a stunned passer-by

Sir Anthony was spotted exiting Christopher Buck Antiques emporium by startled passer-by Peter Troy in November 2017.

The Silence of the Lambs star had been filming in Dover but was taking a break from shooting in Sandgate high street.

"What did strike me was Sir Anthony’s great humility," Mr Troy said.

"For 15 minutes we shared jokes, recitations and anecdotes.

"He was dressed in a flat cap, scarf and jumper much like me. You would have walked past him on the street.

"There was no mention of autographs or selfies but before parting Sir Anthony asked if I had a camera. I hadn’t thought of it but I did in my pocket and his agent took our photo."

Tom Hardy

Versatile film star Tom Hardy stunned pub-goers and staff when he had a birthday lunch at The White Lion in Tenterden last September.

The Dark Knight Rises, Legend and Inception actor was with his wife, two children and friends enjoying a pizza.

Tom Hardy celebrated his birthday in Tenterden
Tom Hardy celebrated his birthday in Tenterden

Staff member Beverly Paige said: "He asked one of the staff if it was possible to take the food away if they needed to but then he relaxed and looked like he enjoyed his meal.

"Everyone was looking but they didn't make a fuss."

Andre Villas-Boas

Former Chelsea and Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas was spotted taking a breather from pre-season in July 2013 by tucking into an ice cream.

Sitting in the sunshine with assistant coaches Jose Mario Rocha and Daniel Sousa, he enjoyed his visit to Café Reculver.

The ex-Porto boss had popped into the King Ethelbert pub, but after a quick glance at the menu, opted instead for some egg and chips at the nearby cafe.

Andre Villas-Boas, known as AVB, was all smiles in Reculver with his assistant coaches. Pic: Elwyn Morris
Andre Villas-Boas, known as AVB, was all smiles in Reculver with his assistant coaches. Pic: Elwyn Morris

Cafe manager Elwyn Morris said: "They were lovely people. Very friendly and they enjoyed the food. They said thanks very much before they went off.

"There was no pretentiousness with them. They were really pleasant and didn't mind anyone coming up to them. Really lovely guys."

Villas-Boas was sacked from Spurs six months after his trip to Reculver - despite boasting the best win record of any Tottenham manager in the Premier League era.

Johnny Depp

Celebrating your first wedding anniversary by drinking champagne on a train with one of the most recognisable faces in Hollywood is as wacky and lovely as they come.

Donnie Brasco star Depp treated Ashford couple Roxanne and Dave King to a lifetime memory by spending his Eurostar journey casually chatting to them and signing a champagne bottle, before getting off the train Ashford International.

One of the kindest celebrity sightings stories you're likely to hear, Johnny Depp with Dave and Roxanne King
One of the kindest celebrity sightings stories you're likely to hear, Johnny Depp with Dave and Roxanne King

Mrs King said: "I was telling my husband to play it cool when we realised it was him but he said 'alright Johnny' and the conversation started.

"We were just having a casual chat and he was so laid back. We didn't want to bombard him, but I did ask him to say 'but why is the rum gone?'

"He told us he had only just made the train as he had left his passport behind and got on it with three minutes to spare.

"We were in shock and the two hours flew by - it was like watching him on the telly. When we told him it was our first wedding anniversary, he got some champagne.

Johnny wrote a message on a champagne bottle and spent the train journey with the couple
Johnny wrote a message on a champagne bottle and spent the train journey with the couple

"My husband asked him where he was going and he said it was to somewhere about a 50 minutes' drive away from Ashford.

"He even rolled a cigarette but said he would wait until he got off at Ashford."

Idris Elba

Film and TV star Idris Elba made a surprise visit to Lydden Hill race circuit in May 2017 to watch the fifth round of the World Rallycross Championship.

The Luther, Thor and Fast & Furious actor was photographed talking with circuit owner Pat Doran who has recently secured planning permission for multi-million pound improvements.

Idris, who was among one of the 25,000 spectators at the Canterbury circuit, is regularly spotted at motorsport events across the world.

Idris Elba speaking with circuit owner Pat Doran. Pic: Vic Wright
Idris Elba speaking with circuit owner Pat Doran. Pic: Vic Wright

Dimitri Payet

One of West Ham's greatest Premier League players - albeit a short stay at the east London club - Dimitri Payet enjoyed a KFC when he stopped at a service station near Folkestone.

The Frenchman was travelling back to the capital following his star performances at Euro 2016 when he called into Stop 24 services on the M20.

The free-kick specialist told a passer-by he was "100% staying" at West Ham and was looking forward to playing at the club's new home at the Olympic Stadium.

Dimitri Payet said he was planning on staying at West Ham when spotted at a M20 service station... Oh what could have been for a few more seasons
Dimitri Payet said he was planning on staying at West Ham when spotted at a M20 service station... Oh what could have been for a few more seasons

Despite his assurances, Payet soon kicked up a stink at the Hammers and forced through a move to Marseille in the next transfer window.

West Ham fans can look back on his Stop 24 visit in memory of happier times when one of the world's best footballers at the time donned claret and blue.

Sir Paul McCartney

Beatles legend Sir Paul has been seen a number times around the Ashford area - including at the train station.

But possibly his most unexpected sighting was in 2016 at the town's Cineworld watching Kung Fu Panda 3, with a teenager believed to be his grandson.

Starstruck cinema-goer Zoe Robertson said: "We saw him in the popcorn queue before the film and my partner said 'That's Sir Paul'. But I didn't believe him.

"But then when we were handing our tickets over to go through, the member of staff said 'Hello Sir Paul' to him, so we knew it was him.

Sir Paul watching Kung Fu Panda must be the most bizarre sighting
Sir Paul watching Kung Fu Panda must be the most bizarre sighting

"When we were walking out, I saw him over my shoulder. He said hello to me and I said it back. He then crossed the foyer to come and talk to us.

"He was really relaxed and friendly and asked us if we liked the film and what we were doing for the rest of the day."

Miss Robertson did ask for a photo, but the legendary Band on the Run singer said he didn't take pictures.

Ed Sheeran

Globally-recognised music star Ed Sheeran had some down time on the Romney Marsh last year and enjoyed some takeaway fish and chips.

The Castle on the Hill singer visited Greatstone Fish Bar with his wife Cherry Seaborn in October.

They ordered scampi and chips plus a jumbo battered sausage each, two cans of Pepsi, and a bottle of ketchup from the restaurant, before tucking into the food on the beach.

Manager Kam Bains said: "I had a chat with him while his food was cooked.

Ed Sheeran pondering over his fish and chips order... he ended up opting for scampi and a jumbo sausage. Pic: Greatstone Fish Bar
Ed Sheeran pondering over his fish and chips order... he ended up opting for scampi and a jumbo sausage. Pic: Greatstone Fish Bar

"He said it was very quiet down here and said he was loving it. I think they were just walking around. I didn't see a car.

"We asked if they wanted to sit down but they said they would eat it on the beach."

Sir Michael Gambon

Veteran actor Sir Michael Gambon stepped aboard the Kent & East Sussex Railway with his family at Tenterden station last autumn.

Michael Gambon enjoyed his train journey from Tenterden
Michael Gambon enjoyed his train journey from Tenterden

The Harry Potter star, who played Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, asked a railway maintenance worker for suggestions for the day out.

Rudi Wilson said: "I recognised the sound of Sir Michael's voice first as I got on the train. I told him I was a fan of his work and he said 'come and sit down'".

Orlando Bloom

Having grown up in Canterbury, the Lord of the Rings star has been seen numerous times around the city - including at Cafe Des Amis and the Leather Fashions shop in Palace Street.

But his day visit to Whitstable in 2014 stunned shoppers and gym-goers.

Orlando Bloom - now engaged to Katy Perry - in a Whitstable gym
Orlando Bloom - now engaged to Katy Perry - in a Whitstable gym

The Kingdom of Heaven actor even popped into Flex Appeal gym in Tankerton Road for a quick workout.

He posed for a photo before heading back out into the town for some shopping.

Rob Brydon

Would I Lie to You host Rob Brydon prepared for an evening show in Folkestone by having a hearty lamb casserole at a Turkish restaurant.

The Gavin and Stacey star posed for photos at Shayda's Turkish Cuisine in Bouverie Road West in March this year.

TV funnyman Rob Brydon enjoyed a pre-show meal in Folkestone
TV funnyman Rob Brydon enjoyed a pre-show meal in Folkestone

Owner Ibrahim Darwish said: "He had a lamb casserole and really enjoyed it but had to rush off as he is playing at The Leas.

"He was a lovely man and was happy to have his photo taken."

Lewis Hamilton

Seeing the six-time F1 champion at a race circuit is obviously not a rare occurrence. But with Brands Hatch not hosting a Grand Prix since 1986, it is rare to see Lewis Hamilton at the West Kingsdown track.

Yet despite his worldwide schedule, he has been spotted at Brands a number of times to support his brother Nic who started racing in 2011.

Hamilton was most recently seen at the circuit in 2019 - again to support his brother in the British Touring Car Championship.

Lewis with his dad Anthony supporting his brother Nic in Kent in 2011
Lewis with his dad Anthony supporting his brother Nic in Kent in 2011
Lewis Hamilton at Brands Hatch in 2019
Lewis Hamilton at Brands Hatch in 2019

The Mercedes star had raced at the famous track numerous times in his junior career, but seeing him return at the height of fame as a spectator has delighted fans.

Nic has signed to race for Detling-based Team HARD this year, so F1 fans might be able to soon catch a glimpse of Lewis at Brands Hatch once again.

Gary Lineker

Former footballer Gary Lineker ditched the crisps and enjoyed a meal at The Sportsman, in Seasalter, three years ago.

The World Cup golden boot winner and Match of the Day host later tweeted his approval of the award-winning food.

Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker approved of his meal in Seasalter
Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker approved of his meal in Seasalter

Kerry Katona

Atomic Kitten member Kerry Katona made a surprise visit to Beautiques Beauty Therapy in Larkfield to have a hair makeover.

The reality TV personality made a good impression with salon owner Shauna Pennington.

She said: "It was lovely having Kerry come in - she was so down to earth and just wanted to help let people know we're here."

Kerry is also a regular at a tattoo parlour in Tunbridge Wells.

She visited Black & Even in Tunbridge Wells in June with her 18-year-old daughter Lilly-Sue McFadden.

Kerry Katona outside Beautiques Beauty Therapy in Larkfield
Kerry Katona outside Beautiques Beauty Therapy in Larkfield

David Beckham

Golden Balls tried keeping a low profile in 2014 when he visited Knole Park to watch his son Romeo take part in the annual Junior Knole Run.

But England's 2002 World Cup qualifying saviour managed to attract plenty of attention and was said to have posed for photographs with other parents after the race.

He was wearing a waxed jacket and flat cap.

Sadly, KentOnline hasn't got any photos of the former Real Madrid midfielder's surprise visit.

Russell Crowe

As he was filming at Chatham Dockyard for Les Miserables, it is no huge shock that Russell Crowe was spotted in the town in 2012.

However, as it wasn't on set, the Gladiator star's visit to the Ship & Trades pub is allowed to make the list.

Russell Crowe was taking a break from filming at Chatham Dockyard
Russell Crowe was taking a break from filming at Chatham Dockyard

The Oscar winner was seen enjoying a drink on a Friday night following a day of shooting the hit musical film.

Sharon Stone

Hollywood actress Sharon Stone spent a number of days exploring the Thanet towns last summer.

The Basic Instinct star was spotted in Margate and Broadstairs, and tweeted about her visit to the photo exhibition at Turner Contemporary.

She also paid a visit to vintage shop Madam Popoff and bought a cashmere jumper.

King Street shop owner Deborah Ellis didn't recognise the film star until after the purchase.

"It was a bit random," she said.

"I was looking at her talking to her friend, it was all very normal. I asked where she was from and she said California.

"When she left I thought ‘that was Sharon Stone – I just sold Sharon Stone a jumper’

"She was very stylish. She looked like she had money – you know when you look at someone and you can just tell?

"She was very beautiful, but natural."

Roy Keane

Manchester United legend Roy Keane had his famous beard trimmed at The Hairy Bear in Ashford Road, Bearsted.

It comes after he featured as a pundit on ITV's coverage of the France versus Germany match, which was filmed at Maidstone Studios on June 16.

Roy Keane at his beard trimmed at The Hairy Bear in Bearsted. Picture: The Hairy Bear
Roy Keane at his beard trimmed at The Hairy Bear in Bearsted. Picture: The Hairy Bear

Co-owner of the barbers, Donda Michaelas, said: “He had the Hairy Bear special and left a nice tip.

“The staff said he was polite and took a photo with staff at the end.

“For us it’s an absolute privilege to have a legend in like that - even though I’m a Liverpool suporter and Wesley is a West Ham supporter.”

Jesy Nelson

Pop star and former Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson was spotted at one of Kent's most luxurious hotels.

The singer who rose to fame after the all girl group won the X Factor in 2011, was spotted at The Cave Hotel and Golf Resort, on the outskirts of Canterbury, dining with a pal.

James Ayles with pop star Jesy Nelson at The Cave Hotel in Boughton
James Ayles with pop star Jesy Nelson at The Cave Hotel in Boughton

Jesy, who who quit the girl group in December last year, was photographed with Jamie Ayles, who managed to persuade her to pose for the camera.

One man who was also enjoying at beer at the venue but didn't want to be named said: "She had a bite to eat on the decking with a friend."

Jess Glynne

Staff at a Maidstone restaurant were shocked when music superstar Jess Glynne popped in for lunch in 2018.

The solo artist, who has had seven number one singles, tucked into some pesto pasta and a salad at Vesuvius in Lower Stone Street.

Jess Glynne at Vesuvius Restaurant in Maidstone
Jess Glynne at Vesuvius Restaurant in Maidstone

She has been in the town as part of an appearance in Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny being filmed at Maidstone studios.

Manager Barbara Biscardi said: "While we try to offer all our guests a special experience, today we felt very special indeed, when we had the honour of feeding none other than the amazingly talented and gorgeous Jess Glynne for lunch."

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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