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As noted in Artist Disillusionment
, some writers, artists, and other creative folk just don't work well with public relations. Fans can sometimes be stupid
, or just completely miss the point
of the artist's work. Not everyone takes popularity well, after all. So, who can blame him when he wants to disappear from the public eye?
A Reclusive Artist is one who is notoriously hard to find, who goes out of their way to avoid interviews and public appearances. This trope has examples that fit into two Logical Extremes
- The artist disappears so completely that they are declared Legally Dead.
- The artist's very identity is unknown.
Compare and contrast Hikikomori
, The Hermit
, Hermit Guru
. If they only unveil a single masterpiece before dropping off the radar, they're a One Book Author
or One Hit Wonder
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Real life examples:
- For a long time, Rowan Atkinson would only agree to be interviewed in character, though he relented in the 2000s.
- Sacha Baron Cohen, while happy to hog the limelight disguised as one of his characters (Ali G, Borat, Brüno, etc.), is a lot more reserved about appearing or being interviewed as himself.
- Dave Chappelle, who abruptly left his TV show in 2006 and only did a few amateur standup routines afterward (and nothing else). The film Dave Chappelle's Block Party was made before he quit.
- Robert De Niro is another borderline case. He does a lot of movies and makes numerous public appearances (he presided over the jury of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival). But whenever anyone tries to interview him...
- Extras did a joke based on this... Andy's utterly incompetent manager somehow gets an interview scheduled with De Niro. Andy doesn't show up.
- Actress Shelley Duvall, known for her role in The Shining hasn't made another movie since 2003. She is said to be highly reclusive, and odd, even going so far as to in 2007 go to a hardware store complaining she needed materials to keep the "aliens" away. However, she did give an interview in 2010, saying that she wasn't reclusive, and that she just wanted time off after working for so long, noting that she still gets script offers, and that a return to acting wasn't out of the question.
- Eric "Garbage Day!" Freeman of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 fame, seems to have completely disappeared. Numerous people have tried to find him (including the film's director for a DVD commentary track) but his whereabouts remain unknown.
- Greta Garbo after she retired from acting. "I want to be alone" indeed.
- Dan Godwin, best known for his roles of Franklin Delano Donut in Red vs. Blue and The Strangerhood's Dr. Cornelius Chalmers Esquire the 3rd, finds the adoration for his roles rather awkward, so he avoids con appearances and the like.
- Setsuko Hara, best known for her roles in Yasujiro Ozu's films Late Spring, Early Summer and Tokyo Story. She quit acting the year of Ozu's death, and has since led a secluded life, refusing all interviews and photographs.
- Dean Lawrence, who played Tyso in ITV's The Tomorrow People, has only given two interviews and attended one convention since he left the show. He's never seen at informal gatherings and his life post-TP remains a mystery (although it has been rumoured that he now designs and manufactures fetish clothing). There's barely any talk of him within the fandom and any times where he is mentioned are when the stories featuring the character of Tyso crop up. What makes this even stranger is that judging from a few sources he doesn't seem like the reclusive type.
- Stephen Salmon, who played Kenny, has given no interviews (not even on the Beyond Tomorrow documentary) and made no appearances since he left the show. The fandom often question whether he's even still alive.
- Al Matthews (who is likely best known professionally for his work as Sergeant Apone in Aliens) seemed to drop off the map in the mid 90s, and very little has been heard from him since. To note, for almost a decade, many fans believed that he had died in 2002 - in actuality, it was a false story spread by one of his friends. He finally resurfaced in 2011 to provide voice work for Operation Flashpoint: Red River and Aliens Colonial Marines. It took Gearbox Software a long time to find Matthews' whereabouts, and they finally discovered that he was living in a small town in Spain. While Matthews does maintain a website, it is seldom updated.
- Brent Spiner deliberately made himself extremely scarce for the first few years of Star Trek: The Next Generation to build a mystique around his character Data.
- Legendary voice actor John Stephenson, who has never given an interview and rarely goes out in public. He did show up at BotCon 2001.
- Christine Cavanaugh, one of the top voice actresses of The Nineties, retired in 2001 for unrevealed "personal reasons" and hasn't been heard from since.
- Matthew Waterhouse rarely gives interviews, and when he does it's done with great reluctance. He was also missing from the convention circuit for many years, but in The New Tens it's gotten somewhat better. Plus he (in)famously utilised the third person when writing his own autobiography.
- Vincent Van Gogh. He had No Social Skills, and who could really blame him? Every time he went outside he was called "the redheaded madman".
- Al Columbia, an independent comic artist who did macabre work such as "Doghead" and "The Biologic Show," along with the album artwork for the Postal Service's sole album Give Up. He is criticized by fans of the medium for occasionally displaying talent and having repeated long periods of inactivity in between.
- Banksy, director of Exit Through the Gift Shop and notorious graffiti artist, makes no public appearances and has never had his identity revealed. This is certainly due to the fact that his artworks, while hugely popular and sought after, are mostly installed without permission and considered by law to be acts of criminal vandalism, for which he could be publicly prosecuted. As well as being hated by other graffiti artists.
- Dave Trampier, artist for much early Dungeons & Dragons material and creator of the comic strip "Wormy", disappeared sometime around 1988. He is apparently still alive but his current whereabouts are unknown. He's reportedly a taxi driver in Illinois.
- Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien. While he has given some statements in press releases, he is a very private man, and has only given one interview in his entire life.
- Jack Kerouac in his later years.
- Ann Radcliffe, pioneer of the Gothic Novel best known for The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. Little is known of her life. According to the Edinburgh Review, "She never appeared in public, nor mingled in private society, but kept herself apart, like the sweet bird that sings its solitary notes, shrouded and unseen." Christina Rossetti had to abandon a biography of her life for lack of information.
- J. D. Salinger was famous for this.
- Arthur C Clarke lived out his later years in Sri Lanka, making this a borderline case (his residence wasn't a secret, but he did assiduously avoid public appearances).
- Charles Portis, author of True Grit and Norwood
- John Swartzwelder, who has written many episodes of The Simpsons as well as a few novels. Some fans even suspect that there is no real Swartzwelder, with the name covering a collaboration between two or more of the rest of the show's staff. He was apparently entrapped into a DVD commentary for the episode The Cartridge Family, but it's still unknown if this was the real Swartzwelder and he ended his appearance by denying this.
- Thomas Ligotti has been called the J. D. Salinger of the Cosmic Horror Story. Early on, there were even questions as to whether the man actually existed, with some claiming that he was actually a pseudonym for a more famous writer.
- Alan Moore is a borderline case.
"I don't have any designs on being a screenwriter. For one thing, that would mean moving out of Northampton, and I already can't imagine that. I very seldom even leave this end of the living room. The other end of the living room is a foreign place where they do things differently, and where I feel a bit nervous."
- He quite often does book signings and stuff like that, and he is interviewed very frequently. He just doesn't do conventions and doesn't travel abroad.
- Cormac McCarthy does have conversations with journalists, but he hates giving interviews, talking about his own work, or even talking about writing. The one exception was when he went on Oprah, of all things.
- Harper Lee. Due to her age and near-total lack of public appearances, rumors have constantly circulated that she is dead, but as of January 2013 she is still with us.
- She did emerge from seclusion long enough to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom a few years back, though.
- Thomas Pynchon, as parodied on The Simpsons. He had a brown paper bag over his head and said "Get your picture taken with a reclusive author." Believe it or not, he was actually voiced by Thomas Pynchon (the only time his voice has been broadcasted in the media, except from another Simpsons appearance and a trailer to his novel Inherent Vice).
- Patrick Dennis, author of Auntie Mame and other popular novels, hid behind his pseudonym all his life and, in his twilight years, maintained his anonymity by butlering in California.
- Rowena Farre, author of Seal Morning. When her book's popularity grew, her publisher was forced to expend considerable effort to find her. It was discovered that her real name was Lois Parr. Subsequently she published under another name. There is some disagreement concerning her date of birth—she may have been 26 or 35 when her book was published.
- Thomas Harris, author of The Silence of the Lambs and its sequels and prequels. He has not given an interview since 1976.
- John Twelve Hawks, author of the Fourth Realm trilogy, lives off the grid, has never appeared in public and oh, his name's actually a pseudonym. Not even his editor knows who he is; he communicates with his publisher using the Internet and an untraceable satellite phone.
- The Outsiders author S. E. Hinton used her initials on the book at the suggestion of her agent, who thought it would keep the book from being immediately dismissed by reviewers. She kept the name to help separate her work from her personal life. Although she makes cameos in movies based on her work, she's avoided public appearances outside of a few awards ceremonies.
- Leo Tolstoy was notoriously impossible to interview and hated dealing with the public. He was especially wary of the new invention of the Movie Camera in the early 20th century. Reporters would hide out and try to ambush him. One such reporter, much like the others, hid out for 3 days waiting to ambush him on the way home with his family. Instead of succeeding he accidentally broke his film camera which literally brought him to tears. Taking pity on the man Tolstoy helped him take his camera to a blacksmith shop to repair it after which he agreed to being filmed. This started a relationship of the only man ever allowed to film Tolstoy.
- And that's not even getting into his later life, when he renounced his title and possessions and started travelling the world. (Granted, he only did this shortly before his death).
- French Canadian novelist and playwright Réjean Ducharme is extremely reclusive: he gained fame as soon as his first novel was published in 1966, but he has made no public appearance nor interview since. There are only two or three known photos of him.
- Patrick Süskind, author of Perfume, has not published a novel since 1991, and never grants interviews or allows photographs of himself to be taken.
- Shane Stevens, author of the crime novels By Reason of Insanity (a precursor to The Silence of the Lambs), The Anvil Chorus and Dead City, which Stephen King called "the finest novels ever written about the dark side of the American dream." He has said of himself that, "I am very secretive...I never give interviews, stay in shadow, travel by night."
- B. Traven, who took this trope to its Logical Extreme: his identity was never revealed during his lifetime and is still uncertain, as is whether the original language of his books was English or German.
- Greg Egan, who is so reclusive that there are no photos of him on the web.
- Trevanian (a.k.a Rodney William Whitaker).
- Henry Darger, during his life was a hospital janitor who kept mostly to himself. After his death it was discovered that he wrote a 15,000 page novel called [deep breath] The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.
- Kazuma Kamachi, the creator of A Certain Magical Index, A Certain Scientific Railgun, and Heavy Object. He never appears in public, uses a face made of simple shapes as an online avatar, and "Kazuma Kamachi" is a pen name. Kiyotaka Kaimura (A Certain Magical Index's illustrator) and Yuyuko Takemiya (Toradora's author) have met him in person. Kiyotama only commented that he seems to be a sports-oriented guy, and Yuyuko commented that he's very young-looking.
- Steve Ditko
- Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin And Hobbes. He's all but disappeared from the public eye since ending his strip in 1995, except for some very rare news articles, such as his review of a biography of Charles Schulz.
- He is reclusive to the point where rumors were abound that he would supposedly paint pictures then burn them to prevent fans from obtaining and selling them. He was also extremely reclusive before C&H; skipping award shows and dinners in his name due to his disdain/paranoia over corporate establishments.
- In one instance a journalist asked to interview him. He responded by running away and hiding out in a motel for several days. He refused to even answer the phone, or the answering machine message of the frustrated journalist saying "Fine, forget the interview, now would you please just go back home to your wife?"
- Jack Chick, who has been interviewed exactly once since he started writing and drawing his comics in the '70s. It's been rumored that its because he's extremely paranoid.
- Reclusive to the point that there's still uncertainty about whether his tracts reflect the way he sees the world, or he's just trolling. If they are to be taken seriously and express his world vision, then it's normal that he's paranoid. On the other hand, maybe this reclusiveness accounts for all the blatant ridiculous inaccuracies in his tracts.
- Jason Shiga, comic book author. He may or may not have shown up to receive his Eisner Award—the jacket blurb on one of his books claims that man was an impostor.
- Tatsuya Ishida, creator of Sinfest and former Dark Horse Comics artist, has had exactly one picture◊ taken of him, has been interviewed once, and otherwise has no contact with the outside world. There is no commentary on his strips, save the increasingly cryptic "Notes from the Resistance," which hasn't updated in nigh 3 years.
- Gunnerkrigg Court creator Tom Siddell is largely a mystery. He talks about himself very little, works during the weekdays as an animator for an unknown video game company, and he lives in Birmingham. There are very few image of him on the internet, and while he attends conventions on occasion, we don't know what he looks like at all. He draws himself as a crazy looking person.
- This has started to change somewhat since he's begun working full time on his comic. His convention appearances have increased and he's allowed himself to be filmed for an interview at least once. He has also tweeted photos of himself on a handful of occasions, although usually not identifying the person in the photo as him.
- For many years, the Wachowskis - creators of The Matrix - were incredibly secretive, granting few interviews or public appearances after 2000. At least part of it may have to do with their personal life: they were formerly known as "the Wachowski brothers", but "Larry" Wachowski is in fact transgendered, and is now named Lana Wachowski. They finally broke their silence in 2012, and Lana officially came out after years of rumors, in an interview right here, made to promote Cloud Atlas.
- John Hughes, writer and/or director of such hits as National Lampoon sVacation, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Home Alone shunned the media and stopped directing his films after 1993 (his last screenwriting credit was 2008's Drillbit Taylor), living in his beloved Chicago for the rest of his life until August 2009, when he went to Manhattan to see some relatives and died while walking on a sidewalk. He also left the Hollywood scene to ensure his kids won't become like the jerk bullies from his movies.
- A documentary was even made by some Canadian filmmakers who tried to track him down.
- Seltzer and Friedberg are two guys who we know practically nothing of. It's possible they're protecting themselves rather than just avoiding people.
- Stanley Kubrick kept working right up until his death (completing the cut of Eyes Wide Shut only a couple of days before his fatal heart attack in 1999), but he granted no interviews and made no public appearances after relocating to England in the 1960s.
- According to his family, after the release of Eyes Wide Shut Kubrick fully intended to do a few television interviews to promote his film and to dispel some of the rumors about his personal life, but died before he got the chance.
- Spike Jonze, music video (Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice, The Beastie Boys' Sabotage) and film (Being John Malkovich) director, who is known for turning the Shrug of God into an art form. He doesn't do traditional DVD commentaries, has only directed three films in twelve years (it took about four for Where The Wild Things Are to be released), and rarely grants interviews. Even when he does, he tends to treat them as a prank (see the video in which he terminates an interview by stepping out of the car to vomit).
- Marian Dora, director of a number of extremely controversial and disturbing films, such as Cannibal (2006) and Melancholie der Engel/The Angel's Melancholy (2009). He's done only a handful of public appearances and interviews (with his face and voice being distorted in video ones) and his real name is kept secret for safety reasons, as death threats have been made, and he could potentially be charged with numerous criminal offenses due to the content of his works.
- Terrence Malick is notoriously reclusive and highly protective of his private life, to the point that his film contracts state that his likeness may not be used for interviews, and he never does promotional interviews. He came to Cannes one year (although he wasn't part of The Tree of Life panel), and has allowed people to take pictures and film of him working on his latest project. However, he's still highly private. In June 2012, a paparazzi taking a photo of Benicio Del Toro outside a Hollywood restaurant inadvertently caught Malick on camera - the photographer had no idea who he was, and it was only afterwards that people pointed out it was the reclusive director.
- Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman's partner-in-crime at Troma is very shy and doesn't do interviews or do any on-screen appearances on Troma DVD's (in comparison to Lloyd, who does many live and filmed appearances). He even hired one of the Troma regulars to play him when an apperance was needed.
- Shirow Masamune.
- Akira Toriyama, to the point that it was rumored he died in 1998.
- Tsugumi Ohba, author of Death Note, is a particularly extreme example, and by extreme we mean "we don't even know his/her gender".
- Ohba's current series is Bakuman。, which is supposedly semi-autobiographical. The series is about a writer/artist team who publish under a single pseudonym. This has led fans to speculate that Ohba is actually two or more people (A theory made somewhat less likely when Ohba's partnership with Takeshi Obata is taken into account).
- Even in the Death Note handbook he says very little in regards to the plot's interpretations and himself.
- Katsura Hoshino, creator of D Gray Man. Until one appearance, nobody even knew Katsura's gender. She's a woman.
- Hiromu Arakawa, author of Fullmetal Alchemist. There are only two known◊ photographs◊ of her (she's the one in the centre), both from the same award presentation - the rest of the time, she is drawn as a cow wearing glasses.
- That said, she's seems remarkably candid about herself and her life in the intros and Omake of the volumes..
- Not much is known about Yu Aida, the creator of Gunslinger Girl—not even their gender.
- Glenn Gould.
- Syd Barrett became this after he "left" Pink Floyd.
- He became a recluse rather later than that. He remained in touch with friends, including his former band mates, up until around the mid 1970s (around six years after he left Pink Floyd) when he retreated into seclusion in a London hotel, eventually returning to Cambridge permanently in 1982. Barrett is arguably the ultimate example of this trope. He gave his last full interview in 1971, played his last recorded gig in 1972, was last in the studio in 1974, last spoke to his former bandmates in 1975 and last willingly (and briefly) talked to the press and posed for photographs in 1982. Between then and his death in 2006 he barely communicated with the rest of the world except for members of his family and spent most of his time painting and gardening. He was often photographed by paparazzi and journalists would sometimes knock on his door in an attempt to secure some kind of interview although they would never get much more than a few terse words. He never explained why he had left the music industry or refused to talk about his past as a pop star (although it's widely believed that talking about it was distressing for him, something he alludes to in the brief 1982 "interview") and, contrary to popular belief, he was never actually diagnosed with any specific mental illness, although it's generally accepted that he had some kind of mental health problem. Ironically, whilst it's widely believed that Barrett's silence was largely because he wanted to forget about his past as "Syd" as much as possible, his status as an enigma arguably increased interest in his rather than reduced it.
- Lauryn Hill, critically acclaimed alternative rapper whose sole album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill remains among the greatest post-Tupac hip hop albums of all time. Her career-shattering mental breakdown pre-dated that of Britney Spears and Mariah Carey. Currently she is the mother of six children by one of Bob Marley's sons, but still remains out of the public eye. In fact, nobody even knows where she lives.
- She does perform occasionally in concerts, but is notorious for being late (an egregious example being a December 2010 concert that started at 8:30 and she didn't show up until midnight) and performing poorly.
- Jakob Dylan from The Wallflowers rarely gives interviews, mostly because he doesn't like being compared to his father, Bob Dylan. This is probably why their more recent albums, as well as Jakob's solo albums have seen a decline in sales since the smash hit, Bringing Down The Horse.
- He's also very protective of his family and doesn't want his fame to interfere with their safety.
- Musician and photographer Cynthia Dall, who occasionally collaborated with her then-boyfriend Bill Callahan (Smog) on some songs and recorded two albums for Drag City, six years between each (the first of which, released in 1996, was initially completely untitled with no artist information). She died in April 2012, nearly ten years after the release of her final album.
- Assuming he's still alive (a big assumption to make, under the circumstances), guitarist and songwriter for the alternative rock band Manic Street Preachers Richey James Edwards would be the one of these: he went missing in 1995 and there haven't been any confirmed sightings of him since. 13 years after he vanished, he took this trope to its Logical Extreme: he was declared "presumed deceased"—in other words, Legally Dead. The band has still been keeping his share of their royalties in a bank account since his disappearance.
- Jeff Mangum, singer/songwriter for the legendary indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel, who has only made sporadic appearances as recently as 2008, when out of nowhere he began making regular concert appearances.
- A lot of Black Metal bands tend to be like this. They frequently refuse to give interviews and often refuse to have their pictures taken. Most use pseudonyms and a small few don't even use names at all. Some particularly well-known examples:
- French avant-garde black metal band Deathspell Omega are highly secretive; few photos of the members exist and, more notably, no one (apart from, presumably, the band members themselves) even knows what the complete line-up of the band is (the identity of the drummer is not even an identity of public conjecture).
- Ukrainian black metal band Drudkh refuse to have a proper public image. Only guitarist Roman Saenko has ever shown his face, and the band has never conducted personal interviews or preformed live, despite being one of the most respected names in modern Black Metal. They also have not released lyrics for some of their early recordings (although this is not exactly uncommon in black metal).
- Australian singer Emily Janes is apparently trying to start a pop career. However, she has no social media accounts, has only ever given one interview and has two videos uploaded to YouTube. The most information the public can get is through her official website, but there's not a whole not of information on there either.
- One of the most famous examples in pop music is ABBA's Agnetha Fältskog going into a practical self-exile to a farm in Sweden from the late 1980s. She reportedly rarely speaks to anyone anymore, with the situation being worsened from her split with former stalker, Gert van der Graff. She's even earned comparisons to Greta Garbo.
- Michael Jackson, once he was a mega-selling solo act. It became a well-crafted part of his mystique, and when he became more available in The Nineties, culminating in the Oprah Winfrey interview in early 1993, it made headlines. Unfortunately, when the possibility arose that he was a pedophile, the reclusiveness backfired on him badly. Subsequent attempts to be more open with the public were largely failures. The 2003 documentary Living with Michael Jackson was intended to Win Back The Crowd (Martin Bashir was then most famous for a 1995 interview with Princess Diana that curried public sympathy for her), but he freely admitted in it that he still had slumber parties with children who weren't his, not realizing how badly this would be taken by the filmmakers and most of the world. He effectively wrote his career's death warrant, and would not regain any respect until he actually died in 2009 and Dead Artists Are Better came into effect.
- Alice Cooper used to play this up in his early days as part of his "horror show" image, staying locked up in his trailer with his boa constrictor during gigs and festivals, only emerging to perform with his band. This was, of course, just an act, and one that he later dropped.
- The experimental rock group The Residents. Nobody knows who they are. In all photos and public appearances they're in some kind of disguise, usually their trademark eyeball masks. They also refuse to be interviewed by the press, adding to their reclusive nature.
- Kate Bush is often considered an example, though to hear her tell it, somewhat unfairly. It's true that she hasn't toured for 30 years, and mostly disappeared from the public eye for 12 years after the released of The Red Shoes, but she has consistently said this was to give her children as normal an upbringing as possible, and not from any reclusive tendencies. Still, she has done relatively little promotional work even for her more recent releases.
- Very little is known about the members of the band Black Moth Super Rainbow; all the members go by Stage Names and they rarely discuss their past in what little interviews they've done.
- For a few years, John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers basically locked himself away in his apartment and spent most of his time doing drugs.
- The same was true for Miles Davis.
- Similarly, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains cut himself off from friends, family and bandmates for the last three years of his life. His body wasn't discovered until two weeks after his fatal overdose. The Rocket, a Seattle music magazine, already had his obituary written from a few years earlier. Even before his seclusion, guitarist Jerry Cantrell (one of Staley's best friends) stated that not hearing from Staley for months at a time was not out of the ordinary.
- David Bowie was once so accessible that he regularly communicated with his fanbase via his official website at the Turn of the Millennium. But then he slowly became this. His last new album was in 2003, his last tour — one cut short by a heart attack that required multiple bypass surgeries — was in '04, and his last live performance was in '06. A few film/TV roles and guest appearances on other artists' albums later, and that was all. He only seemed to surface for the odd premiere or charity fundraiser, and didn't grant interviews. In The New Tens, it was generally accepted by fans and the music press that he quietly retired to raise his family, preserve his health, indulge in his hobbies (he paints, sculpts, and is an avowed Book Worm), and enjoy the fruits of his labors...which made January 8, 2013 something of a Wham Episode for everybody when the website was relaunched, a new album announced, and a video for its first single released.
- He's still not granting interviews, though (long time producer and friend Tony Visconti has said Bowie has ruled out the possibility completely) and will not be going on tour to support any new releases.
- Daft Punk is a mild example. While their names are common knowledge (Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo), their faces are mostly unknown, since they're almost always hidden behind their iconic robot masks.
- Irish musician and singer-songwriter Van Morrison is still not comfortable with interviews and fandom, even as he approaches his fiftieth year in the business. Viewed as a curmudgeonly old misanthrope who has not improved with age, he has variably engaged in a rolling-in-the-gutter fight with one manager, in the presence of a visibly embarrassed BBC radio team there to try and interview him; described his fans as a bunch of ignorant worthless dolts (this backstage, where he initially refused to go at all in front of a paying public who had bought the gig tickets in good faith) and given a succession of irritated interviewers stubbornly monosyllabic answers. In fact, one of the earliest interviews with a very young Morrison is preserved to this day by Ulster Television and is gleefully brought out for blooper reels. A very young interviewer called Gloria Hunniford (who later went on to a stellar career as a TV presenter and hostess of interview format shows) is seen to gush profusely at being in the presence of Belfast's answer to Mick Jagger, and to enthuse about the broodingly handsome writer and performer of groovy music (this was in 1964, when Morrison was a startlingly good-looking young man). But after that build-up, could Gloria get a word out of him other than "yes" or "no"? She cannot, but this does not stop her trying, so she does, for at least five excruciating minutes. The look of Oh Crap in her eyes is unmistakeable and very obvious. Morrison has not improved with age.
- In his earliest "interview", a journalist turned up at the studio where the then largely unknown Morrison was recording. He had an appointment, which had been timed to a break in the recording work. Having waited around for a time, watching him reading a newspaper, the journalist approached and asked if they could do the interview now. Morrison's reply: "Can't you see I'm busy?!"
- Andy Sturmer, the drummer, lead vocalist and co-songwriter of Power Pop Cult Classic '90s band Jellyfish, has remained out of the (relative) spotlight since the band's 1994 breakup, producing and writing for J-Pop band Puffy Ami Yumi, providing backing vocals for The Black Crowes and Rooney, as well as producing music for cartoon shows like Teen Titans, Fish Hooks and Kick Buttowski. He grants few (or no) interviews and has a far lower online profile than Manning (or nearly anyone else in the group).
- In spite of his larger-than-life stage presence, Freddie Mercury was somewhat more introverted when he wasn't performing. Combined with an aversion to interacting with the media (a result of experiences in Queen's very early career when they were regularly slated in the music press), he stayed out of the public eye when he could. When he contracted AIDS, this tendency increased, to the point where he only revealed that he was sick one day before bronchio-pneumonia brought on by the disease killed him. In addition, Queen's bassist John Deacon has almost completely retreated from the music industry and public life in general since 1997; every so often photographs of him appear, but they're few and far between.
- Several Vocaloid artists, to the point where occasionally a producer revealing his/her gender (such as OSTER project being female) can spark Samus Is a Girl-type reactions.
- Sly Stone, like the Layne Staley example above, stopped his music career to pretty much spend his time doing drugs. He stopped granting interviews in 1987, and only makes sporadic concert appearances (where he has sometimes left the stage after only performing for 15 minutes). Rumors abound that he's living out of his car now.
- Axl Rose, after the original Guns N' Roses breakup, made no public appearances for seven years and granted virtually no interviews during the making of Chinese Democracy (which took at least nine years to record and release).
- While she has made a few semi-live singing appearances, and gives the occasional interview, Enya prefers to stay out of the spotlight, and very rarely appears in public. Part of this can possibly be attributed to the fact that she's had stalkers in the past, some of whom have broken into her home.
- Prince rarely grants interviews, mostly because of his reported Jerk Ass tendencies.
- British singer Sade (from the eponymous band of "No Ordinary Love" fame) has rarely been seen in the public eye since the release of "Love Deluxe" in 1992. She amassed a sizeable fortune, but lived in total seclusion until the release of "Soldier of Love" in 2010. To note, a Daily Mail article noted that her promotion of that album was the first set of interviews she had done in more than a decade, and that it had been eight years since she made a public appearance. She also spent most of the 2000's holed up in a mansion taking care of her daughter, and avoided any and all contact with other people.
- George Harrison was definitely one of these. He only did two solo tours after the Beatles breakup, he played his last full concert in 1992, and his final interview occurred four years before his death (and this was one of only a few he ever did in his later years). However, he was the only ex Beatle to ever publish an autobiography.
- The founding members of Kraftwerk are notorious for this, staying holed up in their studio in Dusseldorf for days on end. Various anecdotes of their reclusiveness have been circulating for years, such as the fact that they will only answer phone calls when the precise hour, minute and second is arranged beforehand - at which time they will answer immediately.
- Former Teen Idol Leif Garrett is a bit of a paradox —in Real Life he's very approachable, yet in the public eye he's been known to be very reclusive and protective of his private life. He got a little better with this once he started appearing on The Smoking Gun Presents Worlds Dumbest in 2008, and now he's in talks to have a Reality Show of his own.
- Mr. Doctor of Devil Doll.
- Buckethead is a definite example. The only known picture of him out of character is over 20 years old, and he's been giving less and less "interviews" (if you can believe it) over the past 5 or so years.
- Jandek. No one even knows for sure what his real name is. He didn't even begin performing live until well over twenty-five years after he started his musical career.
- Well, in any dealings with the Coorwood Industries - a record label that has never released to the public anything except Jandek, which isn't too bad considering the level of output - the checks are always signed Sterling R. Smith.
- Captain Beefheart. He still got around in painting circles, where it was clear that he was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, which caused his 2010 death.
- Songwriter Dennis Linde, best known for Elvis Presley's "Burning Love" and the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl", was a known recluse. He never attended awards shows, even when he won, and rarely gave interviews.
- Very little is known about Brooks & Dunn's personal lives, both on the road together (they broke up in 2010) and separately.
- Perhaps the ultimate example of this is Canadian musician Nash the Slash, former member of the progressive rock band FM (he also has a vast and eclectic oeuvre as a solo artist); since the late 70s, he has never appeared in public without a thick layer of bandages covering every bit of skin that isn't absolutely necessary for him to perform, and he has done his best to keep his true identity a mystery, at which he mostly succeeded until his real name showed up on Wikipedia relatively recently.
- Phil Spector not only doesn't talk to the press, but kept his ex-wife prisoner in his mansion to prevent her from being photographed (or seen in a bikini by others). Now that he's serving a jail sentence for murder, it's unlikely he's going to become more accessible any time soon.
- MF DOOM has not been seen without his mask since the 90s. We know his name is Daniel Dumile from his years as Zev-Love X, but that's about all.
- Captain Murphy was thought to be an example, but he turned out to be Flying Lotus' attempt at starting a rap career.
- Scott Walker only resurfaces for interviews when he has an album to promote, and virtually disappears in the time between them. He's even worked as an interior decorator in the downtime, he's that low-key.
- Jamey Johnson lapsed into this between his first and second albums, due to a Creator Breakdown.
- Ronald Jones, former guitarist of The Flaming Lips, left the band due to his increasing agoraphobia and his distaste of Steven Drozd's heroin usage. Aside from working at a few local gigs, he practically fell off the face of the earth after leaving.
- Satirist Tom Lehrer gave up his music career after producing only three (or so) albums worth of material and retired to a life in academia. Not as extreme as some cases, as he's apparently willing enough to be interviewed, if only to cheerfully confirm that he's still alive.
- Shania Twain became this after her Up! album in 2002.
- The girls that make up the J Pop duo ClariS (best known for performing themes to Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Nisemonogatari, among others) have done this voluntarily to keep them focused on their schoolwork. In an extreme example of the trope, they haven't even told anyone else outside their families about their career, either.
- The Swedish metal band Ghost wears robes, hoods and masks on stage and refers to its members as "Nameless Ghouls" (to the point of them signing merchandise simply as "A Nameless Ghoul"). They refuse to comment on any speculation about their real identities, and even faked a singer switch to try to throw off speculation about the singer's identity.
- French Romantic poet Alfred de Vigny was notorious for his revulsion of public life. His self-imposed isolation and general aloofness was described by Sainte-Beuve, a famous literary critic of the time, as "withdrawing to the Ivory Tower", giving the expression its modern sense.
- Emily Dickinson, a unique case in that eventually she rarely ever left her room, but she still had an active social life and close friends. It was even said she sent down baskets of treats for young children with a rope.
Video Game Developers
- Studio Pixel's Daisuke Amaya. He created the legendary freeware game Cave Story that later got a commercial Updated Re Release on WiiWare, made a few other games, gave a pair of interviews full of Shrugs Of God, and... well, that's pretty much all we know about him.
- Shouzou Kaga, often credited as the brains behind Fire Emblem, helmed the first 5 installments of the series (from 1990 to 1999), and then abruptly left Nintendo not too long after Thracia 776's release. He then established his own studio, Tirnanog, and in 2001 made Tear Ring Saga for the PS1, which is so literally "Fire Emblem on the PlayStation" that Nintendo sued him over it. Kaga seemed to escape the lawsuit relatively unscathed, made Berwick Saga (a semi-sequel to TearRing) in 2005, and that leads us to this trope - for all anyone knows, Kaga has fallen off the planet. To this day, nobody is quite sure why he splintered off from Nintendo, nor what he is even up to these days, and he hasn't made himself available to say anything on the matter (then again, lawsuits have a habit of prompting silence). His case is noteable as a rare instance of a high-profile Nintendo developer not only going rogue, but silent.
- There are theories that Kaga had a falling out of some sort over Fire Emblem's future direction, bolstered by Thracia coming out for the Super Famicom in 1999 (you'll recall the N64 launched in '96), and a rather noticeable shift in style that followed in Sword of Seals, but again it's all guesswork unless Kaga feels like setting the record straight.
- Kikiyama, creator of Yume Nikki. Her website isn't updated, Yume Nikki is the only game Kikiyama created.
- The odd thing about this example is that Kikiyama is not only incredibly easy to contact (her e-mail address is well-known), but has shown a willingness to respond to fans, albeit often very laconically (she is generally accepted to be a woman nowadays, though).
- Dan and Sam Houser, the writers and producers of every Grand Theft Auto game since the release of GTA III, as well as Red Dead Redemption, tend to avoid the spotlight whenever possible.
- Matthew Smith, the programmer and designer of Manic Miner (1983) and Jet Set Willy (1984) became one of the few "name brands" of the UK games industry of the mid '80s before announcing a new game, called Attack of the Mutant Zombie Flesh Eating Chickens From Mars in the late '80s and then seemingly walking off the face of the Earth with Aot MZFECFM never being released. In the '90s there was even a website called "Where is Matthew Smith?" featuring reports of "sightings" and speculation about where he had gone and/or what had happened to him. After all of that, Smith re-appeared via the internet at the end of the 1990s and is now fairly well-known amongst the retrogaming community, appearing at several live shows.
- Tori, the (former) head writer of Alicesoft, is in some ways a bit of a recluse. She has a blog where she talks about her everyday life and what it was like when she was a writer, and yet at the same time, barely anything is known about her, even her name.
- Osamu Sato, who created some of the trippiest games ever, LSD Dream Emulator and Eastern Mind The Lost Souls Of Tong Nou, has no personal information listed for him anywhere. There are only a couple of webpages about him on the entire Internet, one of which lists a death date. However, since we don't know when he was born and no other sources reference his death, this information is dubious at best.
- Russian mathematical genius Grigori Perelman is notorious for his refusal to travel abroad to accept prestigious awards (including one with a $1,000,000 prize), or even leaving his tiny St. Petersburg apartment at all. Reportedly, he can stay indoors for weeks, shuns personal contact with other people, and refuses to speak to anyone but his mother. All of this is enough to declare him the patron saint of nerddom.
- Pioneering physical scientist Henry Cavendish and theoretical physicist Paul Dirac were similar. Dirac preferred solitude and hated socialising, and Cavendish hated all forms of personal contact, instructing his servants to ignore his presence if they encountered him and communicate only by notes.
- Aside from the opinions put forth on his blog, nothing else is really known about Sean Malstrom. As with Seltzer and Friedberg above, this is probably because of the havoc that would erupt if he were to make his presence known elsewhere on the internet.
- Homestar Runner creators The Brothers Chaps, were quite open with their fanbase, making public appearances and even featuring their children in some shorts, but as of 2009 they almost never appear, which has been attributed to the birth of a new son.
- When chess legend Bobby Fischer became World Champion at age 29 in 1972, he basically retired from chess and from the public eye for the next 20 years, living a reclusive life until an anniversary rematch against old foe Boris Spassky in 1992.
- Chris Morris who wrote things like Brass Eye and Four Lions barely makes public appearances and almost never does interviews. So much so that for his official biography the writer had to talk to people who knew Morris rather than Morris himself. He did briefly pop up in public quite a bit due to the release of his film Four Lions but has since disappeared again.
- British comedian Daniel Kitson is impossible to get interviews with and has said that he never wants to do TV work again. There's also no DVDs or CDs of his stand-up beacause he feels that it loses the feel of live performance. Probably his biggest TV appearance was on Phoenix Nights as Spencer, which he hated so much that it drove him away completely from doing any TV work.
- Al Yeganeh who is best known as the real life inspriation for the Seinfeld Soup Nazi. But not until the late 2000s, which is odd given that the show itself was already ancient history by then (The Soup Nazi episode was from 1996. Seinfeld ran until 1998). For years, after the infamous episode, Yeganeh operated his busy New York Soup Kitchen International with a buisness as usual attitude. He even invited interviews as long as you didn't mention Seinfeld or "The N Word" (in this case N for 'Nazi'). Yeganeh did start to shun the public spotlight when he re-formatted his Soup Kitchen into the Soup Man International franchise. He was a no-show at the grand re-opening. Since going corporate, Yeganeh has had little public presence (although his likeness still serves as the company logo), probably at the insistence of shareholders who prefer more PR-friendly personalities as active spokespersons, such as Reggie Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal, both of whom are also investors in the company. Reportedly, Yeganeh sold his share of the company but lives somewhere near the New York Location.
- Even small-scale popularity can have this happen. Some artists may be constantly bombarded with messages discussing commissions, people wanting to be their friends, or dealing with web-drama amongst their existing friends so getting ahold of them is quite difficult.
Anime and Manga
- An episode of Sailor Moon dealt with Yumemi Yumeno, an artist who felt she was too plain to be taken seriously as a romantic artist.
- The painter Emu Hino from Crying Freeman, until she becomes the target and then the wife of Yoh "Crying Freeman" Hinomura.
- The novelist Hideomi Nagato from Detective Conan, somewhat justified by his horribly disfigured face (coming from an horrible incident in his highschool years where a "fiery" prank ended with him scarred and a little girl orphaned) and his past as a Hikkikomori.
- Ryu Shizuka from Bakuman。 is frighteningly recluse, to the point he initially only talks to his editor over the Internet. He gradually gets better.
- Hanako Ikezawa in Reconciliation is a best-selling author, but is quite uncomfortable with book signings, and tries to avoid calling attention to herself when a flight attendant recognizes her. She also only has one friend at the start of the fic- her publicist, Sho- as a result of distancing herself from Lilly and Hisao after her Bad Ending.
- Stranger Than Fiction has Karen Eiffel, the author/narrator of the central character, who could only be found by looking at her ten-year-old tax return.
- The writer in Field of Dreams, Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones). He was actually J.D. Salinger in the book, but as you can imagine, that changed pretty quickly.
- The character of William Forrester from Finding Forrester was largely based on J. D. Salinger.
- In Scanners, the character of Benjamin Pierce is a telepath of dubious sanity who once tried to kill his family before he was rehabilitated through art. He lives out in the woods and hates company.
- Get Crazy had a roster of rock star expies at a New Year's Eve concert, including Lou Reed playing reclusive spokesman-for-a-generation folk-rocker Auden (a thinly-veiled Bob Dylan).
- Benno von Archimboldi from Roberto Bolano's Twenty Six Sixty Six.
- Vida Winter in The Thirteenth Tale, very much so. She never allows anyone into her home, and whenever she speaks to reporters, she concocts elaborate lies about her childhood. No one knows anything about her, despite her outselling every book except for the Bible.
- The protagonist of Jacqueline Wilson's novel Midnight is a young girl called Violet, who has an obvious crush on her favourite fantasy author. Trouble is, he's rather elusive, but Violet manages to find him in the end.
- More Information Than You Require has a minor subplot about a boy who realizes his neighbour is actually (a fictionalized version of) J.D. Salinger. Salinger tells the boy he's working on a sequel to Catcher in the Rye, but he's so culturally cut off that he doesn't realize that having Holden Caulfield attend a school of wizardry has already been done.
- The Stig is made out to be this "in-universe", for lack of a better word. Averted rather spectacularly when the previous Stig outed himself by way of a tell-all book about his time on the show. The identity of the current Stig remains unknown, but there are rumours that the role has passed on to Sabine Schmidt, a professional racing driver and co-presenter of the German answer to Top Gear who guest-starred in a couple of the team's adventures on the Continent. Make what you will of the tabloid articles alleging that Jeremy Clarkson was cheating on his wife that started popping up not long afterwards...
- In an episode of Frasier, Frasier and Niles meet a character named T.H. Houghton (obviously comparable to J.D. Salinger), who wrote one book and then vanished off the map. They're horrified to realize that their hero loves talking about baseball with their blue-collar dad.
- Fallout 3 has Agatha, the elderly widowed violinist.
- Madam von Silfersked of Anders Loves Maria. She hasn't left the house since Anders graduated from university.
- Homestuck: In an Alternate Universe, Rose Lalonde is apparently a famous author.
- Sydney Morgan of the webcomic This Is Not Fiction does show up to book-signings (albeit wearing obfuscating sunglasses), but she otherwise keeps herself hidden (going as far as to list her address as a gay club). The main premise of the comic is the characters trying to find out who she really is.
- Hey Arnold!: Agatha Caulfield, Arnold's favorite author, lives alone on Elk Island. Arnold has to take a boat to visit her in order to write his essay. He learns to his disappointment that she was a bitter and angry old woman who decried her old books. However, by the end of the episode she's inspired to write a new book based on her experience with Arnold.