If you're looking for celebs, you don't need to jet to Hollywood. Charlottesville has more than its share of famous people who've chosen to make their homes at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by beauty and history. Keep your eyes peeled for these actors, authors and sports legends.
Acting legend Sissy Spacek lives on a farm in the countryside outside Charlottesville, but you can spot her frequently on the Downtown Mall. She became an international star with the 1976 Stephen King thriller Carrie, and she’s kept the cinematic hits coming, including as the matriarch of a dysfunctional family in the 2015-17 Netflix series Bloodline.
Everyone knows prolific best-selling author John Grisham is a legal fiction writing machine. He’s released at least one and often two titles every year since 1989, doing much of his writing at his home outside Charlottesville and working in his office downtown. In 2021, he broke out of the genre with the release of Sooley, a story of a young Sudanese basketball player recruited to play at an American college.
An NFL Hall of Famer, sports analyst and actor, Long can be spotted in restaurants and at events around town. He’s also that rare Charlottesville celebrity who has spawned other Charlottesville celebrities, namely two of his sons, former NFL defensive end Chris Long and Kyle Long, a current guard for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Way more than just Howie Long’s son, Chris Long made a name for himself on the gridiron playing for the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s turned his life post-retirement to advocacy. He’s a Charlottesville resident and the founder of The Chris Long Foundation, which raises money to build wells in East Africa. He also famously donated his entire 2017 salary to charity. A good dude.
Technically, Mr. Matthews may consider Seattle his primary home, but he and bandmates including Carter Beauford are still frequently spotted around town. If you want to have the real Dave Matthews/Charlottesville experience, stop by Miller’s on the Downtown Mall, where Matthews tended bar as his fledgling music career took off.
With arms the size of a 100-year-old Oak tree, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson isn’t hard to spot when he pops in to Charlottesville from his home in Orange County. He was a regular at the Gold’s Gym before it closed, and anyone who sees him is automatically pumped.
One of Charlottesville lesser known celebrity residents is Donna Tartt, author of the 2014 Pulitzer-winning The Goldfinch and bestsellers including The Secret History. Tartt keeps a famously low profile, but the literary lovers in town may find her to be the most thrilling celebrity spotting of all.
Poet and essayist Rita Dove won the Pulitzer in poetry in 1987, served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and was the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. Dove’s been a professor in the UVA English Department since 1989, and is one of the poets read by Amanda Gorman, the break-out star of Biden’s inauguration.
Capshaw is a music mogul thanks not only to his longtime management of the Dave Matthews Band but also his founding of Red Light Music Management, which oversees world famous acts including Chris Stapleton, Phish and Dierks Bentley. He’s also one of Charlottesville most influential developers, responsible for various restaurants and the Sprint Pavilion, which hosts outdoor concerts throughout the year.