“I’m gonna be judged! I’m an actor. We don’t like that!” These are the amusing first words of Golden Globe-winning acting legend John Lithgow when he appeared on Celebrity Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off back in 2019.
And he’s got a point. Because, aside from the fact most Hollywood stars have a packed schedule, an over-protective agent and about 356 daily requests to do something for one charity or another, they also have famously fragile egos after years in the spotlight.
And let’s face it: even their most scathing one-star review has nothing on Paul Hollywood taking one beady-blue-eyed look at their lovingly crafted gingerbread diorama of Westminster Abbey, before saying “You want me to eat that? When those fondant buttresses aren’t even to scale? I wouldn’t serve it in prison!” and smashing it to pieces beneath his giant well-tanned fists. (We may have exaggerated Hollywood’s judging style for dramatic effect. But only a bit.)
So why have so many Hollywood legends said yes to the genuinely challenging and potentially demoralising Celebrity Bake Off?
David Schwimmer (2023)
The Friends star has previously admitting to becoming a huge Bake Off fan after spending time in the UK with his British ex-wife and child, but he’s also appearing in this year’s Celebrity SU2C Bake Off for personal reasons:
“I lost a grandmother to cancer, my daughter lost a grandmother to cancer and my sister is a cancer survivor, so it’s important to me. I am just grateful I can help in any small way raise more awareness.”
Teri Hatcher (2018)
When Lois Lane herself turned up in the Celebrity Bake Off tent she was so enthusiastic you could have been convinced she was some kind of competition winner: ‘I can’t believe this is happening. It’s my favourite show. I’m kind of freaking out!’
It turns out Hatcher is a massive foodie (just listen to her Off Menu podcast episode for proof of that) and Bake Off superfan and was thrilled to be invited on the show – raising awareness for a good cause was the icing on the… er, cake.
John Lithgow (2019)
“Cancer has affected absolutely everybody’s life. I’ve had two different cancers, both years ago, both detected early and both never recurred, so I’m a very lucky survivor.”
He was also ‘very flattered’ to be asked on the show, although he later jokingly called the experience ‘traumatic’ after receiving some typically savage Bake Off critiques:
Richard Dreyfuss (2020)
The Oscar-winning star of The Goodbye Girl admitted he did Celebrity Bake Off because he was inspired by seeing John Lithgow on the show:
“When I saw a good friend – John Lithgow – grinning madly as he baked his way through his segment of the Celebrity Bake Off show I was awash with envy, I wanted to have that same goofy grin on my face.”
He was also excited to return to England, after previously studying at Oxford and also choosing it as a honeymoon destination with his wife Svetlana Erokhin.
James McAvoy (2021)
As well as being keen to help such a good cause, His Dark Materials star James McAvoy was also one of the rare celebrities who went into Bake Off with no need to fear the wrath of Hollywood: he was an apprentice confectioner for three years.
He ended up wowing the judges, in particular thanks to his showstopper: a snow leopard cake inspired by his daemon in His Dark Materials:
Daisy Ridley (2021)
She’s always impressive in Star Wars, but Bake Off? Not so much. Poor Daisy Ridley’s dreams for Star Baker quite literally ended up down the toilet when she appeared on the show, with her ‘toilet seat up’ showstopper becoming one of the Bake Off’s most legendary failures.
But she admitted the reason she showed off her lack of baking skills was to “take part, hopefully raise a lot of money, and hopefully that inspires people at home… to see what they can do, and also get involved.”
Michael Sheen (2015)
But his reasons for doing the show sounded anything but light and fluffy:
“Regardless of any talent, I totally, irrationally still have a burning desire to obliterate all competition. I’m possibly the most competitive person in the world.”
It’s a good job he’s an excellent baker, then, winning thanks to his epic tropical pavlova showstopper:
But will any of this year’s celebrity bakers be so iconic they earn themselves their own Twitter account dedicated to their time on the show? That remains to be Sheen.
The Celebrity Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off begins airing on Channel 4 from 7.45pm on Sunday 19th March. Previous series are also available to stream on All4.