3 Kick-Ass Actors with 3 Kick-Ass Charities

Well-known actors aren’t always the self-righteous, fame-hungry elitists that the paparazzi make them out to be. In many cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over the years, actors known for being grade-A, silver-screen badasses have gone out of their way to raise awareness and build support for charitable causes and foundations. Some have even gone as far as to set up their own.

In the interest of commending such efforts, here are three actors who’ve kicked their fair share of ass in the charity department:

1) Leonardo DiCaprio

When he’s not busy demonstrating his venerable acting chops in hardboiled blockbusters like Gangs of New York or The Departed, DiCaprio occupies his time as a philanthropist. And much like his onscreen performances, he really knows how to commit to the role.

leonardo dicaprioProving he’s got what it takes to make a difference, he set up the aptly named Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which aims to “secure a sustainable future for our planet.” His foundation participates with several other charitable organizations and “places particular emphasis on the issues of global warming, alternative and renewable energy sources, and the preservation of the planet’s amazing biodiversity.”

DiCaprio even partnered with the World Wildlife Foundation in 2010 for their Save Tigers Now campaign, which is still an ongoing endeavor.

Check out the PSA:

2) Matt Damon

Even Jason Bourne himself – a chief exporter of duty-free badassery – has a compassionate side. Off the screen, the only fisticuffs this guy throws down are the ones directed at the problems facing underdeveloped parts of the world.

matt damonProblems like unsanitary drinking water.

As it turns out, Damon is quite the altruist. In 2009, he co-founded, a project that seeks to “foster high quality, sustainable, community-level water supply projects” in areas where the current drinking water supplies are unclean or inadequate. Working with local communities in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, and Uganda, the project members are well underway in directing global attention to the problem and implementing solutions:

3) Michael J. Fox

He might not have been a traditional big-screen “badass” when he was in his acting prime, but Fox managed to become a household name nonetheless, due in no small part to his memorable roles in films like Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, and the criminally underappreciated The Frighteners – not to mention his seminal roles on TV shows like Family Ties and Spin City.

michael j. foxFox is now largely known for his strong advocacy of Parkinson’s disease research. He was diagnosed with the disease in 1991, and since the late 90s, he’s been integral in accelerating public awareness of the condition.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation was set up in 2000 with an achievable goal in mind: to find “a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to [ensure] the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today.”

Sure, these guys have taken names and kicked some major you-know-what at the box-office, but their real heroism is on display in their real lives. Want to know what it really means to be a badass? Take some notes on the above.

Are these guys the real deal? Who are some other actors or actresses whose charities make a difference?

Image credit: Siebbi, and the Official Leonardo DiCaprio Facebook Page

Joseph Giorgi

Joseph is the head of the Media Team at Quality Logo Products. He's a video specialist, blogger, perfectionist, and all-around likeable guy. When he's not busy focusing on the nitty-gritty details of his written and visual work, he's normally listening to bad 80s music and scouring the internet for useless information on useless subjects. You can also connect with Joe on Google+.


  1. Eric

    Don’t forget Gary Sinise.

    Him and his “Lt. Dan Band” are big, big supporters of our troops, and he’s a hell of a guy, to boot. They’d an article on him in the paper this past weekend (what with Veteran’s Day and all) and he’s so kind that if he’s out and about, and see a group of soldiers having dinner, he’ll pick up there tab without a second’s hesitation. Makes him one of my own “A-list” celebrities, for sure.

    Check it:

    Great article, and props for showcasing actors that give back, Joe. All the aforementioned fellas are standouts, too.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      I wasn’t aware of Gary Sinise’s outgoing support of the troops. Props to him as well! I always liked him as an actor, and always thought he had a cool on-screen presence. Now he’s even cooler in my book.

  2. Cybernetic SAM

    Yes, DiCaprio is quite the activist! The documentary “11th Hour” really shows his passion for saving the world. Also, recently Lady Gaga launched the Born This Way Foundation to help LGBT kids who are bullied and help get them a head-start in life.
    It makes me so happy to see people using their fame for good, unlike the selfish, self-centered celebs, I am all for SELFLESS celebrities and I will stick with them no matter what.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Agreed. When you make the kind of money that reputable actors tend to make, it just makes sense to give some of it back.

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    Reese Witherspoon does a lot of charity work. She’s big into domestic issues like reducing hunger and improving child welfare. And her first public appearance after recovering from being hit by a car? A breast cancer research fundraiser. She’s pretty dang awesome.

    Definitely agree with the guys you mentioned, though. It makes me feel all warm inside that people who have the money and star power to help change the world are actually doing so.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Absolutely! The causes that actors and actresses speak out for certainly benefit from the added exposure, so it’s always nice to see celebs voicing their support. Without the support of the entertainment community, some charitable organizations might not have the exposure they need to really get the public’s attention.

  4. amy

    I love the celebrities that you mentioned, Joe as well as the ones mentioned here in the comment section. Like Sam said, I love when celebrities are selfless rather than selfish. They get a lot more respect in my book than someone else who only cares about how much their next B-movie is going to bring in and what awards they’re nominated for. Ugh.

    Great post!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Exactly! It’s a shame to think that there are probably a number of celebs who are concerned only about the marketability of their personal brand or their films. Little do they realize that fans appreciate charitable efforts as much as professional efforts, and that there’s more of a personal reward in helping society than there is in helping oneself.

  5. Rachel

    Awesome post, Joe! It’s always wonderful to see celebrities giving back to the world, and it inspires me to donate as well. Thanks for pointing out these guys and their contributions!

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Thanks, Rachel! Yeah, these guys’ charities are some of the coolest!

  6. Ellyn Gilmore

    I had no idea that hottie Matt Damon was such a strong activist for charities, this makes me love him even more!! I agree with Rachel, this post reminds me that I need to find ways to give back as well. Thanks for the reminder Joe.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      No prob! I agree: “hottie Matt Damon” is tough to resist, being such a charitable guy and whatnot. 😉

  7. Jen

    Edward Norton raised $1.2 million for his cause Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, by running the New York Marathon. I love celebs that raise money for charity, and I don’t think they necessarily have to have their own. Just to raise that much is crazy and awesome!!!

    Great post Joe! Way to give these guys prop where props are due. 🙂

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Thanks, Jen! I had no idea Edward Norton raised so much for Wilderness Conservation. Had I known, I definitely would have added him to the post — he’s definitely a kick-ass actor, and that definitely sounds like a kick-ass charity. 🙂

  8. Jill Tooley

    I love all of these actors and the charities they stand for. Great post, Joe! It’s a shame that the media focuses more on brainless celebs (cough JERSEY SHORE cough) than it does on the ones who actually do something for society!

    Michael J. Fox is one of the most amazing people ever. He doesn’t let his Parkinson’s keep him out of the spotlight or prevent him from doing the things he loves. Did you watch the video of him playing Johnny B. Goode recently? It brought a smile to my face!

    I have a couple more notable celebs for your list, too! Tori Amos co-founded RAINN back in the 90s to help victims of rape and sexual violence, and it’s one of the best-known foundations for that purpose today. Also, Shakira does a TON of charity work and even founded Pies Descalzos Foundation to help poor children receive educations. There are literally hundreds of other noteworthy celebs, but I don’t want to leave a novel for a comment! 😉

    • Joseph Giorgi

      I watched the video of Fox playing Johnny B. Goode earlier today. I agree: it’s great to see that he hasn’t let his affliction get the best of him. The video was pretty spectacular!

      Yeah, there are LOTS of celebs out there who’ve started their own charities and who’ve generated huge amounts of public awareness for their causes. I focused on a select few actors for this particular post, but there’s plenty of room for additional shout-outs in future posts. 🙂

  9. Alex Brodsky

    Having worked as an audience coordination assistant for her show, I was lucky enough to help Ellen DeGeneres with a multitude of amazing charities and causes. Though I had never watched her show before, I couldn’t help but support her. I wish continued success to ALL celebrities who give back to make the world a better place.

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