Just when we think we have celebrities pegged, they drop raw and unfiltered documentaries that completely shatter our perceptions of them.
Or they do quite the opposite, confirming our beliefs and suspicions about their longest-held secrets, highly publicized scandals, and so on. Either way, it’s fascinating.
The docs on this list masterfully manage to pull off both. So without further ado, here are the most revealing celebrity documentaries you should watch immediately.
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (2018)
In this compelling and complex portrait of Robin Williams, we’re invited to celebrate the many layers of the late and great comedian’s life, and no topic is off-limits. Those closest to Williams share hilarious and heartbreaking anecdotes, but it’s the thoughts, stories, and home movies from the iconic funny man himself that provide the most illuminating view into who he really was.
Director Marina Zenovich told Vanity Fair “We wanted him to tell his own story as much as possible.”
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana (2020)
We learned a lot of surprising factoids about Taylor Swift in Netflix’s Miss Americana. In this poignant and touching doc, the 41-time Grammy-nominated songstress gives the world an unabashed look at her creative process, music industry struggles, body image issues, that infamous $1 lawsuit, and so much more.
Perhaps most revealing of all, fans get to see T-Swift’s love life from an unusually intimate angle, previously only shared via her lyrics.
Oh, and if you ever wanted to know how she really feels about her feud with Kanye West, you need to stream this one.
In Becoming, Michelle Obama is more open than we’ve ever seen or heard before.
Of this sincere, inspiring, and soul-bearing documentary, the former First Lady says it’s “totally me, unplugged, for the first time” and continuously proves that even if you think you know all there is to know about this powerful public figure’s unique journey, you don’t even know the half of it.
The most revealing tidbit? Mrs. Obama dishes on how she fell in love with Barack, their early relationship problems, and her refusal to be nothing more than her husband’s “appendage” on the path to becoming her fullest self.
Surviving R. Kelly (2019)
R. Kelly has vehemently denied the allegation in Surviving R. Kelly. In this incredibly incriminating documentary, the controversial R&B singer is accused of things like domestic abuse and secret cults. He’s referred to as “the devil” by more than one person claiming to know him a little too well.
No matter your verdict, this up-close and unsettling portrait of the man behind the music is not a good look for R. Kelly, to put it mildly.
For anyone who had any doubt about Amy Winehouse’s talents as an artist, Amy will make you a believer. But her story will break your heart.
This devastating documentary examines the iconic singer/songwriter’s beginnings, successes, struggles, and the famously lethal toll being trapped in the spotlight ultimately took.
Kid 90 (2021)
Created by Soleil Moon Frye, this time capsule captures the offset lives of some of the most iconic child actors of the 90s in shockingly personal moments.
From behind the camera, the Punky Brewster star exposes what growing up in Hollywood was really like for her and her famous friends while they try to be normal teenagers, by any and all means necessary.
This Is Paris (2020)
Emotional, candid, unusually honest, This Is Paris will shock you with just how real it gets. The infamous heiress tells all regarding the rumors, the sex tape scandal, painful secrets from her past she kept from the public until now, and the lasting emotional impact from all of it.
Paris Hilton reveals, “I’m happy for people to know that I am not a dumb blonde. I’m just very good at pretending to be one.”
In the 90s, Tiger Woods became golf’s golden boy and was quickly dubbed one of the greatest athletes of all time. But when his messy private life began to surface, it became clear that maybe none of us really knew Tiger Woods.
This documentary answers those lingering questions about who Tiger really is, how he was molded into a golf legend, and what he’s truly capable of. Or as the trailer puts it best, “Do not underestimate Tiger Woods.”
Demi Lovato: Dancing With The Devil (2021)
Dancing With The Devil gives us an unfiltered look at the Disney star’s highest highs and lowest lows throughout her career. She also gives the full story behind her life-altering heroin overdose back in 2018.
Lovato reveals, “I don’t think people realize how bad it actually was,” adding, “I had three strokes, I had a heart attack. I suffered brain damage from the strokes. I was legally blind when I woke up.”
Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018)
Did you know Jane Fonda was followed by the FBI? I sure didn’t. In her insightful documentary, the iconic actress/activist says when she realized “anyone can change and become fierce,” it changed her life forever.
Jane Fonda in Five Acts is Fonda’s own examination of how the men in her life molded her identity before she broke every mold built for her and discovered the true power of standing on her own two feet.
Also noteworthy: Her famed workout tapes remain the number one home videos of all time, and in this documentary, she finally explains why she made zero profit from them.
“I had an abusive life, there’s no other way to tell the story,” says Tina. From the traumas to the triumphs, the queen of rock ‘n’ roll gives a no-holds-barred account of all that she’s endured during her unprecedented career and awe-inspiring transformation.
Getting candid about her career, Turner admits she wanted nothing to do with “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” the first time she heard it. And that’s just one of many surprising reveals.
Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy (2017)
In this emotional tribute, Prince William and Prince Harry share their most treasured memories with their late mother and open up about their private and ongoing grief.
“This is the first time the two of us have ever spoken about her as a mother,” says Prince Harry.
From start to finish, this glimpse into who “the people’s princess” was as a mother reveals more about the real Princess Di than we’ve ever learned before.
What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali (2019)
In What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali, we revisit the boxing legacy of the legend told predominately “in his own words.”
While the average Ali documentary opens with his unprecedented victory at the 1960 summer Olympics, this one takes us back even further. For the first time, we see the icon’s career unfold from the vantage point of his most formative years, and we dive deeper than ever into his aims far beyond the ring.
Gaga: Five Foot Two (2017)
Curious what it’s really like to walk a mile in Lady Gaga’s one-of-a-kind shoes? In Gaga: Five Foot Two, the most shocking revelations come from Madonna drama, the iconic singer’s secret battle with chronic pain, and how her romantic relationships often failed as her career took off.
“My love life has just imploded. I sold 10 million [records] and lost Matt. I sold 30 million and lost Luke. I did a movie and lose Taylor. It’s like a turnover. This is the third time I’ve had my heart broken like this,” she reveals.
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
Part intensive method acting study and part memoir, I’ve yet to see anything quite like the Netflix documentary Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond.
Jim Carrey takes it upon himself to “fully become” Andy Kaufman for the biopic Man on the Moon, even when it means unraveling. Watching the almost 10-year process ultimately taught me much more about Carrey than I ever expected.
As it turns out, Universal spent many years hiding this very footage. Apparently, they feared the world wouldn’t know what to make of it.
Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry (2021)
Want to see Billie Eilish create a Grammy-winning album from the comfort of her childhood home? Look no further.
This feature-length film follows Billie and her tight-knit family during the almost two-year creation of 2019’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and the tour that followed.
Through the lens of a globally worshipped teen still finding her place in the world, we learn of her Justin Bieber obsession, private battle with Tourette’s syndrome, and the romantic relationship she kept a secret until now.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
This spectacular and sentimental documentary lets us meet the minister, puppeteer, writer, and producer behind the television show that touched so many lives, for so many years. And we get to see Mr. Rogers through the eyes of those who really knew him.
There are no real bombshells in this one. As it turns out, Fred Rogers was just as kind, generous, and wholesome as he seemed on his show–and perhaps that was the best surprise of all.
Framing Britney Spears (2021)
Framing Britney Spears chronicles the darker side of the pop star’s glittering rise to fame. We’re all familiar with the industry sexism she experienced from an early age, the media’s constant hounding, and her highly publicized breakdown, but seeing everything the singer endured in one sitting is infuriating, and at times, overwhelming.
The documentary highlights how Britney’s father, who was her primary conservator, was notably absent from her childhood and career prior to taking full control of her life. Now that he’s stepping down, everyone who watched this documentary and worried for Britney can breathe a little easier.