Don Cheadle, John Travolta and other stars who made Cincinnati shine in 2016

Don Cheadle, John Travolta and other stars who made Cincinnati shine in 2016
Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 07:00:11-05

CINCINNATI -- As far as celebrity sightings are concerned, 2016 has been a blockbuster year in the Queen City.

With nine movies made in the region and a host of big-name singers performing concerts, it was easy to run into someone famous.

Here are some of the stars who have been seen around town.

Don Cheadle

In March, Don Cheadle returned to the Queen City for a special screening of "Miles Ahead," fulfilling a promise he made in 2014 while filming the movie in Cincinnati. Cheadle starred and directed in the film about the life of legendary jazz musician Miles Davis in the 1970s.

"To be honest, this film would not have happened without this city," Cheadle said while on the red carpet at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton. He also attended a question-and-answer session at the Transept in Over-the-Rhine after the screening and said he would love to work in Cincinnati again some day.

In December, the "Miles Ahead" soundtrack received a Grammy nomination for best compilation soundtrack for visual media.

'The Life and Death of John Gotti'

Actor John Travolta came to Cincinnati in summer 2015 to film "The Life and Death of John Gotti," a biographical movie in which he portrayed the famed New York mobster. Before filming even began in late July, Travolta received cheers at Great American Ball Park while attending a Cincinnati Reds game.

Travolta was not the only "Gotti" cast member to draw a crowd in Cincinnati. His wife, actress Kelly Preston, thrilled dozens of fans when she greeted them in between shooting scenes as the mobster's wife, Victoria Gotti, in Finneytown.

"Gotti" director Kevin Connolly attracted the attention of restaurateur Jeff Ruby. Connelly, a star of former HBO hit show "Entourage," posed for a picture with Ruby at his Downtown steakhouse.


Emilio Estevez

The son of Dayton, Ohio, native Martin Sheen was often seen around Cincinnati in 2016. Estevez took a moment during Bockfest in March for a group photo with people inside the Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.'s production facility in Over-the-Rhine.

He also generated buzz during an interview at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival when he said he would love to live in Over-the-Rhine some day.

Expect to see more of Estevez in 2017. Film Cincinnati Executive Director Kristen Schlotman confirmed he will begin shooting new movie "the public" on Jan. 18 at the Downtown branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The film, which is centered around a standoff at the library, will be set in Cincinnati, Schlotman said.

Estevez will direct and star in the movie, and he also wrote the script. Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Taylor Schilling, Jena Malone and Che "Rhymefest" Smith will co-star in the film.

Star power

"Gotti" was only one of nine films produced in Cincinnati in 2016 that brought movie stars to the region. Other movies that spawned star sightings included "The Killing of a Sacred Deer," starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman; "Mercy" with Ellen Page and Kate Mara; "Inconceivable" with Nicolas Cage, Natalie Eva Marie, Gina Gershon and Nicky Whelan; and most recently "UFO" starring Gillian Anderson, Alex Sharp and Elle Purnell.


Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton

Actors were not the only people causing a stir in the Queen City. Social media lit up in early August when singer Gwen Stefani bought a soft-serve ice cream cone at the Norwood Delite Creamy Whipwith her boyfriend, fellow musician Blake Shelton.

Stefani shared the pictures above on her Snapchat account and fans ate it up. A fan page dedicated to Stefani sightings also showed the couple visiting the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden before Stefani performed at Riverbend Music Center later that night.

Bruce Springsteen

Singer Bruce Springsteen also drew a big crowd during a visit to Cincinnati in 2016. The 67-year-old rocker made an appearance at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Norwood in November to sell signed copies of his memoir "Born to Run" and take pictures with fans. Tickets to the event sold out in a matter of minutes the day they went on sale.


A photo posted by WCPO - 9 On Your Side (@9onyourside) on

A little fun

As the entertainment reporter for, I got the chance to meet a few of the celebrities on the list above.

I'm not sure when, why or how it happened, but at some point in 2016 collecting awkward photographs of myself with the people I was reporting on became a "thing." There ended up being enough to create the gif below. 

The photographs with Cheadle, Connolly and, as a bonus, the back of my head while interviewing Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee were all taken by co-workers without my knowledge. Like a true fan, I paid and stood in line to get my picture with Springsteen. The photo with Preston was the result of peer pressure and circumstances beyond my control.