14 Celebrities We Would Trust With Our Lives During an Apocalypse

Morgan Freeman just dropped off my list.

When I was in college, my friend Sarah and I took nearly every class for our English major together, and sometimes, this meant having to amuse ourselves with more than the iced mochas we fetched at the expense of being late for our 2:15. Somewhere along the way, a series of lists began to form, and among the running ones that have survived into our adulthood is the list that contains the names of people—known people; not, like, our dads—who we would basically trust with our lives. People who have something about them—their demeanor, their values, their accomplishments, their vibe, morals, aura, whatever—that would make you trust their judgment.

My number one was then, and still is, posthumously, Peter Jennings. (This particular topic was probably born around the time of 9/11, when it felt like I was devoted to him, and he to me, approximately 23 hours a day.) I just felt like he was smart, and he couldn’t be shaken, and was fair, and was a most reliable filter through which so much of the world seeped into my 20-year-old brain.

Sarah felt pretty much as strongly about Morgan Freeman, and I was right there with her. It’s probably got a lot to do with the voice, for sure, but there’s a stillness and a kindness there that drew us in. After graduation, when I went into magazines and Sarah went into books at Simon & Schuster, she was in a meeting with Mr. Freeman concerning his not-yet-published book about Caribbean living, and she confirmed with me immediately after that he was, indeed, worthy of our list. (And, going by how quickly many, many people answer “Morgan Freeman” whenever I bring up this topic, we weren’t alone in this line of thinking.)

That means we also weren’t alone in our commiseration, yesterday, when we heard that Freeman might Woody-Allen his step-granddaughter. Though his publicist denies the story, it prompted a casting about for suitable replacements. Friends and co-workers either thought I was nuts (“You are a disturbed individual with a list like that”), or answered so quickly it was clear they had pondered this as long as Sarah and I. With help from the latter group, we’ve got a fresh list of 14, with some solid reasoning. (Add your suggestions in the comments.)

1. Hillary Clinton. “She knows how to handle things diplomatically, and has a strong moral compass. Plus, she’s got empathy. The whole woman thing.”
2. Paul Newman. There’s that posthumous problem again.
3. Julie Andrews. Mary Poppins + Maria Von Trapp = Ultimate Trustworthiness.
4. Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce. Not everyone feels the same.
5. Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten. “She has written both cookbooks and nuclear policies, meaning if things ever really go to hell (zombie apocalypses sans zombies), you’ll be fed and protected.” (I also had one vote for Nigella Lawson, “Probably because of all the food.”)
6. George Clooney. “He’s just … well … other than my husband, he … yeah.”
7. Michael Caine. The accent?
8. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. “If either one of them told me to do anything, I probably would.”
9. Ryan Gosling. Because of his dreaminess, and recently increasing acts of heroism.
10. Maggie Smith. Doesn’t it always seem like she has a handle on what’s going on?
11. Stephen Colbert. “He’s obviously got a hilarious sense of humor, but I also have the sense that he is, without a doubt, a fundamentally good person. Brilliant, no doubt, and he can cut through the bullshit with humor. Plus, he gave a secret shout-out on the air to his dear old mom after she was sick that made me tear up.”
12. Jon Stewart. “It’s a combination of honesty, humility, and humor. I think those three Hs are important for my celebrity role model.”
13. Diane Sawyer. Full disclosure: That’s another of mine, and no, I don’t know what it is with me and ABC news anchors.
14. Brian Dawkins. “I would follow him to the ends of the Earth, if following him to the ends of the Earth were ever called for.”