Image: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Image: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Even though we tend to hold them to higher standards than regular folk, celebrities are sadly no less likely to be horrible people than anyone else. For example, each of these 20 actors and actresses – often driven by either arrogance, anger or drink – have committed some pretty unpleasant acts. And while some have blotted their copybooks through socially unacceptable but still legal goings-on, others have unfortunately said and done things so vile that you’ll never look at them or their movies in the same way again.
30. Aaron Eckhart
Aaron Eckhart took method acting much too far when researching his role in 2010 drama Rabbit Hole. That’s because he faked being a grieving parent in order to gain access to a child-loss support group – an act that was hugely insensitive and, well, more than a little two-faced.
29. Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe’s temper is legendary, but it’s probably less of a fun quirk if you’re on the receiving end of it. And one New York hotel concierge knows that better than most, as the actor hurled a phone at them for apparently no other reason than not being able to call Australia from his room. No excuse, man; no excuse.
28. Halle Berry
Halle Berry may be a good actress, but she’s sometimes a terrible driver. In February 2000, for example, Berry ran a red light and hit another driver, only to add insult to literal injury by speeding from the scene. And while no one was killed in the accident, the actress’ reputation was rightly damaged, especially since she had allegedly been the perpetrator of a hit-and-run three years before that.
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27. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen has had many a run-in with the law; yet the contentious star’s most unforgivable act came in 2009 when he was arrested for violently attacking then-wife Brooke Mueller. Sheen admitted to a charge of misdemeanor assault, and perhaps inevitably the couple’s relationship ended in divorce in 2011.
26. Christian Bale
While filming Terminator Salvation in 2009, Christian Bale famously went on a four-minute tirade against an innocent director of photography who’d inadvertently stepped into a scene. Threats of firing, threats of violence and no less than 39 F-words featured in the rant, which was definitely a little more Patrick Bateman than Batman in its scariness.
25. Mel Gibson
In 2006 Mel Gibson, lest anyone forget, plummeted from fairly respected actor to anti-Semitic loser. Infamously, when he was pulled over for drunk driving, he proceeded to rant about Jewish people being “responsible for all the wars in the world.” And while some of Hollywood seems to have chosen to forgive Gibson, the world in general hasn’t, no matter how contrite he tried to appear in the aftermath.
24. Emile Hirsch
In recent years, Into the Wild star Emile Hirsch has proved himself an actor of versatility and skill with the award nominations to match his talent. A bright future in Hollywood arguably looked less certain, however, after one incident in February 2015. Then, the actor was shockingly reported to have drunkenly throttled a female executive for Paramount in a Park City, Utah nightclub – an offense for which he was sentenced to 15 days’ incarceration and 50 hours of community service.
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23. Sean Connery
In 1965 Sean Connery alarmingly told Playboy that hitting women is totally justifiable, explaining “If [she] is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it.” And time apparently didn’t change his views on the matter, either, as 20 years later he would inform Barbara Walters, “It’s not the worst thing to slap a woman now and then.” Words, then, to suggest that allegations made by Connery’s first wife that he had beaten her could very well hold water.
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22. Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman may be one of the most highly regarded actors in Hollywood, but he nearly ruined all that good work in 2014 upon making excuses for Mel Gibson’s antisemitism and using offensive slurs – including the N-word – in a Playboy interview. And while Oldman gave a thorough apology for it afterward, it was definitely too little, too late.
21. Terrence Howard
Terrence Howard has stood accused of assaulting women many times in the past and has admitted to at least one incident in which he was guilty of domestic violence. Speaking to Rolling Stone in September 2015, the Empire star revealed that he had “slapped” his ex-wife “in front of the kids.” That was in 2001; however, judging by Howard’s 2005 guilty plea to disorderly conduct against a female patron of a Pennsylvania diner, and if subsequent allegations are to be believed, he hasn’t learned his lesson.
20. Josh Brolin
In 2004 Josh Brolin was arrested and charged with spousal battery upon his then-wife Diane Lane. And while a spokesperson for the pair would frantically claim that the incident was a “misunderstanding,” the actor himself didn’t deny the damning media reports. As he remarked to Playboy in 2010, “I can’t say, ‘No, I’m actually a really good guy and that didn’t happen.’ Everybody knows what happened because it’s all out there.”
19. Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf’s very public meltdown has led to a string of legal troubles and arrests that are starting to totally eclipse his considerable acting talent. Chief among them is LaBeouf’s now-notorious disruption of a Broadway showing of Cabaret in 2014, an incident in which he chose to scream at the performers and even go up to slap Alan Cumming on the behind. It’s also alleged that the Transformers star threw a homophobic insult at the officers attempting to arrest him.
18. Emma Roberts
Emma Roberts’ career was on the up in 2013, but it wouldn’t have helped her casting prospects any when she was arrested for assaulting boyfriend Evan Peters in July of that year. Peters, it’s reported, was repeatedly bitten by the actress and suffered a bloody nose – more than reason enough for the pair to split, you might think, although surprisingly that didn’t actually come to pass until June 2015.
17. Tom Sizemore
In 2003 Saving Private Ryan actor Tom Sizemore was declared guilty on charges of assault and battery against his girlfriend, one-time madam to the stars Heidi Fleiss. Before sentencing, Sizemore publicly stated, “I thank all of my fans who continue to be fans” – but no one would have blamed them if they chose not to be anymore.
16. Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon and husband Jim Toth’s 2013 apprehension for suspected drunk driving was bad enough on its own; upon being pulled over, though, the actress made the whole thing look even worse for her by displaying some very diva-like behavior. After asking if the cops knew whom she was, she warned, rather childishly, “You’re about to find out who I am,” adding that the incident would make headlines around the country. Oh dear.
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15. Christian Slater
Christian Slater is no stranger to scrapes with the law; still, arguably his most bizarre and disturbing such brush came in 2005 when he apparently decided that it would be a great idea to grab a stranger’s buttocks on the street. The woman notified the cops, leading to a drunk, ranting Slater being arrested and slapped with a charge of third-degree sexual abuse.
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14. Tim Allen
Tim Allen may be a kindly, family-friendly actor now, but that just makes his past exploits all the more shocking. In 1978, for example, Allen was looking at a life sentence for smuggling almost one and a half pounds of Bolivian marching powder through an airport. Naming other members of the drug ring in which he was involved, though, meant that he only spent two years and four months in federal prison.
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13. Alec Baldwin
In April 2007 Alec Baldwin provided a great example of how not to parent, leaving a message on daughter Ireland’s phone calling her a “rude, thoughtless little pig” who didn’t have “the brains or the decency as a human being.” And while such words would be nasty to hear at any age, it’s worth noting that Ireland was just 11 years old at the time. Yikes.
12. Hugh Grant
British actor Hugh Grant shocked his legion of fans when in 1995 he was arrested for “lewd conduct.” He had paid L.A. prostitute Divine Brown for oral sex – in public. The situation was made worse by the fact that Grant was in a relationship with Liz Hurley at the time.
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11. Jonah Hill
Jonah Hill may be really funny on screen, but he’s not always so funny off it. In 2014, for example, he shouted something pretty homophobic at a photographer who had passed judgement on his shorts. The actor later apologized for using a “disgusting word.”
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10. Gérard Depardieu
Acclaimed French actor Gérard Depardieu shocked and angered fellow air passengers when in 2011 he urinated in the aisle as the plane taxied before takeoff. His drunken refusal to stay in his seat forced the plane back to the gate – and Depardieu off the plane altogether.
9. Kiefer Sutherland
24’s Kiefer Sutherland was far from the hero when in 2009 he was charged with third-degree assault after allegedly head-butting designer Jack McCollough at a New York nightclub. The charges were later dropped, though Sutherland felt compelled to apologize for the injuries McCollough had sustained.
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8. Rip Torn
Veteran actor Rip Torn has presumably done alright for himself, so why he felt compelled to break into a bank, with a loaded gun, is anybody’s guess. The 2010 incident – for which he was arrested and later sentenced to a suspended two-and-a-half years – was attributed to drunkenness.
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7. Charles S. Dutton
Before finding fame in Rudy, Charles S. Dutton spent seven years behind bars for manslaughter. At 17 the actor, then an amateur boxer, had an altercation with a man that resulted in the latter’s death. And, despite arguing that the man had gone for him, Dutton was ultimately convicted.
6. Jeremy Irons
Oscar-winning Brit Jeremy Irons sparked outrage with controversial comments about same-sex marriage in 2013. The actor suggested, somewhat bizarrely, that legalizing gay marriage could allow dads to marry their sons in an attempt to bypass inheritance tax.
5. Isaiah Washington
Grey’s Anatomy star Isaiah Washington caused uproar in 2006 when he allegedly directed an anti-gay slur towards costar T.R. Knight. Washington later admitted to using “several bad words,” though he insisted they weren’t meant to come across as homophobic. He also denied aiming them at Knight.
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4. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise’s devotion to scientology has alienated a fair few of his fans – which isn’t surprising considering his faith-fueled comments on others’ mental health. In 2005 he said that Brooke Shields’ use of anti-depressants was “irresponsible.” Cruise even suggested an alternative of “vitamins and exercise.”
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3. Michael Richards
Michael Richards effectively ended his stand-up career during a gig in West Hollywood in 2006. How? Well, the Emmy Award-winning actor decided to hurl racist abuse at an audience member after his routine was interrupted. He later described his actions as “selfish;” not exactly a heartfelt apology.
2. Mark Wahlberg
Not enough people know that Mark Wahlberg was a bad, bad person in his youth. The future Hollywood star engaged in racially motivated attacks on various people, including children, and even ended up in prison for assaulting a Vietnamese man. Moreover, while Wahlberg has since admitted his guilt and regret about what he did when he was younger, they’re events that no amount of acting talent can cover up or excuse.
1. Sean Penn
Sean Penn has gone so far as to set lawyers on anyone who suggests that he has ever been a domestic abuser. In 1988, though, alarming reports came to light alleging that an altercation between him and Madonna, his wife at the time, had involved the actor using a baseball bat on the pop star. Madonna, however, would later ask the police to withdraw her complaint against Penn before anything went as far as the courtroom.