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Controversial Things Actors Have Done That Fans Will Never Forget

The following article contains discussions of abuse, addiction, domestic violence, hate crimes, and sexual harassment and assault.

It seems like these days actors, and celebrities in general, aren't quite so easily forgiven when it comes to their screw-ups. Whether you want to call that "cancel culture," "consequences culture," or something else, it genuinely seems like actors can't get away with anywhere near as much as they used to. Sometimes the worst they get is a bit of hate from the fans, sometimes their careers take a hit for a while, and other times — though it's rare — their careers disappear altogether. Sometimes the punishment fits the crime, but not always.

What follows below are examples of all three and then some. The actors' offenses run the gamut from unhinged yet harmless behavior to horrific crimes. From silly to criminal to absolutely unforgivable, each instance was completely avoidable, and records of it will live on as some of the dumbest things actors have done to make us give up on them.

Will Smith delivered a slap heard across the world

At the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, Will Smith made all the wrong kinds of history. As reported by Variety, in response to comedian Chris Rock making a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith walked on stage during Rock's monologue and slapped him across the face. In the immediate aftermath many thought the incident was a pre-arranged gag, but after Smith yelled twice from his seat, "Keep my wife's name out of your f—ing mouth!" it became clear there was nothing staged about it. 

While many fans supported Smith, others turned away from him. Celebrities began speaking out, particularly people from the comedy world like Amy Schumer and Jim Carrey, and many were not sympathetic toward Smith. When the smoke cleared, Smith was hit with a decade-long ban from any and all Academy Awards events, including the Oscars.

But it isn't just in terms of awards that Will Smith is being punished. Since the slap, development on a number of Smith projects has either been delayed or outright canceled. Work on the planned fourth film of the "Bad Boys" franchise has been paused, plans for Netflix's "Fast and Loose" and the National Geographic docuseries "Pole to Pole" have both been put on hold, and Netflix's "Bright 2" has been scrapped completely.

Gina Carano posted herself out of a job

To anyone who enjoys seeing a celebrity continue to dig their own grave, Gina Carano is the gift that never stops giving. In February 2021, Carano was fired from her signature role of Cara Dune on "The Mandalorian." In an Instagram post that has since been deleted, Carano compared those who criticized her political views to Nazis. That was the final straw for Disney and Lucasfilm, who were reportedly already incensed with Carano after two controversial November 2020 tweets — one implying that President Joe Biden had committed voter fraud, and another mocking people wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Carano has continued to double down on the same kind of social media posts that got her booted from "Star Wars," including — not long after the one-year anniversary of her firing — tweeting a conspiracy theory that the United States government orchestrated Russia's invasion of Ukraine because it "lost control of the COVID narrative." While she continues to find work thanks to Ben Shapiro's production company, per Deadline, we don't think she'll be showing up in any "Star Wars" projects or "Deadpool" sequels any time soon.  

Tom Cruise was never the same since he jumped on Oprah's couch

Tom Cruise has said and done some questionable things. Right after actress Brooke Shields' pregnancy, Cruise trashed her for using antidepressants. In late 2020 it was reported that the "Top Gun" star went on an obscenity-filled rant on the set of "Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One" after witnessing two crew members breaking COVID-19 protocols. His involvement in Scientology has long been a source of controversy. But nothing really marred Cruise's image more than when he jumped on Oprah Winfrey's couch. 

As recalled by The Ringer, when Cruise appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to promote "War of the Worlds," the actor was in rare form. Asked questions about his month-old relationship with his now ex-wife Katie Holmes, Cruise often wordlessly responded by clasping both of Winfrey's hands in his, pumping his fists in the air, or — most famously — jumping on her couch while Winfrey was mid-sentence. Imagine if you were trying to talk to someone and they kept having a hallucination that they'd just made a touchdown for an NFL game — that's basically what Winfrey experienced on stage in May 2005.  

In the long term, the incident didn't hurt Cruise's career. He's continued to make hit films like the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, but it forever changed the public's view of him into someone who possibly was emotionally unstable.

Hartley Sawyer was fired because of his tweets

In the summer of 2020, "The Flash" lost its Elongated Man. Not long after the close of the show's sixth season, CNN Entertainment and others reported that Hartley Sawyer had been fired from "The Flash" for a number of homophobic, racist, misogynistic, or otherwise offensive tweets posted between 2009 and 2014. 

A number of cast and crew from "The Flash" made public statements about the firing and while there were few attacks directed at Sawyer, no one was rushing to defend him. Grant Gustin of "The Flash" and Stephen Amell of "Arrow" both publicly supported the decision to fire Sawyer. Co-star Danielle Nicolet responded on Instagram, writing that it was "sad and disappointing" but, unfortunately, "not shocking." This was "not the first time," she wrote, adding that she'd worked with someone who was "not necessarily who they presented themselves to be."

Sawyer posted a lengthy apology on Instagram at the end of May 2020, admitting that his tweets were "not acceptable." As far as the world of celebrity entertainment is concerned, Sawyer has completely fallen off the radar ever since. "The Flash" remains his most recent credited screen work.

Mel Gibson threatened his ex

From a certain point of view, Mel Gibson seems to be the luckiest actor alive. In 2020 he starred as the villain opposite Frank Grillo in Hulu's "Boss Level." He'll reportedly be stepping in to the late Richard Donner's shoes to both direct and star in "Lethal Weapon 5." Along with other upcoming projects, he landed the lead for the upcoming "John Wick" prequel series "The Continental." And yet, as Joshua Malina of "The West Wing" fame pointed out in a lengthy op-ed for The Atlantic, Gibson's continuing career seems to singlehandedly disprove the existence of so-called "cancel culture." 

In 2006, Gibson was pulled over for alleged drunk driving and let loose an anti-Semitic rant on the officers. The Oscar-winning director and actor was already persona non grata to many after depicting Jewish characters as being absolutely gleeful over the torture and death of Jesus in 2004's "The Passion of the Christ." Four years later, audio tapes leaked of threatening and racist statements the actor made to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, and in 2011 he pleaded no contest to domestic abuse charges against her. Yet despite many former fans swearing off Gibson forever, the guy keeps getting work.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

The #MeToo movement took down a bunch of alleged abusers

It is an absolutely horrific truth that if we were to give each celebrity accused of sexual assault and/or harassment their own section, this article would be nothing but those stories. But to not mention them would almost be a crime itself. The list of alleged sex criminals in Hollywood seems to get at least a little longer every few months. In December 2021, allegations of sexual assault were made against Chris Noth by two women, and soon a third accuser surfaced.

By 2018, Kevin Spacey had over 30 allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against him, including many by men and women who were underage at the time of the alleged abuse. The most famous allegation against Spacey came from "Star Trek: Discovery" star Anthony Rapp, who said he was 14 years old when Spacey allegedly tried to get him in bed. According to Vox, allegations of sexual harassment were made about Louis CK for years before they were made public, including allegations that CK coerced, or attempted to coerce, women he worked with into watching him masturbate. 

In 2018, Bill Cosby was sentenced to serve three to 10 years in prison after being convicted of assaulting former Temple University employee Andrea Constand — one of more than 60 women who made assault allegations against the former comedian and actor. In 2021, that conviction was overturned. These examples, sadly, only scratch the surface.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist joke

In 2018 the long-dormant sitcom "Roseanne" enjoyed unprecedented success with a revival, with most of the original cast returning for a 10th season. The titular lead, Roseanne Barr, hadn't been much of a presence on television ever since the series first closed up shop in 1997. All she had to do to remain on top was avoid tweeting a racist joke about former presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, but apparently that was too difficult a task. 

In May 2018, the offending tweet ended "Roseanne" for good. Barr apologized to Jarrett, tried blaming the tweet on "Ambien tweeting" (via The Guardian), and she eventually announced she was leaving Twitter (she has since returned). But it was too little, too late. First fellow actress and comic Wanda Sykes announced she would not return to her consulting producer job on "Roseanne," and soon afterward ABC fired Barr and canceled "Roseanne." Later that year "The Conners" premiered minus Barr, with an announcement that her character had died of an opioid overdose. In a guest column for THR, showrunner Bruce Heldford wrote that the decision was made to kill her character off "to make her departure clearly permanent."

Ezra Miller basically embarked on a two-year crime spree

It is genuinely puzzling that it took the public so long to turn on Ezra Miller. In April 2020, during a time when so much as a single poorly conceived tweet could end a career, a video surfaced of what appeared to be Miller choking a woman and throwing her to the ground. Yet somehow the usual "cancel culture" campaigns remained silent, as did Miller. 

Fans had a harder time ignoring it when Miller was arrested in Hilo, Hawaii in March 2022. They were charged with "disorderly conduct and harassment" after allegedly "yelling obscenities" at patrons in a bar who were singing karaoke. They also allegedly grabbed a microphone out of a woman's hand and "lunged at a 32-year-old man playing darts." Not long after Miller was released on bail, a couple that Miller was reportedly staying with filed a restraining order against Miller, accusing them of threatening the couple and stealing some of their belongings. Only a few weeks later, THR reported Miller had been arrested again, this time in Pāhoa, Hawaii. They had reportedly been asked to leave a party, and in response allegedly threw a chair that struck a woman in the head. 

It only took the news of the first arrest for rumors to begin swirling that Warner Bros. was considering kicking their "The Flash" and "Fantastic Beasts" star to the curb. Whether the reports are genuine or not, the controversy soon had fans calling for Miller to be replaced by Grant Gustin as the DCEU's Flash.

Mayim Bialik wrote a divisive editorial

Every time Mayim Bialik hosted "Jeopardy!" she got so many people angry, you'd think she was the one who played Cara Dune on "The Mandalorian."

In the wake of Alex Trebek's passing, the question of who could succeed him as "Jeopardy!" host proved much more controversial than most anticipated. Mayim Bialik of "The Big Bang Theory" fame was chosen to share co-hosting duties with former "Jeopardy!" champ Ken Jennings. But in the case of Bialik, a controversial past followed her to the show. In 2017, Bialik wrote what proved to be an extremely divisive op-ed in the New York Times about the now convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein. She suggested that, like her, women should "dress modestly" and not "act flirtatiously" — something many took as victim-shaming. She's also expressed questionable views about vaccinations for years, although she says she's vaccinated against COVID-19.

In light of these larger issues, "Jeopardy!" fans continued to yell bloody murder at much smaller "offenses" from Bialik while hosting "Jeopardy!" The crimes she's been raked over the coals for while hosting the game show include using the term "Single Jeopardy," and wearing the same orange knit blazer more than once.

Christian Bale flew into a rage on the set of Terminator: Salvation

What do you remember most from 2009's "Terminator Salvation?" Well, if you were paying any attention to entertainment news in 2009, then in most likelihood the thing you remember most isn't what happened on the screen, but the infamous audio that leaked a few months before the film's release.

Specifically, TMZ posted a recording of Christian Bale — who played John Connor in the film — ranting for just under four minutes at director of photography Shane Hurlbut. Dropping more F-bombs than even SkyNet could coordinate, Bale accused Hurlbut of walking aimlessly around the set during the filming of a scene and distracting him. You can hear Hurlbut apologizing throughout the recording and other crew members trying to calm Bale down, to no avail.

Bale apologized for the rant after the audio surfaced and ensured fans that he and Hurlbut worked out their differences before the day was through. Still, Bale's never been able to completely shake the reputation he earned when the rant went public.

Dave Chappelle hates trans people

Dave Chappelle caught flak for a while for making jokes considered transphobic, but he took special aim at the subject in his 2021 Netflix special "The Closer." Among other things, the comic proudly called himself a "TERF" — a term for feminists who don't consider trans women to be women. He also invoked his late friend Daphne Dorman, a trans woman, in a way that many found offensive. For example, Aja Romano wrote for Vox that Chappelle speaks of Dorman as "a trans woman who's proven she deserves autonomy" but only because she didn't respond negatively to jokes others found offensive. In other words, Chappelle's acceptance of Dorman as a trans woman was conditional. 

The same month "The Closer" began streaming on Netflix, a group of Netflix employees staged a walkout to protest not only Chappelle's special on the platform, but what they saw as an unhealthy work environment it was helping to create. 

Chappelle will apparently host and produce still more comedy specials for Netflix in the future, but to many fans the comic died on stage in 2021.

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Jussie Smollett staged a racist attack against himself

According to former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett, he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. The actor claimed that two men attacked him, "poured an unknown substance" on him, and put a noose around his neck in a racially motivated attack. But by the following month, the Chicago PD became convinced that the incident was staged and that Smollett had hired the Nigerian brothers Obabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo to stage the attack as a bid to negotiate a higher rate on "Empire." Smollett was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.

As more and more evidence came out, the same fans and celebrities who initially showered Smollett with support now showed him nothing but disdain. Smollett's first trial was dismissed, but he was still let go from "Empire," and new charges were brought against him in 2020. In late December 2021, Smollett was found guilty on five out of six charges of disorderly conduct. The actor was ordered to spend 150 days in jail, spend 30 months on probation, and pay a fine of $145,000. While, all things considered, he got off light, it's doubtful you'll be seeing his IMBb page getting any new additions any time soon. 

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

Scarlett Johansson kept picking weird projects

In the late 2010s, thanks to two movies, Scarlett Johansson became the face of privileged celebrities taking roles that should have gone to actors from other communities. 

The first example was when she agreed to the lead role of the cybernetically enhanced Major Mira Killian in 2017's "Ghost in the Shell." The thing is, in the source material and the anime adaptations, the character's name was Motoko Kusanagi. By accepting the role of a traditionally Japanese character, Johansson joined the long and regretful tradition of Hollywood whitewashing. 

She courted controversy the following year when she agreed to play a transgender man in "Rub and Tug." After critics argued that the role should go to a transgender man, Johansson issued a brief statement to Bustle, saying that all complaints about her casting "can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment." (Tambor, Leto, and Huffman had all played trans characters and received acclaim for the roles.) Johansson later apologized for the statement and quit "Rub and Tug," but with the controversy coming so hard on the heels of "Ghost in the Shell," it may be a while before the resulting stink wears off.

Jared Leto took method acting too far

Jared Leto's method acting already became somewhat legendary after behind-the-scenes stories surfaced from the production of 2016's "Suicide Squad" — in which Leto played the Joker — including reports of the actor apparently sending a dead hog to the cast as a twisted present. 

But while the "Suicide Squad" stories were just weird, something a bit more objectionable happened on the set of the long-delayed "Morbius." In an April 2022 interview with Uproxx, "Morbius" director Daniel Espinosa confirmed that Leto pretended to be disabled — like his character — in between takes. He used a set of crutches to get himself to and from bathroom breaks, for example, until that took too long and it was decided crew members would bring him back and forth in a wheelchair. 

The story has done nothing to help Leto's reputation, which could use an assist. Along with drawing out accusations of ableism, the story prompted other actors to take indirect potshots at Leto. Though he didn't mention Leto by name, while promoting "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore," Mads Mikkelsen called Method acting "bulls—" and "pretentious" (via Variety). Not long after, Jon Bernthal voiced his opinion on method acting, saying he saw "no benefit" in taking it to extremes (per The Hollywood Reporter).

Noah Schnapp got in hot water over the Israel-Hamas war

Noah Schnapp shot to fame after landing the role of Will Byers on "Stranger Things." With the limelight squarely focused on the young actor, he quickly found himself embroiled in controversy on two separate occasions. The first came in 2019 when a video of Schnapp singing Chris Brown's verse of Lil Dicky's song "Freaky Friday" surfaced online. Schnapp sings the verse, which includes the N-word — though he said he didn't actually sing the word, substituting "neighbor" instead, it still upset many fans, resulting in the hashtag #NoahSchnappIsOverParty trending on social media. Schnapp apologized, and the whole thing blew over, but another controversy loomed on the horizon.

In 2023, Schnapp filmed people holding "Zionism is sexy" and "Hamas is ISIS" stickers amidst the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The war began with an attack on Israeli civilians and has since claimed tens of thousands of Palestinian lives and thousands of Hamas militants' lives as fighting continued in and around the Gaza Strip. Pro-Israel and pro-Zionism ideologies have been accused of promoting the continued colonization of Palestine and murder of Palestinians. In stepping in such a contentious issue, Schnapp faced cancel culture once more as many fans took to social media calling for a "Stranger Things" boycott. "Noah Schnapp should not be allowed to get away after wholeheartedly endorsing a genocide," X (formerly Twitter) user @isaifpatel tweeted. Schnapp apologized amid the fan outcry, posting a video on his TikTok in which he said, "I feel like my thoughts and beliefs have been so far misconstrued from anything even close to what I believe. ... I only want peace and safety and security for all innocent people affected by this conflict."

Armie Hammer might be a cannibal

Armie Hammer has been a fixture of big-budget Hollywood films for nearly 20 years, but controversy and poor box office performance derailed what initially seemed to be a promising career. Hammer's name popped up in the news in 2021 following accusations made by several women about abusive behavior, including allegations of sexual assault. While he denied the allegations, his career suffered, and his talent agency gave him the boot.

The allegations included sexual assault, emotional and physical abuse, and more. Messages sent by Hammer included his desire to cannibalize at least one woman. In a message sent to Courtney Vucekovich, Hammer allegedly wrote, "I am 100% a cannibal. I want to eat you" (via Telegraph). Hammer continued denying any wrongdoing, insisting his relations with Vucekovich and others were entirely consensual.

While the Los Angeles District Attorney investigated the allegations, focusing on a purported rape, no criminal charges were filed due to a lack of sufficient evidence. Despite avoiding charges, Hammer's reputation became seemingly irreparable, and various lost roles and other hindrances effectively ended his acting career in 2022, though he may one day return should opinions of Hammer change. His last role was playing Simon Doyle in "Death on the Nile."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Michael Richards launched into a racist rant on-stage

Michael Richards was a veteran character and comic actor when he found his way onto the set of "Seinfeld" to play Cosmo Kramer in 1989. That role made Richards a household name, and his on-screen antics endure to this day. Richards' success built on the show led to his return to stand-up comedy, which in turn led to his downfall via a performance at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles in 2006.

TMZ released a video of Richards' routine, which was interrupted by some hecklers. "Seinfeld" covered handling hecklers in several episodes, but it seems Richards forgot how it was handled on the show. Instead of ignoring the hecklers or directing some of his humor their way, he unleashed a racist tirade, dropping the N-word numerous times alongside various racist insults that don't bear repeating here.

The crowd didn't take Richards' tirade well, and many walked out of his set. When the video leaked, his career was all but over. Richards quickly apologized, saying, "I was at a comedy club trying to do my act, and I got heckled and I took it badly and went into a rage" (via The Guardian). While he was quick to apologize, Richards' career never recovered.

Chrissy Teigen bullied people online

Chrissy Teigen rose to fame through modeling, her work on various shows, and her cookbooks, but most people know her through her prolific social media presence. Followers enjoyed her humorous commentary but didn't know what Teigen was doing privately — specifically, what she was sending in her DMs. In 2021, Courtney Stodden, who identifies as non-binary, revealed that Teigen messaged them privately and that she had urged them to kill themselves.

Stodden revealed the messages, including one that read, "I can't wait for you to die" (via USA Today). Teigen's cyberbullying of Stodden came to light, and her career and reputation took an immediate hit. Teigen apologized publicly on X, formerly known as Twitter, but she never apologized directly to Stodden, even blocking them on the platform. Stodden wasn't the only celebrity to speak out against Teigen's actions.

Teigen posted a lengthy second apology on Medium, calling herself an internet troll who's learned from her past mistakes. The following day, fashion designer Michael Costello, reality TV star and writer Farrah Abraham, and others shared similar posts to Stodden's. Teigen's previous claims that she was a different person when she harassed Stodden unraveled as others alleged her cyberbullying continued. In response, major stores dropped Teigen's Cravings cookware line in 2020 and 2021. Ultimately, Teigen's brand, online presence, and popularity diminished significantly as a result of the controversy.

Charlie Sheen tanked his career in a storm of addiction and substance abuse

Charlie Sheen's life and career never shied away from controversy, and for years, he's jumped from one issue to another, including allegations of domestic violence and statutory rape. Throughout his career, Sheen's addictions caused problems on and off the set, and his name appeared in headlines for years. In 2003, Sheen took a leading role in "Two and a Half Men," and the show's popularity eventually made him the highest-paid TV actor in history in 2010.

Unfortunately, Sheen's addictions led to conflicts on set, and he had a very public falling out with series creator Chuck Lorre. The show took a brief hiatus to address Sheen's need for treatment, but the actor continued to call out Lorre, resulting in his firing. This cost Sheen $14 million in earnings and did a number on his already-damaged reputation.

Sheen embraced the controversy surrounding his actions and comments, claiming to be "a total fricking rock star from Mars" and other unusual things (via E! News). Eventually, Sheen entered into rehab to recover from his addictions and found sobriety. He even patched things up with Lorre, joining him in the production of the series "Bookie," which premiered in 2023.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jane Fonda became known as 'Hanoi Jane' during the Vietnam War

Jane Fonda began acting in 1960, and it didn't take long for her to build a career. Fonda's work enabled her activism, which spread out through the counterculture movement of the 1960s and continued through the '70s and to today. In 1972, Fonda took a trip that changed the course of her life and career. She visited Hanoi, Vietnam, in July 1972 to witness the ongoing military conflict for herself.

Fonda wasn't alone, nor was she the first (or last) American activist to visit North Vietnam. Her visit differed in that she allowed herself to be photographed sitting in the gunner seat of a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. The picture angered many Americans, earning Fonda the nickname "Hanoi Jane," which never went away. Fonda doesn't have many fans in the veteran community, and her visit had an appreciably negative impact on her career.

Fonda explained her position multiple times, stating she was exhausted and led to the seat after singing a song. She posted on her website, "I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed ... It is possible that it was a setup, that the Vietnamese had it all planned. I will never know."

Winona Ryder shoplifted in 2001

Throughout much of the 1980s and '90s, Winona Ryder was a Hollywood A-lister. She starred in numerous blockbusters, earning critical acclaim and Academy Award nominations. In 2001, when she was at the height of her game, Ryder walked into Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills and shoplifted $5,000 in designer clothing.

Ryder's actions resulted in public shame and an arrest, followed by a conviction for grand theft and vandalism, resulting in probation, community service, and restitution. Ryder's career took a further hit from her actions the following year when the critically panned and financially unsuccessful "Mr. Deeds" hit theaters. Between 2002 and 2005, Ryder took a break from acting, but it wasn't entirely her decision to do so.

Woody Allen hoped to cast her in "Melinda and Melinda" but couldn't get insurance to do so, as she was considered too big of a risk — he had the same problem with Robert Downey Jr. In 2006, Ryder ended her hiatus with "A Scanner Darkly" and "The Darwin Awards." In 2009, she played Amanda Grayson, Spock's human mother, in "Star Trek." Of course, it was her turn as Joyce Byers in "Stranger Things" in 2016 that put Ryder back on top.

Errol Flynn was accused of statutory rape

Errol Flynn isn't a name you hear often these days outside of folks talking about "The Adventures of Robin Hood" or "The Charge of the Light Brigade." While his movies haven't been particularly relevant since the 1940s, Flynn was once one of the biggest celebrities in the world. Flynn spent his career starring in swashbuckling movies, westerns, and more, but his time outside of filmmaking made him a social pariah.

In 1942, a 17-year-old and 15-year-old girl separately accused Flynn of statutory rape, and their accusations created a massive scandal. Flynn's fans rushed to his defense, starting organizations with the explicit purpose of protesting the allegations, bringing scrutiny down on the two girls, Betty Hansen and Peggy Satterlee. Ultimately, there was a trial, and Flynn's attorney went on the offensive, targeting the two girls' characters and morality.

Flynn earned an acquittal, but despite not being found guilty, the details of the allegations and the trial resulted in a massive loss of credibility as a romantic leading man. The trial significantly diminished Flynn's career, and while he continued to find work acting, his reputation became tainted, and he never regained the same level of star power and respectability he enjoyed throughout the 1930s and early '40s.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard had an ugly, high-profile trial

While Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have done things throughout their individual careers that warrant mention, together they dragged the rest of the world into their tumultuous relationship. The couple married in 2015, and Heard filed for divorce in 2016. After that, they began airing their dirty laundry for the world's consumption, and it wasn't pretty. 

Heard's allegations of domestic abuse on the part of Depp resulted in the 2022 Depp v. Heard trial over defamation allegations. Heard penned a 2018 op-ed in The Washington Post alleging sexual violence, and while she didn't name Depp, there was no confusion as to whom she meant. Depp brought his suit, and the televised trial revealed far more than anyone wanted to know.

On top of the abuse allegations, Depp claimed Heard left human feces in their bed as a prank, and Heard detailed her allegations of domestic violence. The trial marred both actors' reputations, though Depp came out on top, winning $10 million in compensatory and $5 million in punitive damages. Heard won $2 million in compensatory damages from Depp, and they settled after appeal. The whole thing was messy, and while both actors took a hit, Heard's reputation was significantly more damaged than Depp's. Depp had been dropped from his "Fantastic Beasts" role over the trial and had been making international films for several years by that point, while Heard's screen time in her only major release of the time, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," amounted to under 20 minutes and a handful of lines.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Shia LaBeouf had a decade of bad behavior and arrests

Shia LaBeouf started as a child actor, and his work opened doors to multiple franchises. He landed a leading role in the "Transformers" films and appeared in several high-profile movies. Through it all, LaBeouf courted all kinds of controversies related to multiple arrests, addictions, and odd behavior. His legal troubles began in 2007, following an arrest for criminal trespassing at a Walgreen's he refused to leave.

LaBeouf famously wore a paper bag over his head while attending the 2014 premiere of "Nymphomaniac, Volume I." The bag read, "I am not famous anymore," which he'd previously used on his X (formerly Twitter) account. That year, the actor disrupted a performance of "Cabaret," leading to another arrest related to his behavior while intoxicated. The following year, LaBeouf made a 30-minute video titled "#INTRODUCTIONS," which made him an indelible meme online.

Still, LaBeouf's most controversial act came in 2017, when police arrested him on charges of intoxication, obstruction, and disorderly conduct. This resulted in a racist tirade recorded on a bodycam. In 2020, singer FKS twigs filed a lawsuit against him, claiming physical and emotional abuse, which capped off more than a decade of arrests, public intoxication, and bad behavior.

O.J. Simpson went on trial for murder

O.J. Simpson's football career made him a star, and he followed it with acting. He's probably best known for his acting work in "The Naked Gun" franchise, but these days, he's best known for his 1995 trial in which he was charged with first-degree murder for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Someone brutally murdered them outside Brown's Los Angeles condo, and all evidence pointed to Simpson.

The Simpson trial was televised and is one of the most-watched trials in American history. It ran from January to October 1995 and ended with Simpson's acquittal. The trial divided the nation, as people formed their own opinions, but at the end of it all, Simpson walked free, but he never reclaimed his acting career. Soon after the trial, the Goldman and Brown families hit Simpson with a civil lawsuit.

That trial found Simpson responsible for the deaths and awarded $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the decedents' families. Years later, Simpson, whose reputation never recovered, led several men who robbed a man at gunpoint. Simpson was tried, convicted, and given a 33-year sentence — he earned his parole in 2021.

Lindsay Lohan went to rehab and jail

Lindsay Lohan had a meteoric rise to fame as a child star, but her transition into adulthood became mired in controversy, arrests, addictions, and bad professional behavior. Lohan's problems with the law began in 2007 when she entered into her first stint at rehab. She returned twice that year and ran afoul of the law, pleading guilty to cocaine use and driving while intoxicated, serving only 84 minutes of her sentence.

Lohan's problems continued for several years, and while her addictions landed her in trouble, so too did her lack of professionalism on set. Her hard-partying lifestyle got in the way of doing her job, and Lohan's work suffered. She turned in several underwhelming performances in critical disasters, which went on for years before Lohan found sobriety and temporarily stepped away from acting to focus on her personal life.

While her history of addiction and arrests marred what might otherwise have been a robust career, perhaps Lohan's greatest controversy is how she handled the #MeToo movement. Lohan spoke out in defense of Harvey Weinstein and called out women for speaking out, saying it made them look weak. Lohan's multiple controversies typically dominate discussions of her work, ensuring her fans never forget her complicated history.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Stacey Dash beefed with Black History Month and lost

Stacey Dash found fame via her role in 1995's "Clueless," and she built a career appearing in various films and television series. In 2014, Dash took a job with Fox News as a contributor, and her time on the network returned her to the limelight — but not in a favorable way. On December 7, 2015, Dash appeared on "Outnumbered," where she spoke about President Barack Obama's recent speech about terrorism, saying he doesn't "give a s***" about terrorism (via CNN).

That was only the beginning of Dash's controversial statements on or supporting the network. Fox suspended her for two weeks but kept her on contract. The following year, Dash made statements about Black Entertainment Television, saying the network lied to Black people about institutional racism in America. Her comments landed Dash in hot water again, but she doubled down.

Dash also argued for abolishing Black History Month, which upset many, and she reiterated this desire at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony. She also decried Jesse Williams' speech at the BET Awards, calling him "the perfect example of a Hollywood plantation slave" (via People). Dash talked herself out of a job, as Fox chose not to renew her contract, effectively firing the actor for her remarks.

Hugh Grant hit a scandal in 1995

Hugh Grant rocketed to superstardom through the 1990s as the preeminent rom-com actor, appearing in many popular movies. Grant's charming nature made him a Hollywood superstar, and he was pretty much everywhere throughout the '90s and 2000s. While he hasn't stopped acting and has, in the later stages of his career, appeared in films like "Paddington 2" and series like "A Very English Scandal" to critical acclaim, his career took a significant hit due to a public indiscretion in 1995.

Grant found himself in handcuffs in Los Angeles after police busted him while he engaged in a sexual act with a prostitute, Divine Brown, in a car. The cops caught Grant red-handed, and there was little he could do to get out of the mess he was in, so he pled no contest, paid a fine of $1,180, underwent an AIDS education program, and served two years of summary probation.

The arrest occurred shortly before the release of "Nine Months," which he couldn't promote properly. His indiscretion became tabloid fodder, and while he overcame it through his honest admission and regret over what happened, Grant's reputation never returned to his pre-arrest status. Regardless, Grant continued to make movies and moved on from the incident, even if some of his fans didn't.