Whether your life is on display for the entire world to comment on, or you’re just a “regular” person experiencing the various phases of life, it’s safe to say that you’ve done something (or a few things) that you’re probably not proud of. Hey, it’s a part of growing up. However, some people seem to stay in one stage of “growth” for way too long, which can lead to their destruction.
We’ve all heard the stories of the promising young actors or musicians whose life was cut short after being introduced to drugs, alcohol and a detrimental lifestyle. There are also stories of celebrities who were living pretty risky lifestyles, until they decided to make some changes. These celebs are now almost as well known for their new lives as they are for their professional work. Deciding to get sober after years of substance abuse, or deciding to settle down and start a family after being known as a serial dater, has done some of Hollywood’s most well-known figures a world of good. Their decisions have likely saved their lives. Here are 10 celebs who used to be train wrecks, but have since cleaned up their acts.
10. Todd Bridges
You may remember Todd Bridges from the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, which was popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even though Gary Coleman was the star of the show, Bridges caught the eye of the public as well with his precocious talent. In the 1980s, perhaps blinded by the fact that he had so much money from acting, Bridges started using crack cocaine heavily. His addiction got so bad that he was arrested for attempting to murder a drug dealer. Todd fell on hard financial times, and to make money, he rented out rooms in his home. Unfortunately, there were times when he had to defend himself against these tenants, and even ended up stabbing a few of them. Eventually, Bridges decided to get his act together and got a role on Everybody Hates Chris. He also appears on Tru TV and is a motivational speaker for teens.
9. Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. She was just as known for her marriages as she was for her acting career. Producers who worked with Taylor dubbed her a “brat,” and Elizabeth’s entitled behavior gave her a very misguided view of what it really meant to be an adult. Her marriage to Richard Burton was riddled with affairs, and the pair fell in and out of love again several times, much to the public’s entertainment. As Taylor grew older, she started to “calm down” more. Many famous people, including Michael Jackson, counted her as a caring friend. She even donated millions to the elimination of AIDS.
8. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie is the daughter of Jon Voight, who is still known in Hollywood for his acting talent. Unfortunately, the two had a very strained relationship when Angelina was growing up, and she turned into a rich, wild child. Many people remember when she shared a pretty passionate kiss with her brother when he was her date to the Academy Awards (gross). She was also married to actor Billy Bob Thornton at one point, and the two were pretty candid about their strange sex life. Jolie also stated that she liked playing with knives in the bedroom and wore a vile of blood around her neck. Then, she got into a relationship with Brad Pitt, after allegedly stealing him from Jennifer Aniston. However, her behavior calmed down substantially when she started a family, consisting of both biological and adopted children. Jolie still has an edge, but she’s definitely more of a family woman now and works for the good of children around the world.
7. Britney Spears
Spears has been the reigning Princess of Pop since 1999, when she released her debut single …Baby One More Time. Britney Spears started to express the overwhelming pressure she felt as a result of being in the spotlight when she started to sing songs like Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman, but her fans and family didn’t seem to get the message. After a wild night in Vegas, she discovered that she’d married a friend while they were both intoxicated, and the marriage was quickly annulled. She also had a serious relationship with Justin Timberlake (to which she lost her virginity), but she was unfaithful to him, which led him to pen songs like Cry Me A River. Then there were those times she got out of a car with no underwear on, and videotaped herself shaving her head. Spears has since overcome her substance abuse issues, has two children with ex-husband Kevin Federline, and is currently headlining in Vegas.
6. Robert Downey, Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr. was just 6 years old when he started acting. Unfortunately, he started experimenting with drugs around this age, as well. In the 1990s, when he was making a name for himself as an established actor, he was also in the news for his addictions to heroin and cocaine. He was also known for carrying a gun, which got him into considerable trouble. Robert Downey, Jr. also spent time in correctional facilities between some of his acting roles. In 2003, Mel Gibson cast Downey, Jr. in The Singing Detective. However, Gibson underwrote the insurance policy for the film because Downey Jr. was such a huge risk. Two years later, Robert starred in Iron Man, which restarted his acting career and caused producers to take him seriously. 2005 was also the year he married wife Susan Levin, which helped him to become more grounded.
5. Kanye West
There’s no denying that Kanye West is a talented musician and producer. However, he also has a tendency to say some pretty…interesting things. West also has a lot to learn when it comes to basic manners (remember when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech?). Kanye West is also known for letting people know how much of a genius he is, and for attacking paparazzi. The death of West’s mother in 2007 also contributed to some of his erratic behavior. However, when he started dating one of the most famous women in the world, Kim Kardashian, he surprisingly started to calm down. West has handled the media circus pretty well, aside from a few crazy comments here and there. Perhaps the birth of his daughter North, helped to soften him and get him to think straight. West and Kardashian are now married, and are expecting a son soon.
4. Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart is heralded as the queen of all things domestic in many eyes. However, she’s engaged in her share of train wreck behavior as well. Stewart made some insider stock trades that should have torn her multi-million dollar empire apart. Because of these financial choices, she was removed from the board of her own company when she was 62. Martha Stewart was sentenced to prison in 2004, for obstruction of justice and securities fraud. Her reputation was considerably tarnished, and people were hesitant to buy Martha Stewart Home products. After some work from a stellar PR team, she is now the head of her own brand again. Her cooking and baking tutorials can be seen on some public television show channels.
3. Michael Jackson
The King of Pop definitely had more than his share of train wreck moments in his career. He rose to fame with his brothers as part of The Jackson 5, and his talent soon made him the breakout star of the group. As he grew, Jackson, who suffered from vitiligo and a host of self-esteem issues from his troubled childhood, became stranger and stranger. He build the Neverland ranch at his home, and was accused of abusing children who spent the night at his house. When he had children of his own, he covered their faces with masks and blankets, and was even photographed holding one of them over a balcony. Unfortunately, as Michael Jackson was in the process of getting his life and career back on track, he passed away from a medication overdose. A number of his close friends confirmed that he loved his children very much, and despite his mistakes in life, he was a caring and loving man. After his death, his music sales went through the roof and the selling of his estate helped to secure the financial future of his children.
2. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen’s mental breakdown was front page news for quite some time in 2012. During his stint in rehab, CBS cancelled the final four episodes of the sitcom Two And a Half Men (of which Sheen was the star). Charlie started making some pretty cruel remarks about Chuck Lorre, the show’s creator. Charlie Sheen went in the Guinness Book of World Records as the actor who made the most money per episode at $1.8 million, but that wasn’t enough to keep him from throwing a tantrum. Then there was that 20/20 interview in which Sheen exclaimed that he had “tiger blood” in his veins and was “bi-winning” at life. Sheen also went on a Torpedo of Truth tour, which featured his two live-in girlfriends whom he referred to as Goddesses. By the time the tour was over, the father of four had no girlfriends—and no money. Sheen has since appeared on Dr. Oz to talk about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, and started to get back in Hollywood’s good graces as the star of the FX show Anger Management.
1. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore is perhaps the most notable celebrity turnaround story of all time. Barrymore has been in the business all her life, and comes from a family of actors and producers. When she was just 14, she had enough material to write a memoir about her experiences with partying and drug abuse. Even though Barrymore starred on the charming family move E.T. when she was a kid, her life was far from carefree. Drew Barrymore also had a string of failed relationships in her 20s, including a marriage to comedian (and fellow celebrity train wreck) Tom Green. Drew now has a production company and cosmetics line, and earns up to $12 million per film. She is married with two children and is a UN ambassador against hunger.