Actors who make it big on television and go on to become stars on hit shows will generally have it pretty easy. If they manage to land a role on a successful program, they can set themselves up for life, ensuring that they will have a long career. It also gives them plenty of financial security, as leading TV stars can earn astronomical figures for working on a popular show. Wages can range from tens of thousands of dollars per episode to hundreds of thousands. Some particularly lucky actors will be able to earn in excess of a million dollars for every episode they appear in, making it seem all the stranger that stars can go ahead and throw it all away.
Yet, it’s something that happens on a fairly regular basis. Actors are just like ordinary people, facing many of the same everyday problems and issues that plague everybody. So it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to learn that they can make bad decisions and suffer unintended consequences just like the rest of us. Of course, it is made worse by the fact that television actors are big personalities and are constantly in the public eye. This makes their meltdowns all the more disastrous as they are broadcast to millions of people around the world.
It’s not uncommon to turn on the news and find that another high profile star has had a meltdown, whether it is because of an argument with the people they are working with, or due to other personal issues. Whatever the case, these breakdowns can often be catastrophic for their careers. They might well end up sacked for their erratic actions and find it hard to break back into the industry, as producers and studios refuse to work with people burdened with such baggage. This article looks at 10 such stars whose meltdowns led to them losing their jobs unceremoniously
10. Richard Bacon
Richard Bacon got his big break on television when he became part of the presenting team on the long running British children’s television show, Blue Peter. However, the now 39-year-old lasted just 18 months before he let fame go to his head and was photographed taking cocaine on a night out. This was something that the BBC could not tolerate from one of its children’s presenters and his contract was terminated with immediate effect.
Luckily for Bacon, his career was not hindered too much by the controversy, as he was able to move on from the incident and continue to get work on both television and radio. He has since spoken about his regret for taking drugs but that getting caught was the best possible outcome, as it allowed him to straighten his life out.
9. Shannen Doherty
Shannen Doherty has one of the worst reputations of anyone who has worked in television, thanks to a terrible attitude that meant she was incredibly difficult to work with. Although she managed to last four seasons on Beverly Hills 90210, she was constantly in conflict with her co-stars and crew. This meant that those who worked with her eventually began to dislike working with her intensely, to the point that co-stars would ask for less scenes with her so that they wouldn’t have to be around her as much. She was let go from the show after a culmination of screaming at her co-stars, incredible demands that included refusing to be driven around in anything but a limo and the constant bickering.
8. Angus T. Jones
The Texas born Angus T. Jones was a fixture of the Two and a Half Men cast from the very beginning, and stayed on even after the Charlie Sheen incident. Earning almost $300,000 per episode when he hit 17, everything seemed to be going smoothly for his career. That is until November 2012, when Jones came out with a host of negative remarks about the show that had set him up for life and kick-started his career. While it’s fine to hold religious views that prevent you from doing certain work, Jones seemed to have a complete breakdown and labelled the show filth and that he had been a paid hypocrite for taking part in it. He was downgraded from a regular cast member soon after, before being let go entirely. Although, luckily this didn’t stop him from appearing in the final episode of the series in 2015.
7. Brett Butler
Grace Under Fire went through a period of lowering ratings and had something of a reputation for its difficult off-screen environment. The major influence behind this was the star of the show, Brett Butler. Over the course of the first three seasons, she was involved in a number of unsavory incidents and contributed to a difficult working relationship between the cast and crew. One was the apparent flashing of her breasts to 12-year-old Jon Paul Steuer, but she went through a wide range of strange behavior issues, leading to several members of the show leaving or being withdrawn from it. Butler became even more erratic from the third series on, making extreme demands of the studio, arguing with her co-stars and battling an addiction to painkillers. She was let go by ABC when they cancelled Grace Under Fire in 1998, largely as a result of Butler herself.
6. Mackenzie Phillips
The 1975 show One Day at a Time, launched the career of Mackenzie Phillips following her role in American Graffiti, raising her reputation as one of the leading child stars in the US. Like many child stars before her though, the fame and intense scrutiny proved too much for her and she soon lost her way. Phillips began taking drugs at the age of just 11, and this habit led to her downfall. By 1977, she was already acting erratically on set, turning up late for recordings and was often unable to take part in shooting due to her being intoxicated. She was eventually arrested and forced to seek treatment. This didn’t help her situation though, and her drug habit continued until she was fired in 1980. Eventually she was allowed to return to the show but she once again, began abusing drugs and so was again sacked, never returning to One Day at a Time.
5. Damon Wayans
Damon Wayans joined the cast of Saturday Night Live as a relatively unknown after the eleventh season of the comedy sketch show. Hired by Lorne Michaels, Wayans became increasingly frustrated over his time on set because of the negative reception the show was getting with its new cast and due to the fact that he believed Michaels was not using any of his own sketch ideas. It all culminated in an on-screen protest when Wayans played a character in a sketch called “Mr. Monopoly”, as flamboyant and highly effeminate, in contrast to the straight cop role he was meant to play. The anger fueled breakdown resulted in Wayans being sacked mid-episode by Michaels. Luckily, this didn’t stop the comedian from going on to be a successful entertainer, going on to have successful roles in shows like In Living Color and My Wife and Kids.
4. John Amos
John Amos starred in the 1970s sitcom Good Times, which was a spinoff of the popular show Maude, but only lasted less than two years before he was unceremoniously fired. Following a shift in the focus of the sitcom and concerns about the scripts and storylines becoming lazy, Amos entered contract negotiations seeking a pay rise with a threat to quit the show if his demands were not met. Although he did receive higher wages, he remained disgruntled and producers deemed him a disruptive influence on the set. When the star later made disparaging comments in an interview about Good Times, he was fired by phone.
3. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen’s troubled but successful career has seen the comedy actor face a number of controversies. Arguably his biggest came in 2011, when Sheen had to enter a rehab program at his own home due his substance abuse, putting the hit sitcom Two and a Half Men on hiatus mid-season. However, the rest of that season’s episodes were later cancelled following public comments that were derogatory about both the show and its creator Chuck Lorre, that culminated in Sheen being banned from the production lot by Warner Bros. Sheen was later fired after demanding a disproportionate pay rise. This then led to a very public meltdown, with the star making bizarre comments in interviews and acting incredibly strangely.
2. Isaiah Washington
After being part of the key cast for Grey’s Anatomy for three seasons, Isaiah Washington had something of a change in fortune thanks to his behavior during production. It was alleged that Washington had been unruly on the set and had had an altercation with co-star Patrick Dempsey, with some suggesting he may even have assaulted Dempsey, while he later went on to insult his gay co-star, T.R. Knight. Referencing his homosexuality, Washington used a homophobic slur against Knight and was forced to enter counselling by the show’s producers. However, after he made disparaging comments in a public interview, he was sacked from the show when the studio refused to renew his contract.
1. Columbus Short
Columbus Short, who played the character Harrison Wright on the drama Scandal, was fired from the show in 2014. He had been a part of the cast for three seasons before issues in his private life were revealed. The actor had apparently assaulted his wife by putting a knife to her throat and threatened to kill both her and himself. He also faced other allegations of domestic violence and possible child abuse, leading to his then-wife getting a restraining order against him. This left producers with no option but to fire the actor following his very public breakdown.
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