Back in the 1950s and 60s, the paparazzi were a welcome group of photographers in Hollywood. Stars like Frank Sinatra would let them know where they’d be ahead of time and would show up, happily pose for photos and then be on their way. There were no high speed car chases or stalking involved, and both parties respected the other for their craft. Nowadays, that notion of mutual collaboration has gone completely out the window.
While celebrities know that the public’s obsession with them is a price tag they have to pay for fame, there’s been outrage about the paparazzi’s tactics in the Hollywood community over the past two decades as incidents have happened with more frequency. There’s a massive demand for photos of celebrities doing even menial things like grocery shopping and becoming a paparazzo is a quick path to a huge pay-off. It isn’t unheard of for photos to go for hundreds of thousands of dollars and these photographers will stop at nothing to get their shot. From trespassing to assault and even death, we’ve compiled a list below of the ten times that paparazzi have crossed the line.
10. Tori Spelling – 2011
Tori Spelling’s run-in with the paparazzi is a textbook case of photographers taking it too far. In order to get their shot, paparazzi often have to chase celebrities’ vehicles and tail them to find out where they’re going. It’s one thing for stars to be photographed at events, but in Spelling’s case in 2011 – the paparazzi took it too far. She was picking up her kids from school when they began chasing her, causing her to drive straight into a wall of her children’s school and crash her car. There’s a time and place to take photos of celebs, but while they’re picking up their kids isn’t one of them.
9. Nicole Kidman – 2013
During New York Fashion Week in September of 2013, Nicole Kidman was entering an upscale hotel when a paparazzo named Carl Wu slammed into her on his bike at 20 miles per hour. He had been pursuing the actress’ car in an attempt to get valuable photos of her. When she emerged from the vehicle, Wu’s brakes failed and he lost control of the bike, knocking the actress off her feet. The paparazzo ended up paying a visit to the local police station and Nicole Kidman pressed charges against him.
8. Ryan Reynolds – 2015
Earlier this year, Ryan Reynolds was in Vancouver to film the movie Deadpool. Between February 28th and April 11th, he was stalked by a paparazzo named Richard Fedyck. The two ended up running into each other in a gated parking garage, where an argument ensued and ended with Fedyck hitting Reynolds with his car then speeding off. The actor suffered significant back and knee pain and has since filed a restraining order which prevents the paparazzo from coming anywhere near him or taking his photo.
7. Reese Witherspoon – 2005
In 2005, Reese Witherspoon was having a birthday outing for her six-year-old daughter at a Disney theme park when a paparazzo named Todd Wallace approached the actress to try to get a photo. Because there were several children around, Wallace shoved his way through them in order to try to get his shot – hitting a five-year-old boy across the face with his camera. He then began to push and shove Reese Witherspoon’s friends and swear loudly in front of the kids. Wallace was subsequently arrested on six charges of battery.
6. Lindsay Lohan – 2005
While Lindsay Lohan is no stranger to controversy, an incident with a paparazzo in 2005 is probably the first and only of her legal woes that can be blamed on somebody else. After a high-speed rush hour pursuit, the photographer purposely crashed his car into the actress’ Mercedes in an attempt to get a photo of her. Lohan was making a U-turn at the time and the photographer intentionally drove straight into the driver’s side of her vehicle. Prior to the crash, the actress had called the police to say that she was being chased. The paparazzo had an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a narcotics charge and was later released on $35,000 bail.
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger – 1998
In 1998, a judge in California found two photographers guilty for falsely imprisoning Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife. The two paparazzi boxed the actor’s car in with two of their own cars and would not let him leave for an extended period of time. Schwarzenegger felt as though they were about to be kidnapped and the two photographers took photo after photo of the couple as they were trapped. The actor had just underwent heart surgery a week prior and his wife was pregnant, so the U.S. court seem to have come down particularly hard on the culprits to set an example for the rest of Hollywood.
4. Jennifer Aniston – 1999
In 1999, actress Jennifer Aniston was minding her own business and sunbathing topless in her backyard when a slimy paparazzo made his way into her neighbor’s yard by scaling an eight foot wall and took long-range photos of her through a high powered special lens. The pictures were then published in several magazines, prompting Aniston to sue the photographer. While the star made off with a half million dollar out of court settlement, she’ll always have to live with knowing that there are photos of her in only her underwear floating around in the world. Invasive to say the least.
3. Sean Penn – 1986
In 1986, actor Sean Penn returned to his hotel room in Macau, China after a long day of filming for the movie Shanghai Surprise. As he walked into the room, a man lunged at him and Penn and his assistant grabbed him – suspecting that he was a burglar. They dangled him by his ankles from a ninth floor balcony before realizing that he was paparazzi. The two men were arrested on attempted murder charges but later ended up breaking free from their jail cell (true story!) and fleeing to Hong Kong, where they were later pardoned.
2. Justin Bieber – 2013
In 2013, a paparazzo named Chris Guerra was killed while trying to take a photo of what he thought was Justin Bieber’s white Ferrari which had been pulled over for a routine traffic stop on New Year’s Day in LA. While trying to get his shot, Guerra was struck by another car which sped off in a hit and run. The Ferrari in question didn’t even belong to Justin Bieber and Chris Guerra had put his life at risk for the opportunity to get a valuable photo of the singer. Ultimately and sadly, he was killed for his reckless actions.
1. Princess Diana – 1997
Perhaps the most infamous instance of the paparazzi going too far is Princess Diana’s death in 1997. After having sent out a decoy vehicle ahead of them in an attempt to evade the paparazzi, Princess Diana was being driven across Paris with her then boyfriend Dodi Fayed when a group of photographers realized which car she was in. A high speed car chase ensued, with seven paparazzi tailing the Princess’ car. At the entrance to a tunnel, her driver lost control of the vehicle and collided head on with a cement pillar at 105 km/h. Diana’s boyfriend and her driver were killed while a personal protection team member survived. The Princess later died at the hospital from her wounds and the photographers who had been pursuing the car were arrested at the scene. The incident is still considered the worst paparazzi incident of all time, even though the driver of Diana’s car was intoxicated at the time of the crash.