As a society, we’ve become used to seeing certain celebrities behaving insanely on a regular basis. To use possibly the most obvious example, take Miley Cyrus: once an endearing Disney-brand child star grown up into a Disney-brand young adult, her foray into the world of revealing outfits, tongues and twerking was a complete turnaround from her original image. Now, however, there’s nothing unusual about it at all, and people would in fact be far more disconcerted if she were to suddenly revert to her original long-haired country singing ways. Another example of a child star gone mad is Shia LaBeouf, another Disney product who lost the run of himself; possibly his most infamous statement was his sporting a paper bag on his head, which read “I’m not famous anymore”, while on the red carpet.
LaBeouf and Cyrus are people we’ve come to expect this sort of vaguely insane behaviour from. What’s really unusual are celebrities generally seen as mild-mannered, competent in their field, unobjectionable or just downright nice behaving in a completely different way to the norm. This article compiles a selection of such celebrities, and recalls times they publicly displayed a complete break from their usual behaviour. These performances occured onstage, behind the scenes or simply in day-to-day life, and range from amusing to devastating.
5. Amanda Bynes
We now know Bynes as the very publicly dysfunctional actress suffering through episodes of self-destructive behaviour, but for years she was known as a cute and innocent Disney star.
Over the last couple of years, Amanda Bynes shocked the world by going from a seemingly well-adjusted and normal actress in Hollywood to being known for extreme meltdowns, recently revealed to be the result of severe mental health issues. In early 2013 Bynes’ difficulties became obvious to the public when she posted half-naked pictures of herself on Twitter. Around this time she also shaved her head, suffered from an eating disorder and worried those around her with references to suicide. A few months later she tweeted insults at a host of celebrities, including Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, and made crude attempts to seduce singer Drake via the same medium. Shortly after this, she was involuntarily sectioned by her parents for a number of months. 2014 looked to be a better year for Bynes: in January she enrolled in college to study fashion, and seemed to be making a good recovery. However, just this month she was arrested for driving while on drugs, and took to Twitter to claim that her father sexually abused her. She later retracted this statement, saying that ‘a microchip in her head’ made her say it, but also saying that her father was the one who put the microchip in. She is once again in a psychiatric unit as her parents seek conservatorship of the star.
4. Kanye West
While performing as the main act at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, London, in July of 2014, Kanye West had a catastrophic meltdown. Although famed for his erratic and strange performances, his Wireless appearance took it to a whole new level. Dressed as a physical manifestation of the strangeness to come — in a three piece white and blue tie dye ensemble, with a silver chain-mail mask covering his face — Kanye at first took the crowd by storm, performing his best-known songs to great acclaim.
The trouble came after he performed his hit song “Runaway”, at which point he launched into an unprecedented fifteen minute rant about being discriminated against and the corruption of advertisers. In a soul-bearing soliloquy he told the crowd that certain brands he had previously designed for would no longer let him design any more products for them, because of their concern that he would embarrass himself. He had clearly taken this to heart, despairing that his creative urges were being stifled and even going so far as to say “I’m not going to mention any names… but Nike, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Don’t discriminate against me ‘cos I’m a black man making music.” Strangely enough this didn’t go down too well with his audience, who were standing in the rain to hear him play, and Kanye was booed until he resumed his set.
3. Jennifer Aniston
This wholesome actress, probably best known for her starring role as Rachel Green on sitcom Friends, is widely known for her vanilla roles and matching behaviour, and is pitied as the losing party in the Aniston-Pitt-Jolie love triangle. Given this perception, it was an incredibly out-of-character display that showed Aniston throw a chair at the director of a movie she was working on.
In her defense, it wasn’t so much a display of diva-ish behaviour as a case of Aniston standing up for the underdog; the director in question, whose identity has been kept under wraps, was apparently treating a script supervisor badly. Aniston has said of the outburst that “it wasn’t [her] proudest moment”, and recalls that “when the director walked in, I threw a chair at him.” Happily for her she missed, but went on an angry tirade to supplement the throw, saying that she couldn’t tolerate people speaking to others in such a way.
2. George Clooney
Renowned actor George Clooney is another celebrity, like Aniston, of whom we’d never suspect any sort of angry outburst. However, directors clearly bring out the worst in both of them: Clooney challenged public perception in a shocking out-of-character performance during which he beat up a director.
Clooney worked with director David O. Russell, director of hit movie The Silver Linings Playbook, in 1999 while filming Three Kings. Russell, who is now notorious for being terrifying on set, angered Clooney during shooting due to his rough manhandling of various actors. Clooney got so incensed that he took a stand, telling Russell “you can’t shove, push, or humiliate people”. Ironically enough Clooney neglected to take his own advice, and the two got into a fight and ended up trying to choke one another. Clooney now describes the incident as the worst experience of his life, but the usually placid actor still remained bitter after the altercation, telling Premiere magazine five years later that if he saw Russell again he would “sock [him] in the f***ing mouth.”
1. Lana del Rey
The enigmatic Lana del Rey is known for the poise, mystery and allure that shrouds her wherever she goes. She is generally perceived as aloof and ethereal, and seems to always put on fantastic live shows to a positive public reception. However, during an earlier performance in her career, her 2012 appearance on TV show Saturday Night Live cast no such spell on the viewers.
In a very out-of-character performance, del Rey appeared detached and on edge during her stint on the show, and was cruelly deemed as seeming “like […] a 12-year-old in their bedroom when they’re pretending to sing and perform”, among other things. The star was slammed for her “shaky” vocals, which critics took all the more pleasure in due to her defending herself as a singer pre-show: she told MTV News “I’m a good musician […] I have been singing for a long time, and I think that [SNL creator] Lorne [Michaels] knows that.” A private email meant for the founder of gawker.com, which ended up on the site itself, billed her performance as “one of the worst ‘outings’ in SNL history.”