It’s all too easy to only see the good side of our favourite celebrities. We want to admire their red carpet looks, watch their latest films or hear their latest albums, and perhaps take an interest in their love lives. We want the women to be gorgeous, the men ruggedly handsome, and the gossip as scandalous as possible. But in all of this, we tend to forget that our favourite stars sometimes have dark secrets – not all of them in the past.
The 15 celebrities on this list have all broken the law, and been caught, leaving them with a criminal record. You may have heard about some of them, and some of them you would never have known about. But behind the whitened Hollywood smiles of these stars lurks an ugly truth they would rather you did not know about.
Read on to find out which of our beloved idols are actually not deserving of the pedestal they have been placed upon, and are in fact more worthy of a few more nights in jail. From reality TV queens through to singing superstars and A-list royalty, some of them may seriously shock you with the misdeeds of their (sometimes not-so-distant) past.
15 Will Smith
Will Smith is probably one of the last people you would expect to have a criminal record – and even if he did, you’d think it would be for something cool, like getting arresting for protesting equal rights. Actually, his arrest record shows something far more serious. Back in 1989, he was involved in an assault which left one man nearly blind, and he was charged shortly after. The charges included aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and criminal conspiracy. They were dismissed later, though in Hollywood, that’s not always a sign that he didn’t actually do anything wrong.
14 Khloe Kardashian
We can only hope that those who consider Khloe to be a fashion icon don’t follow in her footsteps when it comes to drinking and driving. She was arrested in 2007 and found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol, after which she was sentenced to three years of probation. However, she broke those terms and went to jail for what was supposed to be 30 days – but turned into just three thanks to "overcrowding." It seems that being rich, famous, and on TV really can get you out of anything. While she may be trying to put that episode in the past, fans shouldn’t be so quick to forget.
13 Matthew Broderick
Here’s why Khloe should take safe driving seriously: it doesn’t always end with just a slap on the wrist. Broderick was driving in 1987 in Northern Ireland when he crossed into the wrong lane of the road, colliding head-on with another vehicle coming the other way. The driver and passenger of the other car were killed instantly. He was convicted of careless driving (taken down from death by dangerous driving) and charged just $175 as a fine. Understandably, the families of the victims were distressed by what they saw as a “travesty of justice.” Broderick remained rich, famous, and free.
12 Mark Wahlberg
Marky Mark might seem harmless enough with his comedy roles, but actually he has a very serious past. It’s easy to forget this one because it seems odd that such an ugly secret could be attached to a big Hollywood star. He was charged with attempted murder when he attacked two Vietnamese men in a racist onslaught, blinding one of them in one eye when he was 16. He pled guilty to assault, was given two years in prison, and served a meagre 45 days. Having a successful career seems unfair to his victims and to the concept of justice.
11 Stephanie Pratt
She’s known for appearing on The Hills, but before that, she was arrested in 2006 at age 20. She and a friend had shoplifted more than $1,300 worth of clothing, and worse than that, drugs were found when their bags were searched. Stephanie was charged with promoting a dangerous drug and a harmful drug. Dangerous drugs, by the way, are classed as morphine and heroin, for example. While we don’t know exactly what she was caught with, it seems clear that she has a dark streak to her pre-fame life. That she escaped true punishment and ended up on TV is, by this point of the list, not really a surprise anymore.
10 Tim Allen
Here’s another celebrity who has been caught messing around with drugs. In 1978, aged 25, he was found with more than 650 grams of cocaine. The good news is that this time he did actually face punishment for possession of a highly illegal drug - he served two and a half years in prison. Allen didn’t stop breaking the law there, however, as he was also arrested in 1997 when he was caught driving under the influence of alcohol. He was given a year’s probation at the time and forced to enter rehab. At least he didn’t repeat his mistake by breaking the terms of his probation after that point.
9 50 Cent
It’s quite possible to imagine that most rappers are simply putting on an image for the publicity, but when 50 Cent raps about drugs, women, and fighting, he’s speaking from experience. At age 19 in 1994, he was sentenced to a boot camp prison, where he spent six months. The charge? Selling heroin and crack cocaine, to which he pled guilty. He was later sentenced to two years’ probation in 2002 after he was found guilty of assault and battery. It’s also a reasonably well-known fact that he survived being shot multiple times early in his life, prior to his music career taking off.
8 Cheryl Cole
Whatever her surname might be these days, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that she used to be Cheryl Tweedy, a rough Geordie lass who happened to be able to sing. But her background shone through in the very early days of her career, when she was arrested after getting into a fight in a nightclub. Apparently she made a racist attack on a bathroom attendant, although the racist part was later dropped, leaving her convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Her sentence? 120 hours of community service. Looking at her “perfect,” image it’s hard to believe that underneath it all is little more than a violent thug.
7 Bill Gates
Bill Gates probably doesn’t strike you as much of a troublemaker. He’s more the type of guy to donate tons of money to charity and carry out a benign, well-meaning practical joke. Well, he wasn’t always so law-abiding. Back in 1975 he was caught speeding and then ended up getting arrested for driving without a license. Of course, that straightened him right up, didn’t it? Not exactly. In 1977 he failed to stop at a stop sign, so he was arrested… for that, and for driving without a license. Presumably, at some point he actually managed to pass that test.
6 Jay Z
Another rapper who is deserving of his on-stage persona is Jay Z. Strangely, given his more mainstream position in the music industry, you’d think that he of all rappers would be the one with the clean rap sheet. But it’s not the case. Actually, he once stabbed a record executive in the stomach in a nightclub. We’ll allow that sentence to sink in for a second. Amazingly, stabbing someone apparently wasn’t enough to get you put in jail back in 1999. Instead, he was given three years of probation. It’s a little terrifying to think that someone could walk free after almost committing a murder.
5 Stephen Fry
He may seem like a cuddly older gent, but don’t let Stephen Fry’s English accent and twinkly eyes fool you – this is a man who has done hard time. He stole the credit card of a family friend when he was 17 and, in his own words, ended up “going ape” for three months, buying whatever he felt like with no care for the consequences. Of course, he was then arrested for credit card fraud, and forced to spend three months in prison on remand. It’s an amazing little addition to his backstory that you never would have expected to hear.
4 Bruno Mars
Back before anyone actually knew who Bruno Mars was, he was making stupid decisions that eventually led to his arrest. Apparently he was living the rock star lifestyle before he ever even got a record contract, as he was brought in back in 2010 for cocaine possession. He pled guilty to the charges and ended up paying a $2,000 fine alongside 200 hours of community service. He was also forced to undergo a drug counselling course, which perhaps led to him cleaning up his act and becoming the superstar he is today. No one in the court could have imagined he would be singing at the Super Bowl!
3 Kiefer Sutherland
Some people just never learn from their mistakes. Kiefer Sutherland must be one of them, as he has been arrested four times for the same thing: driving under the influence of alcohol. It’s not smart to take that risk so many times, especially given examples like the deadly crash Matthew Broderick got into. Nonetheless, he has committed the offence and was caught in 1989, 1993, 2004, and 2007. After the last incident, where he made an illegal U-turn, he was forced to serve 48 days in jail. Not exactly much of a deterrent for the previous 18 years of wrongdoing.
2 Vanilla Ice
Out of all the rappers, you would have to least suspect Vanilla Ice of legitimately having street cred. Even his name refers to how white and normal he is, but amazingly, he does actually have the previous. He has been arrested three times for various offences; in 1991, he threatened a homeless man with a gun, leading to him being brought in on a firearms charge. Then in 2001, he pled guilty to assault after pulling his wife’s hair out, which put him on probation with family therapy sessions. Finally, in 2008 he was charged with battery again, although his wife later changed her story and the case was dropped.
1 Christian Slater
He might have played a bad boy or two in his time, but was it really acting? Apparently Slater has a bit of a dark streak to him. He has four arrests to his name, the first in 1989 for driving under the influence of alcohol. The devil's drink did it for him again in 1997 when he assaulted his then-girlfriend while drunk, but he apparently had no excuse for trying to board a flight with a gun that same year. Finally, in 2005 he grabbed a woman’s bum on the street, leading to a charge of third-degree sexual assault.