There are perhaps no people on Earth that are under more of a proverbial microscope in society than celebrities. In this day and age with the paparazzi running rampant, the media reporting on everything under the sun and social media keeping people in check, fans like to think they know everything about celebrities and their personal lives.
Whether it is who they are dating, crimes they have committed, or a family secret, people think that they’re in the know. This simply isn’t the case for the most part, as some things are able to remain private or are purposely pushed out of the public eye for various reasons.
Multiple celebrities have managed to escape from or hide their previous antics and lifestyles while maintaining a normal existence, at least from a famous celebrity’s standpoint. In fact, a large portion of the public doesn’t have a clue about some of the shocking things that celebrities have done or endured in the past.
Whether it is violence, drugs, family tragedy or other crazy life events, the following 10 celebrities have dark pasts that will surely shock even the most ardent of fans.
10 Jon Hamm
Jon Hamm is an actor best known for his role as Don Draper in Mad Men, a show that relates the lives of ad men and women in the 1960s. Before he became an actor, Hamm was a student at the University of Texas and was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. It was there that Hamm did some very questionable things that never get talked about.
Hamm was responsible for a violent hazing incident, which he was actually arrested for. Hamm beat another student, lit him on fire and performed other inappropriate acts. This situation ultimately led to that fraternity being shut down at the school.
9 Shania Twain
Shania Twain is one of the most successful female singers of all time and is the best-selling female artist in country music history. Despite her immense success later in life, her earlier years and childhood were definitely not easy.
A Canadian who grew up in the small town of Timmins, Ontario, Twain's problems began at a tender age, when her stepfather, Jerry Twain, was physically and emotionally abusive to both her and her mother, Sharon. Twain has claimed that the arguments stemmed from the financial burden on her father that comes with having 5 children, but that doesn’t excuse his actions. The story took an even darker turn when both of Twain’s parents were killed in a car accident in 1987, which left her to raise her younger siblings.
8 Danny Trejo
If you’re looking for an actor to play a tough guy, look no further than Danny Trejo. He has appeared in numerous TV shows and movies, and frequently tackles the role of the bad guy. What people don’t know, however, is that those roles are not that far from how Trejo was in his past.
He was 8 years old when he first smoked weed, and first shot heroin at the age of 12. His bad behaviour continued and he eventually got into selling and transporting drugs while committing numerous violent attacks. These bad choices ultimately landed him in prison throughout the 1960s. He credits himself getting clean to a twelve-step program, and claims to be over 40 years sober.
7 Woody Allen
Woody Allen is a legendary actor, writer and director in Hollywood whose career has spanned for over 50 years. He has won numerous Academy Awards and holds the record for most nominations of any writer. Currently, Allen does his best to lay low, but people still have a lot of questions about his past.
Woody Allen was in a relationship with Mia Farrow until 1992. They separated when she found out Allen was romantically involved with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi, who was over 30 years his junior. He went on to get married to Soon-Yi and the two have been married since. In more recent times, Allen has had to answer numerous questions about sexual assault allegations made by his own daughter. His reputation is without a doubt taking a hit due to his past coming to the forefront.
6 Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore has been an actress for nearly her entire life and has starred in many big films such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Charlie’s Angels and The Wedding Singer. She is one of the few child actors who was able to transition into starring in movies as an adult, though her journey didn’t come without struggle and hardships.
Barrymore had her first drink at the age of 9, started smoking marijuana at 10 and started dabbling in cocaine at 12. By the time Barrymore was 15, she had multiple stints in rehab and was following a very destructive path. Of course, she eventually smartened up and was able to go on and have a very successful film career.
5 Sean Penn
Sean Penn is renowned for being one of Hollywood’s best actors, who has used his fame as a platform for his political and social activism. He has spoken out against George W. Bush, has had contact with the presidents of Venezuela and Cuba and has partaken in humanitarian work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. So from all of this information, you would think he is a pretty great guy, right?
Well, that is up for debate. Penn has a long history of violent offences with multiple victims such as paparazzi, photographers and even his own past wife, Madonna. In 1987, he served 33 days in jail for assaulting a photographer on a film set. He seems to have cleaned up his act, but these offenses shouldn’t simply be swept under the rug.
4 Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron is among the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood, best known for her Oscar winning performance in Monster. Her life, however, was not always so grand; in fact, her childhood was that of nightmares.
She was born in South Africa and grew up on her parent’s farm, which was located right near Johannesburg. Her father was an abusive alcoholic who one day threatened and attacked Theron and her mother. This act led her mother to shoot and kill her father right in front of poor Charlize. Her mother faced no charges due to self-defence laws, but this occurrence without a doubt had an impact on Theron’s and her family’s life going forward.
3 Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is an actor who has had a very up and down career, with recent films such as Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man finding immense success while others from his past have flopped miserably (Friends & Lovers, anyone?). In the present day, Downey Jr. is among the most famous actors in Hollywood. He has undergone a career revitalization in recent times after years of questionable behaviour.
For a good while, Downey Jr. was seen as a joke with his self-destructive behaviour of abusing drugs and alcohol, going to prison and just being an all-around degenerate. People have very short term memories and many forget about his past because of how well he is doing now.
2 Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester is an actress and singer who’s best known for her role as Blair Waldorf on the television show Gossip Girl. Her past is one of the most shocking and interesting of any celebrity in the world because her troubles began right from birth.
Meester’s mother was serving time in a federal prison for her involvement in a drug smuggling ring. In fact, Meester was actually nursed and raised in a halfway house by her mother before going to live with her grandparents while her mom finished up her sentence. Eventually the family reunited and went on to have a fairly normal life, but the story of her birth and early years are so unheard of she absolutely deserved a spot on this list.
1 Mark Wahlberg
Coming in at number one is Mark Wahlberg, a respected actor and producer who used to be a rapper and a model. Wahlberg has appeared in a wide variety of films from comedies to dramas including The Fighter and Ted. Marky Mark, however, wasn’t always a respected member of society.
As a youth, Wahlberg got in trouble with the law numerous times for various reasons. For example, he was addicted to cocaine and other substances by the age of 13. His worst offense is without a doubt an assault in 1988. Wahlberg attacked a Vietnamese man with a wooden stick and severely injured him, all while shouting racist remarks at the victim. He served 45 days in jail as a result of the attack. Though it is entirely possible Wahlberg is a completely different man now, it is shocking to see how willing people are to look past something like this.