When you’re a celebrity, it’s inevitable you deal with some sort of scandal. It’s always been this way as the old Hollywood studio machine had to work overtime hiding the rough stuff their stars got into behind the scenes. Today, with the Internet, social media and cell phone cameras, it’s nearly impossible to keep anything secret. One bad move and you’re an instant joke as careers have been destroyed by an arrest or just a bad comment. In some cases, you can see it coming. Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears weren’t too shocking with their meltdowns given their personas. Likewise, when the allegations against Harvey Weinstein came out, few were shocked as stories about the man as a bully had been growing for years. So it’s true that some scandals are jarring but some might be seen as likely.
But sometimes, a scandal is rocking because of how stunning it is. It involves people you’d never think of committing a crime or cheating. It could be because of the setting and circumstances that throw you with how unexpected the event is. Most importantly, it’s times when people who are so beloved and seem to be model types are exposed as downright horrible. From cheating to arrests to something far worse, celebrities have proven the hard way you can never tell what a person is like by their public persona. Here are 15 celebrity scandals almost no one saw coming and how people are so different than what you’d expect.
15 Pee-Wee’s Bust
Paul Reubens has been a good performer for many years, an actor who can turn in some funny performances. But he will always be defined as Pee Wee Herman. The grown-up man-child took off in the 1980s with his amazing humor, nutty outfits, whacky dancing and high-pitched voice. He had a hit children’s show and then a smash movie and fans loved his wild turns. So for him to get arrested in 1991 would have been wild. But having him arrested for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater in Florida was something else. The mug shot of Reubens looking like a drug dealer was stunning and the man became the go-to joke for comics and talk show hosts all summer long.
To his credit, Reubens hit back as at the MTV Video Music Awards in September, he came out in full Pee Wee costume to crack “Heard any good jokes lately?” He smartly took a long break from the business to let it all die down before making a comeback in movies like Mystery Men. He was hit by an investigation as part of a child porn case but it didn’t lead to much serious. In 2009, Reubens revived Pee Wee for a run on Broadway that was a huge hit. While he’s rebuilt his career, Reubens still has to be remembered for how Pee Wee got in big trouble.
14 Gibson’s Tirade
Granted, Mel Gibson had a temper. But the Aussie actor was also a fantastic star with his handsome demeanor and great talents. He took off with Mad Max and Lethal Weapon making him a go-to action figure but also showed a flair for comedy as well as drama. His great looks won him slews of female fans but he backed it up as both actor and director. He hit his height winning Oscars for Braveheart and in 2006, made the controversial The Passion of the Christ an unlikely smash. There had been complaints of Gibson making some bad remarks on Jewish people and homosexuals but those were brushed over.
But there was no way you could brush over Gibson’s arrest in 2006. Pulled over for a DUI, Gibson launched into a tirade of anti-Semitic remarks that would make many blanch. While he apologized and blamed it on the alcohol, it caused a huge backlash against Gibson that few could have imagined. He was practically persona non grata in Hollywood for a decade and it’s only recent years he’s been accepted back with various movie roles and directing Hacksaw Ridge. Still, most are upset that a guy who was once “The Sexiest Man Alive” showed a very ugly side of himself off.
It’s a twofer on this one which in some ways was the perfect scandal. It involved three of the biggest names in Hollywood who also happened to be among the most gorgeous and kept tabloids busy for years on end. It all began in 2004 when Brad Pitt was happily married to Jennifer Aniston, the couple considered Hollywood royalty and doing terrific. While there were rumors here and there, the two seemed to have it all together. But in early 2005 came reports that Pitt had been cheating with Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Pitt and Aniston were divorced with Pitt and Jolie soon together full on. The next year, Jolie had a baby with Pitt as they stayed together, finally married in 2014.
Pitt and Jolie were known as the “It Couple” for their work in charity and Jolie’s health issues. Then out of nowhere in September of 2016, Jolie filed for divorce under “irreconcilable differences.” Rumors circulated Pitt had an affair with Marion Cotillard but it was never confirmed as both are moving on. In each case, it rocked fans and Hollywood how two great marriages came apart so quickly and how tough this town can be on love.
12 Amanda Bynes’ Meltdown
If there was a child star who seemed to have it all together, it was Amanda Bynes. The actress had broken out in the Nick sketch show All That and then her own series to show off her great comic timing and charm. That led Bynes to the hit comedy show What I Like About You that moulded her into a fine teen. She graduated to leading lady in comedies like What a Girl Likes and others along with turns in Hairspray. Bynes was smart, funny, dynamic and came off great in interviews to seem to have a fine career ahead of her. And almost overnight, she self-destructed in a way that made Lindsay Lohan look normal.
In 2010, Bynes announced a hiatus from acting. Shortly afterward came the arrests for DUI and then her accusations of her dad putting a microchip on her brain, her hospital stays and subsequent Twitter rants. She showed up in court looking like a homeless addict and her resulting behavior was wilder. No one could have imagined Bynes would turn into this train wreck and sad to see the great career that could have been.
11 Thomas Gibson’s Assault
Criminal Minds dealt with serial killers and some violent stuff. But often, the real drama was backstage. Original star Mandy Patinkin left without warning, not happy about the show’s violence and some other cast turn-overs occurred. But nothing compared to the news of Thomas Gibson acting up majorly on set. The long-time TV vet was known for a warm manner, coming off great in interviews and almost never connected to anything rough. He seemed to be okay although somewhat tense directing a few episodes, including a shouting match with a writer. But then came the reports in August of 2016 that Gibson had gotten into a full-on fight with a writer/producer. While CBS has downplayed it, reports are the two kicked at each other and had to be separated fast. For an actor known as a “nice guy” like Gibson to let his temper fly like this was quite shocking. He was first suspended but then let go with his character written off and Gibson himself has been pretty much un-hireable since. Looks like this was a bomb no profiler could have predicted.
10 Witherspoon’s Arrest
What made Reese Witherspoon a star was how relatable she was. The actress had a lovely charm in her early roles like Cruel Intentions and even the wild lady of Election to get folks backing her. Her part in Legally Blonde made her a box office starlet and how she could balance comedy and drama easily. Further hits followed including an Oscar win for Walk the Line and producing so Witherspoon was pushed as a lovely lady who cared for people and came off well in interviews. But in 2013, Witherspoon showed a side of herself fans weren’t expecting.
It’s clear when the cops pulled over Jim Toth, they had no idea who he or his wife were, it was just a case of a guy swerving on the road. It was then obvious he was drunk as they began giving him a talking-to. At which point, Witherspoon popped out of the car to start ranting at the police about how “I am an American citizen!” Seeing she was clearly drunk too, the cops began to handcuff her as Witherspoon continued to scream, including the ultimate elite line of “do you know who I am?” The whole thing was caught on video and soon turned Witherspoon into a tabloid joke. She’s apologized and bounced back with roles but this moment showed how even a supposed sweetheart has a bitter side to herself.
9 Hugh’s Bad Judgment
In 1995, Hugh Grant was on the rise thanks to his role in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Handsome and debonair, Grant was charming and funny and looked like a proper British gentleman. That’s why no one could have expected him to be pulled over for servicing prostitute Nicole Brown in June of that year, his mug shot plastered all over newspapers. What made it wilder was the fact Grant just happened to be dating Elizabeth Hurley, easily one of the sexiest women on the planet and for him to go to a hooker was a serious step down.
As fate had it, Grant was scheduled to appear with Jay Leno to promote his movie Nine Months just days after his arrest. Leno opened it by asking the question everyone else had: “What the hell were you thinking?” Grant managed to stammer through an apology and his charm helped win him back fans so it didn’t affect his career too much. Still, it was an out of nowhere moment that showed that under that British charm, Grant could get himself into some rather wild times.
8 Jackson’s Chest
The recent announcement that Justin Timberlake will be doing the Super Bowl halftime show has reignited this scandal. It was a jarring moment as some believe it was blown out of proportion but still notable for how shocking it was. At Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, Janet Jackson was the main performer for the halftime show, the star at the height of her power. She was joined by a variety of co-performers, including Timberlake. Jackson did a medley of her greatest hits before Timberlake came out for a duet of “Rock Your Body.” Reaching the end of the song, Timberlake reached over to yank down part of Jackson’s top, revealing a bare breast covered by a piece of jewelry. It was just a second but enough to get viewers going.
Instantly, CBS’ switchboard lit up with thousands of angry calls and slews of upset e-mails. Many were from parents upset their kids were exposed to this. The FCC also hit, calling the whole thing a mess and hitting the network with a half-million dollar fine. It also led to the insistence of a five second delay for live performances. Not helping was the official line of this being a “wardrobe malfunction” that soon entered the cultural lexicon. Somehow, Jackson got most of the blame for it despite Timberlake doing the yanking and her career took a hit. It’s being brought up again by Timberlake’s new performance reminding folks of this rather stunning turn.
7 Winona Ryder’s Shopping Spree
When Stranger Things debuted, many noted it was a big comeback role for Winona Ryder. Most wouldn’t think she’d need it. Ryder broke out with her role as the goth teen in Beetlejuice that made her a favorite. She was soon known for a variety of quirky roles like Edward Scissorhands, Heathers and scoring an Oscar nomination for The Age of Innocence. She starred and produced Girl, Interrupted which was going to be her Oscar film but ironically, Angelina Jolie was the one who won for the film. In 2001, Ryder was arrested in Beverly Hills for trying to shoplift $5000 worth of clothes and accessories. It was a stunning turn given how put together she appeared to be and was found guilty in a trial filling up the tabloids. Ryder has stated she was undergoing depression at the time and various issues. It dealt a big blow to her career as she’s tried to get over it and shown how even the quiet folk can act up now and then.
6 The iCloud Hack
Leaked photos are nothing new. But this was something else altogether. Its nickname is something that can’t be repeated in polite fashion but everyone knows it. On August 31st, 2014, a massive wave of images from the iCloud of various celebrities were released online and nearly broke the Internet. Some weren’t a shock; after all, you’d expect Kim Kardashian to have various nude photos. But others were huge, the biggest easily being Jennifer Lawrence. The Oscar-winning A-lister had been adamant about not doing nudity in movies and being private. Thus having over a dozen photos of herself naked was quite a sight and caused an eruption of attention.
Lawrence wasn’t alone as with her with stars like Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst, Kaley Cuoco, Krysten Ritter and more. It was a huge deal and brought to the fore how risky the security on the cloud could be. Sympathy was with the starlets being exposed without permission and while further leaks weren’t as huge, the worry of stars over being revealed remains huge thanks to this unexpected leak.
5 The Cos’ Crimes
It just seems so hard to believe. Bill Cosby wasn’t just a TV star or comedian, he was part of American culture. His stand-up routines were hysterical and led him to making history as the first black lead of a TV show in I Spy. It was in the 1980s that Cosby became part of American lives with his starring role in The Cosby Show. He was the perfect TV dad, warm-hearted, smart and caring and made the show a smash hit. Cosby kept it up with TV appearances and a few other series, always warm and a funny humor to himself. He also earned sympathy handling the death of his son and thus most saw him as great as the guy he played on screen.
Which was why it was so hard to take when the stories broke that Cosby was a sheer monster. Fifty women came out with reports of Cosby having assaulted them over the years, often drugging them to ensure their stories wouldn’t be believed. It was amazing as the man went from beloved icon to despised figure nearly instantly. While he’s still free, his legacy is forever marred by how it’s known what kind of man he is as no one expected America’s favorite TV dad to be this type of person.
4 Bullock’s Heartbreak
2010 was supposed to be the greatest time of Sandra Bullock’s life. For 15 years, she’d been among Hollywood’s most notable stars thanks to her breakout role in Speed. She added to it with hits like While You Were Sleeping, Two Weeks’ Notice, Miss Congeniality and more. The Blind Side was not only a huge hit but, for the first time, made Bullock an awards darling, nabbing numerous Best Actress awards. It culminated in her winning the Oscar, the high point of any career. Bullock was shown celebrating with husband Jesse James who clearly was happy for his wife.
Then just two weeks later, word broke out that James had been cheating on Bullock. Not just once but with multiple women and while he denied some of the affairs, he confirmed several others. It was out of left field with many wondering how stupid one would have to be to cheat on someone as beautiful as Bullock. The duo were divorced with Bullock taking a few years away from movies to get back on track. She’s rebounded nicely with several more hits and an Oscar nod for Gravity while James has slumped, showing Bullock survived this scandal nicely.
3 Kanye Interrupting Taylor
It’s true that Kayne West is hardly known for his quiet manner. This is, after all, the man who took advantage of a live telethon to benefit New Orleans to claim the President of the United States “doesn’t care about black people.” But few could have dreamed that Kayne would go so far as to take over someone’s moment for himself. At the 2009 Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift won for Best Video and took the stage to wide applause. Before she could speak, West stormed on stage to talk of how “Beyoncé had one the best music videos of all time!” Beyoncé herself was more stunned than anyone as West was booed loudly. He stormed off as Swift just stood there before getting through a speech. Needless to say, the media raked West over the coals for ruining Swift’s moment to make it all about himself and led to a huge backlash against him. While Swift has downplayed the incident since, nothing speaks to West’s massive ego than this moment.
2 Kevin Spacey’s Downfall
For two decades, Kevin Spacey was hailed as one of the best actors in America. He’d been building up his resume with brief but memorable roles in a variety of small films that specialized in stealing the show. The Usual Suspects made him a star, winning the Oscar and a classic. He followed it up with the beloved L.A. Confidential and then American Beauty, which won him another Oscar. With his wry humor and fantastic ability at impressions, Spacey was in demand in everything from high drama to action flicks and the topper his turn as the wicked President in House of Cards.
Then Anthony Rapp came forward with how Spacey had attempted to force himself on him when Rapp was only 14. Spacey made things worse with an “apology” that involved coming out as gay himself which was lambasted by gay groups. Soon, numerous others came forward with similar stories and in less than a week, Spacey became a Hollywood pariah. He’s been fired from House and the producers of All The Money in the World have been reshooting his scenes with Christopher Plummer. It’s stunning how Spacey’s legacy of films is now tarnished and how no one saw this fall coming.
1 Tiger Woods Cheating
There are some guys you can easily see as womanizers. Tiger Woods was not one of them. He was just 21 when he won the Masters in 1997, an incredible feat. In a sport where, frankly, white men dominate, Woods was amazing in his skill and power, soon the best golfer on the planet. He was also quickly a celebrity with numerous endorsement deals and much admired by youths. Which was why so many were totally shocked when in 2009, Woods was arrested for a car crash while leaving the home of a mistress. Soon the word came out that not only had Woods been cheating on his wife Elin but had a slew of mistresses, almost a dozen in all. Woods confirmed it with an apology letter but that didn’t save him from losing slews of endorsements. It also lowered his profile majorly as he slumped badly at his game, going from one of the best golfers ever to an also-ran.
It’s amazing as Woods was never what one would call a great handsome guy, let alone one capable of balancing so many women at once. And just when it looked like Woods was getting back on track, he was arrested in May of 2017 for a DUI, showing that he had fallen far from the groundbreaking athlete most held him up as.