Hollywood, the glamorous and somewhat artificially-constructed world oversaturated with a burning lust for perfection. Whether through plastic surgery, photography filters, or photoshop, celebrities seem hell-bent on hiding their flaws. From the outside, it’s difficult to see past all the glaring bright lights to know what is true and what is false, what is real and what is fake. There are some celebrities so enchanting, they seem to exist completely outside of our reality, floating above us in their sparkling bubble of wealth and fame. But, believe it or not, (most) of these stars were born right here on planet Earth, have lived through some very real, and sometimes tragic, experiences and have the scars to prove it.
Even though it would seem some of these gruesome scars might hinder the careers of these celebrities, Hollywood has actually warmly embraced them. In certain instances, some of the following celebrity scar stories have even been worked into the backstories of the characters they play on screen, making both these real and fictional people in Hollywood more compelling. Regardless of the severity of the scar, each celebrity wears their scar with pride and has become a stronger and more unique person because of it.
15. Padma Lakshmi
You may recognize this Indian-American beauty Padma Lakshmi from the reality cooking competition Top Chef. She’s been hosting the popular Bravo television show since 2006 and also sits as a judge on the panel, and contestants work double-time to please this knock-out with their tasty concoctions. The always stunning and quick-witted host doesn’t appear to be ashamed of the ghastly 7-inch scar that runs down the front of her right arm, and doesn’t shy away from the story behind it. In 1984, when Lakshmi was only a teenager, she was seriously injured in a car accident in Malibu, California. She suffered a broken hip and broken right arm. Her arm was shattered so badly, she required a complicated surgery to fix it and eventually recovered and moved on to make her mark in Hollywood.
Not a stranger to hard times, Lakshmi has admitted to being bullied in high school because of her race, and was made to feel self-conscious of her body. However, the experiences of Padma’s past seemed only to have molded her into a strong and confidant woman, and to quote her, “I don’t have any stigma attached to my body. When I’m in my own private space, I have very little on.” If you want to know more about this inspirational beauty, read her book Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir published in 2016.
14. Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones, a legend of the American music industry. has made his mark as a successful record producer, composer, musician, film and television producer, magazine founder, and actor. Born in South Chicago in 1933 (known then as the Black Belt, a segregated community for African Americans) Quincy Jones has lived through a lot, eventually becoming one of the top music producers in the world, earning 28 Grammy Awards. The two thin scars that run across his forehead were the result of a surgery that he underwent in 1974. That year, Quincy Jones suffered two separate brain aneurysms and almost died. He’s spoken about how the surgery saved his life and has changed him, stating, “This scar is from my operation. I’ve got a metal plate in my head. I was paralyzed on my left side for a while and had to stop playing the trumpet. It changed my personality to the extent that it opened me up a lot, because before, I used to hold things in. I’m more on the surface emotionally now.”
13. Tommy Flanagan
When people were introduced to Tommy Flanagan’s character Cicero in Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator in 2000, many viewers assumed that the gruesome scar that ran across the actor’s face was simply makeup. But fans who were more familiar with Flanagan’s work will have undoubtedly noticed that this scar is in fact very real and almost led to the actor’s death.
Before Flanagan starred in Sons of Anarchy as Filip ‘Chibs’ Telford or acted as Morrison in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, he worked in Glasgow, Scotland as a DJ. One night, outside the club he was working at, he was attacked by a man with a knife who proceeded to brutally cut Flanagan’s face. The wounds he suffered were critical, and he was rushed to the hospital where he nearly died. While recovering in the hospital, Flanagan decided to begin acting. Even though the scar is in a way horrendous, it’s also pretty damn cool. The scar doesn’t seem to have slowed his career and writers have wisely incorporated it into the characters he plays. For example, on Sons of Anarchy, his character is nicknamed ‘Chibs’ because a chib refers to a street blade in Scotland, giving the character a similar backstory to that of Flanagan’s.
12. Parminder Nagra
Parminder Nagra is a multi-talented British actress who got her big break in the 2002 film Bend in Like Beckham. She has since gone on to act in television shows like ER, The Blacklist, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But from her very first performance on the big screen, the gruesome scar on her upper thigh has raised some eyebrows. As her character dons her soccer uniform on the fields in Bend it Like Beckham, the scar takes centre stage.
In fact, director Gurinder Chadha discusses the first time she saw Nagra’s scar, saying, “I thought, that’s definitely going to show and make up is not going to cover it. She told me how it had happened and I said ‘well let’s make this work —i I really want to cast you.'” Chadha made it work by writing the scar into the backstory of Nagra’s character, and in the film, her character Jess confesses: “I was eight. My mum was working overtime at Heathrow. And I was trying to cook beans on toast. And I jumped up to the grill to get the toast. And my trousers caught light, so my sister put me in the bath, poured cold water over me, and pulled them off. And half my skin came off too.” The craziest part is that story is actually how Nagra was scarred in real life.
11. Sharon Stone
If you’ve spent as much time as the average man obsessing over this Hollywood bombshell, you may be surprised to learn there’s been a grisly scar on her neck all this time. Usually covered with makeup in films and photo shoots or clothing in public, it’s rare for Sharon Stone’s scar to see the light of day. When she was young, she was riding a horse that ran full-gallop into a clothes line that severed the young actresses neck. There doesn’t seem to be anymore information made available other than that, though it would be interesting to know just how life-threatening an accident like this was and how it has affected her life, if at all. Now that you know, it might be a fun excuse to rewatch some of Sharon Stone’s most famous films, like Basic Instinct and Casino, to see if you can spot this sneaky little scar. You’ll also be able to see Stone in the highly-anticipated HBO show Mosaic scheduled to be released in 2018.
10. Queen Latifah
Hailed as hip-hops first lady, Queen Latifah carved her own way into the music industry when she was just 18 years old, quitting her job at Burger King to do so. Never slowing down or apologizing for the tremendous strides she’s made in her career, Queen Latifah was also the first female rapper nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in the 2002 noir-style musical Chicago. Born in East Orange, New Jersey into a family of cops, Queen Latifah was born tough — just ask anyone who has ever crossed her. In 1996, she assaulted a paparazzi photographer for harassing her, and the same year was arrested for carrying a loaded handgun. Unfortunately, none of these wild stories from Queen Latifah’s reign in the ’90s are behind the deep scar that runs down this celeb’s forehead, and was actually just the result of a childhood game of tag gone wrong. The star has since embraced her scar, claiming she would never cover it up.
9. Julianna Peña
Julianna Peña, also known as The Venezuelan Vixen, is a small but deadly mixed martial artist who has competed regularly in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Weighing in at only 135 pounds, this bantamweight Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing fighter has won the majority of her professional fights. Not surprisingly, this woman is a little bit wild, and she has garnered media attention both from her fights inside and outside of the Octagon. On December 20, 2015, Peña was arrested for becoming violent outside of a bar in Spokane, Washington. Apparently, Peña and her boyfriend (who was covered in blood) had gotten into a street fight and wanted to enter the bar to clean themselves. When the employees refused to let The Venezuelan Vixen inside, she snapped, kicking both an employee and the owner in the groin.
Peña has indeed lived a very fast-paced and violent life, yet the scar that sits on the bridge of her nose wasn’t received during a fight in the Octagon or on the streets. Back in 2012, Peña was walking through Spokane when a drunk driver hit her with their vehicle. Peña was not seriously injured, but suffered from a broken nose, road rash, and other bruises. She had to cancel her upcoming fight and take a 10-month hiatus from competing, but, of course, this tough woman returned to kick some serious butt.
8. Sandra Bullock
Ever since her breakthrough role in Demolition Man in 1993, Sandra Bullock has proven time and time again that she is a truly talented, not to mention gorgeous, Hollywood actress. Taking on roles from all different genres of film, Bullock has made her mark in comedy (Miss Congeniality), action (Speed), and drama (The Blind Side). Though Bullock has acted in over 50 different roles since the early ’90s, the scar cutting across the edge of her left eye may have gone unnoticed by fans. She has discussed the origins of this scar in the past, explaining that when she was a young girl, she slipped and fell into a lake, smashing her head on a rock. Luckily for Bullock, she walked away with only this small scar which only seems to add to her unique beauty.
7. Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford received the deep scar he sports on his chin well before he was a famous Hollywood actor. Believe it or not, he used to work in a retail department store when it happened. The accident that gave him his permeant facial scar occurred in 1968 while he was driving through Laguna Beach to his job, and while Ford was trying to buckle up his seatbelt, he accidentally drove off the road, hitting a telephone pole and slamming his beloved face into the steering wheel. It’s unknown just how many stitches Ford had to get to close up the brutal gash, but it looks like it was probably a bit of a bloody mess.
The scar has been written into the backstories of two of Ford’s characters and explained on screen. In the 1989 classic Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the young Indiana Jones, played by the late River Phoenix, falls into a train car with a ferocious lion. Although he attempts to whip the lion, he ends up whipping himself the the chin instead. In the 1988 film Working Girl, Ford’s character Jack Trainer at first lies about his scar, saying that he got it in a knife fight, but then confesses to having fallen and hitting his chin on the toilet.
6. Mary J. Blige
Perhaps you’ve never noticed it, but under this singer, songwriter, rapper, and record producer’s eye is a mysterious scar. Even though Mary J. Blige has won 9 Grammy Awards and sold over 50 million albums worldwide, celebrity reporters have always been curious about the Queen of Hip Hop Soul’s small facial scar and the story behind how she got it. Even though Blige has been forthcoming with the tragic personal details of her life in the past, including being the victim of sexual abuse as a young child, she has remained tight-lipped throughout her career about the details of this scar. Online, people have assumed that it is the result of a physical altercation with another woman, or that it is the mark of another childhood trauma, but there is no way that fans will ever know the truth. Regardless, it seems that whatever unfortunate circumstances have befallen Mary J. Blige, these experiences have only worked to make her a stronger woman.
5. Catherine Zeta-Jones
Breaking into Hollywood in films like The Mask of Zorro and Entrapment, this sultry Welsh actress from Swansea stole mens hearts. She became an instantaneous Hollywood heartthrob, who has only seemed to get more attractive with age. But when this stunning performer was just a little kid, she contracted a virus that nearly killed her. Because she couldn’t breathe, doctors were forced to perform a tracheotomy surgery to save the young Catherine Zeta-Jones. A tracheostomy is a procedure that requires doctors to cut a hole through the windpipe in the throat and insert a “trach tube” in order to deliver oxygen to the lungs. This is what happened to Catherine Zeta-Jones, and the traumatic experience has remained with her throughout her life. Upon reflection of her neck scar, she has said, “Makeup artists are always trying to cover it up, but I don’t want to hide it. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have this scar.” She embraces it as a reminder of her good fortune.
4. Michael Kenneth Williams
Like the crooked scar that runs down the centre of Michael K. Williams’s face, his life, too, has not been a straight line. When he was young, he dropped out of school and quit his job for a pharmaceutical company in order to follow his dreams of becoming a dancer. His lifestyle led him to experience hard times, including living as a homeless man in New York City. When he was 25 years old, he got the infamous scar that has perhaps actually worked to his favour as an actor. While he was celebrating his birthday, chaos erupted outside an NYC bar. Williams and his friend got into a very violent fight and he ended up being cut with a razor blade across his face. In an interview, he says, “We managed to escape with our lives, barely, that night.” Since receiving the nasty scar, Williams career switched gears, finding it difficult to land roles, that is until he began using the scar to his advantage, playing mean-looking gangsters in critically acclaimed shows such as The Wire and Boardwalk Empire.
3. Kylie Jenner
Back in 2015, the flawless and breathtaking beauty from Keeping Up With the Kardashians, posted an Instragram photograph of the scar she has on her left thigh with the caption “I love my scar!” Indeed, the stunning model does not keep this imperfection hidden, and it can be seen in many of Kylie’s photos on social media. The long scar was caused by a cringe-worthy injury the star suffered when she was only 5 years old. The story goes that she was playing hide-and-seek with her sister, Kendall Jenner, and little Kylie hid behind a gate. When her sister couldn’t find her, she decided to climb over the gate when she slipped and had the sharp end of the gate painfully impale her thigh. “I tried pulling away to get the pole out but it just tore through my whole leg. It’s smaller now though because I grew,” she said. If it really is smaller now, one can only imagine how unsightly this scar used to be when she was a child.
Henry Olusegun Adeola Samuel, known around the world as the the British musician Seal, is most famous for his epic song “Kiss from a Rose” that appeared on the Batman Forever soundtrack. But even though Seal has reached such high levels of success in the music industry, people only have to take one look at his face before noticing the horrible scars that run across it and start asking uncomfortable questions.
Unfortunately, when Seal was only 23 years old, he contracted the skin condition discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE), a condition that causes sores and inflammation all over the face, scalp, and ears, and usually permanent scarring. Although the cause of the chronic condition is essentially unknown, it is suspected to be an autoimmune disorder that runs in families and can be triggered by smoking or exposure to the sun.
1. Tina Fey
Born in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania as Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, but known to the world as the comedic heavy-hitter Tina Fey, this multi-talented writer, comedian, and performer continues to pave the way for women in comedy. Beginning at The Second City in Chicago, she was eventually discovered by Saturday Night Live where she went on to become the first female head writer in the show’s history. Her presence in the entertainment world is awe-inspiring, creating, writing, and acting in television shows like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and 30 Rock, but like other celebrities in this article, Fey also bears a large facial scar on her left side.
Tina Fey’s scar is yet another celebrity injury that happened as a child, except Fey received hers in a very traumatizing and violent incident that occurred when she was just 5 years old. According to her husband, Jeff Richmond, who revealed the origins of Fey’s scar to Vanity Fair, Fey was in the front yard of her house when a stranger attacked her and slashed her face. Richmond explains that “she just thought somebody marked her with a pen.” Fey has also discussed the scar, claiming that she lived without being too aware of it until she was being filmed on a daily basis. She confesses that she is often shot from the right side to avoid the distracting scar.
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