It’s fun to imagine a celebrity being banned. Usually, it’s from a talk show after some wild antics. Or ticking off a studio head and booted off set and never doing a picture again. The line “you’ll never eat lunch in this town again” has a basis in fact, as many a star has learned the hard way how they can get cut off. They’ll be slammed about, refused service and more. And of course, after a huge scandal, a star can find a lot of doors closed off to them. It happens a lot and it's always notable, but for the most part, it’s just Hollywood... nothing too major.
But sometimes, it can be. Sometimes, a celebrity doesn’t tick off someone in a studio or a network chief. No, they manage to tick off the higher-ups of another country. Yes, amazing as it sounds, a few celebrities have achieved the feat of being banned from an entire nation. It’s often China, a country very strict on the goings-on of others and a rather brutal regime. The Middle East can be the same with their own decorum and not liking outside influences. However, it’s notable that it’s not always something truly criminal but an act we wouldn’t think of twice in America or Europe.
Some bans are permanent. A few have been lifted but it’s still a big deal when it happens and seems to add to the fame of the star. After all, being able to say you got a country ticked at you is a big feat. Here are 15 celebrities who have been banned from other nations and why fame only goes only so far.
15 Richard Gere: Banned From China
This is probably no surprise. For decades, Richard Gere has been Hollywood’s most visible advocate for the Free Tibet movement, demanding that China allow that small country its independence. At the 1993 Oscars, Gere went off script for a bizarre rant that soon got more laughter than serious response. In 1997, he filmed Red Corner, a thriller set in China (but filmed in Los Angeles) of him as an American framed for murder and pushing the country as horrendous on human rights. Gere runs foundations for Tibetan freedom and has even tried to organize a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. So it should be no shock to learn Gere has been banned from China for life which he wears as a badge of honor. He even uses it to push his foundations and how China is terrible. Gere goes so far as to claim that the reason he’s not cast in major movies is because they don’t want to offend the Chinese market by having him in the film. While some can argue that, there’s no denying China has good reason not to want Gere around.
14 Beyoncé: Banned From Malaysia
Queen Bey may dominate most of the globe but no nation isn’t that fond of her. Beyoncé is famous for her fantastic musical performances that show off one of the most amazing bodies on the planet. From dancing to singing to flaunting it, Beyoncé never shies from giving fans a great show. For the most part, even China and the Middle East are okay as they recognize her fame and how popular she is and even welcome the inevitable tourist attention her shows get. However, Malaysia made it clear they were not that welcome. In 2007, they informed Beyoncé that according to national laws, female performers had to fully be covered from shoulder to knees with no cleavage showing. Since that eliminated 99 percent of her wardrobe, Beyoncé naturally decided to call the show off. In 2009, the Islamic government came down on her “immoral” behavior. But she doesn’t seem to mind as plenty more places for her to rock out.
13 The Rolling Stones: Banned From Japan And Cuba
They’re older and they’re rougher but the Rolling Stones remain the go-to for anyone imagining a wild rock band. At the height of their fame, no one could touch them in terms of success as well as being a wild bunch of partiers who could tear up clubs with drinking and drug use. In 1973, they were on a tour of the Pacific and ready to hit Tokyo. However, because Mick Jagger had been arrested for drug use a few times, the country hit them with a ban from the nation. It lasted all the way until 1990 to push their fame more. Meanwhile, the Stones discovered that Fidel Castro was not a fan of their music. Indeed, Castro not only banned the band from playing there but furthermore declared that just playing their albums was considered a crime of the highest order. It took Castro being on his deathbed in 2016 for that ban to be lifted and the Stones to do a free concert for eager Havana natives. So the Stones really can roll through anything.
12 Sacha Baron Cohen: Banned From Kazakhstan
The outrageous British comedian has been hit with the ban thing a few times. He wanted to attend the 2014 Academy Awards as his character from The Dictator but the Academy refused to let him. He also got into trouble with MTV for showing up in character from Bruno and instigating a fight at the VMAs. But it was the role that made him a star than landed Cohen on this list. In 2006, he exploded to fame in Borat, the wild comedy of him as a man from the small nation of Kazakhstan. In the movie, the country is shown as a backward place where 12-year-old girls can marry their adult brothers, everyone lives in poverty and deviance is a way of life. Needless to say, the real Kazakhstan did not respond well to this and smashed a ban on Cohen. They even threatened legal action against him. However, they realized the benefits as the country’s tourism picked up thanks to the movie as most were surprised to find out the nation was actually real. Still, Cohen gets a chilly reception and thus a reason why he doesn’t visit this country for real.
11 Snoop Dogg: Banned From Norway
At the height of his drug use, it’d be easier to list the countries Snoop Dogg wasn’t banned from. The rapper is famous for his cool style, great hits and pushing a lifestyle where drug use is constant. He’s mostly cleaned up his act a lot but some of his past behavior still haunts him. Because of his countless drug arrests and DUIs, Snoop has been cited as a serious flight risk and often has had his passport revoked for fear of him running out. In the past, he has been banned from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands and parts of the Middle East. The U.K. ban was serious as Snoop had smashed up a duty-free shop at a London airport. Over the years, one by one, the nations have relaxed these so Snoop can visit them. The one exception is Norway, as the country is quite tough on drug use, past or present. Thus, as much as he’s tried, Snoop is prevented from entering that nation under any circumstances. So the only way Snoop can learn about Viking culture is watching the History channel rather than visit the real thing.
10 Katy Perry: Banned From China
A recent addition to the list as China is rather infamous for booting out celebrities who don’t conform to their rigid guidelines. In the case of Katy Perry, a woman who prides herself on tearing down norms, the nation wasn’t pleased with the idea of her performing at the 2017 Victoria’s Secret fashion show. In the case of Perry, it’s not, as one might expect, her outgoing style, love of LGBT causes and her rather risqué wardrobe. Rather it’s because, in 2015, Perry did a show in Taiwan and photographed with fans waving the flag of the country. Taiwan and China have been at odds longer than most like to remember and China basically bans any symbols of that nation. Thus, Perry was prevented from getting a visa, not helped by reports of wearing a sunflower dress, a symbol of the Taiwanese freedom movement. Perry wasn’t alone as Gigi Hadid and other models were also banned. Knowing Perry, she'll be happy with it as she can conquer the rest of the world with her style.
9 50 Cent: Banned From Canada
You have to wonder just what it takes to get banned from Canada. This is a country known for its friendliness and good nature, not having as much crime as the U.S. and being very welcoming. So what kind of person could actually get himself banned from that country? 50 Cent. The rapper has been banned from radio stations, parties, and even award shows but an entire country is something else altogether. In 2005, the rapper was informed he was not welcome in Canada for either a concert or a planned media tour. The reason was his infamous criminal record of assault, drug use and more. Also, they weren’t happy about how his songs and videos appeared to promote gun violence. Indeed Toronto member of parliament, Dan McTeague, issued a statement that “I don’t think people in Toronto or any urban center need or want to hear Mr. Jackson’s message right now.” He does appear wrong on that as 50 Cent has continued to be a huge star across the U.S. and the world as well as producing the hit show Power. Yet the Great White North is not a place that wants him at any price.
8 Chris Brown: Banned From The UK And Australia
Many still believe Chris Brown should be in jail in the United States. The rapper rose up with his great talent and still has fans for his music. However, Brown forever stained his legacy when he brutally beat girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. The images of her looking like she’d been through a boxing match were shocking and fans were horrified. Brown was hit by a huge backlash but has endured and, shockingly, has even gotten new gigs like acting on Black-ish along with hit albums. However, a couple of countries have made it clear Brown is not welcome because of what he did. In 2010, just as he was about to hit London for a world tour, Brown was denied entry into the United Kingdom on the grounds of being guilty of a serious criminal offense. Likewise, in 2015, Australia was in the midst of a campaign against domestic violence when they realized Brown was coming for a promotional tour. As it hardly would have fit having him around at this time, the country denied his entry as well. So while Brown may be out free in the U.S. for what happened, two nations aren’t as forgiving.
7 Selena Gomez: Banned From Russia And China
A former Disney starlet, Selena Gomez has risen nicely with her terrific drive and amazing singing voice. Gomez has adapted to a sexier style to herself as she’s risen up and won fans more with her battles against lupus and other issues. Yet she has gotten herself into hot water with other nations. In 2016, she was headed to Moscow for some concerts only for her visa to be denied. It appeared that an online petition had been pushing Gomez to speak out during her show against Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. While it’s uncertain if Gomez would even have done it, the Russian government decided to take no chances and barred her entry. Then just a few months later, Gomez joined the list of stars banned from China. The reason this time was that photos had surfaced from 2014 of Gomez meeting the Dali Lama, a major no-no for China. Thus, Selena had to cross both countries off her list but continues to wow fans with her talent to show what China and Russia are missing.
6 Elton John: Banned From Egypt
You have to give it up to Elton John as a survivor. Not just for overcoming monster addictions to drugs and drinking that would kill most other people. But also for how he remains an iconic rock star for over four decades and has learned to adapt himself well. Boasting just about every music award there is (including an Oscar), Sir Elton has been a great figure who can still sell out a crowd anywhere in the world. Well, almost everywhere. In 2010, John was to perform for the Musician Union in Egypt when he did an interview with Parade magazine. In it, John, openly gay, talked of how LGBT individuals should be allowed to live freely in the Middle East. Much bigger was his belief that Jesus Christ was gay, which naturally got Catholic groups talking. In Egypt, this went down huge, there was a massive outcry and not only was his performance invite revoked, John was hit by a lifetime ban from the nation. So the Reg can discount Egypt as a nice spot.
5 Brad Pitt: Banned From China
There’s no denying Brad Pitt is one of the biggest stars in the world. From his rise in the early ‘90s to being taken seriously as a dramatic actor, Pitt has produced several sizeable hits. Indeed, many are bigger overseas than in the U.S., including China. Which is ironic given that Pitt for almost two decades, Pitt was banned from stepping foot in that country. In 1997, Pitt starred in Seven Years in Tibet, based on the true story of a man who spent that time in the country, getting to know its culture and people. The Chinese government did not respond well, particularly to how government officials in the film were shown as practically Nazis with their beating down innocents and treating Tibet as a slave nation. Thus, they declared anyone involved with the movie, particularly Pitt, would never be allowed into the country. Pitt put up with it as China did seem to relax the ban given his star power and the success of his films. In 2016, the ban was lifted as Pitt was allowed to visit China to promote Allied. Still, for almost twenty years, China was one place Pitt could mark off his visiting list.
4 Alec Baldwin: From The Philippines
Many are frankly amazed Alec Baldwin hasn’t been banned from the United States yet. The man is never shy speaking out and his mouth has gotten him in hot water. That includes the infamous talk show bit where he openly called on the audience to “stone Henry Hyde to death.” While Baldwin has won hails for his turn as Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, he’s also among the most vocal slamming the President. However, it’s the Philippines where Baldwin is not welcome. In 2009, the actor was on with David Letterman and made a crack about his various failed relationships and marriages. Baldwin joked that he was “thinking about getting a Filipino mail-order bride at this point – or a Russian one.” The audience howled but the Philippines government were not amused. Baldwin apologized but it was too late as the islands have revoked any chance of his ever visiting. It’s hardly the first time Baldwin has gotten himself in trouble with his mouth but among the most notable.
3 Miley Cyrus: Banned From China And The Dominican Republic
Much has been made of Miley Cyrus growing up too fast. She was a nice quiet girl as Hannah Montana, wholesome and an all-American attitude. However, starting in 2009, Cyrus began showing a much hotter side to herself in her actions and sexier showing that got a lot of people concerned. That included in 2009 when she visited China and posted a photo of friends with her seeming to try and make her eyes “slant” like an Asian. This landed her an instant ban from the country for what they saw as “American ignorance”. Cyrus kept it up with her nuttier aspects, the twerking, the crazy outfits and nude magazine shoots. In 2014, the Dominican Republic canceled a planned show by Cyrus on the ground of how she “undertakes acts that go against morals and customs, which are punishable by Dominican law.” Maybe it’s a good thing Miley has cleaned up her act to prevent other countries from joining the banning.
2 Lady Gaga: Banned From Indonesia And China
No one has ever accused Lady Gaga of being afraid of controversy. The songstress is well known for her outspoken attitude, support of LGBT rights and some of the craziest wardrobe ever. A woman who wears a suit of meat on the red carpet clearly doesn’t care who she rattles. In 2012, Gaga was about to hit Indonesia for a sold-out portion of her “Born This Way” tour only to told three weeks before the show that she wasn’t allowed in. Evidentially, the government had gotten numerous complaints about how provocative Gaga’s outfits and music were and concerned her concert “would corrupt and undermine the moral fiber of the nation.” Gaga just shrugged it off and continued. In 2016, China hit her with a ban after Gaga met the Dali Lama who has been persona non grata in China for decades. As Gaga had already been banned in 2011 for her “lewd” music, this wasn’t as big a deal and she actually wore it as a badge of honor to show how nothing stopped her attitude.
1 Justin Bieber: Banned From China
Justin Bieber broke out as a squeaky-clean pop star. He sure dumped that image in a hurry. Bieber has become infamous for his run-ins with the law, clashing with the press, going wild in interviews and some womanizing. While in China on a tour, Bieber decided to enjoy himself a bit too much as he was carried up the Great Wall by bodyguards and skateboarded through the streets of Beijing. Worse was when Bieber decided to post to Instagram photos of himself at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the war dead, including those who took part in the atrocities Japan committed on China and Korea. Photos there are mostly taboo but Bieber posed around like it was a theme park. The Chinese ban included a shot on how they hoped Bieber could “mature” and few could argue with them. While many a star has been banned from that country, this was one time most agreed with China’s government as the Bieb was way out of line playing the ugly American amid this treasured city.