Amanda Bynes was once one of the darlings of television and Hollywood. She emerged as a bright young star at the age of just ten, and looked set for Disney-style world domination by the time that she reached her twenties. That is, until things started to get weird. Very weird.
Over the course of just two years, Amanda went from a star on the rise to being remanded in rehab facilities and psychiatric wards against her own will. She lost her career, her fame, and even the cute looks that she had been known for. She all but destroyed her relationship with her family, and ended up without any work, struggling to reinvent herself and find a new career.
How could it all have happened in such a short space of time? Whether the answer was drugs, alcohol, or an undiagnosed mental illness, it all unfolded in the public eye. That means we have plenty of footage, images, and soundbites from the whole sorry story. Buckle up for what is about to be a bumpy ride: we’re going to show you the descent of this star from start to present day. It’s not easy to understand how it all went bad just in the click of a finger, but we can certainly take a look at the evidence.
Here, told in pictures, you can witness Amanda’s slide from top of her game to bottom of the pile – right to her current attempt to claw her way back up and get noticed again.
18 Hosting The Amanda Show
This is where it all began. Apparently, young Amanda was impressive enough that she was able to catch the eye of bosses at Nickelodeon, who set it up for her to have her own TV show. The Amanda Show was a hit in the mid to late 1990s, with a host of other stars appearing alongside her in a sketch show which included plenty of impersonations of other famous personalities. Little did she know that in an easy decade, she would become the kind of fodder that others used to make their impersonations. She seemed to be heading for an adulthood as successful as her teenage years with roles in films like What a Girl Wants and Easy A, but she was reportedly unhappy about not getting the kind of mature roles that Lindsay Lohan was being offered.
17 Posing For Maxim
So, how could she get those mature roles out of Lindsay’s hands and prove to everyone that she was a serious actress? The start was to shed her innocent and childlike image, which she did by heading to Maxim and posing in lingerie for a whole spread of images. Although she was of a legal age to pose for the magazine, it still felt a bit off for some who remembered her as a teen star. The raunchy shoot was intended to prepare her for entry to a more mature part of the industry, appearing in February 2010, but it apparently had very little success. When you do what you can to get the roles, and the roles still aren’t coming your way, what can you do next? The answer, as it turns out, was apparently to prove to everyone you haven’t grown up at all by throwing it all away.
16 Retiring, and Then Unretiring
When the industry didn’t seem to want her, Amanda retorted that she hadn’t wanted any more roles anyway, thanks, because she totally wasn’t into acting anymore. Literally, that’s what she told the world. "I don't love acting anymore, so I've stopped doing it," she tweeted in June 2010. It was only a little while later that she changed her mind and announced that she was coming back to acting after all, but by then the damage was done. The opportunities dried up, and it looked as if she was going to get the permanent retirement that she had asked for – whether it was deliberate or not. Let this be a lesson to any aspiring starlets out there: if you don’t want to stop getting work, then it’s maybe best to not throw your toys out of the pram and threaten to leave the industry.
15 Dying Her Hair Purple Suddenly
Things went very quiet on Amanda’s part for a couple of years, but then suddenly she became headline news again. It all started in March 2012, when she posted a selfie at a salon of her brand new purple hair – a different look for someone who had been more or less out of public sight for a while, and though we didn’t know it at the time, a sign of troubled times to come. She tweeted "Live fast die young/Bad girls do it well”, an M.I.A. quote, alongside the shot. Those words became very problematic the next day, when she was stopped by an LAPD officer for talking on her phone while driving and then sped away from the scene without allowing him to finish his stop. This bizarre behaviour was only underlined by the fact that she had been out of the spotlight for so long – it’s not exactly as if she could effectively pull the “don’t you know who I am” line.
14 Arrest of April 2012
If March’s events weren’t bad enough, Amanda was arrested in April 2012 on a misdemeanour charge of driving under the influence. This is her mugshot taken at the time. She was trying to pass a police car in LA at around 3am, when she rear-ended the car instead, landing herself in hot water. Naturally, the officer was suspicious, and asked her to submit to a Breathalyzer or blood alcohol test. She reportedly refused both. In the subsequent days, her father, Rick Bynes, would speak out to say that his daughter didn’t drink and was merely distressed, not intoxicated. That doesn’t explain the reason why she would crash into a car in the first place, and suddenly all eyes were on Amanda again to see what was going to happen next. She didn’t disappoint, getting herself into trouble almost immediately.
13 Crashing Her Car
On April 10, 2012, just four days after her arrest, Amanda was out driving in the rental car that had replaced her own. That was when she smashed into a third car on the LA freeway. Not only that, but she reportedly fled the scene too. It was clear that things were going terribly wrong. Her bad behaviour behind the wheel just couldn’t seem to stop. In May, she tweeted, "I can't help but laugh at all of you writing fake stories about me. I was not in any hit and runs. I don't drink so the DUI is false." This was despite the appearance of her mugshot as well as the fact that her case went before a judge a month later. It was the beginning of a new trend in her life: she would continue to write odd and outlandish claims on her social media account as time went on.
12 Desperate Tweets to Obama
June 6, 2012 was the date that her attorney put in a not guilty plea for the DUI arrest on her behalf. Her behaviour began to get even stranger and more entitled around this time. It seems she thought so highly of herself, she believed that not even the president was too important to take time out of his day to help her. She tweeted to Barack Obama, saying, "Hey @BarackObama ... I don't drink. Please fire the cop who arrested me. I also don't hit and run. The end." Whether she believed that Obama was actually in a position to directly fire a cop on her behalf or just wanted more attention, it certainly brought her some more headlines. Her appearances in public were increasingly more alarming, as she looked more tired, unkempt, and rough with each paparazzi shot.
11 Caught Smoking a Pipe
Things went from bad to worse when Amanda was caught adding drugs to her pile of problems. TMZ captured images of her smoking from a bong in her car, which was followed by hours of aimless driving around the LA streets. She was on a suspended license and under the influence, with nowhere to go, but somehow still felt an irresistible urge to get behind the wheel. The images were soon removed by her lawyers, but she was spotted on subsequent occasions walking around openly with what looked like a joint in her hand. Her behaviour became more and more erratic from this point on, with plenty of aimless driving despite her suspension. She was caught in September parking in a no-parking zone, driving near a valet area in circles, and generally being odd. Her car was impounded.
10 Tweeting Mean Comments About Celebs
In February 2013, she started a slew of hateful tweets about other celebrities in which she just couldn’t stop being mean. Amanda kept a list of ugly people which included Jay Z, Drake, Barack and Michelle Obama, Rihanna, Zac Efron, Jenny McCarthy, Miley Cyrus, Lance Bass, and Courtney Love. This came after a troubled few months in which she was reportedly kicked out of more than one location for being inappropriately underdressed. She also locked herself in a West Hollywood store dressing room and a cupcake shop bathroom in New York. "I'm not 'troubled,'" she said of the numerous press reports. "I don't get naked in public. I'm 26, a multi-millionaire, retired. Please respect my privacy." Apparently, these pleas did nothing to awaken her to the irony of calling out other celebs on Twitter without provocation.
9 Appearing With a Series of Wigs
In April 2013, Amanda took to Twitter again to share a number of selfies in different wigs. The odd looks were only a foreshadowing of things to come, as she also spoke about her hair being in poor condition and needing drastic measures to save it. This is also when her claims started to become increasingly bizarre. She said that she had an eating disorder and began demanding that magazines only use images of her that she had personally uploaded. Considering the quality of the selfies that she was taking at that time, it was little wonder that this request was summarily ignored. Her rants went on, and her behaviour in public continued to raise eyebrows as well. She was photographed once more with what appeared to be a joint in her mouth, walking around in public without a concern in the world.
8 Shaving Half Her Head
Amanda’s next step was to have half of her hair shaved off. Though she didn’t go the full Britney and lose her entire head of hair, she did have it cropped underneath and at the sides, leaving her with just a full mane of hair on the top. The look was copied from other celebrities who popularized the style at the time, although she claimed that it was done to save her hair from the poor condition it had fallen into. Rather than causing a Britney-style scandal, this revelation was mostly just met with eye-rolling, as she had been threatening to shave it off for so long. It was more of an inevitability than a surprise to anyone who had been following her posts. Around this time, she was also allegedly kicked out of a gymnastics class because she was crying and talking to herself during the session.
7 Selfies in Her Lingerie
Next up in her attention-seeking behaviour parade was the posting of some more selfies on Twitter. This time, she was not only showing off her half-shaven head, but also wearing as little as possible. She posed in heavily ripped tights and short shorts with just a bra in one of them, and went completely topless in the other. This one certainly sent shockwaves through her fans and supporters. It seemed like she was spiralling completely out of control, and her antics weren’t even at her worst yet. Things still had some way to go downhill before she was done. It was hard to believe that she had managed to fall this far in barely a year since the post that sparked it all, but here she was – and there was further yet to come.
6 Weird “Getting Ready” Video
Next up was a bizarre video posted to her Twitter account once again. The former actress, complete with her shaved scalp and cheek piercings, posed and made strange faces during a video which she created for her fans. She was also winking a lot, which is fairly odd behaviour even from someone who looks normal in the first place. "I'm Sucking On A Sour Patch Kid Listening To Music Getting Ready For Tonight :D," she captioned the video. We’re not sure what kind of night she was trying to get ready for, but we’ve never been anywhere that made it acceptable to go out looking like that. Her face had already become a caricature of her former self, with her make-up getting increasingly more odd at the same pace as her behaviour. Something was definitely happening behind the scenes.
5 Appearing in Court
Amanda showed up for her next court appearance a total mess. One of the wigs from her earlier selfie posts resurfaced, but looking as though it hadn’t been brushed or kept properly at all. She wore grey tracksuit pants and a black sweatshirt in court, certainly not the polished look that you would normally be encouraged to wear. She appeared confused and disorientated while being taken from the car into the courthouse, and vice versa. There was a press frenzy, put onto the scent by the way her behaviour had been escalating, as reporters all wanted to be the first to catch a glimpse of the train wreck that her life was becoming. It was certainly not a great moment in her life, and getting in trouble with the law again would have been the last thing she could have wished for.
4 Getting Arrested Again
But she did. Amanda’s second mugshot tells the harsh story of her fall from grace. She is shown with close-cropped hair after having it all shaven off, and she stares blankly out at the camera with an almost soulless look. She looks like she wants nothing more than to get into as much trouble as possible. This time she was arrested for apparently throwing a glass bong out of her apartment window and getting caught smoking marijuana in the building lobby. She said it was just a vase, and also claimed that the arresting officers from the NYPD had harassed her. When she got home, she didn’t calm down, but instead started lashing out at Rihanna and Courtney Love on Twitter for some reason. The NYPD investigated her claims and found that there was no evidence to support them.
3 Appearing in Court Again
Her second appearance in court over the bong-tossing incident saw her looking hardly any saner. She turned up wearing a blue wig this time, albeit a much neater one. Again, however, her attire was decidedly casual, and she seemed to have much more going on behind the scenes. She was apparently filmed the next day walking around wearing a platinum wig, with an odd gait. She was next put on an involuntary psychiatric hold after starting a fire on a stranger’s driveway. The hold was extended to 30 days and her parents were given a temporary conservatorship to allow them to take control of her affairs while she was away. Things didn’t go well when she got out, as she accused her father of trying to start an incestuous relationship with her when she was a child.
2 The Microchip in Her Brain
She turned it around in October 2014 to declare that all the wild stories she had been spouting were nothing more than that – just stories. In actual fact, her father had never tried to engage her in a relationship. As she put it on Twitter, “My dad never did any of those things The microchip in my brain made me say those things but he’s the one that ordered them to microchip me”. Right, so that’s all okay then. It’s pretty eerie to see a statement like this right next to the smiling and seemingly normal profile shot of a pretty young woman. She was clearly still not in a good place, replacing one fantasy with another in order to try to normalize her behaviour. It didn’t wash, and by this point, interest in her was starting to wane. Ironically, she was being upstaged by Lindsay Lohan again in the life-ruining stakes.
1 Kicked Out Of FIDM
Aged 29, Amanda had been out of the spotlight for a while and seemed to be heading back towards normal behaviour. She decided to try another career and enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to learn how to make her own garments. Sadly, it didn’t last for long. It has not been officially explained why she got kicked out of the school, but classmates have alleged that she was in the habit of turning up high and paying other students to do her homework. As a woman in her late 20s, that goes beyond the tragic. She was later allowed to join the course again the next year, although she had to be accompanied by a security guard at all times whilst there – as well as, no doubt, other restrictions.