"To err is to be human", as a great man once said. It’s impossible to find someone who hasn’t made some sort of bad decision or choice that’s caused heartache. Sometimes it’s just embarrassment while other times, it’s brought real pain to people. In the world of celebrities, it’s even bigger when they make a choice that backfires on them badly.
It’s a half joke in Hollywood that there’s an entire industry to make the “celebrity apology tour” happen. They screw up, they issue a statement, show up on TV for an interview, some charity stuff and hope it works. Often it works well as the public can be quite forgiving, but other times it doesn’t go over well at all and hurts their career. With social media making snap judgments faster, having to apologize for a bad mistake is critical and some are able to do it better than others.
Bad decisions can range from an affair to a bad choice of words to a foolish action. They can be minor in the grand scheme of things or major stuff that even borders on criminal. True, nowadays, some people can be a little too sensitive and celebrities having to apologize for jokes that a decade ago would have been shrugged off. However, it’s still astounding how people who are rich and supposedly intelligent can make such amazingly foolish choices that hurt them so badly. Some recover, but others don’t and prove that the apologies are needed fast. These celebrities made stupid decisions requiring an apology and how some handled it better than others.
19 Tyler’s Fake Coming Out
Celebrities love to use social media to play pranks on fans. But Tyler Posey found out the hard way that can be taken too far. In 2016, the Teen Wolf star posted a photo of himself at the corner of Gay and Christopher Streets in Manhattan. The caption underneath had him declaring “I’ve never been so happy! I’m gay!” Naturally, fans went wild that Posey was coming out and began giving him congratulations. Then he posted another photo with the caption “I am lamp.” As things built, a publicist for the show stated that Posey meant “gay” as in “happy,” not his sexuality. That did not go over very well with many now feeling Posey was mocking the LGBT community with a fake coming out. Posey issued a formal apology, saying he was a big champion of gay rights and never meant to insult anyone. It was accepted and his show has continued, but Posey found out you have to be a little more careful with your wording on social media these days.
18 Hudgens' Rock Treatment
Many a Disney starlet has gotten herself into hot water with the law, usually over drugs or alcohol. But Vanessa Hudgens got into a little different of a mess. The actress was known for her roles in High School Musical and fans loving her great style and beauty. She added to it with a sexy vibe that carried to social media as she enjoyed showing off a lot. In 2016, Hudgens was with friends at Arizona’s Coconino National Forest when she decided to have some fun. She and her boyfriend took some rocks to draw their names into a larger rock. It was meant as fun with Hudgens saying it would wash away in the next rain. But as this was a federal park, that counted as vandalism and got Hudgens in some trouble. She had to pay a $1000 fine and issued apologies but making it sound like it was just a prank. She may have apologized but Hudgens showed she was a bit of a wild child that got her in trouble.
17 Hugh Grant’s Naughty Drive
In 1994, Hugh Grant became a huge star with Four Weddings and a Funeral. With his handsome looks and dashing style, Grant was on his way to being accepted in Hollywood with an upcoming comedy called Nine Months. The fact he was engaged to the stunningly gorgeous Elizabeth Hurley just helped his status out more. Which was why it was shocking when, in May of 1995, Grant was arrested for attempting to pick up prostitute Divine Brown in Hollywood. The image of his mug shot was front page news as fans were stunned at him doing this.
As fate had it, Grant was booked on The Tonight Show and, with millions tuning in, Jay Leno asked the question “what the hell were you thinking?” Grant managed to stammer through an apology which was well accepted. The movie was still a hit and Grant and Hurley hung together a few years before splitting. Perhaps it was his British charm that did the trick to get Grant back in the public’s good graces.
16 Baldwin’s Unfatherly Behavior
Alec Baldwin has never known for a shy temperament. This is a man who openly attacked paparazzi following him around and is known for firing off his mouth a lot. He openly yelled “let’s stone Henry Hyde to death” on The Tonight Show and his tenure imitating President Trump just makes him more notable. However, Baldwin’s biggest furor would be when tapes surfaced in 2007 of Baldwin leaving an angry voice message for his 11-year-old daughter Ireland. Most of it cannot be reprinted and the line of her being “rude and thoughtless” is the least insulting part. For a father to rant on his daughter like that is horrible and Baldwin’s celebrity made it worse. He went on an apology tour to make up for it and his career has rebounded since. Baldwin’s edge is part of his charisma yet he showed that Father’s Day in his home must have been pretty uncomfortable for a few years.
15 Stone’s Asian Act
A few times, actors have come out and apologized for a movie. It’s mostly tongue-in-cheek, just meant to note how terrible a flick is and laughing about taking it. But this is something different. Once a top-notch writer/director, Cameron Crowe hit bottom in 2015 with Aloha. A would-be romantic comedy in Hawaii, the film had slews of bad reviews over its story and dialogue and was a flop. But making it worse was that Crowe decided that for the key role of Allison Ng, a pilot who is part-Chinese, part-Hawaiian, he would cast… Emma Stone. A woman as far away from exotic as you can get. This caused a massive uproar (the fact the character had blonde hair not helping) and many believe it was a key reason the movie failed. Crowe seemed taken aback, but Stone was up front after its release on how “my eyes have been opened” to the situation of whitewashing and wishing she had turned the part down. Crowe also issued an apology as this was more than just a bad role but a huge misstep for representation that Stone regrets.
14 Spacey Coming Out
In just one week, Kevin Spacey went from one of the most acclaimed actors of his time to a horrible example of a human being. For years, he was respected for his craft, a two-time Oscar winner with slews of credits, adept at comedy, drama, and song and about to start production on the final season of House of Cards. But amid various other talks of past abuse, actor Anthony Rapp claimed Spacey had tried what amounted to sexual abuse with him when Rapp was 14. Spacey issued a statement apologizing to Rapp for the incident and also formally coming out as gay himself. If he thought he could cover for his past, it backfired massively. Gay rights groups lambasted Spacey for covering his abuse with a coming out statement and making the incident look worse. Production on House has been suspended and Spacey’s next few movies are now up in the air in terms of release. Thus, this is a case where Spacey’s apology for his stupid act in the past has done even more damage to his career.
13 Grande’s Donut Dive
Ariana Grande has been a notable starlet since her time as the ditzy Cat on Victorious. This led to a spin-off, Sam & Cat that seemed to be doing well with fans loving this redhead’s quirky humor. But reports grew of Grande clashing with co-star Jennette McCurdy, the two having arguments on set and building up to the show getting canceled. Grande bounced back with a terrific singing career, known for her amazing style, love of high boots and short dresses and her terrific voice. But there were reports of her rather diva-like behavior and ignoring fans. Not helping were such things as tweeting about being “the hardest working 23-year-old on the planet.”
The height would have to be when Grande was caught on video licking donuts she hadn’t bought and laughing about it. The topper was her making the remark on the donuts being garbage and, apropos of nothing, throwing out “I hate America.” Grande had to issue an apology and her career not suffering too much yet it hardly helps her reputation.
12 Deen’s N-Bomb
With her wild white hair, down-home charm and authentic Southern manners, Paula Deen was a hit with Food Network viewers. Already popular, she took off nicely with her own TV show and various books, emphasizing a grill style and open about the joys of fatty foods. This got her in hot water when she revealed she had Diabetes yet continued to push a fat-heavy diet. But that was nothing compared to the mess when a former employee sued Deen for discrimination. While the suit was tossed out, the deposition revealed that Deen had admitted to using the N-word several times and various employees talked of her using terms like “plantation-style” for parties and such. Deen apologized for the behavior, claiming it wasn’t really her. But the damage was done as she lost her show and numerous sponsorships and her road back has been hard. By dropping that line, Deen only cooked up a very ugly mess for herself.
11 Hough’s Blackface
Halloween is meant to be a fun time where even celebrities can enjoy some fun outfits. But sometimes, a star can go just a wee bit too far. A famous case was Bill Maher showing up as Steve Irwin with a bloody manta ray through his body which was widely slammed. Another case would be Julianne Hough as the actress/dancer was known for her great body and lovely charm. But in 2013, Hough showed up at a Halloween party dressed in an orange jumpsuit, apparently off one of the women of Orange is the New Black. Sadly, she picked Crazy Eyes with her hair done in those odd braids and her skin colored dark. To say it didn’t go over well would be an understatement as even Isla Fisher told Hough she should wash her face off. But it didn’t work as people were livid about her going blackface and Hough was forced to apologize. For the record, Uzo Aduba openly said she didn’t mind and accepted the apology but Hough showed why running your costumes past others first is a good idea.
10 The Hulkster Apologizes
In the 1980s and early 90s, Hulk Hogan was the face of pro wrestling. With his bigger-than-life persona, his great build and stunning charisma, Hogan had audiences in the palm of his hand. For years, he was the top draw but nothing lasts forever. In 1991, Hogan went on Arsenio Hall to openly deny ever taking steroids. Three years later, as part of a federal trial against Vince McMahon, Hogan was forced to admit under oath he’d been taking steroids for years and apologized for his earlier lies. He still kept up his act as both a wrestler and a reality show star but some issues involving a bitter divorce. In 2015, tapes surfaced of Hogan going through brutally racist rants, dropping the N-word and other insults. He was let go from WWE who quickly went about scrubbing all mention of him as much as they could. Hogan went on TV to apologize openly and has gotten support from people in wrestling on how he’s not a racist. But it’s still a shameful sight to bring wrestling’s biggest hero down.
9 Lochte's Lies
In the pool, Ryan Lochte was a force to be reckoned with. In the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, he won multiple medals, including gold and instantly a poster boy for various sponsorships. However, Lochte got some issues over his attitude and some poor decision making. One such idea was starring in his own reality TV show that made him look like a complete idiot. In 2016, Lochte just added to that with his bizarre actions at the Rio Games. After winning gold with the relay team, Lochte told police he and some others were robbed at gunpoint which became a big story. But the story became bigger when video showed the group vandalizing a service station and Lochte admitted he was drunk and “overly-exaggerated” the event, saying the money “stolen” was to pay damages. He was charged with lying over a felony and issued a statement on Good Morning America about his bad judgment and yet showcasing that for all his skills in a pool, Lochte was drowning in his lies.
8 Richards' Racist Stand-Up
During the long run of Seinfeld, Michael Richards was an easy stand-out as Kramer. With his wild antics, terrific comic timing and fun charm, Richards won an Emmy for the show and looked to be on his way to a good career. However, an attempt at his own sitcom in 2000 failed badly and he became the poster boy of “the Seinfeld curse”. In 2006, Richards was doing a stand-up act at an L.A. comedy club and getting heckled for some bad material. Someone managed to catch on video Richards erupting in a long rant that dropped the n-word several times and joking about lynching. His attempt at an apology on David Letterman went poorly as he talked of “Afro-Americans” and his pauses had the audience tittering, thinking it was a bit. He offered apologies to Al Sharpton, who refused to listen. Richards’ career never recovered and he’s basically been a hermit since as one long rant ruined his life.
7 Kanye’s Interruption
In 2009, Taylor Swift was making her transition from a country music starlet to a pop princess. That pushed her on with various bits as even MTV was noticing her work. At the annual Video Music Awards, Swift won Best Female Music Video and clearly overwhelmed by the moment. She took to the stage to bask in the applause but before she could speak, Kanye West suddenly stormed up. “I’m gonna let you finish but Beyoncé had the best music video of all time!” No one could believe what they were seeing, some thinking it a joke but Swift’s shocked look made it clear it was for real. Instantly, social media came down on Kanye like a ton of bricks, slamming him majorly and easily the most hated man in music. He finally came out to apologize, in his own fashion, saying he was a huge Beyoncé fan and thought she deserved it. Swift has brushed the incident off but West still has haters for making this moment about himself.
6 Stewart’s Affair
Kristen Stewart rose to fame with the Twilight films, becoming an instant star. While noted for a somewhat sour attitude, Stewart still was quite talented and seemed ready for more. She took a chance with another franchise, Snow White and the Huntsman, an epic FX take on the classic fairy tale. The movie was a nice hit but that was no doubt because it was released before the big news hit. Which was that director Rupert Sanders and Stewart had engaged in an affair on set. It was a big deal as Sanders was married and Stewart with Robert Pattinson who would split with her not long afterward. Stewart was apologetic, citing it as “just something that happened” and not wanting to cause pain. Sanders has cited it as “an exciting mistake” and does seem to regret it. Stewart has come out since as gay making this an even wilder time and while it hasn’t hurt her career, it was a bad choice for her.
5 Gibson’s Rant
It’s hard to remember when Mel Gibson was on top of the Hollywood world. With far too many hit movies to count, Gibson was also a top director, as evidenced by his Oscar wins for Braveheart. Charming and handsome, Gibson was a settled part of the A-list and could seemingly do no wrong. In 2006, Gibson was pulled over for a DUI and it could have been your typical embarrassment. Instead, Gibson was caught on tape launching into a profane tirade that slammed the officer while also various lines like “Jews are the cause of all the wars in the world.” This added to an air of anti-Semitism already there from The Passion of the Christ. Fans were livid and Gibson had to issue an apology that wasn’t taken very well. Gibson did a second apology, this one written to newspapers but it also didn’t go well. Even a 20/20 interview failed to cool things as it’s made Gibson a near outcast in Hollywood (the upcoming Daddy’s Home 2 is his first major role in years) and how showing an ugly side leads to consequences.
4 Lance’s Big Lie
There are lies… and then there are lies. As in, an untruth that can completely destroy not just your life but your legacy. In 1999, Lance Armstrong became an American hero, returning from cancer to win the Tour de France bike race. It was an epic moment, Armstrong a winner and honored by numerous people. For the next six years, Armstrong dominated the race with victories while doing numerous promotion work and raising millions for cancer research. It looked to be him as a hero yet there were warning signs from some who claimed it was physically impossible to keep this level of excellence up constantly. In 2012, it finally was confirmed as a massive federal investigation showed Armstrong had been part of an elite doping ring and was on drugs for almost all those races. He was stripped of his honors and banned for life as his sponsorships dried up fast. Armstrong went on various interviews and even a documentary to admit the lie and how he felt sorry covering it up. Yet it feels too little, too late as his decision to “enhance” himself ruined his entire life.
3 Letterman’s Blackmail
David Letterman is known for cracking wise a lot. So when on October 2nd, 2009, he began a sit down at his desk with “I want to tell a story,” viewers expected a nice funny joke. It began with Letterman talking about how he had to see a lawyer and the police and confusion reigned. Eventually, Letterman came down to it: He was being blackmailed over having had affairs with women on his staff. It took a moment for fans to realize this was for real and the reaction was stunned disbelief. Letterman went on, feeling chagrined having to deal with all this but getting it out in the open, confessing to the “skeevy things” he had done and up-front on the pain it caused his wife. It spoke volumes of his charm and respect that Letterman managed to get through it okay, his show continuing and winning hails for being up front on his failings. In typical fashion, Letterman made himself the center of jokes (“It’s fall in New York. I spent the weekend raking up my hate mail.”) and instead of ruining his mystique, the apology added to it.
2 Reese’s Arrest
It took just one video to ruin Reese Witherspoon’s image as “America’s Sweetheart.” The woman had been rising up high as an Oscar winner and A-list star, fantastic in her talent and major hits. Witherspoon was known for a bright style and good spirit, not the type of woman you’d see in the tabloids. That changed in April of 2013 when Witherspoon was with husband Jim Toth when they were pulled over for Toth wavering the car. He was clearly under the influence as the cop had him get out for a sobriety test. Witherspoon stepped out, unaware the police car camera was capturing her as she stalked over and started yelling at the guy.
The cop told her to stay in the car but Witherspoon snapped about being an American citizen and showing she’d had a few drinks herself. She even played the ultimate Hollywood elite card with “Do you know my name?” That got her handcuffed and soon spending a night in jail. Witherspoon opened up on what a huge mistake this was and has seemed to survive. A year later, she earned acclaim with her performance in Wild and the recent Big Little Lies to rebuild her image, but still she spoiled her reputation somewhat with this, showing some celebs aren’t above the law.
1 Williams’ News Fib
A newsman is supposed to stand for truth in order to keep their jobs respected. Someone should have told that to Brian Williams. For a decade, Williams was the nightly anchor for NBC, his handsome demeanor and serious manner allowing him to report various top stories for viewers. He was hailed for his professionalism, winning a Peabody for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and also a celebrity himself. He even appeared in TV shows and movies sending up his image. But in 2015, Williams went from reporting the news to becoming it. For years, he had talked of an incident in 2003 when he was in a helicopter in Iraq forced to land after being hit by an RPG. He later amended it to a close call with some feeling suspicious. Meanwhile, soldiers on that copter claimed that there was no fire at all.
Soon, other embellishments came out like Williams claiming to have seen the Berlin Wall fall when he arrived a few days later and saying to have seen a suicide at the Superdome. Williams came clean on air about the helicopter incident, apologizing and recanting and was suspended for six months. While he continues to report, Williams is no longer as trusted for inserting himself into stories too often.