B-Listers – where would our celebrity-obsessed culture be without them? Not as idealized or untouchable as the A-list elite, they seem a little closer to reality, a little closer to… us. When it comes to who ends up as a jerk or a sweetheart, fame can play a number of roles.
Some of the celebs on our list actually made it to the top of their game – at one time, that is. In fact, in some cases, a jerkish personality and widespread rumors of being difficult to work with seem to have sidelined a once promising career. In other cases, individuals who are genuinely nice and not obsessed with money or fame may be consciously foregoing the kind of fishbowl scrutiny and Hollywood competitiveness that would put them on the A-list.
Here’s a list of 15 who’ve become notable for being either a jerk or a sweetheart – and it isn’t always who you’d think.
15 Jerk: Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl is a classic example of an A-list celeb who sank to the B-list – or even lower than that – because of her jerkish behavior. Katherine is blond, beautiful, and talented as an actress. She made a name for herself on Grey’s Anatomy, the hit TV series where she starred as Dr. Izzie Stevens from 2005 to 2010. She left to capitalize on her growing popularity by getting into the movies, where just five years ago, her flicks – largely romcoms like 2007’s Knocked Up – were averaging about $50 million per release. But by about 2012, rumors started to surface of personality issues, and her output began to decline drastically as more and more producers and directors refused to work with her. A recent direct-to-video release, Jenny’s Wedding, earned a total of $4,704. What’s the problem? Basically, diva-ish demands like constantly demanding script changes, refusing to leave her trailer to get started filming, wardrobe demands, and the list goes on. Perhaps worst, from a Hollywood standpoint, is that her movies just didn’t take off the way they were supposed to.
14 Jerk: Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer, one of the biggest stars and box-office draws during the 1980s and 1990s, has seen his prospects as an actor dwindle as his personality issues got in the way of success on the big screen. He probably reached his peak in 1995, when he starred as the Caped Crusader in Batman Forever. Director Joel Schumacher called him out as “childish and irresponsible” in interviews, and the movie was panned by critics. Val’s next movie was The Island of Dr. Moreau, which is still legendary in Hollywood as an example of a production that went out of control, largely because of Kilmer’s ego issues. Director John Frankenheimer went on the record as saying, “I don’t like Val Kilmer, I don’t like his work ethic, and I don’t want to be associated with him ever again.” Personality – and being able to play nice with others – do matter, even in Tinsel Town.
13 Jerk: Teri Hatcher
It was during her starring turn in the hit TV series Desperate Housewives that rumors began to surface of Teri Hatcher’s diva-ish behavior. Exactly what went down is still a mystery, but by the end of the series’ run, her co-stars stayed away from her, and she was known to distance herself from not only her castmates but also the series that made her a star itself. It’s particularly telling that, at the series’ end in 2012, the entire cast sent show creator Marc Cherry a gift as a token of their esteem – and Teri’s name wasn’t on the card. She did some movie work prior to Desperate Housewives, and she was Lois Lane in Lois & Clark from 1993 to 1997, but her career basically imploded after Housewives.
12 Jerk: Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt was billed as America’s Sweetheart early in her career, and her winsome smile and other bodily assets seemed sure to guarantee her a permanent spot in the Hollywood star machine. After a string of successes, including the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies, and The Ghostwhisperer TV series, her place seemed secure. But that was about to change beginning with The Client List, which capitalized on her sexy persona. The series cast her as Riley Parks, a Texas housewife who becomes a spa attendant and who specializes in those happy endings in order to support her daughter and pay the bills. It seemed ideal for the undeniably attractive actress, but in the end, it was personality issues that scuttled both the series and her career. By 2013, both she and her character were pregnant, and producers of the show were cool with that. What they weren’t cool with was her insistence that her real-life partner and co-star Brian Hallisay play the baby’s father on the show. Because she wouldn’t compromise, the whole show was axed (putting a lot of other people out of work, we’ll note). In 2014, she failed to inform Criminal Minds showrunners that she was pregnant until the season had already started. She was getting slammed in gossip columns, and fans started to turn on her and what was criticized as a one-dimensional persona on screen. Where is she now?
11 Jerk: Gerard Butler
Gerard Butler’s international career reached its peak in 2007 with the release of 300, where he starred as Spartan king Leonidas. More recently, he was in the 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, a surprise hit, but the follow-up London Has Fallen (2016) fell flat. Ditto the controversial Gods of Egypt, a film accused by many commentators of whitewashing ancient history. While his output has been fairly steady, his star has faded into B-list territory. Could his reputation as an aggressive ladies’ man be the reason? As far back as 2011, co-stars like Kirsten Dunst were labeling the Scottish actor as a “total jerk” for his penchant for bedding Hollywood starlets. The actress claimed that he had tried a few of his suave pick-up lines on her, and she called out the much older actor for his charmless behavior. His reputation as a horndog was legend in Hollywood, and his prospects have dwindled. Coincidence?
10 Jerk: Wesley Snipes
It’s no secret that the US government thinks actor Wesley Snipes is (or was) a jerk – they jailed him in 2010 for tax evasion, with a scolding by the trial judge to add insult to injury. But his star was already fading in Hollywood, and he had a long way to fall. He made the A-list with a string of no less than seven hits that earned more than $100 million each, including the Blade trilogy. Reports from the set of Blade: Trinity in 2004, however, were part of the momentum that dragged him down to the B-list or worse. Actors and others on the set reported that, because of a dispute over money and creative control with director David Goyer, Snipes refused to communicate with anyone other than Goyer and, at that, would only write him post-it notes that he signed “Blade.” He’d sit for hours in his trailer, smoking weed and refusing to come out. It’s one thing to have a beef with producers; it’s another to inconvenience the whole production. Despite appearances in Expendables 3 and the TV series The Player, it seems unlikely that his career will ever get back to its A-list status.
9 Jerk: Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis always had a bad reputation with media types. He would give them a hard time at interviews, even when he was supposed to be promoting a movie. In 2011, director Kevin Smith told the WTF podcast that he found working with Willis on Cop Out a “soul-crushing” experience. He made no secret of his feelings, even with other cast members and crew of the film. At the release party, he made the statement, “I want to thank everyone who worked on the film, except for Bruce Willis, who is a f$$ing d$$k.” Tell us how you feel, Kevin! Smith isn’t the only one to feel antipathy for Willis. There was the famous feud with Sylvester Stallone that saw Willis turfed from the Expendables movies. He had a very public showdown with Stephen Colbert, who openly doubted Bruce’s claim that he did all his own stunts openly on his show. He’s had feuds with co-stars going back to Moonlighting, his breakout TV role starring opposite Cybill Shepherd and director Michael Bay in the movie Armageddon. Despite his long list of box-office successes, he’s currently more or less an A-list actor doing B-list movies. Could a general dislike of his behavior and attitude be the reason?
8 Jerk: Gene Simmons
In June 2017, KISS frontman Gene Simmons abandoned his efforts to trademark the devils’ horn hand gesture that he says he made famous. Trademark a hand gesture? It’s a jerk move by definition. Along with trying to trademark a hand gesture performed by millions of metal – and not necessarily KISS – fans, Simmons routinely trashes other musicians in public, including Nirvana and Madonna, among others. He’s well known for making pithy statements like men shouldn’t get married until they’re 60 and that rock died in 1988. He’s also known for cashing in wherever he can, including a reality TV show, KISS condoms, and more. That’s where the devil’s hand gesture trademark attempt comes into the picture, we’re guessing. The biggest question, though, is why media types continue to interview this has been and ask him his opinion on… anything.
7 Sweetheart: Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser was a rare star who could combine action and comedic roles in his heyday on the A-list back in the day. His career peaked in The Mummy trilogy, especially the first two outings starring opposite Rachel Weisz. In fact, in 2017, even outside the spotlight for about three years at that point, his rabid fans urged for a boycott of the reboot starring Tom Cruise, out of deference for the actor. It turns out the fan devotion, in this case, is justified. From interviewers to co-stars, the reaction to the big, square-jawed actor has been one of universal goodwill. He’s prone to giggles, and that sweetness his characters display onscreen is apparently true to life. It’s too bad the former A-lister made some bad career decisions and got derailed by a few personal issues, landing him squarely on the B-side of Hollywood.
6 Sweetheart: Blake Lively
She’s known for a few prominent movie roles and, of course, her big career break in Gossip Girls, but these days, blond beauty Blake Lively is probably best known for her marriage to megastar Ryan Reynolds and an Instagram account that reveals her as everybody’s sweetheart next door. She’s shared funny pics of herself with a double chin, chowing down on pizza, adorable family photos, and more. Blake comes across as down-to-earth and perfectly relatable – despite the megastar couplehood and an enviable sense of style that's made her a fashion icon. She’s one of those rare actresses who are equally loved by her male and female fans. We’re hoping motherhood doesn’t put her career on hold for too long so she can bounce right up to A-list status, where this sexy sweetheart really belongs.
5 Sweetheart: Keanu Reeves
We’ve all probably seen that meme about Keanu Reeves and what a down-to-earth guy he really is. It turns out that it all seems to be true. Once an A-lister with The Matrix trilogy and other hit movies on his resume, he’s slipped to the B-list in recent years, although the groundbreaking John Wick and John Wick 2 seem to be putting him back in the spotlight. If so, it really couldn’t happen to a better, more awesome guy. He’s certainly known a lot of tragedy in his life, including abandonment by his father at an early age, the death of BF River Phoenix, and the stillborn birth of his child by former wife Jennifer Syme in 1999. He’s also garnered a reputation as one of the most generous and charitable guys in Hollywood. He made about $114 million personally from The Matrix series – and insisted on giving about $80 million of that to special effects and make-up people. He took voluntary pay cuts on movies like The Devil’s Advocate so that producers could afford stars like Al Pacino and reportedly gave a down-on-his-luck stage builder – one of the poorest paid people on a typical movie set -- a $20,000 Christmas bonus just to help out. There are no rumors of bad behavior, which is unusual for Hollywood, to counter all the stories of generosity and just plain niceness. Here’s hoping the John Wick series catapults him back onto the A-list. It literally couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
4 Sweetheart: George Takei
Star Trek icon and current social media star George Takei is apparently just as nice a guy off screen as he sounds in the posts read and shared by millions. In his posts, he comes across as humane and intelligent, and the stories from fans and co-stars back up the impression. There are many reports to confirm the fact that in his many appearances at fan events, he won’t leave autograph signings until he’s talked to every single person one to one. He once appeared at a media event hours before it started, just so he could sign a doll for a sick fan who couldn’t make it in person. His family was sent to internment camps during World War II, and he struggled with acceptance as a gay man in Hollywood for years, but he never comes across as bitter and angry. He's even hosted a Youtube series showing seniors how to use technology. Sure, he’s had his public feud with fellow original Trekker William Shatner, but we hear Will’s a douchebag, so we’re not holding it against George.
3 Sweetheart: Jack Black
Jack Black seemed destined for comedic success after School of Rock and other ostensible breakout roles. We’re not sure what happened to plunk him down on the B-list, but we’re pretty certain it had nothing to do with his personality. In an interview, one of his old buddies from grade school related the story of how Jack brought candy to school and hid it around the playground, just as a nice surprise for his schoolmates. Another story on the internet is told by someone who works at a movie theater. They say that Jack came in to watch a flick and spilled popcorn all along the front row – and then insisted on cleaning it up himself. He’s funny and is a talented musician, too, so we’re hoping another big break comes his way soon.
2 Sweetheart: Rooney Mara
Actress Rooney Mara gained fame in the American version of the dark thriller The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and while she’s worked steadily since then, she hasn’t quite hit the A-list heights just yet. But when it comes to philanthropy, she’s already a superstar. Rooney comes from a wealthy family. Her mother’s family founded the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL franchise, and her father’s family, ditto with the New York Giants. But, while they’re rich and privileged, her parents seem to have instilled socially responsible values in the talented actress. She founded Faces of Kibera in 2008. The charity offers food, shelter, and medicine to orphans in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, and it’s not the only charitable organization she’s associated with. It would be easy for her to party away a privileged lifestyle, so we applaud her efforts to give back instead.
1 Sweetheart: Steve Buscemi
It almost hurts to put actor Steve Buscemi on the B-list. He’s easily one of the most recognizable actors in Hollywood, and he’s taken on a number of iconic roles, from his breakout in the Coen Brothers’ hit Fargo to a starring turn in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Still, you couldn’t say that he’s achieved leading-man status, and what’s more, that doesn’t seem to bother the talented actor who's universally described as down-to-earth and relatable. A former firefighter, his time spent literally helping to dig through the rubble of what was once the World Trade Center after 9/11 has become the stuff of legend. He spent five days working 12-hour shifts looking for traces of his former firefighting colleagues. His reputation with acting colleagues is no less stellar, with universal reports of his kindness and generosity. He may play bad guys and rough characters on screen, but by all accounts, that comes in opposition to a true heart of gold.
Sources: elitedaily.com; moviepilot.com; smosh.com