In 1988, at the age of 17, Wahlberg served time in jail for attempted murder, after he assaulted two Vietnamese men without provocation. Referring to the men as “sl**t-eyed g**ks”, Wahlberg punched Hoa Trinh in the eye and hit Thanh Lam over the head with a large stick until he fell unconscious. Wahlberg served 45 days in jail for the attacks.
Snoop Doggy Dogg has never been shy about living the gangster lifestyle, but how many people know about the murder charge? In 1993, Snoop was arrested after a rival gang member was shot and killed by a gun fired out of a car Snoop was driving. Legendary OJ Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran somehow got both Snoop and the shooter – who actually admitted to firing the gun – acquitted.
He may act like an upstanding citizen today, but Allen, the staunch Republican star of family entertainment, once almost went to prison for life for drug trafficking. Arrested at a Michigan airport in 1978 and found in possession of cocaine, Allen would still be in prison now if he hadn’t given the names of other drug dealers to police. Having successfully snitched, Allen served two-and-a-half years of a three to seven year sentence instead.
Through the 90s and 00s, in his fallow period, actor Christian Slater struggled with an addiction that, in a series of incidents, caused him to act violently. In 1989, Slater was arrested for drunkenly crashing his car and assaulting a police officer, but more serious was the 1997 incident that saw him repeatedly punch a girlfriend and attack the police officers who arrived to arrest him. Finally, in 2005, Slater was arrested for sexual harassment, when he “grabbed a woman’s behind on the street” while walking down the street intoxicated.
In 1985, Penn began what would be a tumultuous relationship with Madonna. They married that year, and divorced four years later. When Madonna filed for divorce in 1989, she also filed a complaint with police alleging that Penn had assaulted her on a number of occasions, including one in which Penn allegedly held his estranged wife against her will and beat her. Though Madonna later withdrew the complaint, it was reported in the media at the time that she was, by Penn, “beaten, gagged, and left strapped to an armchair for nine hours before she escaped.”
In 2015, Hirsch was in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, when he got into an argument with Paramount executive Daniele Bernfeld at a nightclub. The altercation escalated to the point where a drunken Hirsch put Bernfeld in a chokehold, then strangled her until she blacked out. Pleading guilty to misdemeanour assault, Hirsch served 15 days in jail for the attack and was fined $4,750.
As early as the 1950s, King was running with the ‘wrong crowd’ (he was suspected of continued ties to organised crime into the 1990s). In 1954, King was running gambling houses in Cleveland, Ohio, when he shot and killed a man attempting to rob one. This was ruled a ‘justifiable homicide’, and King served no jail time. In 1967, however, King killed again, curb-stomping the head of a man who owed him money until he was dead. King served just shy of four years in prison for this one.
To date, Howard has been married four times, and has been arrested for domestic violence through a total of three of the marriages. Howard has admitted to hitting his first wife (“she was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids”), while his second obtained not one but two restraining orders against the actor. In addition to punching, stalking and threatening to kill women he’s been involved with, Howard was also arrested for an assault on a female flight attendant in 2000.
Jones, once a favourite of Hollywood directors such as John Hughes and Tim Burton, has struggled to find work as an actor ever since he registered as a sex offender in 2003. The year prior, Jones was arrested for possession of illicit material featuring minors, and for having paid a 14-year-old boy to pose for explicit photos and videos. Jones was sentenced to five years probation and counselling. He was arrested two more times, in 2004 and 2010, for having failed to update his sex offender status.
You know Mel Gibson is a racist and hard drinker who once said an entire race of people was “responsible for all the wars in the world”, in a bizarre 2006 rant during which he was arrested by police for speeding with an open container of alcohol by his side. But did you also know that Gibson was sentenced to three years’ probation, counselling and community service in 2011 after pleading no contest to a serious domestic violence charge? Though Gibson did later admit to ‘slapping’ his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, Grigorieva claimed the abuse had been more serious.
Mike Tyson may be known as a cameo actor or podcaster to young audiences today, but his impact on boxing can never be understated. Unfortunately, his career was also sullied by a serious charge. In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping 18-year-old beauty contestant Desiree Washington in his hotel room. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Tyson served three, after which he immediately resumed his boxing career. Tyson is still required to register as a sex offender to this day.
Musical icon John Lennon embraced peace and love later in life, having previously been an admitted serial abuser of women. The irony of this was not lost on the former Beatle. “I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically – any woman. I was a hitter”, Lennon told Playboy in a 1980 interview (published just two months before he was shot dead). “I couldn’t express myself and I hit.” Lennon said his violent past was “why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace.”
Once considered one of the world’s finest actors, recent years have seen Gerard Depardieu become a more controversial figure. As early as 1978, Depardieu admitted raping “too many [women] to count,” at the same time insisting, “there’s no such thing as rape.” In more recent years Depardieu has been accused of sexually assaulting and raping two different actresses, although both cases were dropped by police. Additionally, Depardieu admitted in his autobiography that as a younger man he used to rob graves as well as, in his time as an escort, beating up his male clients and robbing them.
With a net worth of more than $1 billion, Jay-Z has become known as a businessman and philanthropist first and a rapper second. On December 1, 1999, Jay-Z stabbed record executive Lance ‘Un’ Rivera in the stomach with a five-inch blade during an album release party at New York’s Kit Kat Klub. The rapper believed that Rivera was responsible for bootlegging his latest album, and – while allegedly “blacking out with anger” – attacked Rivera with a blade. In October 2001, Jay-Z pleaded guilty to stabbing Rivera. He served a sentence of three years’ probation.
Before he got into acting, Lipton tried a few different careers: newspaper copy boy, lawyer, air serviceman – and a professional ‘procurer’ of women. In a 2013 interview with Parade magazine, Lipton admitted that, back when he lived in Paris in the 1950s, he “represented” French prostitutes. Insisting that he was never abusive and that French procurers of the time were more “like agents”, Lipton emphasised his benevolent status, adding that he and one of the prostitutes “had some amazing adventures together”.
The headlines regarding Charlie Sheen’s often eccentric behaviour have done much to obscure one simple fact: the man is a repeated abuser of women. In 1990, it was reported that Sheen “accidentally” shot then-fiancee, Kelly Preston, in the arm. In 1997, Sheen was given two years probation for slamming girlfriend Brittany Ashland onto the marble floor of his house. In 2010, Sheen was sentenced to 30 days in rehab after an ‘altercation’ with wife Brooke Mueller. Finally, Sheen was sued the same year by Capri Anderson, who claimed Sheen had choked her while they were together.
In 2006, Durst was apparently in a bad place. After a few years in the spotlight, not all of which had been kind to Limp Bizkit, the rapper took a reckless course of action. In October of that year, Durst threatened two apparent strangers with a gun before hitting them with his car, after an alleged road rage incident turned nasty. The following year, Durst pleaded no contest to seven charges including battery, reckless driving and assault with a deadly weapon. He was fined $1,500 and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.
Robert Van Winkle, better known by rap name Vanilla Ice, has twice been arrested on charges of domestic violence against wife Laura Giaritta. Following a 2001 incident in which he pulled out chunks of Giaritta’s hair, Van Winkle was sentenced to probation and ordered to attend family therapy sessions. Meanwhile in 2008, Van Winkle was arrested for allegedly for hitting and kicking Giaritta, after which he was ordered only to contact her via the phone. The charges were later dropped.
Where to start with Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil? His history of violence – particularly against women – is well-documented, as are numerous drink-driving incidents. As recently as 2016, Neil was convicted of assaulting a female fan, but his worst crime came early in his career. In 1984, Neil was driving under the influence of both alcohol and quaaludes when he drove into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into a young couple driving another car. The passengers, 18 and 20, were left with brain damage, while Neil’s own passenger, 24-year-old musician Nicholas Dingley, was killed. Neil served 15 days in jail.
Stephanie Pratt came to the public’s attention in 2007, starring alongside her brother Spencer on the reality show The Hills. As such, Pratt has been involved in her fair drama. In 2007, she admitted to years of drug abuse and a crippling addiction to crystal meth when she was a teenager. In 2006, she was arrested for shoplifting designer clothes worth $4,000 while under the influence.
Alright, alright, alright. Matthew McConaughey learned the hard way that being a famous actor doesn’t excuse you from the law when he was arrested in 1999 after noise complaints were made from his swanky Austin, Texas house. The authorities arrived around 3am to find McConaughey sitting naked in his living room playing the bongos (no, that’s not a euphemism). He was charged with resisting arrest and marijuana use.
The late rapper and actor DMX, real name Earl Simmons, was arrested over a dozen times over the course of his life, with charges ranging from criminal impersonation, parole violation and illegal drug use. His most famous arrest came in 2004 when Simmons crashed his SUV through a parking lot gate at New York’s JFK Airport. When confronted by airport security, DMX tried to make them believe he was an agent of the FBI.
Lindsay Lohan has scrubbed up her reputation in the last few years, even appearing in a sickly sweet Christmas movie on Netflix. But she has been in and out of jail since her first arrest for a DUI in 2007, at the height of her fame. Over the next decade, Lohan would be arrested for driving under the influence, possession of cocaine, assault and even one hit and run. Although Lohan had made some movies since those days, there’s no doubting the impact on her employability.
Since co-founding the mighty Microsoft with Paul Allen, the most trouble Bill Gates has gotten into are accusations of being anti-competitive by a court of law. But back in his salad days, the now-multi-billionaire got into a fair bit of actual trouble. After being arrested in 1975 for driving without a license, he went on to be arrested two more times in the late 1970s for traffic violations and reckless driving.
Khloe Kardashian may have fallen under your radar completely unless you’re a die-hard fan of America’s most famous family. Historically overshadowed by her elder sisters Kim and Kourtney, Khloe managed to get away with some stuff the others couldn’t, including a DUI charge in 2007. Oh, and the suspected assault of a transgender woman outside a nightclub in 2009.
Most famous today for starring in the Fast & Furious franchise, Michelle Rodriguez isn’t considered a Hollywood wild child for nothing. In 2002, she was arrested for assault on her roommate. The following year, she faced eight misdemeanor charges including a hit and run and DUI. She pleaded no contest to three, spent 48 hours in jail and was forced to perform community service and attend a three-month alcohol program. It didn’t take; whilst starring on TV’s Lost, Rodriguez had another DUI arrest, for which she received five days jail time and a $500 fine. (She was also fired from Lost.)
The Baldwin family aren’t exactly shy and retiring. Each brother has at some point come under fire for some controversy whether it’s fighting paparazzi or being caught under the influence. The comparatively lesser-known Daniel Baldwin was found running naked through the halls of the Plaza Hotel in New York in 1998 shouting “Baldwin!” and was arrested for possession of cocaine, later pleading guilty to disorderly conduct. He told People magazine he had been battling drug addiction since 1989.
Charlie isn’t the only Sheen with a criminal past, though his father Martin’s charges have come from trying to better the world. A whopping 67 accounts of civil disobedience, trespassing and disturbing the peace are on Sheen’s record, making him the most arrested Hollywood celebrity of all time. One of his latest arrests came in 2007 after he was caught trespassing on a Nevada nuclear testing facility.
Hearing that controversial 90s shock rocker Marilyn Manson hasn’t always seen eye to eye with authorities isn’t a huge surprise. The nature of his crimes may leave you feeling a little nauseated. Manson was once arrested for faking a sexual act, impersonating a Catholic bishop, and exposing himself during a concert. In 2001, he apparently assaulted a security guard at one of his performances and rubbed his crotch and genitalia on the man’s forehead. More alarmingly, 2021 saw him accused of sexual abuse by several women including former fiancée Evan Rachel Wood.
Dennis Rodman, along with Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan, defined the NBA in the mid 1990s as part of the Chicago Bulls. He was also infamous off the court. In 1998, Rodman was arrested following a dispute with his wife at the time Carmen Electra. In 2003 and 2008, he was charged with separate domestic disturbances, which he pled no contest to. Just in October 2019, he was charged with misdemeanour battery after slapping a man at the Buddha Sky Bar in Florida.
Between 2007 and 2012, it was hard to escape the name Chace Crawford thanks to his portrayal of Nate Archibald in the TV hit Gossip Girl. While he never known as a Hollywood hellraiser, he isn’t exactly squeaky clean, either. In 2010, Crawford was arrested and charged with drug possession after police found a marijuana joint on him during a body search. He was given a years’ probation and 80 hours of community service.
In 2010, Bruno Mars was arrested in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Casino for cocaine possession. He pleaded guilty to felony drug possession and paid a $2,000 fine and completed 200 hours of community service. In a GQ interview in 2013, Mars said: “I was young, man! I was in f***ing Vegas … I wasn’t thinking. I was given a number one record and I’m out doing dumb sh**. I was really intoxicated. I was really drunk. So a lot of that is a big blur, and I try every day to forget.”
Right on the brink of stardom, Cheryl Tweedy was caught up in a huge scandal that rocked the British press. Just weeks after winning her spot in Girls Aloud on Popstars: The Rivals, she was arrested after an altercation with a bathroom attendant in a nightclub. She was initially charged with racially aggravated assault, which was eventually dropped but she was convicted of actual bodily harm.
At the age of 17, Stephen Fry stole a family friend’s coat which contained his credit card. Dizzy with adrenaline, the young Fry went on a spending spree across the country before being arrested in Swindon. He was convicted of credit card fraud and spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison in remand. After his release, Fry managed to knuckle down and gain a scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge.
Woody Harrelson was introduced to audiences in America and the world over playing on the legendary sitcom Cheers. Around this time in his career, Harrelson was caught up in a pretty bizarre crime. In 1982, he was arrested by Columbus, Ohio police and charged with disturbing the peace for allegedly dancing in the middle of a busy road and trying to run away from the fuzz. 21 years old at the time, Harrelson avoided lengthy jail time by paying a fine. Not that this is Harrelson’s only criminal association; his father was a professional hitman.
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger may now be a respected elder of show business but for years he was derided by the establishment and authority figures alike for his devil may care attitude. In 1972 he was arrested for assault and obstructing justice after a fight with a photographer. Jagger and a few friends pleaded guilty and were later released. In 1967, he and Keith Richards had been arrested for drug possession. Also, like many rockers of his era, Jagger is reputed to have had sex with many female partners who were below the age of consent.
Dennis Hopper was one of the greatest actors of the counterculture era. Bursting onto the scene alongside Henry Fonda and Jack Nicholson in 1969’s Easy Rider, Hopper would go on to star in Apocalypse Now and David Lynch’s cult classic Blue Velvet. The actor had a rebellious reputation and often got in trouble with the law. One time in Taos, Mexico, he was charged with careless driving, feeling from the accident and not informing the police. Hopper didn’t exactly do hard time for this, however: he was sentenced a $250 fine and spent 20 minutes in prison.
By the mid 1990s, Hugh Grant had established himself as the perfect English gentleman. Four Weddings and a Funeral made him a star, and he was in a high profile romance with fellow actor Elizabeth Hurley. The world was shocked, then, when at the height of his fame in 1995, Grant was arrested for soliciting the services of a prostitute, which led to him being fined $1,180 and serving two years probation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his relationship with Hurley also ended within five years.
Will Smith has been in the public eye since the 1980s, entertaining audiences on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and in Men in Black. Recently, he’s made news for his assault of Chris Rock at the 2022 Academy Awards, but that wasn’t his first run-in with the law. He was arrested in 1989 after being involved in an assault that nearly left one man blind. He was charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, simple assault, and criminal conspiracy.
On August 5, 1987, Broderick was taking a trip around Northern Ireland with then-girlfriend and Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, when he crashed head-on into another car after crossing into the wrong lane. The accident left Broderick and Grey with minor injuries, while the two women in the other car – a mother and daughter – were both instantly killed. Broderick was initially charged with death by dangerous driving, but in the end he was fined just $175.