Even though many celebrities live amazing lives, being famous can be tough work. Actors and musicians are under constant pressure to please their fans, and it makes sense that sometimes it’s just too much. Over the years, we’ve seen lots of celebs get tired of their fame, and some leave the industry altogether.
Some other stars don’t take a step back from Hollywood in time and end up making decisions that completely ruin their career. Some of these A-listers definitely deserve a second chance, while others are barely even remembered or worse. In different ways, all of these celebrities have made crazy choices that had a big negative impact on their careers.
16. Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton was one of Hollywood’s next big celebs following her work as Marissa on The O.C., but her troubled lifestyle kept her from reaping the rewards of her success. Not only did she opt to leave the hit show early, but in 2007, she was arrested for driving under the influence, and things got worse from there. In 2009, she was involuntarily confined due to her dentist being worried about her mental health, and she has placed under psychiatric evaluation again last year. She was also sued by her landlord in 2010 for not paying her rent. Mischa’s career was so promising back in the day, but sadly, now it’s hard to imagine she’ll ever be taken seriously as an actress again. She even did a stint on Dancing with the Stars to kickstart her comeback, but unfortunately, her negative attitude led to being voted off early.
15. Sinead O’Connor
Sinead O’Connor, an Irish singer who rose to fame in the 1980s, has always attracted attention for her controversial political views. She took her freedom of expression to the next level during a 1992 appearance on Saturday Night Live. While singing the word “evil,” she held up a picture of the Pope, ripped it into pieces, and said, “fight the real enemy.” The act was meant as a protest of the Catholic Church’s history of sexual abuse, and it certainly caused a stir. Sinead was banned from SNL, and NBC received more than 4,000 angry phone calls about the performance.
14. Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf was one of the most promising young celebs of the Disney Channel golden age, but somewhere along the way to adulthood things got pretty weird. After starring in big hit movies like Transformers and Disturbia, plus a few well-received indies, Shia just sort of decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. In 2014, he was charged with disorderly conduct after getting kicked out of a Broadway show, and he was arrested again in 2017 for drunkenly cursing out some police officers. At one of his movie premieres a few years ago, he hit the red carpet wearing a paper bag that said “I’m not famous anymore” over his head. At this point, Shia LaBeouf is more of a punchline than a serious actor. He could definitely make a comeback though!
13. Jennifer Grey
Jennifer Grey was one of the top young celebs of the 1980s, and she’s best remembered for starring in the legendary Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze. She should have had a long, prosperous career, but she made a decision in 1991 that she thinks decimated her acting prospects. After getting a nose job, Jennifer realized that she looked totally different and that casting directors didn’t want to hire her anymore. She called it “the nose job from hell,” then said, “I’ll always be this once-famous actress nobody recognizes because of a nose job.” She said she lost her celebrity status after that surgery and has regretted it ever since. Jennifer hasn’t found many opportunities in Hollywood since. It’s a shame that her career was ruined over something so stupid, but as a movie star your face is everything.
12. Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson was one of Hollywood’s top leading men for years, but his career came to a screeching halt in 2006. He was arrested for a DUI, and reports of the arrest included him calling the female officer crude names, and making derogatory comments about Jewish people. In 2010, a tape surfaced of him yelling at his wife, including the use of multiple racial slurs. For years, Gibson was seen as toxic in Hollywood because of these disgusting incidents. Lately, he’s gained mainstream acceptance again, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for directing 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge. Let’s hope his attitudes have changed.
11. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen is the perfect example of a star who had it all, only to ruin his reputation almost overnight. Sheen was the highest-paid TV actor in history for his role on Two and a Half Men, but it all went south in 2011. After going to rehab, Sheen publicly trash talked the Two and a Half Men showrunner and demanded a huge raise, and things just got worse from there. His public meltdown included Twitter rants and popularizing of the phrases “winning” and “tiger blood.” Charlie Sheen left his hit show and we haven’t really heard much from him since. More recently, Sheen revealed that he is HIV-positive.
10. Eddie Murphy
One of the many big celebs to start out on Saturday Night Live, Eddie Murphy enjoyed a successful movie career after leaving the show. But starting in the mid-1990s, he ran into a series of flops that severely damaged his star power. Other than the Shrek movies, he didn’t have a real hit for over a decade. This was set to change in 2006 when his role in Dreamgirls drew rave reviews and Oscar buzz, but it wasn’t meant to be. Norbit came out in the middle of Oscar voting, and the tacky comedy that starred Murphy as an obese woman was not what voters wanted to see from an Oscar winner. More flops have followed, and Murphy’s career is nowhere near what it once was.
9. Paula Deen
With her delicious Southern cooking and her larger-than-life personality, Paula Deen was everything you could want in a Food Network host. Her show was a big hit, and her cookbooks sold extremely well for years. But Paula’s past caught up with her in a big way. Allegations were made that she had used the N-word while speaking to employees at her restaurant, and she was sued over her racist language. After initially denying the charges, Paula admitted that she had used the word, but didn’t mean it as an insult. It was too late. Her show was canceled, and she lost her sponsorship deals with brands like Target, Walmart, and QVC. Sorry, not sorry.
8. Axl Rose
Even for the biggest celebs in the world, professionalism still matters. Axl Rose never really got this memo, and despite his band Guns n’ Roses being a global success, his behavior stood in the way. He was constantly drinking and using drugs when they had events, and he was nearly always late. On more than one occasion, he walked off stage in the middle of a concert, leading to fans rioting out of anger. He eventually left the band altogether, and they fell apart without him. It’s hard to understand how someone in such a coveted position could just let it go, but it happens.
7. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is remembered fondly as an icon of pop music, but his image wasn’t so great for the last couple decades of his life. He was the undisputed King of Pop throughout the ’80s, but things started getting strange with his exaggerated skin lightening. Then, in the early 1990s, allegations of child molestation surfaced, and they would dog him for the rest of his life. Whether or not they were true, Michael did plenty of other things to distract from his career. These included dangling his newborn baby over a hotel balcony, and briefly marrying Lisa Marie Presley in 1994. Michael Jackson is remembered for his amazing stage persona, but his personal life led to many questions.
6. Joaquin Phoenix
Lucky for Joaquin Phoenix, his sheer acting talent has helped him overcome some pretty erratic behavior. In 2008, he announced that he was retiring from acting to pursue a career as a rapper, and pretty much everyone was pretty confused. Then, he appeared on David Letterman’s show, acting incoherent and not like himself at all causing many to think he had been drinking or was on drugs. It seemed like he had really gone off the deep end, but suddenly in 2010, it was revealed that the whole thing had been for a mockumentary film called I’m Still Here. Hollywood can be a pretty crazy place sometimes, but at least Joaquin’s meltdown was fake and temporary.
5. Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder became a star at the end of the ’80s, and she dominated the 1990s, starring in hit after hit. Unfortunately, she struggled with anxiety and depression, and her career was all but erased after a 2001 arrest for shoplifting. The arrest was the source of huge tabloid coverage and quickly became a joke throughout the entertainment industry. Winona wasn’t in a great place when the incident occurred, but it became something much bigger. Luckily, her career has bounced back recently, culminating in her starring role on Stranger Things. I’m glad she’s gotten this chance at renewal, because she definitely paid the price for her actions, and then some.
4. Chris Brown
In the 2000s, Chris Brown was one of the top young acts in music, and there was no indication that the hit songs would stop coming. That all changed in 2009, when he pled guilty to assaulting his girlfriend Rihanna. There was a strong public backlash against him, and his career has never quite been the same. He’s definitely had success in the years since the incident, but he’s never attained the mainstream chart-topping status that he enjoyed before. He’s no doubt doing fine, but his story should serve as a warning for anyone who thinks they can treat women like this and not suffer any consequences.
3. Katherine Heigl
For the first few seasons, Grey’s Anatomy viewers fell in love with Katherine Heigl as Izzie Stevens. She left the show in 2010 when her movie career was taking off, but things stalled for her. Rumors of her being difficult to work with have persisted in the industry for years, and rumors like that don’t appear out of thin air. Grey’s costar Ellen Pompeo has thrown some pretty public shade at Heigl for the way she left the show, and showrunner Shonda Rhimes has made her feelings clear too. Katherine was on the way to becoming a megastar, but her attitude totally got in the way.
2. Terrence Howard
Hindsight is 20/20, and Terrence Howard might have some regrets. Howard played Colonel James Rhodes in 2008’s Iron Man, but he decided not to come back for the sequel. There were rumors he was difficult to work with on the set, but talk of salary disputes have also persisted. Howard reportedly wanted more money than they were offering him, but little did he know that the MCU would develop into the behemoth that it is today. Don Cheadle replaced him in Iron Man 2, and will make his fifth appearance as the character in Avengers: Infinity War. Terrence Howard really missed out on a huge opportunity.
1. Lindsay Lohan
I miss the good old days, when I could just watch The Parent Trap and not think about the trials and tribulations of Lindsay Lohan. An adorable child actress who blossomed into a teenage movie star, Lindsay was kind of a disaster waiting to happen. She started partying at a young age, and she was soon running into trouble with the law. She got DUIs, went to rehab multiple times, and even lost roles due to her legal troubles. Thankfully, in recent years she’s cleaned up her act, and now seems to be doing really well living in Dubai, but it remains to be seen if Hollywood will ever welcome her back. It’s going to be a tough road for her if she wants to be a movie star again, especially considering that vague accent she’s adopted.