Especially with the recent string of sexual misconduct allegations against elite men in Hollywood, the careers of many actors and actresses are being questioned. It’s pretty clear that now more than ever, we’re no longer willing to say that you can separate the person from their art.
But in the case of a few select celebrities, regardless of the accusations against them or how many times these stars are accused of problematic behavior, their careers stay thriving. Countless problematic actors have had controversy after controversy throughout their careers, but remain wildly successful and popular among fans, critics, and other members of Tinseltown. Here are 17 actors who prove that you can really get away with anything in Hollywood…
17. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp used to be best-known for being one of the most talented (and sexiest) actors alive. Unfortunately, now he’s just another one of Hollywood’s most problematic actors and somehow he’s still getting away with it. After his marriage with ex-wife Amber Heard began falling apart, the ugly details of his past came forward. According to several court documents, Depp had been physically abusive towards Heard on multiple occasions. Despite all of these horrifying claims, Depp is still set to star in J.K Rowling‘s latest creation: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and fans are less than pleased. The famed author, and Disney, who’s behind the Pirates of the Carribean franchise, have stood up for Johnny on several occassions and most of us are just left wondering: WHY?!
16. Mel Gibson
It’s pretty shocking that after being one of the most notoriously-problematic actors of our time, Mel Gibson is still widely-applauded for his acting career. For those who may not remember, Gibson’s career went down the toilet for a while after a voicemail he sent to his wife went viral. In it, Gibson went off on a tirade filled with racist, sexually violent language. He’s also been caught saying extremely anti-semitic and homophobic things, to top it all off. However, in the past few years, his career is making a strange comeback. You may recognize him from Daddy’s Home 2. Apparently, you can say whatever you want in Hollywood as long as it was a few years ago and behind the whole Time’s Up reckoning.
15. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck is a seriously well-respected actor, but unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to avoid problematic behavior, either. While he’s been making an effort to make up for past sexual misconduct accusations, which included groping actress Hilarie Burton, he’s doing a just-okay job. After the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, actress and one of Weinstein’s initial accusers, Rose McGowan accused Affleck of covering-up information he knew about Weinstein. When asked about it in interviews, Ben’s been notorious for dodging the questions. Pretty sketchy.
14. Amy Schumer
Despite her earliest good intentions, Amy Schumer gets in trouble time and time again. Granted, being a comedian means pushing certain boundaries, but a lot of times, Amy does things that have been straight-up problematic. Most notably, she made this seriously racist joke: “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual,” and also made jokes about how Latina women are crazy, in addition to racist comments about Mexicans. Amy has said she takes resposibilities for these “dumb jokes,” but also ultimately uses being a comedian as a guise to hide behind.
13. Sean Penn
Sean Penn is a household name for being one of the most successful actors in recent decades. Somehow, he’s also avoided the label of being one of Hollywood’s most problematic actors. Penn undoubtedly has one of the most well-documented and horrific histories of alleged abuse towards women. During his marriage to Madonna, there are claims that he beat her with a baseball bat. She refused to press charges, as he was already facing charges for assaulting a woman on-set. Since then, he has continued to present at award ceremonies and maintain a mostly-positive public reputation.
12. Lena Dunham
Lena Dunham had a pretty swift fall from grace. Starting as a face of feminism and progress in Hollywood, she quickly became one of the most problematic actors and voices of our generation. She has consistently made consistently racist remarks (see her controversy with Odell Beckham Jr.), accused a woman of lying about her assault, and at one point said she wished she had gone through an abortion — for beginners. She just can’t seem to go one week without saying something wildly offensive.
11. Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence seemed to become everyone’s favorite ~relatable actress~ overnight. She was the ultimate cool girl — laid back, funny, kind of obnoxious, and never took herself seriously. However, her over-the-top, goofy sense of humor often turned into some really insensitive comments. She has been documented saying she “wishes” she had a mental illness, disrespecting sacred Hawaiian property, making a rape joke, comparing her body to that of obese people, and throwing the word “d*ke” around. Not a good look, J-Law.
10. Aziz Ansari
The controversy surrounding Aziz Ansari is one that has seriously divided people. Amidst the growing stream of allegations against men in Hollywood, Aziz was exposed in one woman’s article on Babe.net. Essentially, she alleges that a date with Ansari quickly turned into coercive sexual harassment, especially because she never expressed consent. Aziz’s response was a weak apology if you could even call it that. He basically said that he thought the whole thing was consensual and he was sad that it wasn’t being depicted as such. This story stung a lot, especially considering that Aziz truly seemed like one of the good guys who knew a lot about feminism. After those allegations, others took to Twitter to call him out for other misdeeds including staying silent about mentor Louis C.K.‘s sexual misconduct allegations.
9. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. has had a very long career of being one of the most well-known problematic actors since the ‘90s. After years of dealing with drug abuse and legal troubles, it seemed unlikely that Robert’s career would make any kind of comeback. However, in the early 2000s, he began starring in a few movies that were relatively successful. In 2008, he made it big again with Iron Man and the comedy, Tropic Thunder. As you may recall, he wore blackface for a large portion of this movie, something that it is never (ever, EVER) okay. While he has tried to explain his reasoning for accepting the role, it’s a decision that rightfully upset lots of people. “It’s entertainment that’s set up by people who are high-minded enough to not be racist or offensive,” he said of the movie.
8. Rob Lowe
Speaking of problematic actors named Rob, we had to mention Rob Lowe. Rob Lowe is another celeb whose career managed to make a comeback after years of controversy. In 1988, at the beginning of Lowe’s career, a sex tape was released that put a huge stain on his career for a long time. While there’s nothing wrong with having sex, the tape showed that Lowe was with a 16-year-old girl at the time. Lowe was 24 at the time, which makes the whole thing seriously predatory. However, Lowe’s career has made a comeback in a huge way, especially since his beloved role as Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation.
7. James Franco
James Franco is a prime example of how accusations of sexual assault almost never mean the end of a man’s career. Time and time again, he has been accused of behavior ranging from creepy to sexually exploitive behavior. At this point, five women have come forward accusing James of inappropriate and abusive behavior. Let’s not forget the time he slid into the DMs of a 17-year-old fan a few years back. He basically uses his acting career as a way to make women get naked, or put them in extremely uncomfortable position. Sadly, it seems like Franco doesn’t take these accusations seriously, and his career is still doing a-okay.
6. Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake is undeniably talented, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t done some seriously messed-up stuff throughout his long career. You may be most familiar with the Super Bowl scandal, in which he ripped off Janet Jackson’s top, allegedly accidentally, without her prior consent. However, his misconduct began with his relationship with Britney Spears (TBT). After they broke up, he took every opportunity to say as many nasty things about her as possible, all to make himself seem like a victim and capitalize off of their failed relationship. Basically, he’s cool with exploiting women for his own gain.
5. Casey Affleck
The controversy surrounding Casey Affleck seemed to really go viral during the 2017 Oscar season when he was nominated for Best Actor. It was unearthed that all of this career success came in the wake of two settled lawsuits against the actor. To the Academy, it was apparently NBD that two separate women have claimed that the actor was aggressive, threatening, and made unwanted sexual advancements towards them. To this day, Affleck denies the entire thing, and his career continues to flourish.
4. Woody Allen
Where do we even begin with Woody Allen?! Long before the current string of allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood, Woody Allen had already established himself as one of the most controversial directors/actors in the industry. After his adopted-daughter Dylan Farrow came out against him saying he’d molested her, it seemed no one in Hollywood really wanted to listen to her because her mother and Woody were going through a pretty nasty divorce. (Hypothetically, if your daughter said she was assaulted by your husband, wouldn’t the divorce be nasty no matter what?!). It’s pretty disturbing that so many actors continue to defend him and work with him (including Justin Timberlake, mentioned earlier). In addition to Dylan’s allegations; Allen’s current wife is his step-daughter, whom he helped raise, too. Something’s off, no?
3. Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman has long been one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors. Unfortunately, he now joins the ranks of other problematic actors. As more and more stories began coming forward about sexual misconduct in Hollywood, Hoffman was one of the first names to be mentioned with stories of industry misogyny and transgressions against women. As of now, three different women have come forward to detail some very disturbing allegations including exposing himself to a minor, sexual manipulation, and assault. The worst part of this whole thing, however, is Hoffman’s continuous denial that anything happened, and arguing that he’s the victim of false allegations.
2. Mike Tyson
This is one of those celebrity comebacks that really, truly should never have happened and makes pretty much zero sense. Mike Tyson was best known as a boxing heavyweight champion in the ‘80s. However, after his marriage to actress Robin Givens ended, she bravely came forward to share her claims of domestic violence at the hands of Tyson. A few years after, he was convicted of rape and went to prison for six years for it. These should have been career-ending moments, but instead, Tyson has recently appeared in a few movies, like The Hangover. Did people forget what he did or..?
1. Alec Baldwin
In addition the fact that he has recently been caught defending Woody Allen (yikes), there’s a whole lot of reasons why Alec Baldwin is rounding off our list of problematic actors. He’s been caught screaming homophobic slurs at a journalist, filming sex scenes with an underage actress, and victim-blaming in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. But one of Baldwin’s biggest controversies also happened at the height of his career, when he left a threatening, expletive-filled voicemail for his then-eleven-year-old daughter, Ireland. Clearly, his career hasn’t suffered.