Liam Neeson is hardly alone when it comes to Hollywood stars finding themselves embroiled in scandal. The “Taken” star took to the airwaves Tuesday on “Good Morning America” trying to put a new spin on the charges that he’s racist after revealing he felt the desire to lash out at black people decades ago to avenge the rape of a friend.
Neeson told an Irish newspaper that, after being told the attacker was black, he “went up and down areas with a cosh (stick or truncheon)” hoping a black person “would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could kill him.”
Over the years scores of celebrities, both actors and athletes, have found themselves the subject of unwanted attention because of dubious behavior or comments on their parts. Here’s a look at some of the more high profile scandals that have rocked Hollywood in recent years.
Note: For the purposes of the list, serious criminal charges or allegations… .i.e. Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, R. Kelly) have been omitted.
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Roseanne Barr Racist Tweet
Roseanne Barr found herself out of a lucrative paying job after ABC canceled its successful reboot of “Roseanne” in 2018 following the Barr’s racist tweet likening former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett to a cross between the Muslim Brotherhood and a “Planet of the Apes” actor. ABC went on to reboot the series minus Barr as “The Conners.” Barr has painted herself as the victim, saying earlier this year she was fired because of her support for Israel and that the network was looking for an excuse to fire her.
Kathy Griffin Poses With Severed ‘Trump Head’
The comedienne found herself in a ton of hot water in 2017… and on the end of visits from the Secret Service… after she posted a photo of herself holding a severed head that bore the likeness of Donald Trump. Griffin was fired from her most high-profile job as co-host of CNN’s New Year’s Eve celebration and several comedy gigs were canceled. She at first apologized for the image during a tearful news conference, but since that time has rescinded her apology and renewed her attacks on Trump… this time sans graphic images.
Donald Trump Access Hollywood Tape
In 2016 it was revealed Trump was caught in a 2005 hot-mic discussion with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush while on a Hollywood set to make an appearance on a soap opera.
On the tape, Trump brags about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women who were not his wife. Bush joins in, laughing at some of Trump’s comments and later encouraging an actress to hug Trump.
Trump downplayed the crude exchange, which included the now infamous “Grab ’em by the pu–y,” phrase as locker room talk. He went on to be elected president of the United States.
Ryan Lochte’s Fake Gas Station Encounter
Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte was banned from swimming for 10 months in 2016 and forfeited $100,000 in bonus money that went with his gold medal at the Olympics, as part of the penalty for his drunken encounter at a gas station in Brazil.
Lochte claimed to have had a gun held to his head at a Rio de Janeiro gas station, where he and three other American swimmers had stopped to use a restroom, but later confessed he “over-exaggerated” the encounter.
The controversy apparently only boosted Lochte’s pop culture cred as he’s gone on to star in both “Dancing With the Stars” and was cast in “Celebrity Big Brother” in 2019.
Paula Deen ‘N-Word’ Controversy
Paula Deen’s 2013 acknowledgment that she’d used a racial slur in the past effectively ended her relationship with the Food Network and toppled her cooking empire. But Deen staged something of a mini comeback in recent years.. .in 2015 she was a member of the “Dancing With the Stars” cast.
Mel Gibson Domestic Violence Arrest/Anti-Semitic Tirades
Mel Gibson went from being one of tinseltown’s top A-Listers after starring in hits ranging from the “Lethal Weapon” franchise, Oscar-winning “Braveheart” and producing the highest grossing foreign language filming the U.S. with “The Passion of the Christ” to becoming a virtual pariah following a number of high profile controversies.
Gibson was sentenced to three years’ probation, counseling and community service in 2011 after pleading no contest to one misdemeanor count of domestic violence allegedly committed against ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva in 2010. Gibson also came under fire for a July 2006 DUI arrest in Malibu, Calif., where he was recorded making anti-Semitic remarks including “The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world!” according to the 2006 arrest report.
Although radioactive for a time, Gibson’s career survived the scandal and he’s now in the midst of a resurgence. He starred opposite Sylvester Stallone in 2014’s “The Expendables 3,” signed on for “Daddy’s Home Two” in 2017 and directed the Oscar-nominated “Hacksaw Ridge” in 2016.
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Tiger Woods Cheating Scandal
Nothing could go wrong for Tiger Woods… until everything went wrong for Tiger Woods. In November 2009 Woods was involved in a one-car accident outside of his Orlando-area home on Thanksgiving. Woods was charged with a minor traffic violation for careless driving. But soon details started to trickle out about alleged indiscretions with the married golf star.
A month later Woods released a statement on his personal website apologizing for his “infidelity” and announced that he would be taking “an indefinite break from professional golf.” Soon, it was revealed Woods had been engaged in a number of extramarital affairs, including with some adult film stars. Companies like Gatorade, AT&T, Accenture and Tag Heuer all cut ties with Woods.
Woods’ career never fully recovered following the scandal, as injuries also derailed him. He hasn’t won a major tournament since 2008.
Kim Kardashian Sex Tape
It was the sex-tape that arguable launched an empire. Prior to the reveal of the 2003 sex tape Kim Kardashian was primarily known as being the buddy of socialite Paris Hilton. But after the tape, made with former boyfriend Ray J, Kardashian was no longer in Hilton’s shadow.
Last year Kardashian said on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” that she was on ecstasy while making the tape.
“I got married on ecstasy,” Kardashian casually admitted, referencing her short-lived first marriage to music producer Damon Thomas. “I did ecstasy once and I got married, I did it again and I made a sex tape (with former boyfriend Ray J.) Like everything bad would happen.”
Hugh Grant Solicitation Arrest
In 1995 “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno asked the question on everyone’s mind…”What the hell were you thinking?” Although the public at large never received a real answer to the question, the solicitation controversy didn’t do all that much to harm Grant’s career, as he went on to star in a number of hits including the “Bridget Jones” franchise and rom-com fave “Notting Hill,” opposite Julia Roberts.
Pee Wee Herman Arrest for Public Masturbation
When you go by the name of Pee Wee Herman and you’re arrested public masturbation the jokes almost write themselves. Luckily for Paul Reubens the arrest happened before the advent of social media. In 1991 the popular children’s television star was arrested and charged with exposing himself inside an adult theater in Sarasota, Florida.
While the arrest threw Reubens’ career off track for a number of years he has stayed in the public view appearing in several big-budget projects, including “Mystery Men” and “Blow” opposite Johnny Depp.
Reubens also appeared in television projects including “Reno 911!”, “30 Rock,” “Dirt,” “Pushing Daisies,” and “The Blacklist.” In 2010, he starred on Broadway in The Pee-wee Herman Show and in 2016, Reubens helped write and starred in the Netflix original film “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” reprising his role as Pee-wee Herman.