We expect a lot from our celebrities. Mainly, we expect them to conform to the image we have of them. Celebrities can be (and some say should be) role models. In fact, celebrities are human beings with the same frailties as the rest of us lesser mortals.
A lovable character from a show should be a lovable character in real life. They are not expected to let the mask slip for a moment. Or at least, that is what many of us expect. But being a celebrity brings its own pressures, some of which can be very difficult to cope with.
We shouldn’t be surprised to see our favorites revealing a human side. The problem for them is that their slips are often under public scrutiny like the rest of their lives. Here are 10 times lovable celebrities lost their cool!
10 George Clooney
Even the sophisticated George Clooney has limits to his tolerance. In 1999, ER, the popular series that had launched Clooney to stardom, was drawing to a close. Clooney already had some successful movies under his belt—beginning with From Dusk to Dawn in 1996, and he was working on the comedy Three Kings.
But perhaps he was pushing himself too hard. Clooney was working on other projects simultaneously and spent seven days a week in front of the camera. Meanwhile, behind the camera on the set of Three Kings was the director, David O. Russell. Russell was (and still is) a successful director, but he had a reputation for driving his actors hard and treating them with disdain.
What exactly happened on the set of Three Kings is unclear. Did Russell physically attack an extra? Was he yelling at the crew or just trying to make himself heard on a noisy set? Whatever the circumstances, a fight broke out between Clooney and Russell, and insults and blows flew around. It was, said Clooney, “the worst experience of my life.”
The movie was a critical success that did well at the box office.
Talk show host David Letterman often lets his interviews take their own course. This gave his chats with guests a natural flow that audiences loved. But Cher had reservations about the format knowing that Letterman could be quite hard on his guests if things weren’t going his way.
It took four years to persuade Cher to come on his show. When she finally did, in 1986, she seemed a little uncomfortable as Letterman opened with some trivial and flirtatious observations. When pressed as to why she had been so reluctant to appear, she famously remarked that she thought that Letterman was an a**hole. The live audience reacted differently, and even Letterman was caught off guard.
Still, it made for great television, and Cher returned to the show for future chats—most famously when Letterman was ending his long run of shows in 2015—when it seemed all was forgiven, if not forgotten.
8 Charlie Watts
Charlie Watts (1941–2021) was The Rolling Stones’ drummer for 58 years. His tight, distinctive style was the foundation on which the other group members built their unique rock and roll band. And yet, Watts was completely different from the other band members.
He was reserved, conservative, and reclusive and never shared the hedonistic lifestyle of the others. His first love was jazz; he always preferred playing with his jazz group to working with The Stones.
In 1984, The Rolling Stones were in Amsterdam, Holland. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger staggered back to their hotel at about 5 am. Watts was fast asleep in his room. Jagger thought it would be a good idea to ring Watts, but the drummer didn’t answer. Jagger shouted, “Where’s my drummer?” About twenty minutes later, there was a knock on Jagger’s door. Richards opened the door, and in walked Watts. Impeccably dressed, Watts dragged Jagger to his feet and floored him with a right hook – almost sending Jagger through the window and into the canal below. “Never call me your drummer again,” said Watts before Richards escorted him back to his room.
It took Watts some time to get over the incident.
7 J.K. Rowling
In June 2020, the famous author of the Harry Potter novels read an opinion piece that referred to “people who menstruate.” She retweeted the piece and mentioned that there used to be a word that described such people. Of course, she meant “women,” and she was enraged that the article’s writer had deliberately avoided using the term so as not to offend the transgender community.
The reaction was immediate from actors, other celebrities, and opinion formers. She was, they said, being disrespectful to the transgender community. Instead of backing down and apologizing, Rowling stuck to her guns and expanded on her argument.
If she wanted a quiet life, she should have kept her views to herself. But it’s obviously something that she feels very passionate about. She’s certainly not afraid of controversy.
6 Ryan Grantham
On March 31, 2020, 64-year-old Barbara Waite was playing the piano in her home in Squamish, British Columbia. As she played, she was shot in the back of her head. The killer was her son, actor Ryan Grantham, 24. Grantham had found fame on the show Riverdale and the successful movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Clearly, something had snapped. When the authorities talked to Grantham after the murder, he claimed that he had intended to kill Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and carry out a mass shooting at a university but had changed his mind.
Psychologists uncovered various issues Grantham suffered from, including a depressive state and cannabis use disorder. The courts handed him a life sentence for second-degree murder.
5 Miley Cyrus
Fans loved Miley Cyrus when she played Hannah Montana in the sitcom of the same name. The Disney show revolved around Hannah, the pop star, living a double life where she tried to maintain the illusion that she was just an ordinary teen.
Almost from the beginning of her career, there were signs that Cyrus was not as wholesome as the family-oriented Disney would have liked. A string of sexualized photos seemed inappropriate given her age, and other incidents suggested that Cyrus was an independent-minded young woman.
In July 2008, Selena Gomez and her friend, Demi Lovato, were establishing themselves as rising stars in the Disney world. Gomez had a role in Hannah Montana as a rival pop star, and Lovato was due to play in the movie Camp Rock. If Disney believed that the three girls would form a trio, they were mistaken. Miley Cyrus released a video on YouTube that mocked the two newcomers. She later apologized and withdrew the video, but it only emphasized that Disney had an impulsive young actress on its hands who was determined to do things her own way.
4 Prince Louis
The teachers at Lambrook Preparatory School don’t talk about the royal children under their care. But, if they did, we can imagine they would describe Prince Louis of Wales as a mischievous handful.
Prince Louis was born in 2018, and he is a typical toddler. His parents and older siblings do their best to keep him under control, but the headstrong Louis is determined to have his own way. The British royal family has a very public role, and much of Louis’s young life is inevitably spent under the spotlight. This naturally puts all the family members under pressure to behave as expected, which is, perhaps, a little unfair to a child of Louis’s age. Still, the public adores him and can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.
3 John Lennon
John Lennon wrote the song “Imagine” a year after The Beatles split up. Originally, Lennon claimed sole credit for the composition but later acknowledged that his wife, Yoko Ono, was instrumental in writing it, and “Imagine” is now named a Lennon-Ono number.
From the beginning, the song became an anthem for peace movements and gained further traction after Lennon’s killing. Some critics say that the song is not particularly good. True or not, it found favor with the public and is still played at any number of events by many worthy causes.
Perhaps Lennon got a little fed up with it. This would certainly explain the parody in our video. Having said that, Lennon had a biting wit, and it could be that he’s just having fun at his song’s expense. The parody didn’t go down well with many people—some of whom claimed that it was evidence that Lennon had lost the plot. You’ll have to make your own mind up.
2 Will Smith
It’s inevitable that Will Smith’s infamous “slapping” of comedian Chris Rock would appear on this list. Smith was at the 2022 ceremony to pick up his first-ever Oscar for his role in the movie King Richard.
In introducing Smith, Rock made a crack about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The joke wasn’t particularly funny and referred to Smith’s close-shaven head. We don’t know if Rock knew that Smith was suffering from alopecia, which causes hair loss. Whether he did or not, Will Smith took offense, marched up to Rock, and slapped him. Rock recovered quickly and made light of the incident.
Will Smith later apologized. Some said that Will Smith’s career was over, but this has proved not to be the case.
1 Tom Cruise
The recent pandemic caused a great deal of disruption – not least because some people were suspicious of vaccines and the measures that health authorities imposed. Clearly, Tom Cruise thought people should be wearing masks and blasted crew members working on the latest Mission Impossible who weren’t wearing them.
Some people supported Cruise, while others thought he was throwing his weight around and should have kept his mouth shut.
Perhaps he would have done better talking to the staffers in private rather than making the row public. This wasn’t the first time Cruise showed himself as a controversial celebrity.