Top Ten Off-camera jerksYou have to feel sorry for high profile actors. On the one hand, their audience wants them to play clean-cut, upstanding heroes. On the other, their audience also wants them to be edgy and dangerous bad boys. Torn between two worlds, desperate to “keep it real” on-screen and off, is it any wonder their bad boy antics spill over into real life with drugs and violence and murder and war crimes? Okay, so there doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as many examples of actors feeling the need to be heroic in real life, but that just proves that…uh… some actors are real jerks?
Off-camera crime: killing someone while drink-driving. So the story is that Gable hit and killed a pedestrian while drunk-driving in the 1930s and film studio MGM covered it up by paying someone else to take the rap. Thing is, these days those in the know don’t think it actually happened. But isn’t that the whole point of a cover-up – to make people think something didn’t happen? So unless someone can come up with the person Gable killed and prove they’re alive, we should all assume he was a drunken killer. Just to be on the safe side.
Off-camera crime: Wife-beating, being a racist tool. Everyone knows Mel’s a bit of a racist, thanks to being taped saying to his then-wife Oksana Grigorieva “if you get raped by a pack of niggers it will be your fault”, amongst other gems. But remember when he hit his wife and broke two of her teeth? Okay, technically it was “two broken dental veneers”, but still, not nice. He said during their custody case that “I slapped Oksana with an open hand in an attempt to bring her back to reality.” What, the reality that he’s a dick?
Off-camera crime: Roughing up family, being shouty. Seriously, which do you think had more impact on Christian Bale’s reputation: having his mother and sister accuse him of “pushing and shoving” them in an assault case, or him yelling at some guy on a movie set? After all, we’ve all had a fight with our family when they show up asking for a hundred grand, but going absolutely bug-nuts at a guy on a film set just for being visible is a privilege only a chosen few can enjoy.
Off-camera crime: Battery, drugs, the usual. With a career ranging from playing a nutcase in Natural Born Killers to playing a nutcase in Strange Days to playing a nutcase in Paparazzi (okay, he was in some other movies too), Sizemore’s dalliance with drugs wasn’t exactly stop the press news. And you’d think being arrested for assaulting his girlfriend and notorious Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss then getting seven months jail time would be about as grim as this story gets. But no: in 2005 he was caught trying to cheat a urine test using a device called “the whizzanator”. And now he appears in movies with the Insane Clown Posse.
Off-camera crime: Tax evasion and a lot of nasty rumours. While Wesley Snipes ended up going to jail for falsely claiming over US$12 million dollars in tax refunds, who’s going to call you a bad guy for that? Okay, that’s the same way they got crime boss and murderer Al Capone, but it’s not like Snipes was running a massive bootlegging operation or appearing in a supporting role in Boardwalk Empire. What he was doing, according to R&B singer Christopher Williams, was hitting Halle Berry (back when they were a couple in the early 1990s) so hard she’s still deaf in her left ear. And now the jail time seems a lot more deserved.
Off-camera crime: War Criminal. It’s no secret that Jimmy Stewart – Colonel Jimmy Stewart to you - was a highly decorated bomber pilot in World War 2, flying numerous extremely dangerous missions over Germany. What is a secret, because his Air Force service records have been sealed, is where exactly those missions took place. Many have speculated that the reason why his missions remain secret is because he flew bombing missions over civilian targets not essential to destroying the Nazi war effort. Since the end of World War 2 there have been calls for bomber crews responsible for civilian deaths to be charged as war criminals – which is a little unlikely, as one of the benefits of winning a war is getting away with all the horrible stuff you did to win it. But still, was Jimmy Stewart a war criminal? Yeah, why not.
Off-camera crime: no-one seems to be denying that he may have raped Natalie Wood. Okay, so according to at least one biography Wood was raped by a high profile Hollywood star, but that the rapist’s name won’t be revealed until after he dies. And Kirk Douglas is still alive! Oh, and supposedly this big star has a just as famous son (that could be Michael Douglas!), and Wood wouldn’t work with Kirk Douglas on The Devil’s Disciple due to “personal reasons”. If that’s not enough for you, recently a mysterious blogger (who some believe was Robert Downey Jr!) went public pointing the finger at Douglas, which much like all the other “evidence” here, proves pretty much nothing. Or does it? Hurry up and die Kirk so we can find out! Great, now he’s going to die in the next week or so and I’m going to be history’s greatest monster.
Off-camera crime: oh, come on. The only really interesting thing about Mr Newton’s seemingly endless parade of dubious behaviour – one week he’s attacking a girlfriend, the next he’s attacking a stranger, the next he’s a potential host of The X Factor – is that, unlike the usual big names who think punching people makes them a big man, he’s written and directed films as well as just acted in them. And in the films he’s written and directed (most notably the surprisingly decent Three Blind Mice), he’s made sure to cast himself in his films as a character who’s something of a scumbag. So either he’s remarkably self-aware, or he’s just really crap at marketing.
Off-camera crime: Maybe got violent with an ex… maybe. Many will tell you that the good old days when Hollywood studios controlled the press to keep bad stories about their big name stars out of the news are long gone. Rabid paparazzi and internet gossip sites mean a star can’t step out of line even slightly without their misbehaviour becoming public knowledge. And yet while there was a restraining order taken out against Fassbender (star of Shame and the upcoming Prometheus) by ex-girlfriend Sunawin Andrews back in 2009 it seems both the mainstream press and the gossip sites have largely steered clear of the story. On the one hand, maybe she’s a gold-digger and there’s nothing to her claims of abuse. On the other hand, isn’t this kind of thing still news?
Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen
Off-camera crime: being friends with each other. In the 1980s Sean Penn once hit his then-wife Madonna with a no-fooling baseball bat (cue “man, he really didn’t like her latest album did he?” talkshow jokes). Charlie Sheen has a history of violence against women, including a number of assault charges and accidentally shooting then-fiancée Kelly Preston in the arm in the early 1990s. Of course they’d be best friends! Man, the stories they could tell. Why they haven’t made a buddy movie together remains a mystery for the ages. Maybe they could do a reboot of Lethal Weapon – only problem is, they’d both have to play Mel Gibson.
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