6 Hollywood Stars Who Have Gotten Into Trouble With the Law

There are numerous examples of celebrities who have found themselves in trouble with the law. However, many have managed to turn their lives around and reinvent their careers to change public perceptions of them. This can be an especially challenging feat for Hollywood actors, as they are often the face of their productions, meaning their actions can have significant repercussions on their professional lives.

Despite this, there have been major Hollywood stars who have faced legal issues and managed to successfully rehabilitate their images and find success once again in the industry. These individuals have demonstrated resilience, determination, and the ability to learn from their past mistakes, showing that it is possible to overcome adversity and thrive in an industry as competitive and unforgiving as Hollywood. With that said, here are 6 Hollywood stars who have had major scrapes with the law.

6. Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder in Stranger Things (2022)

Winona Ryder rose to fame as one of the biggest stars of the late 80s and early 90s with standout performances in Tim Burton‘s iconic films Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. However, her pristine image took a hit in 2001 when she was arrested on shoplifting charges for allegedly stealing $5,500 worth of designer clothes. Following this incident, her movie roles became fewer and smaller, with her last major role opposite Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds, which was filmed prior to the shoplifting scandal. However, in 2016, Ryder experienced a career revitalization with her role in the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Netflix series, Stranger Things.

In the groundbreaking Sci-Fi series, Ryder portrays a distressed mother on a relentless quest to find her missing son. Ryder’s standout performance in the show has garnered her much praise and recognition, leading to her appearing in all four seasons with a lead role. She is set to reprise her role as Joyce Byers in the fifth and final season of the show in 2025. What’s more, she will reprise her role as Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice 2 in 2024.

5. Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant in The Undoing (2020)

Hugh Grant, a prominent Hollywood star, faced a significant challenge to his image during the peak of his fame in 1995 when he was arrested in California for soliciting a prostitute on Sunset Boulevard. This scandal occurred just after his breakthrough performance in Four Weddings and a Funeral, during which he was also in a long-term relationship with actor/model Liz Hurley. Despite the public scandal and tarnished reputation, Grant managed to redeem himself and salvage his career. Surprisingly, the repercussions of his actions seemed to dissipate over time, and he continued to star in a string of beloved films such as Notting Hill and Love Actually.

4. Will Smith

Will Smith in Hancock (2008)

Long before the infamous Oscar controversy involving Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage, the actor found himself embroiled in another violent incident. Reports by The Daily Mail revealed that in 1989, Smith was arrested in Philadelphia for his alleged involvement in a vicious assault. At the age of 20, Smith was reportedly engaged in an argument that escalated, leading to a man almost losing sight in one eye as a result.

The charges of aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person were ultimately dismissed. As he continues to try and rebuild his image following his assault on Chris Rock, Smith is set to return to one of his biggest franchises in 2024. The official trailer for Bad Boys: Ride or Die was released on March 26, 2024. The film will land in theaters on June 7, 2024.

3. Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson in Blood Father (2016)

Mel Gibson, who had risen to fame as a major Hollywood star through blockbuster franchises like Mad Max and Lethal Weapon, found himself under intense media scrutiny following a controversial incident in July 2006. Gibson was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Malibu, California, during which he unleashed a shocking and highly publicized antisemitic rant directed at the arresting officer. Adding to the turmoil, Gibson’s ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, accused him of egregious acts, alleging that he had physically assaulted her and their daughter, who was in her arms at the time.

Gibson ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of misdemeanour battery against Grigorieva, yet managed to avoid jail time through a plea deal which included 36 months of informal probation, community service, domestic violence counselling, and payment of fines. The incident tarnished Gibson’s reputation and caused a significant backlash, underscoring the consequences of the actor’s controversial behaviour and personal struggles. Since then, he has been attempting to reignite his career, starring in movies likes The Expendables 3, Dragged Across Concrete, and the John Wick spinoff series, The Continental.

2. Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man (2008)

Robert Downey Jr. burst onto the Hollywood scene at a tender age, establishing himself as a heartthrob with roles in 80s teen classics like Weird Science, Back to School, and The Pick-up Artist. However, his early success was marred by a tumultuous battle with drugs and alcohol, which led to a string of unsavoury incidents. In 1996, Downey Jr. was arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine, and an unloaded .357-caliber Magnum, highlighting the severity of his struggles. Subsequently, he was sentenced to three years in jail in 1999 after failing a drug test but ended up serving only 15 months of his sentence.

Following his release, Downey Jr. embarked on a remarkable journey of redemption, making significant efforts to turn his life around. His remarkable comeback saw him achieve new heights of fame, particularly for his role as Tony Stark in the blockbuster Iron Man movies, which spilled over into the Avengers movies. In 2024, Downey Jr. won his first Oscar for his role in the blockbuster hit, Oppenheimer.

1. Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes in Chaos (2005)

Wesley Snipes, once a prominent figure in the 90s film industry and best known for his roles in action classics like Demolition Man, Money Train, and crime dramas such as New Jack City, had a tumultuous relationship with the law. Known for his constant run-ins with legal troubles, Snipes faced charges including carrying a concealed and loaded gun, as well as engaging in high-speed chases with police officers. However, his most significant legal entanglement came in 2008 when he was convicted on misdemeanour charges of wilful failure to file federal income tax returns, resulting in a three-year prison sentence.

Despite the severity of his conviction, Snipes served only 28 months of his term in federal prison before being released in April 2013. After his release, Snipes was cast in The Expendables 3, which kickstarted a revival of sorts. He then starred opposite Eddie Murphy in the acclaimed comedy, Dolemite is My Name. Then, in 2021, Snipes starred opposite comedy titan Kevin Hart in the TV series, True Story. In 2024, he is set to star opposite Robert Davi, Kelsey Grammer, and Denise Richards in the action series, Paper Empire. Want to read more about Wesley Snipes? Here are 10 interesting facts about the actor.

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