20 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Had Committed Crimes

The way the PR-spun world of celebrity is these days, it’s difficult to know who our favourite actors or pop stars really are.

What we’re presented of celebrities isn’t real. They appear in magazines and on late-night chat shows with their anecdotes and promotional chat rehearsed well in advance.

It’s all designed to make them appear warm and relatable, while denying us the chance to ever really know who they are.

As it happens, some of the most famous people in the world aren’t nearly as wholesome in private as they appear to be in public. Scroll down to read about 20 celebs with histories that will make your skin crawl.

20. Mark Wahlberg


Musician, then model, and now actor, Oscar-nominated for films The Fighter and The Departed.

Since his movie career took off in the mid-90s, Wahlberg has also starred in such hits as Boogie Nights, Three Kings and The Other Guys. He’s one of the highest-paid actors alive.

What they did

These days, Wahlberg is a family man – he’s 47, and married for a decade with four kids – but things were very different back when he was a Boston street kid.

In 1988, at the age of 17, Wahlberg served time in jail for attempted murder, after he assaulted two Vietnamese men without provocation.

Referring to the men as “sl**t-eyed g**ks”, Wahlberg punched Hoa Trinh in the eye and hit Thanh Lam over the head with a large stick until he fell unconscious. Wahlberg served 45 days in jail for the attacks.

19. Matthew Broderick


Actor, known for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, remakes of Godzilla and The Producers, and for voicing Simba in The Lion King.

In the 80s, Broderick was huge, famed for hits including Ferris Bueller, WarGames and Glory.

What they did

On August 5, 1987, Broderick was taking a trip around Northern Ireland with then-girlfriend and Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey, when he crashed head-on into another car after crossing into the wrong lane.

The accident left Broderick and Grey with minor injuries, while the two women in the other car – a mother and daughter – were both instantly killed.

Broderick was initially charged with death by dangerous driving, but in the end he was fined just $175.

Years later, in an examination prior to her appearances on Dancing With the Stars’ 11th season in 2010, Grey had a titanium plate installed in her neck as a result of a persisting spinal injury from the crash.

18. Snoop Dogg


West coast rapper, multimillionaire entrepreneur and marijuana enthusiast. Also known as Snoop Lion.

Snoop Dogg, real name Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, has been responsible for such hits as Drop It Like It’s Hot and Gin and Juice.

What they did

Snoop Doggy Dogg has never been shy about living the gangster lifestyle, but how many people know about the murder charge?

In 1993, Snoop was arrested after a rival gang member was shot and killed by a gun fired out of a car Snoop was driving.

Legendary OJ Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran somehow got both Snoop and the shooter – who actually admitted to firing the gun – acquitted.

17. Tim Allen


Actor best known for his comedy roles, in particular those he played in the TV sitcoms Home Improvement and Last Man Standing.

Also something of a movie star, best known for the Santa Clause films, Galaxy Quest and, of course, for voicing Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies.

What they did

He may act like an upstanding citizen today, but Allen, the staunch Republican star of family entertainment, once almost went to prison for life for drug trafficking.

Arrested at a Michigan airport in 1978 and found in possession of cocaine, Allen would still be in prison now if he hadn’t given the names of other drug dealers to police.

Having successfully snitched, Allen served two-and-a-half years of a three to seven year sentence instead.

16. Christian Slater


Teen idol, famed for Heathers, Pump Up the Volume and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and later for 90s movies True Romance and Interview with the Vampire.

Lately, after a career slump in the 2000s, Slater has made a comeback as the title character in TV’s Mr Robot.

What they did

Through the 90s and 00s, in his fallow period, Christian Slater struggled with an addiction that, in a series of incidents, caused him to act violently.

In 1989, Slater was arrested for drunkenly crashing his car and assaulting a police officer, but more serious was the 1997 incident that saw him repeatedly punch a girlfriend and attack the police officers who arrived to arrest him.

Finally, in 2005, Slater was arrested for sexual harassment, when he “grabbed a woman’s behind on the street” while walking down the street intoxicated.

15. Sean Penn


Double Oscar-winning actor, known for films including Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dead Man Walking, Mystic River and Milk.

Now 58, Penn has lived a full life, taking in relationships with Charlize Theron, Robin Wright and Madonna.

What they did

In 1985, Penn began what would be a tumultuous relationship with Madonna. They married that year, and divorced four years later.

When Madonna filed for divorce in 1989, she also filed a complaint with police alleging that Penn had assaulted her on a number of occasions, including one in which Penn allegedly held his estranged wife against her will and beat her.

Though Madonna later withdrew the complaint, it was reported in the media at the time that she was, by Penn, “beaten, gagged, and left strapped to an armchair for nine hours before she escaped.”

14. Emile Hirsch


American actor, probably best known as the star of Sean Penn’s survival drama Into the Wild.

Hirsch has also appeared in films including The Girl Next Door, Speed Racer and Milk, and will feature in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

What they did

In 2015, Hirsch was in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, when he got into an argument with Paramount executive Daniele Bernfeld at a nightclub.

The altercation escalated to the point where a drunken Hirsch put Bernfeld in a chokehold, then strangled her until she blacked out.

Pleading guilty to misdemeanour assault, Hirsch served 15 days in jail for the attack and was fined $4,750.

13. Don King


Legendary boxing promoter, who represented such superstar fighters as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson.

King also promoted two of the biggest fights in history: The Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manila.

What they did

Put simply, murder – twice. As early as the 1950s, King was running with the ‘wrong crowd’ (he was suspected of continued ties to organised crime into the 1990s).

In 1954, King was running gambling houses in Cleveland, Ohio, when he shot and killed a man attempting to rob one. This was ruled a ‘justifiable homicide’, and King served no jail time.

In 1967, however, King killed again, curb-stomping the head of a man who owed him money until he was dead. King served just shy of four years in prison for this one.

12. Terrence Howard


Probably best known these days for starring in TV’s Empire, but also an Oscar-nominated movie actor.

Having appeared in such high-profile films as Crash, The Butler and Prisoners, Howard was also the original James ‘War Machine’ Rhodes in the Iron Man films.

What they did

To date, Howard has been married four times, and has been arrested for domestic violence through a total of three of the marriages.

Howard has admitted to hitting his first wife (“she was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids”), while his second obtained not one but two restraining orders against the actor.

In addition to punching, stalking and threatening to kill women he’s been involved with, Howard was also arrested for an assault on a female flight attendant in 2000.

11. Jeffrey Jones


Character actor who made appearances in some prominent 80s movies, including Amadeus, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Beetlejuice.

Jones’ last role of note came in TV’s Deadwood, from 2004 to 2006. Since then, Jones has made just three films, plus one more recent appearance in the Deadwood TV movie.

What they did

Jones, once such a favourite of Hollywood directors, has struggled to find work ever since he registered as a sex offender in 2003.

The year prior, Jones was arrested for possession of illicit material featuring minors, and for having paid a 14-year-old boy to pose for explicit photos and videos.

Jones was sentenced to five years probation and counselling. He was arrested two more times, in 2004 and 2010, for having failed to update his sex offender status.

10. Mel Gibson


American (formerly Australian) actor, known for a string of hit films throughout the 80s, 90s and 2000s.

Gibson is best known for playing Mad Max, William Wallace (in Braveheart) and Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon series.

What they did

You know Mel Gibson is a racist and hard drinker who once said an entire race of people was “responsible for all the wars in the world”, in a bizarre 2006 rant during which he was arrested by police for speeding with an open container of alcohol by his side.

But did you also know that Gibson was sentenced to three years’ probation, counselling and community service in 2011 after pleading no contest to a serious domestic violence charge?

Though Gibson did later admit to ‘slapping’ his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, Grigorieva claimed the abuse had been more serious.

According to Grigorieva, Gibson once beat her so badly that he broke one of her teeth and gave her concussion.

9. Mike Tyson


‘Iron Mike’, the former undisputed world heavyweight champion boxer who fought professionally from 1985 to 2005, with a three-year gap between 1992 and 1995.

Younger audiences might know him best for his film and TV appearances, in the Hangover movies and on an assortment of reality and panel shows.

What they did

We’re not here today to discuss that time Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a bout; horrific though that was, you knew about that already.

Instead, let’s talk about something that seems to have been swept quietly under the carpet in recent years. That three-year ‘break’ Tyson took right in the middle of his career? He was actually serving time in jail for rape.

In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping 18-year-old beauty contestant Desiree Washington in his hotel room.

Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Tyson served three, after which he immediately resumed his boxing career. Tyson is still required to register as a sex offender to this day.

8. John Lennon


Music legend who was one-quarter of The Beatles, and an acclaimed solo musician in his own right, known for songs like Imagine and Instant Karma!.

Having gone through great personal changes during his time with The Beatles, Lennon along with his wife Yoko Ono became an unofficial world ambassador for peace through the late 60s and 70s, before he was tragically shot and killed in 1980.

What they did

The irony wasn’t lost on Lennon that he embraced peace and love later in life, having previously been an admitted serial abuser of women.

“I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically – any woman. I was a hitter”, Lennon told Playboy in a 1980 interview. “I couldn’t express myself and I hit.”

Lennon said his violent past was “why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace.”

7. Gerard Depardieu


French actor, who rose to global fame in the 80s and 90s thanks to films like Jean de Florette, Cyrano de Bergerac and Green Card.

Lately a more controversial figure, Depardieu, now 70, has become known for his eccentric behaviour, which includes urinating on a plane in 2011 and befriending Vladimir Putin after turning in his French passport and moving to Russia in 2013.

What they did

In the last couple of years, Depardieu has been accused of sexually assaulting and raping two different actresses, though neither of the alleged incidents have been proven as yet.

What we know for certain – because he admitted to it in his autobiography – is that Depardieu did as a younger man used to rob graves as well as, in his time as an escort, beat up and steal from some of his male ‘clients’.

In addition to digging up bodies in order to take the jewellery and clothes, Depardieu would also occasionally, when the mood took him, “beat up some bloke and leave with all his money”.

6. Jay-Z


Rapper and one half of arguably the most powerful couple in music, known for hits like 99 Problems and Empire State of Mind.

With a net worth of more than $1 billion, Jay-Z has also lately become known as a businessman and philanthropist who regularly gives to good causes.

What they did

On December 1, 1999, Jay-Z stabbed record executive Lance ‘Un’ Rivera in the stomach with a five-inch blade during an album release party at New York’s Kit Kat Klub.

The rapper believed that Rivera was responsible for bootlegging his latest album, and – while allegedly “blacking out with anger” – attacked Rivera with a blade.

In October 2001, Jay-Z pleaded guilty to stabbing Rivera. He served a sentence of three years’ probation.

5. James Lipton


The kindly face and reassuring voice of Bravo’s Inside the Actors Studio for the last quarter-of-a-century.

Currently dean emeritus at the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, Lipton is a legend in the world of showbiz and acting.

What they did

Before he got into acting, Lipton tried a few different careers: newspaper copy boy, lawyer, air serviceman – and a professional ‘procurer’ of women, of course.

In a 2013 interview with Parade magazine, Lipton admitted that, back when he lived in Paris in the 1950s, he “represented” French prostitutes.

Insisting that he was never abusive and that French procurers of the time were more “like agents”, Lipton emphasised his benevolent status, adding that he and one of the prostitutes “had some amazing adventures together”.

4. Charlie Sheen


TV and movie actor, whose credits include Platoon, Hot Shots and Two and a Half Men. For the latter, Sheen became the highest-paid TV star of all time.

These days, Sheen is recognised more widely as a symbol of Hollywood hedonism and debauchery, best known for his ‘Winning’ phase.

What they did

The headlines regarding Charlie Sheen’s often eccentric behaviour have done much to obscure one simple fact: the man is a repeated abuser of women.

In 1990, it was reported that Sheen had “accidentally” shot his then-fiancee, Kelly Preston, in the arm. The relationship ended shortly after.

In 1997, Sheen was given two years of probation for slamming girlfriend Brittany Ashland onto the marble floor of his house.

In 2010, Sheen was sentenced to 30 days in rehab after an ‘altercation’ with wife and mother of two of his children, Brooke Mueller. Finally, Sheen was sued the same year by Capri Anderson, an adult film star who claimed Sheen had choked her while they were together.

3. Fred Durst


Founder and frontman of rap rock band Limp Bizkit, best known for their hit 2000 single Rollin.

Lately, Durst has moved into directing, with two films and another, starring John Travolta, on the way this year.

What they did

In 2006, Durst was apparently in a bad place. After a few years in the spotlight, not all of which had been kind to Limp Bizkit, the rapper took a reckless course of action.

In October of that year, Durst threatened two apparent strangers with a gun before hitting them with his car, after an alleged road rage incident turned nasty.

The following year, Durst pleaded no contest to seven charges including battery, reckless driving and assault with a deadly weapon. He was fined $1,500 and ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.

2. Vanilla Ice


Rapper, real name Robert Matthew Van Winkle, responsible for the hit 1989 song Ice Ice Baby.

Lately, Ice has moved away from music into real estate. He has his own reality show, The Vanilla Ice Project, about his new work in flipping houses.

What they did

Van Winkle has been arrested for domestic violence on not one but two occasions, both directed at the same woman: wife Laura Giaritta.

Following a 2001 incident in which he pulled out chunks of Giaritta’s hair, Van Winkle was sentenced to probation and ordered to attend family therapy sessions.

Meanwhile in 2008, Van Winkle was arrested for allegedly for hitting and kicking Giaritta, after which he was ordered only to contact her via the phone. The charges were later dropped.

1. Vince Neil


Frontman of the glam metal band Mötley Crüe, which was recently given the hagiography treatment in Netflix’s The Dirt.

The biopic depicted the band as hard-drinking, hard-living rockers, with Vince Neil a particular troublemaker.

What they did

Where to start. Neil’s history of violence – particularly against women – is well-documented, as are numerous drink-driving incidents where Neil was behind the wheel.

As recently as 2016, Neil was convicted of assaulting a female fan, but his worst crime came near the very beginning of his career.

In 1984, Neil was driving on Quaaludes and with a blood alcohol level well over the legal limit, when he drove into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on into a young couple driving another car.

The passengers, 18 and 20, were left with brain damage, while Neil’s own passenger, 24-year-old musician Nicholas Dingley, was killed. Neil served 15 days in jail.