Celebrities often get away with things the rest of us wouldn’t dream of. Recent allegations against powerful men in the entertainment industry show that as long as someone is rich, talented and good-looking, there will be legions of fans ready to defend them against mounting evidence.
Sadly for the victims of the crimes committed by famous individuals, this is nothing new. No matter what they do, some stars are so rich, popular or influential that they dodge the backlash they really deserve. Of course, people can deserve forgiveness, and we’re not here to insist they pay for their crimes over and over again. But as a fan, you have a right to know which of your favorite actors, musicians and directors did some really awful things, and in some cases, received much less than a slap on the wrist.
Here are 15 powerful men that Hollywood forgave for their crimes. Do you think they deserved it?
Chris Brown’s reputation has not been the same since he assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. The singer has recently spoken about the events in his own words in a 2017 documentary, detailing how their tense relationship spiralled out of control the night of the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Party. “She starts going off, she throws the phone…‘I hate you.’ She hits me a couple more times. I remember she tried to kick me, but then I really hit her, with a closed fist, I punched her. I busted her lip. When I saw it, I was in shock.” Just after the assault, Brown was photographed on vacation, smiling on a jet-ski.
Though women’s rights organizations have condemned the singer’s actions, which left Rihanna swollen and bruised, it’s clear that he’s been forgiven by Hollywood, since his career has continued. His latest album, Heartbreak on a Full Moon, has gone gold, and he still endorses a number of products.
The list of offences committed by Charlie Sheen seems to keep growing. In 2008, he was on probation for a drug offense, which he didn’t take seriously, since he overdosed again. In 2009, the actor assaulted his wife and was arrested on Christmas Day. A good lawyer helped him to win a sentencing of 36 hours of anger management, 30 days probation, and 30 days of rehab. Among the other cases against him are reports that he assaulted a female dentist while threatening her with a knife, forced her to remove her clothes, and grabbed her. He was also accused of assaulting the late child actor Corey Haim, and being generally abusive to all of his partners.
He has seen some consequences for his actions (not nearly as many as a non-famous, non-wealthy person would), and was dropped from his hit show Two and a Half Men. But audiences still view him as a funny train wreck they feel sorry for.
Actor Mel Gibson went from being one of Hollywood’s most famous film stars, to the most hated man in the business, and just recently, he’s making his way back into the limelight. After starring in movies like Braveheart and the Lethal Weapon franchise, Gibson fell from grace when he was arrested for driving under the influence. During the arrest, he verbally assaulted the police officers, using racist, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic language. Not long after this, a conversation between Gibson and his then-girlfriend was recorded, in which he threatened her in numerous ways and used all sorts of derogatory language.
Gibson is one star who has faced a tarnished reputation for his actions, and has stated that he credits all his problems to his alcoholism brought on by his divorce a decade ago, but maintains that he is now sober. The media has held Gibson accountable for his actions, and now he’s building himself back up: he’s recently been honored at industry events and seen success with his latest projects.
To be clear, Casey Affleck didn’t totally get away with what he did. The younger brother of actor Ben Affleck, Casey settled law suits for $2 million and $2.5 million privately with producer Amanda White and cinematographer Magdalena Gorka, after they accused him of assault. The women claimed that while they were on the set of a project they were filming together, Affleck harassed them verbally and physically. That includes touching them without permission, exposing himself, and pressuring them to come back to his hotel room. On one occasion, it was alleged that Affleck even crawled into one of their beds without permission in the middle of the night.
He has faced repercussions for this: his wife has left him and the media has reported extensively on it. That said, Affleck won the Oscar for Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea in February 2017, despite the allegations against him, clearly showing that Hollywood and its voters were ready to move on.
Mark Wahlberg has starred in several hit movies, sometimes playing the action hero and sometimes playing the bumbling, lovable main man. On his resume is Ted, The Lovely Bones, and Martian, plus a bunch of others. His career is showing no signs of slowing down, and Hollywood seems to have forgiven and forgotten his past.
In his younger days, Wahlberg beat up a blind man, to the point of nearly causing death. He was addicted to hard substances by the age of 13, and by 15 he had a civil action filed against him for harassing children of color. He beat up the blind man and another man when he was 16, a crime which was reportedly motivated by racism on Wahlberg’s part. The hate crime landed him with three years in prison. Despite that, Hollywood never mentions this movie star’s past, let alone calls him out on it.
Today, Sean Penn is an incredibly celebrated actor. He has starred in major films like Dead Man Walking, and even had a guest appearance on Friends (that’s when you know you’ve made it!). If you were born in the ‘90s or later, you might not have realized that Penn was once married to the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna, and reportedly abused her.
In 1988, it was alleged that Madonna filed a police report against Penn. He was accused of tying her to a chair using lamp wire and gagging her to stop her from leaving the house. While she was tied, he threatened to shave her head, and forced her to perform other acts. The ordeal lasted for nine hours. We don’t hear much about this in the media anymore, and Madonna now denies that she was ever assaulted by him. Even though other witnesses claim that they saw the singer bruised and bloody after Penn attacked her with a baseball bat, he seems to have been totally absolved.
Nobody thinks of Snoop Dogg as a saint. But most people don’t exactly think of him as a criminal, either. Interestingly enough, he has been involved in illegal activity in the past, though this rarely makes it to the mainstream media. And when it does, it doesn’t stay there for very long.
Back in 1993, Snoop Dogg’s body guard McKingley Lee shot and killed Philip Woldermariam, who was a member of a rival gang. Even though Lee was the one who pulled the trigger, Snoop Dogg was driving the car from which the shots were fired. Both men were initially charged with murder, but thanks to a team of super-lawyers, they were acquitted on self-defense grounds. In addition to releasing a string of albums, Snoop Dogg has gone on to appear in several movies, make millions of dollars and obtain legions of fans who either don’t know about or have forgiven his involvement in the shooting.
Terrence Howard has been known to play characters that are less than friendly, and unfortunately, that trait seems to extend to real life. The actor experienced trauma when he was young after watching his father take someone’s life, and today he appears to have a hatred for women. It’s been alleged that he beat up his first wife in 2001. He married again, and while vacationing with his second wife in Costa Rica in 2013, he assaulted her violently after following her into the restroom. His third wife also divorced him.
His history of violence doesn’t end there. He was once escorted off an airplane after aggressive behavior, and once punched a woman in the face and shoved a man to the ground after he got into a disagreement with them while lining up at a restaurant. Despite all this, he still gets plenty of roles, gracing the prestigious front cover of many magazines.
You’d have quite a task on your hands if you had to find someone who wasn’t going crazy on the dance floor at the first few bars of R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix)”. With hits like that, as well as inspirational ballads like “I Believe I Can Fly”, R. Kelly is often thought of as a RNB legend. Most people seem to have forgotten, or perhaps were never told in the first place, that he has a dark past.
Early on in his career, many women accused him of abuse, and shockingly, the majority of them were minors at just 14 and 15 years old. In the most famous case against him, it was reported that he filmed himself doing despicable things to a minor (who couldn’t have consented because of her age). Despite these cases making their way to the media, the world still celebrates R. Kelly and rushes to dance to his records in the club.
In July of 1991, boxing star Mike Tyson was charged after attacking an 18-year-old woman in a hotel room in Indianapolis. Though Tyson admitted that relations had gone on between himself and Desiree Washington, he maintained that it was all consensual. After testimonies from his chauffeur and a physician who had examined Washington, Tyson was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison and four years of probation. At 25 years old, Tyson was sentenced to the Indiana Youth Center, and released after serving less than three years.
Not only did Tyson serve less than half of his sentence, but he seems to be looked upon highly in the sports and entertainment industries today. He’s appeared in major films like The Hangover, has had documentaries made about his life, collaborated with major musicians like Madonna and has even written an autobiography which made it onto the best-seller list.
There’s no denying that film director Roman Polanski is a talented man who’s great at what he does. But should that cancel out the horrible crimes he’s committed? He was charged and convicted for taking advantage of a minor who was 14 years old at the time. Forgiving someone usually requires them to show remorse and face some consequences, but Polanski didn’t do any of those things. Rather than facing serious jail time (he did do 27 days), he was deported from the United States and now lives in France, where he continues to reap the rewards of his success.
Frequently attending the Cannes film festival, Polanski has not only been forgiven by the film industry as a whole, but by individual faces within it. Celebrities who have publicly defended the actions of Polanski include Woody Allen, Whoopi Goldberg, Penelope Cruz, Harvey Weinstein, Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett, and Martin Scorsese.
Roman Polanski isn’t the only talented director who’s gotten away with abuse. Alfred Hitchcock is seen as something of a legend in the film business, and when Tippi Hedren accused him of assaulting her, people questioned her rather than him.
Hitchcock took the actress under his wing, groomed her with what it took to succeed in the industry, and hired her for many of his films. According to Hedren, he assaulted her while they were alone, and used his role in her success and his high position in society to get away with it. She claimed that when she rejected his advances, he tried to punish her for revenge. Unlike some of the men on this list, Hitchcock wasn’t exactly forgiven by Hollywood because for the most part, he was never even suspected to begin with. Most people didn’t even consider that Hedren’s claims could be true and continued to see the director as a legend.
Another legendary director let off the hook by Hollywood is Woody Allen. The filmmaker has a career that spans across sixty years, and in that time he’s produced hit movies, music and comedy, entertaining generations of fans. All that talent has been enough to save his reputation after beginning a relationship with his partner’s adopted (minor) daughter.
Soon-Yi Previn was adopted by Mia Farrow and André Previn in the late 1970s. When the two divorced, Farrow began a relationship with Allen, and he adopted two of her adopted children, Dylan Farrow and Moses Farrow. By the late 1980s, Allen had begun getting intimate with Soon-Yi Previn, even though he was in a long-term relationship with her adoptive mother, and she was also a minor. Mia Farrow only found out about it when she found explicit photos of Soon-Yi in Allen’s possession. Dylan Farrow has also accused her adoptive father of assault, but Hollywood continues to honor him.
The Voice coach CeeLo Green first got himself in trouble with the law in 2012, when a disastrous dinner landed him with possession of illegal substance charges. It was reported that on that night, Green gave a woman some of these substances and slept with her. This earned him three years of probation and 45 days of community service for his offences, but many argued that he should have received a much more serious penalty—you know, for sleeping with someone who wasn’t exactly in the mind to make informed decisions.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Green later tweeted his views about the whole thing. “If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously… People who have really been r*ped REMEMBER!!!” Even though his actions and words made his attitude toward consent clear, his reputation wasn’t tarnished. He received some backlash, and went on to continue his career, making more music and performing to more adoring crowds.
Many think of Sean Connery as their favorite Bond. You can’t deny his charismatic rogue and rugged handsome looks, and the industry still portrays him as the perfect gentleman. This is a little surprising, since in the 1960s, he publicly stated that women deserve to be hit every now and then. “I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman…If a woman is a b*tch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it,” he said. “I think a man has to be slightly advanced, ahead of the woman. I really do–by virtue of the way a man is built...” Oh dear.
Despite having these views, Connery is still seen as something of a romantic figure. Years later, he was asked if he wanted to take back what he said, but he maintained that his point of view had not changed. Even though he proved that he wasn’t sorry, Hollywood forgave him for that opinion anyway.
Sources: www.cracked.com, www.thedailybeast.com, gawker.com