Young actors today are under a spotlight like never before in history. Sure, reporters and paparazzi would dog actors and celebrities from previous eras, but social media and mobile phone technology have made that spotlight even brighter, and something they can never escape.
Let’s face it, most people in their teens and twenties would find themselves in trouble at least occasionally if every move they made was under observation by literally millions of people, around the clock. It’s actually remarkable that there aren’t more cases of public scandal and controversy when it comes to young, rich, hot actors in the spotlight.
Sometimes, it’s their behavior that puts them under the microscope. In other cases, it’s more a matter of their choice of roles, or a project they’re involved with that brings on the scrutiny. At times, though – just like anyone else – they just can’t seem to stay out of trouble on social media. Here’s a look at 20 young actors who’ve found themselves in the hot seat.
20 Ariel Winter
Ms Winter has a talent for igniting controversy with her uber-sexy social media posts, and her wardrobe choices in general. Detractors point out that she has a habit of preaching body positivity, all while showing up in a skimpy outfit, even at an event where everyone else was dressed casually.
19 Halle Bailey
The star of Disney's upcoming live-action Little Mermaid movie came under fire for the casting choice. Many people felt that Bailey, an African American, should not play the role of Ariel - a fiction mermaid! Naturally, many people also came to her defense, including those who pointed out the many African versions of the mermaid myths.
18 Liu Yifei
Liu Yifei sparked the #BoycottMulan hashtag when she expressed her views on politics, which she expressed on a popular Chinese social media platform. Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, supported the Hong Kong police in the recent protests in that city, which led many activists who support the protesters to call for the film's boycott.
17 Dakota Fanning
Dakota Fanning got in trouble recently over her casting as a white Muslim woman in a film about refugees called Sweetness In The Belly. Critics said the role should have gone to a Muslim actress, but Dakota addressed the controversy head on by trying to educate her detractors about the movie. It's not the first time, however, that she's been in the hot seat over her casting in a movie. Back in 2007, when she was only 13, there was a media controversy over her role in the movie Hounddog, and in particular, a scene where her character is sexually assaulted.
16 Lili Reinhart
The Riverdale and Hustlers star is always so helpful to her friends in her TV role as the iconic Betty, but in real life, she seems to be a target for online scrutiny. Back in 2017, she came under fire for seeming to suggest a blackface costume for Halloween. As fans know, she and co-star Cole Sprouse (Jughead on the series) are dating in real life, and she's come under fire from over zealous fans and online trolls. In early 2019, she actually took a break from social media after being the target of online abuse.
15 Petr Kotlar
The nine year-old of Czech Roma descent was cast as an unknown in the film The Painted Bird, a film that has been hitting the film festival circuit throughout 2019. It's his casting, and his young age, which is causing controversy. The film includes extreme violence and otherwise depraved behavior - all of which is witnessed by Petr's character, called simply "The Boy".
14 Debby Ryan
The former child star is taking heat for her starring role in Insatiable, a Netflix show that sees her character wear a fat suit, and then take revenge on people once she's lost weight. Many observers question the message that the show is sending, but she has defended it in interviews. There was also that weird rumor in the summer of 2019 that she had suffered a heart attack after learning about the death of former co-star Cameron Boyce.
13 Gaten Matarazzo
The Stranger Things actor is under fire for his current gig hosting - and executive producing - Prank Encounters, a show where people who thought they were coming to a new job get pranked. Many people have pointed out the cruelty of messing with people who are looking for work, but Netflix has already signed on for a second season.
12 Jake Paul
The actor and YouTube personality seems to thrive on controversy, including annoying his neighbors in Los Angeles with his crazy stunts, such as setting furniture on fire on his lawn. He recently caused a scene by breaking into tears and getting into a fight with his brother Logan's coach after Logan lost his first professional fight.
11 Charlie Heaton
Charlie is best known for playing Jonathan Byers on Stranger Things, older brother to Will. He's actually British, and is both an actor and musician. He ran into a bit of trouble when he tried to get into the United States to attend the premiere of Stranger Things Season 2. He was refused entry into the country when customs officials found traces of a controlled substance in his suitcase. He withdrew his application to enter the US to avoid an arrest.
10 Millie Bobby Brown
Despite her good girl image - or maybe because of it? - Millie Bobby Brown has been something of a lightning rod for controversy. There were critics who told her she was dressing and acting too old for her age. There was the whole “Millie Bobby Brown is homophobic” meme episode, and while it was completely made up, the public controversy made her leave social media. Recently, she's come under fire for seeming to fake a video promoting her cosmetic line for teens.
9 Tom Holland
By all accounts, Tom is a nice guy, but he's gotten into trouble for blurting out movie and script plot points for the uber-secretive MCU movies. So much so, in fact, that he wasn't even given a script for Avengers: Endgame before the shoot. Recently, though, he was reported to help solve the controversy that arose when Sony pulled Spider-Man out of the MCU. Tom is said to have helped smooth things over so that he could continue being a part of the MCU, although it's not clear how that will play out.
8 Taylor Momsen
The blond actress and singer made headlines a couple of years ago when she was fired from the hit series Gossip Girls. According to the studio, it was for her "unreliable and erratic behavior". Cast mates said she hardly ever showed up to set, and when she did, had a bad attitude. More recently, she's focused on music with her band The Pretty Reckless, causing occasional kerfuffles by posting racy pictures on her social media accounts.
7 Chloë Grace Moretz
Chloë Grace Moretz is a child actress who's grown up in front of our eyes. She keeps her private life private, but is not afraid to take on controversial roles as an actor. She's been in the hot seat through her role in some films, including the violent Kick-Ass, as well as tackling the hot button subject of gay conversion therapy.
6 Alex Diaz
Alex Diaz is a Filipino-Scottish actor who recently came out as bisexual. But, many feel that he came out only because of the controversy that erupted when his private - and suggestive - DMs to a fitness trainer became public. Fans have stayed on Diaz's side, suggesting it was the trainer who acted inappropriately by posting the messages on Facebook.
5 Max Lee
Max Lee is a budding actor and YouTube star in China, better known as the son of well known Taiwan actor Lee Hsing-wen. Maybe it's because of his built-in fame, but he's made a name for himself with his outrageous stunts, including recently, where he managed to get himself locked inside an Ikea store in Singapore to spend the night in the store walking on tables and displays.
4 Yalitza Aparicio
The indigenous Mexican actress was the subject of unwelcome controversy in 2018, when some other Mexican actors complained about her Oscar nomination for her role in the movie Roma. Some said an indigenous actor did not deserve the nomination, and the controversy brought on a public conversation about the injustices faced by indigenous people in Mexico.
3 Noah Centineo
Probably best known for his roles in the Netflix movies To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, it seems like Noah doesn't mind being in the spotlight for a good controversy - like the time he voiced his public support for equally controversial YouTuber Logan Paul. His Twitter account has also come under fire for his often cryptic posts. Recently, fans didn't like his casting as a nerd in the upcoming Charlie's Angels reboot, saying his take on nerd-dom is anything but believable.
2 Jake T. Austin
Jake T. Austin has run into controversy more than once over his car, including narrowly missing a DUI charge, and netting a misdemeanor hit-and-run instead after a four-car crash in 2014. His abrupt departure from the show The Fosters caused another stir, and in 2017, he revealed over social media that he'd left the series The Fosters because of creative differences. It seems like the gamble didn't pay off, though. After stints voicing in Teen Titans and The Emoji Movie in 2017, he's been largely absent from movies and TV.
1 Chandler Riggs
Chandler Riggs was a favorite character on the hit series The Walking Dead, and when his character was killed off in Season 8, it was a huge controversy with fans. However, Riggs has since admitted that his acting wasn't as good as it could have been. He posted recently in a Reddit thread talking about his removal from the series. "Been rewatching TWD over the last couple of months and I agree lol," Riggs replied. "I think I was decent for the first few years, but I definitely got lazy when I should've utilized the writers giving me more material."