Celebs who had very public meltdowns
Being an A-list celebrity can definitely put pressure on even the coolest stars. Our favorite famous faces are regularly in the spotlight — having to keep up appearances, conduct countless interviews, and make sure they seem totally approachable and down-to-earth. What happens, however, when the cracks start to show, and a celeb suddenly snaps? Even Hollywood’s elite aren’t immune to mental illness and substance abuse, so it’s important to be mindful that we all struggle. But for media darlings, those darker moments are sometimes immortalized by the press, and if the paparazzi aren’t enough, celebrities also have to deal with, well, pretty much anyone with a smartphone.
While some stars respond well to the pressures of fame and fortune — consider Cole Sprouse’s epic retort in the form of an Instagram account called “Camera Duels” — others have stumbled under the stress of being in the public eye 24/7. From some of the most notorious fiascos etched in pop-culture history to other bizarre tirades you may have forgotten about, here are some celebs who had very public meltdowns.
Britney Spears' mid-noughties meltdown sparked inspirational memes
One of the most shocking meltdowns in celeb history goes to Britney Spears and her very public head-shaving incident. The pop star’s antics left fans seriously concerned that Spears needed help, but her comeback years later sparked the trending inspirational meme: “If Britney can make it through 2007, we can make it through this day.”
Need a refresher? No problem. According to Access Online, the pop princess showed up to a closed salon on that fateful day in 2007, but its owner opened the shop for the celebrity walk-in. When Spears asked the stylist to shave her head, the stylist refused, so Spears did it herself. The owner eventually helped out “to even out Britney’s scalp.” Spears reportedly didn’t say much except, “Mom’s gonna kill me.” After leaving the salon, Spears supposedly headed to — where else? — a tattoo parlor.
While many felt the incident seemed like a cry for help, Spears didn’t see it that way. A year later, the “Womanizer” crooner appeared on the MTV documentary For the Record to explain what she was thinking at the time. “I was going through so much artificial stuff with my kids and [then-husband] Kevin [Federline] … I was devastated. People thought that it was me going crazy and stuff like that, but people shave their heads all the time.”
Shia LaBeouf seems to have issues with authority
Shia LaBeouf’s colorful career has been littered with controversy. He’s no stranger to public meltdowns, and unfortunately for the actor, a lot of those incidents have been documented. One of his most shocking tirades? Getting arrested in Georgia in 2017. According to TMZ, the cringe-worthy event started with the Transformers star approaching someone for a cigarette. When that person said no, LaBeouf started “swearing in front of women and kids.” Uh-oh. After he was asked to leave by police, the actor reportedly got aggressive. When an officer tried to arrest him, the star reportedly bolted but was caught in the lobby of a hotel, where he “continued to be unruly.”
The spectacle didn’t stop there. According to a law enforcement video posted by TMZ, LaBeouf had some shocking things to say from the back of the cop car, including this pleasantry: “If I had my gun I’ll blow your s*** up.”
An “ashamed” LaBeouf later released a public statement on his Twitter page. “My outright disrespect for authority is problematic to say the least, and completely destructive to say the worst,” he tweeted. “I have been struggling with addiction publicly for too long, and I am actively taking steps toward securing my sobriety and hope I can be forgiven for my mistakes.”
Amanda Bynes and the gasoline-soaked nightmare
Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes once seemed destined for a spot on Hollywood’s A-list. In 2002, a profile in The New York Times professed high hopes for the tween icon: “Many a True Hollywood Story has been told about show-business kids going bad, but Ms. Bynes seems remarkably self-possessed.” Unfortunately for the starlet, the ensuing years proved to be extremely difficult.
After months of erratic tweeting online, the Easy A star found herself in a very frenzied situation in 2013. According to the Daily News, witness Andrew Liverpool was driving home in California when he noticed a “sizeable fire” in a driveway and a woman lying next to the blaze. As he ran to the scene, the woman ran from the scene, dog in tow, to the nearest liquor store. That mystery lady was Bynes, and TMZ obtained footage from the liquor store that tracked the actress entering an employees-only washroom, where she reportedly attempted to wash her dog in the sink. Police eventually caught up with Bynes and reportedly placed her on a psychiatric hold.
These days, the starlet seems to be doing better. In June 2019, Bynes graduated from the Los Angeles-based Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. The year prior, she shared some words of wisdom with Paper magazine (via Billboard): “My advice to anyone who is struggling with substance abuse would be to be really careful because drugs can really take a hold of your life.”
Christian Bale's psycho-style meltdown
Christian Bale has a tempestuous reputation. Don’t believe us? A GQ profile of the actor was published in 2012, noting a couple of nervous reporters speaking together in hushed tones before meeting the A-list actor. “Have we heard how The Mood is?” The person they’re referring to is Bale, and that mood was certainly not very good on the set of 2009’s Terminator Salvation.
According to TMZ, the American Psycho actor had his own Patrick Bateman-style outburst when the director of cinematography accidentally stepped into a shot. Several people heard the outburst, describing it as “intense.” The whole incident was caught on audiotape and depicts Bale quite literally screaming atrocities such as, “I’ll kick your f***ing a**” and “I want you off the f***ing set you prick!” Pleasant, eh?
After the tape was released, Bale tucked his tail between his legs and issued an apology on Los Angeles radio station KROQ (via TMZ). “I make no excuses for it … There is nobody who has heard that tape who has been hit harder by it than me,” he said. “…The one thing that’s really disturbed me throughout this … is that I’ve heard a lot of people saying that I seem to think that I’m better than anybody else.”
Kanye West wants to 'massage' you with the real truth
Kanye West is no stranger to headline-making meltdowns. Remember the rapper’s infamous rant at TMZ headquarters in 2018 — the one where he suggested slavery was a “choice” and set off a firestorm of controversy? That was a doozy, but we’re going to focus on an even more tangential download of sorts dating back to 2016.
In November of that year, the rapper spit out a speech at a concert in Sacramento that was so unusual that Fader published a full transcript of the roughly 15-minute monologue. By the way, West reportedly showed up to that show 90 minutes late and then canceled the rest of it after his tirade. According to Variety, his verbal missive began after just four songs and included commentary about his peers, including Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. He claimed that “sometimes, we be playing the politics too much and forget who we are just to win. F**k winning, F**k looking cool … F**k all that, bruh.” West eventually shifted to the topic of social media, claiming he “ain’t here to massage you with a fake truth … You was lied to by Google. You was lied to by [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg.”
Whether you found the incident amusing or alarming, it’s important to note that West was reportedly diagnosed with a “mental condition” around the time of this concert, so perhaps there’s more to this meltdown than meets the eye.
Charlie Sheen admits his meltdown is 'fun' to watch
Charlie Sheen experienced a painful-to-watch meltdown in March 2011 that seemed to be a product of his surroundings and part of a worrisome downward spiral. According to the BBC, “the highest-paid actor on US television” suddenly got sacked from his job starring in Two and a Half Men. Audiences didn’t know at the time that he was fired due to a life-threatening drug addiction. What the public did see, however, was Sheen posting a Ustream video of him babbling incoherently during a phone call. From his frenzied demeanor to the jibber-jabber of theories that “phones were built by trolls,” it was clear something was severely wrong with the Platoon actor.
Years later, in 2015, fans learned that Sheen is HIV positive — something he found out around the time of that apparent meltdown. “I thought I had a brain tumor,” he told USA Today. “After a battery of tests … It’s a hard three letters to absorb.” Sheen has since openly discussed his diagnosis and reflected on the bizarre low-points of his life. The Wall Street. “It’s fun to kind of watch sometimes, but also, just a little bit cringeable,” he told ABC News. “It’s like, ‘Dude, what the hell was that?'”
Alec Baldwin has words with friends … and enemies
Alec Baldwin frequently makes headlines for his, erm, outbursts. Need we remind you that this is the guy who once got booted off a plane “for playing Words With Friends?” How do you spell “meltdown?” When he’s not berating the friendly skies, Baldwin apparently prefers to cause chaos on his home turf in New York City.
According to Page Six, a witness spotted the celeb “in a verbal exchange with a presumably reckless motorist that included insults and soft-drink throwing.” He supposedly called the driver a ‘meatball’ and “kept asking him and the passenger to get out.” When his targets declined, Sheen reportedly began recording the scene on his phone. “They pulled away right after, and he took a pic of their license plate and threw his extra-large drink in the street. Then he just went on his angry way,” the onlooker told the tab.
Perhaps Baldwin is not a fan of the neighborhood, considering he was arrested in the same area three years prior for reportedly biking the wrong way down Fifth Avenue and screaming at police. Words with friends? This celebrity seems intent on exchanging words with enemies instead.
Snooki's epic meltdown prompted her to change her ways
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi has grown up a lot since her fist-pumping days on MTV’s Jersey Shore. These days, you’re more likely to see the reality TV star double fisting children in her hands — not drinks. However, there was a time when the mom-of-three was better known for her hard-partying meltdowns than her parental wisdom.
During one episode of the booze-fueled Jersey Shore, Snooki and her co-stars were seen doing what they did best in Seaside Heights: partying. But this time, the pint-sized starlet reportedly had a super-sized meltdown that led to an arrest in 2010. A source told Ok! that they witnessed the whole thing. Polizzi supposedly left a bar and tried unsuccessfully to ride a bike, then things took a turn for the worse. “She was dancing and singing all by herself. Then she just suddenly started crying. They went down off the boardwalk [onto the beach] and she was falling down on the ground and crying and yelling,” the insider claimed. A co-star apparently tried to calm her down, but Snooki allegedly started saying, “I want my mom. I want to go home!” The whole debacle concluded with her arrest.
Snooki later told Radar Online that it was that incident that prompted her to change her ways. “My dad was very, very pissed,” she said. “I learned that I need to calm down with drinking.”
Reese Witherspoon couldn't walk the line this time
Reese Witherspoon had a squeaky-clean reputation that often mimicked the roles she played on the silver screen, but the ultra-perky Elle Woods from Legally Blonde did not interact well with the legal system in 2013. In fact, it seems even the sweetest Southern belle can occasionally unleash a nasty temper tantrum.
According to TMZ, Witherspoon and her hubby, Jim Toth, were driving in Atlanta when they were pulled over. Toth had to perform a sobriety test, and that didn’t sit well with Witherspoon. Getting out of the car, the starlet got progressively more unruly, barking things such as, “Do you know my name?” and “You’re about to find out who I am.” The icing on the cake? Her meltdown was recorded on the police officer’s dash cam — and released to the public. The Walk the Line actress was charged with disorderly conduct and her husband was hit with a DUI charge “after driving in the wrong lane,” reported Variety.
Witherspoon addressed the arrest at a press conference for her movie, Wild. “I had no idea what I was talking about and I am so sorry,” she said (via Glamour). “I was so disrespectful to [the officer] … I know better.”
Dennis Rodman's million-dollar meltdown
Dennis Rodman has a bad boy reputation. From being accused of stealing merchandise from a yoga studio, to hanging out with Kim Jong-un in North Korea, you never know what the former basketball star will do next. However, for those of you who think Rodman’s outlandish behavior has been limited to his time off the court, think again.
Back in 1997, the Chicago Bulls star stumbled out of bounds and fell on top of cameraman Eugene Amos. Rodman kicked Amos while they were both down on the floor. The televised event left viewers in shock, while the videographer was sent to the hospital. According to the Associated Press, Amos “filed an assault report against Rodman,” and the NBA suspended the baller “without pay for at least 11 games and fined him $25,000.” Rodman reportedly settled out of court with Amos for $200,000. Crunch the numbers, and you’ll discover that Rodman’s meltdown cost him more than $1 million!
Serena Williams would like all meltdowns to be treated equal
Serena Williams is certainly not the first tennis legend to melt down during a tough match on the court (Here’s looking at you, John McEnroe), but the heated (and televised) incident that went down at the 2018 U.S. Open between Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos made headlines around the world. Sports Illustrated called it “the ugliest Grand Slam finish ever.”
Here’s what happened: Ramos issued a code violation for what he perceived to be illegal communication between Williams and her coach. When he refused to change his mind about the penalty, Williams smashed her racket and earned a second code violation. That’s when she let it rip, defending her integrity while also calling Ramos a “liar” and a “thief” and demanding an apology: “Say it. Say you’re sorry.” He issued her a third code violation instead, which cost her the game. Opponent Naomi Osaka won the day, but Williams’ controversy stole the show.
Williams appears to have no regrets. In a 2019 essay for Harper’s Bazaar, she claimed Ramos penalized her “for being a woman … Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labeled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong? … I’m not asking to avoid being penalized. I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else.”
Lindsay Lohan, the humanitarian?
Did you think the days of Lindsay Lohan meltdowns making headlines were over? Well, think again. The former teen star has done a relatively good job staying out of the press after her mid-noughties domination of the tabs … but we can’t ignore an incident in 2018 that she broadcast for the entire world to see.
According to TMZ, the Mean Girls starlet got out of her vehicle to speak to a family in Moscow — while live-streaming. “Hey everyone, I just want to show you a family that I met,” she declares. “A Syrian refugee family that I’m really worried about.” Lohan invites the children back to her hotel to watch a movie, while criticizing their mother for not being a “hard-working woman.” The family tries to walk away from Lohan, at which point, she accuses them of child trafficking. As the scene deteriorates, Lohan “speaks in both English and Arabic. At one point she says, ‘You’re ruining Arabic culture,'” reported TMZ. And in her final pièce de résistance, we see Lohan grab one of the kids and get hit in the face by the mom.
The court of public opinion came down hard on Lohan, who hasn’t said much about the debacle. She was supposed to give Paper some intel on the sitch, but was “too tired to speak” after the magazine’s photoshoot. Lohan did email a statement: “I read the situation wrong. I’ve learned from it. And that’s all I have to say.”
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