It's easy to forget that our favorite Hollywood stars are flawed human beings just like the rest of us. We're most often reminded when they open their mouths and say something completely shocking that no one in their right mind should think, much less utter out loud (or into a recording device). Here are 15 celebrities notorious for letting their words get away from them and offending the world in the process.
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The Road Warrior star's volatile temper has been a major hindrance to his film career. From the drunken tirade recorded during his LAPD DUI arrest in 2006 to the series of voicemail messages left for his girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva in 2010, Gibson has probably become more well known for his racist, misogynist, and downright psychotic ranting than he is for the bulk of his filmography. His last ranting release, an expletive-laced screaming fit directed at screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, leaked in April.
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The tape of Christian Bale’s mad scolding cinematographer Shane Hurlbut on the set of Terminator: Salvation was a major source of embarrassment for the actor in 2009. He’d bounce back the next year with an Oscar win for The Fighter, but Terminator: Salvation would fare less well. The film tanked at the box office, perhaps completely overshadowed by Bale’s freakout.
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Former Seinfeld-star Michael Richards ruined his stand-up career in 2006 when, during a performance at West Hollywood’s Laugh Factory, he lashed out at a heckler with a barrage of racial epithets. In October of this year he discussed the incident with Jerry Seinfeld on the web series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. He went on to explain, “Somebody interrupted my act and said some things that hurt me and I lashed out in anger… it was a selfish response, I took it too seriously.” He did not address the issue of racism, however, which might explain why his career has yet to revive.
David O. Russell
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In 2007, a taped rant from the set of I Heart Huckabees leaked. In it, director David O. Russell fired off a series of obscenities at actress Lily Tomlin, asserting himself while saying he’s “trying to f—ing help” and be a “f---ing collaborator.” Five years later the rant would re-emerge in the mouth of comedian Mike Birbiglia, who recited it verbatim while presenting at the IFP Gotham Awards. He was merely a few feet away from the director at the time.
30 Rock actor Alec Baldwin made headlines in 2007 when a voicemail message intended for his daughter was released. In the message, Baldwin rages at the then 11-year-old, calling her “a rude, thoughtless little pig” and saying “You don’t have the brains or decency of a human being.” Baldwin would later recant the argument with regret, in his book A Promise To Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce.
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The following incident nearly ended Casey Kasem’s run on America’s Top 40. The legendary DJ had a brief breakdown on air while having trouble trying to segue from an upbeat pop song (“Dare Me” by the Pointer Sisters) into a dedication to a deceased family’s dog. As directed at his producers, the rant demanded a “concerted effort to come out of a record that isn’t f---ing uptempo” before every death dedication.
The former Star Trek captain’s famous rant was sparked during a studio recording session. Apparently, an engineer questioned the manner in which Shatner pronounced the word “Sabotage.” The actor asserted, “I don’t say ‘sabotage.’ I say ‘sabotaj.’” The brief clip has been popularized on Howard Stern and even got a quick wink in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. After all, what song is playing during the scene when young Kirk is stealing his stepfather’s car? None other than “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys.
Charlie Sheen's volatile temper and eccentric (some might say crazy) behavior has been well documented in Hollywood. Among his most controversial episodes is a rant directed at former wife Denise Richards. The voicemail that leaked in 2008 had Sheen repeatedly call Richards “a f---ing liar” and ended by calling her a particularly offensive racial epiphet. Three years later Sheen apologized for the rant and his use of the “N” bomb in an issue of US Weekly. He gave a typical "I'm not racist" apology that inexplicably involved Sheen name dropping his African American friend, actor Tony Todd (the actor famous for playing Candyman).
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Mike Tyson is a contender in more than one capacity—he may have more notorious rants than any other person on this list. His most famous raving would follow his fight with Lou Saravese, where he would challenge Lennox Louis. The bit of promo had Tyson compare himself with Alexander The Great, Sonny Liston, and Jack Dempsey before devolving into him screaming “I want your heart! I want to eat his children! Praise be to Allah!" Ironically, Lennox would go on to beat Tyson by an eighth round K.O. in 2002.
Kanye West is known to stir the pot verbally and make himself look bad in the process. He garnered a lot of flack for interrupting Taylor Swift’s 2009 VMA Award acceptance, ascending the stage to say “Yo, Taylor I’m really happy for you, I’m going to let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.” However, it’s probably his political talk during NBC’s A Concert For Hurricane Relief that made the most waves. During the fundraiser the rapper stated his belief that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Besides leaving his co-presenter, Mike Myers, frozen like a deer in headlights, Bush himself would later call the accusation “One of the most disgusting moments of my presidency.” Kanye, meanwhile, would sort-of-kind-of apologize when pressed by Matt Lauer during an interview on The Today Show in 2011.
Whether or not you agree with his politics, one thing is for sure: Bill O’Reilly likes to yell. A lot. You could argue that his entire show, The O’Reilly Factor, is one extended rant after the other. However, one of the pundits most recent televised ravings had him labeled a racist by, well, just about everyone. Following President Obama’s re-election, O’Reilly explained how he predicted the outcome: "Obama wins because it's not a traditional America anymore,” O’Reilly said before lamenting, “The white establishment is the minority. People want things." O’Reilly would not attempt to amend the offensive implications of this statement.
Comedian and 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan made headlines in 2011 when he decided to do a bit on homosexuals and bullying during a stand-up performance in Nashville. One audience member took offense to the routine and posted the details on Facebook: “He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death.” Morgan would respond with an apology, saying the bit “clearly went too far and was not funny in any context.”
The actor was fired from Grey’s Anatomy in 2009 for a rant that reportedly labeled his co-star, T.R. Knight, a homosexual epithet. When the incident became public, it forced Knight to out himself publicly. Washington later denied using the word in a backstage interview at the Emmys, but repeated the phrase within the context of the situation. Later, Washington would reveal the word was intended for co-star Patrick Dempsey. Nonetheless, ABC would eventually terminate his contract over the incident. In one final rant, Washington chalked up his firing to a racist media establishment. In a Newsweek interview, Washington stated "Someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me.”
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While not quite a straight rant, singer-songwriter John Mayer went on a racist tangent regarding his sex life that may well border on one. While on the topic of interracial romance, Mayer described his genitals as “like a White Supremacist” before making a list of famous African American women he would hypothetically copulate with. Keep in mind, this segment was preceded by some fairly misogynistic ramblings about his relationship with Jennifer Aniston, his sex life with Jessica Simpson, and his love of internet p0rnography.
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It always seemed like Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise certainly had a talent for keeping his “movie star” persona at the forefront of his public appearances. In 2005 the facade would slip as he argued in an interview with Matt Lauer over the merits of anti-depressant drugs. In the rant Cruise claimed to “know the history of psychiatry” and accused Lauer of advocating the use of the drug Ritalin. He concluded his intense rant by asserting, “I don’t talk about things I don’t understand.”