Showbiz is a particularly odd industry. It’s a multi-billion dollar business that mashes together the talents—and egos—of actors, writers, directors, musicians, digital artists, and corporate tycoons. The crème-de-la-crème of this melting pot gather in Hollywood, where money, fame, and awards raise the stakes of their performance to a global peak.
It’s no surprise in Hollywood, then, when personalities clash. And clash they do, at times spectacularly. Regardless of who is to blame and whether or not it’s deserved, some careers take major hits from these conflicts. No matter the star’s size and brightness, no Hollywood celebrity is immune to being shunned by their red-carpet peers.
When this happens, they enter the dreaded Hollywood Blacklist—a dark pit of obscurity and late mortgage payments on that third house in Maui. Oof, it just gives you chills. Here are ten Hollywood stars who have, for one reason or another, ended up blacklisted.
10 Charlie Chaplin
The origin of the unofficial Hollywood Blacklist is pretty dark. It began as a consequence of Mccarthyism- Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy’s efforts to route out suspected Communist spies and sympathizers in the United States in the 1940s and 50s. During this time, a task force called the House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings in which they accused hundreds of citizens of affiliation with the Communist party. This lead to mass blacklisting of accused parties, as movie studios stood to lose a lot of money if their movies starred suspected Communists or Communist sympathizers.
One such suspect was one of the biggest stars in the silent film era, Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin’s refusal to answer questions about his political views caused the FBI to label him a Bolshevik and potential security risk. His films were met with hostility and boycotts. After the London premiere of his film “Limelight,” he was informed that he would be denied re-entry into the U.S. Chaplin lived out the rest of his life in Switzerland and for the next decade, his films continued to be met with widespread boycotting in the U.S. When the political climate eventually shifted, so too did Chaplin’s popularity and at the time of his death, he was once again a beloved film icon.
9 Randy Quaid
While Chaplin was a victim of a hostile political landscape, Randy Quaid is a victim of himself. Attempting to summarize his and his wife’s extensive professional and legal battles is an endeavor in exhaustion, especially because the list grows every year. Quaid has had numerous warrants out for his arrest for a number of reasons: fled the U.S. for Canada to avoid court, fled Canada for the U.S. to avoid court, been sued by a host of different entities for various reasons. He’s also spread unfounded claims that the 2020 election was rigged and that a hit squad that specializes in actor assassinations is after him, having already killed Heath Ledger.
All of this has contributed to a negative public perception of him and kept him from many major acting roles. But one incident really takes most of the responsibility. In 2007, while filming “Lone Star Love,” all 26 of his cast-mates brought charges against him, saying that Quaid had “physically and verbally abused his fellow performers.” As a result, he was fined $81,000 and banned from major stage performances for life. In Quaid’s case, the world’s smallest violin is too big.
8 Sondra Locke
Sondra Locke was a promising young star, earning herself an Oscar nomination for her very first role in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” For the next two decades, she starred in numerous films and even directed several herself. In 1975, she began dating A-list actor and director Clint Eastwood. Though happy at first, her relationship with Eastwood would result in her professional undoing.
By the mid-80s, the pair had grown disdainful of each other and eventually separated. It was messy; she arrived home from shooting one day to find their locks had been changed and her stuff put in storage. As part of their divorce settlement, Eastwood agreed to set her up with a development deal with Warner Bros. Five years after their divorce, Locke had been rejected by Warner Bros. thirty times in a row, not seeing a single project come to light. She sued Eastwood, claiming he had paid Warner Bros. not to green-light any of her ideas. Eastwood settled with Locke out of court for an undisclosed sum, so there is a decent chance he had indeed had her blacklisted for years.
7 Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson used to be a big deal. Like The Rock big. “Mad Max,” “Lethal Weapon,” “Braveheart,” and “The Passion of the Christ” can attest to that. But in the mid-2000s, a series of vitriolic tirades brought him low enough to be nearly invisible. In 2006, Gibson was pulled over and arrested while speeding and drunk. He chose to make the situation exponentially worse by going on an antisemitic tirade to the arresting officer, who was himself Jewish. Things slowed down for Gibson after that, but it wasn’t until another incident in 2010 that it all ground to a halt. He was recorded leaving his then partner Oksana Grigorieva a voicemail in which he said that—wow, well, I can’t write that. The transcript is available online. It is not pretty. After that, his roles have dried up considerably. Though he has recently begun to find work again, to many people, he’s no longer Mad Max; he’s just mad.
6 Rose McGowan
Rose McGowan was one of the women of “Charmed” and was in “Scream” and “Jawbreaker.” She was young, she was talented, and it was reasonable to expect her career to only go up. And yet in the late 90s, it stalled suddenly. Now, McGowan has said a lot of controversial things over her career, but none of that is responsible for her blacklisting. What ultimately stalled her career for about two decades is far worse, and no fault of her own.
In 1997, she was raped by Harvey Weinstein. He gave her $100,000 to keep quiet about the incident, which to the general public she did, but still, she spoke out about it to industry insiders. This caused Weinstein to blacklist her, and his weight in the industry meant that the blacklisting lasted. The silver lining to this massive storm-cloud is that McGowan’s testimony was an early voice in the Me Too movement, which removed from power many industry figures who had committed sexual misconduct and abuses of power, including Weinstein. It’s a shame it took twenty years and over one hundred additional accusers for her to be believed, though.
5 Stacey Dash
Stacey Dash is mainly known for “Clueless,” both the movie and television show. Throughout the 90s and 2000s, her career was on par for a young nineties television star. Not many major starring roles, but at least she consistently worked. That is, until the 2010s when she traded her liberal views for conservative ones and became outspoken about them.
There is nothing inherently wrong with sharing conservative views. But many of her more extreme views rubbed the public—and potential employers—the wrong way. Among other things, she has called for an end to Black History Month, called teenage victims of sexual assault “bad girls who like to be naughty,” claimed climate change doesn’t exist, and claimed Planned Parenthood has a secret agenda for mass murder. Not the best platform if you would ever like to work with… other human beings. Unsurprisingly, Dash has not had much luck finding work in recent years.
4 Katherine Heigl
Remember Katherine Heigl? I remember a period where she was everywhere. Starring roles in “Roswell,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Knocked Up,” and “27 Dresses” kept her on everyone’s T.V. sets for a long while. And then one day, she seemed to drop out of the spotlight. The truth is that Heigl has a tendency to burn her bridges after crossing them. She has an enduring reputation for being difficult to work with—failing to show up for call-times, refusing to leave her trailer, complaining about catering, and other behaviors that make her a less than desirable hire; to many, she’s just not worth it.
3 Roseanne Barr
Rosanne has always been outspoken, never shied from political content, and always kept up her tough, working-class persona. It was her charm, and the world loved her for it. “Rosanne” was one of the 90s sitcom mega-hits, and its legacy, combined with her stand-up career, earned her decades of notoriety and goodwill. Then her irreverent political jokes became offensive political ideology.
She baselessly called a school shooting survivor a nazi, did almost the exact same thing with businessman George Soros, and then ended her absurd trilogy by calling one of Barack Obama’s senior advisors Valerie Jarrett, a “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” As nonsensical as it is hateful and thoroughly deserving of its consequence. Her reboot of Rosanne was canceled within a day and she has laid low ever since.
2 Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen was a household name for decades because of his acting, first in serious roles like “Platoon” and “Wall Street,” and then for fantastic sitcom runs on “Spin City” and “Two and a Half Men.” And who doesn’t love “Major League”? Then, in the middle of “Two and a Half Men”‘s eighth season, Sheen managed to become an even bigger household name. This time, it was because a series of inexplicably eccentric interviews and stunts made him the single biggest meme-generator that year.
Sheen’s split from “Two and a Half Men” began with repeated battles with substance abuse forcing him and the studio to part ways. But then he traded in the ‘aww’ for ‘aw hell, that dude is nuts.’ Sheen famously claimed to be a warlock with tiger blood and Adonis DNA, and that he was “winning.” He then went on to clarify that he was a “total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.” Because sure, why not. You might almost feel bad for the guy if he didn’t have sexual assault allegations plaguing him of late and some questionable views. He doesn’t act much anymore.
1 Brendan Fraser
The best is last. The last four celebs who arguably blacklisted themselves had to bring the list down so this last star could raise it higher than it ever was. That star is, of course, Brendan Fraser. Throughout the 90s and 2000s, there was no one cooler. Fight me. With starring roles in fan-favorites “Encino Man,” “Airheads,” “George of the Jungle,” “Bedazzled,” and “The Mummy” Trilogy, Fraser was a defining figure for a young generation. Even his small guest spot on “Scrubs” as Dr. Cox’s friend Ben is to this day an extremely memorable cameo. But in 2003, his career took an immediate nosedive for the worst reason.
Fraser alleges that in 2003 at the Beverly Hills Hotel, he was sexually assaulted by the then Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Phillip Berk. Further, he claims that because he resisted the unwanted advance, he was blacklisted from Hollywood. The incident occurred around the same time Fraser was going through some challenging personal crises, but he believes the incident was a major factor in his Hollywood decline. The good news is that a string of recent recurring T.V. stints, including a main role in D.C.’s “Doom Patrol,” have caused many to label his triumphant and overdue return as the “Brenaissance.”