Celebrity Speeches That Went Too Far

It's easy to forget that famous people's behavior can be starkly different from how they act with a script or PR personnel guiding them. Because of this, there's no doubt that the entire world relishes in the chance to see an A-lister hit the stage for an impromptu speech, or even better, go off-script and freestyle.

Hey, we get it, live TV can be nerve-wracking, and even long-standing Tinseltown pros get caught in a funny reaction, or worse — the dreaded public celebrity meltdown. "I have been to a lot of these ceremonies, and each time it feels like I had never done it before. The flashes seem brighter, the carpet seems crazier," admitted Jeff Bridges to The Hollywood Reporter. "I still get stressed out at the idea of saying something. My mind overloads." While some may turn to booze to calm their nerves (sorry, Elizabeth Taylor), others may decide to embellish their speeches with anything else that's distracting — such as Lady Gaga's infamous 2010 VMA meat dress.

Philip Pierce, a clinical psychologist with patients who've won Oscars, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, shedding insight on what exactly is going on in the minds of those about to get on stage. "They're very much worried about the public aspects, talking to people they don't know and being in a strange situation." It's in those strange situations that we sometimes get the most magically awkward star-studded monologues. Here are some celebrity speeches that went too far.

Does Kanye West ever not go too far?

It was a pop culture moment that doesn't even need an introduction these days. Who can forget the notorious 2009 MTV Video Music Award moment where Kanye West sauntered up the stage as Taylor Swift was giving her speech for winning best female video for her song, "You Belong with Me." As we all sat cringing, West gave his now-infamous, "Yo, Taylor, I'm really happy for you, I'mma let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!" Swift was mortified, Beyonce's mouth was agog, and West unknowingly unleashed a decade long feud with the blonde pop starlet.

The "Golddigger" rapper later admitted on The Ellen Show that the VMA moment gave him such bad publicity, he supposedly went into isolation from the backlash, surfacing in Japan, Rome, and even Hawaii. "I literally left America, I stopped doing music altogether, I just took some time," West revealed. 

It's not the only time the Life of Pablo hitmaker has delivered shocking declarations. In 2005, West was in the middle of giving a live televised speech for Hurricane Katrina relief alongside actor Mike Myers when he suddenly went off-script and declared, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Yup, we were just as shocked as the clueless Austin Powers star right next to him.

Robert De Niro wasted no time getting his message across

It's always shocking to see Robert De Niro get extremely passionate about something when he's not acting in a flick. The notoriously tight-lipped celeb doesn't grant many interviews and is known for his introverted nature off-camera. There is one thing that'll set off the Taxi Driver star, however, and as The Guardian perfectly puts it, he "says as little as he can get away with ... until [he gets] on to the matter of a certain US president."

Taking the stage at the 2018 Tony Awards, the Raging Bull star delivered this simple, albeit powerful message: "I'm going to say one thing: F**k Trump," he declared, raising his fists in the air. Receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, De Niro continued, "It's no longer 'Down with Trump,' it's, 'F**k Trump.'"

Robert De Niro's disdain for the POTUS (to put it lightly), has been highly publicized, and the New York-born actor has even been vocal about his opinions before Trump's presidency. "He's so blatantly stupid, he's a punk, he's a dog, he's a pig, he's a con, a bullsh*t artist, a mutt who doesn't know what he's talking about," De Niro unloaded in an October 2016 voting campaign video by Anonymous Content (via CBS News). The best part about all of this? According to The New Yorker, De Niro has only met The Apprentice alum once, at a baseball game, which was clearly enough time to formulate his opinion.

Angelina Jolie's brotherly love was a big misunderstanding

Back in the early 2000s, Angelina Jolie made headlines for very bizarre reasons. Her marriage with Billy Bob Thornton regularly took center stage, and the couple was known for their eccentric behavior, such as wearing vials of the other's blood around their necks and even trading their underwear. Known for her red carpet antics, Angie once even paused a red carpet interview with MTV to suddenly make out with the Sling Blade actor. Relationship goals (kind of), right?

Well, when Jolie won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her work in Girl, Interrupted in 2000, she left the crowd stunned as she took the stage and suddenly announced, "I'm so in love with my brother right now." While the sentiment may seem innocent enough, it's the fact that she was also caught locking lips with her brother, James Haven, on the red carpet that night that made for raised eyebrows.

As the Mirror put it, "it sparked incest rumors as the world questioned their close relationship," even causing Jolie and Haven's childhood nanny, Cis Rundle, to speak to Radar Online (via Mirror). "The day she kissed Jamie at the Oscars, it was the first day [their mother] was treated for cancer. They left the hospital together and got ready together ... Nobody in the world knew that they spent the day in the hospital ... But the world saw something incestual. It was meant to be, 'Here we are.' They only ever had each other."

Vanessa Redgrave's shocking political statement

Vanessa Redgrave is a Hollywood legend, once widely known for her controversial movies such as 1971's The Devils, which was banned in multiple countries. It looks like the starlet was controversial off-camera, too, as it's her speech at the 1978 Oscars that went on to become one of the most overtly political acceptance speeches in Academy Award history.

According to The New York Times, Redgrave won best supporting actress for her role in Julia, where she played an "anti-Nazi operative during World War II." However, while still shooting the flick, the actress was living with a couple of Palestinian students, "who inspired her to produce and narrate a documentary called The Palestinian." As the outlet notes, "It was perceived by some as promoting Yasir Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization." Because of that, the Jewish Defense League threatened to boycott 20th Century Fox "unless it denounced Redgrave and promised never to hire her again."

Fast-forward to Oscars night, where the scandal continued. Redgrave arrived at the ceremony while "Jewish Defense League members torched her likeness and counterprotesters waved the Palestinian flag." When the time came for the starlet to accept her award, she thanked her colleagues then proceeded to refer to the Jewish Defense League as "a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews ... and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism." The scattered gasps heard in the crowd are still unsettling to this day.

Jack Palance's bizarre rebuke of ageism

The late Jack Palance's career in Hollywood is nothing short of legendary. According to The Guardian, the acting heavyweight's career started in the '50s with roles in westerns. He then migrated across the pond, "mainly in Italy, often working in sword-and-sandal epics and westerns, or occasionally for American directors shooting abroad." Palance's work often paired him with fellow cinema icons, like Brigitte Bardot and Fritz Lang in Jean Luc Godard's '60s classic, Le Mépris. Now that's impressive.

Although it took him years of acting to finally earn a coveted gold statue, Palance finally took the stage at the 1992 Academy Awards to accept an Oscar for best supporting actor for his work in City Slickers alongside Billy Crystal. Coming up to the microphone, the 73-year-old bizarrely opened with, "Billy Crystal... I crap bigger than him," before getting into a discussion on ageism in Hollywood. "There are times when you reach a certain age plateau where the producers say ... 'Well, what do you think? Can we risk it?'" Sure enough, as if to prove his naysayers wrong, Palance proceeds to drop down to the ground and give a set of one-armed push-ups, before getting back to the mic and quipping, "That's nothing, really."

"He was a genuinely strange and scary guy," mused one of the ceremony's telecast writers, Bruce Vilanch, to The New York Times. Nevertheless, the Palance's speech was, as GQ put it years later, "the swan song for a vanished breed of star."

There's only one person responsible for this Oscar

It's hard to deny that many viewers of the Academy Awards simply tune out when Oscar winners take the stage and start thanking pretty much anybody they can think of. "Acceptance speeches have become a list of names and more often than not, time ran out before something could be spoken from the heart about the art, about the vision, about the experience, about the meaning of the moment," explained producer of the 88th Academy Awards, David Hill, to The Hollywood Reporter.

One person who decided to skip the heartfelt, albeit long-winded tradition? Writer Donald Ogden Stewart, who won an Oscar for his screenplay of the 1940's classic, The Philadelphia Story. A flick for true cinephiles, The Philadelphia Story starred the legendary Katharine Hepburn, and as Criterion Collection called it, it was a "convergence of golden-age talent ... one of the greatest American films of all time."

So, Stewart must have had a lot of players to thank for such a hit, right? Well, not quite. According to Doris Millburn's book, The Art of the Screwball Comedy: Madcap Entertainment from the 1930s to Today, Stewart took the stage and declared (likely with tongue-firmly-in-cheek), "I am happy to say that I am entirely — and solely — responsible for the success of The Philadelphia Story." Modest? Absolutely not, but the moment did go on to become a memorable one in award show history.

Shia LaBeouf's aggressive motivational speech

Shia LaBeouf had a rough few years before his comeback with 2019's critically acclaimed flick, Honey Boy. In just one example in 2014, the Transformers star was seen chasing a homeless man around Times Square in New York City, demanding his McDonald's paper bag (per Page Six). A few hours later, he was escorted out of a Broadway Cabaret musical where he was seen as acting "incoherent." That same year, he was also banned from a Sherman Oaks, Calif. restaurant for urinating on their parking lot wall. Yikes.

Well, it looks like the fun didn't stop in 2015, when a bizarre video was released online that saw the actor screaming a motivational speech at the camera in front of a green screen. Without any context, LaBeouf delivers the following: "Do it. Just do it. Don't let your dreams be dreams. Yesterday, you said tomorrow ... Nothing is impossible. You should get to the point where anyone else would quit, and you're not gonna stop there. No, what are you waiting for?" The star then proceeds to scream at his fist while repeating much of the same dialogue from the beginning of his tirade.

If you're simply reading the message, it can certainly come across as heartfelt, but it's the outrageous way that he delivers all of it that's downright disturbing. As Vox notes, while many began taking the video and making it into memes and edits, other fans were seriously worried about the star's mental health.

Adam Sandler's Oscars snub gifted the world with a different, gonzo acceptance speech

Adam Sandler's career has been long-lasting and filled with critics. The actor has been the subject of cruel movie reviews, like this scorcher from Las Vegas Weekly about 2015's Pixels: "Calling Pixels one of Sandler's better movies is like calling a particular strain of Ebola somewhat less horrifically painful." Ouch.

Well, 2019 saw the Click star go through somewhat of a career metamorphosis thanks to the widely praised crime-thriller, Uncut Gems. After the movie's release, many fans and critics alike were certain Sandler would get an Oscar nomination for his lead performance — yet instead, he came up entirely short.

Sandler's revenge, however, did come in the form of a Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead in Uncut Gems. As the actor took the stage, he had some strong words to share with the Academy, yet delivered them in his trademark, goofball voice. "A few weeks back, when I was quote-unquote snubbed by the Academy, it reminded me [of] when I briefly attended high school and was overlooked for the coveted yearbook superlative category Best Looking," he began, joking. "But my classmates did honor me with the allegedly less-prestigious designation of Best Personality. And tonight, as I look around this room, I realize, the Independent Spirit Awards are the Best Personality awards of Hollywood. So let all those featherhead douchebag motherfu**ers get their Oscars tomorrow night!" Needless to say, the notorious jokester got a standing ovation.

Dave Grohl definitely ruffled some EDM feathers

There's no denying that Dave Grohl is a rock music icon. He was the drummer for Nirvana before founding the Foo Fighters, for which he serves as lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter. If that's not all, he's also played at the historic Acropolis in Greece, jammed out with Tom Petty — on SNL, no less, and even remixed a Puff Daddy song. Needless to say, Grohl is a big deal in the music industry.

Well, when the time came to accept a Grammy with the rest of the Foo Fighters for best rock performance in 2012, Grohl ruffled some feathers when he said the following: "Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that's the most important thing for people to do." While audience members clapped, not all viewers were too happy, as many viewed the speech as a snub aimed at EDM artists and their music.

Almost immediately, think pieces sprung up online following Grohl's supposed criticism, which caused the musician to release a rambling statement on Facebook."Never has a 33 second acceptance rant evoked such caps-lock postboard rage as my lil' ode to analog recording has." He then went on, "I love music. I love ALL kinds of music. From Kyuss to Kraftwerk, Pinetop Perkins to Prodigy, Dead Kennedys to Deadmau5.....I love music." To be honest, looking at his musical track record, he's not lying.

Joaquin Phoenix's Oscars speech shamed the world

Is Joaquin Phoenix profoundly respected among his Hollywood peers? Yes. Is Joaquin Phoenix also a bit of an oddball? Double yes. "Hiding is just a natural state for him," one film producer who's worked with the actor told Page Six. "You'll always be confused about him," another industry associate noted, adding, "Which actually is kind of weird." Okay.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the Inherent Vice star gifted the world another bizarre moment during his best actor acceptance speech at the 2020 Oscars for his role in Joker. As The New York Times summarized, The Master actor "gave an emotional speech and riffed on several topics, including oblique references to meat-eating, past mistakes and forms of societal inequality." Somewhere in his rambling, Phoenix declared: "What we're guilty of is an egocentric worldview, the belief that we're the center of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and when she gives birth, we steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable ... I think we fear the idea of personal change, because we think that we have to sacrifice something to give something up."

As The Guardian explained, Phoenix's rant was widely ridiculed, yet what some fail to realize is that the actor has been a vegan most of his life, after witnessing fisherman violently handle fish as a little boy. Nevertheless, there's a time and place, Joaquin, no?

The Sally Field speech that's been misquoted for years

Sally Field's career has spanned multiple decades ever since the '60s, yet to younger generations, the Gidget starlet is probably better known for her infamous Academy Awards acceptance speech where she cried, "You like me! You really like me!" The moment solidified itself in pop culture history, was spoofed in movies, and was even mocked by Madonna.

Well, it turns out, those exact words never even came out of the Forrest Gump star's mouth — although it doesn't make her speech any less cringe-worthy. Taking the stage to accept her Oscar for her role in 1984's Places in the Heart, Field dramatically told the crowd, "I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect." Teary-eyed, she then delivered the following misquoted line: "I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me!"

To be fair, amping up the waterworks isn't as intense as some of the other entries on this list, yet it's her notoriety in award show history that makes this moment so special. "I was trying to own that ... this amazing thing was happening to me," Field explained in a sit-down with Oprah Winfrey in 2007. "That line has been interpreted in all sorts of ways ... that speech was about accepting that I'd achieved what I'd always wanted, which was to do good work and to have that work be recognized."