Actors who have been accused of disturbing crimes

The childhood pastime of playing make believe is essentially the same thing as acting professionally. The only differences are that movie and television stars get paid a lot of money to do so, and their work is seen and potentially loved by millions for years and years. Humans are naturally attracted to actors because of their amazing talents — and, generally speaking, pleasant appearances — and we want to know everything we can about their personal lives, particularly those who are so good at acting that their personality disappears completely when they're on screen.

These actors are, of course, not the characters they play. Those are created by writers and carefully presented by numerous workers behind the scenes. When they're not working, performers have their own lives, with a lot of time to kill. And sometimes they're not the wonderful or admirable people they portray. Here are a few famous actors who have had some very dark run-ins with the legal system.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins was a regular presence on television since the 1970s, usually portraying friendly, all-American, middle-aged guys, like John F. Kennedy in A Woman Named Jackie, and Dennis and Dee's biological dad on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In 1996, he landed his most famous role, one he'd keep for more than a decade: sweet, caring, and downright saintly father of seven and minister Reverend Matt Camden on 7th Heaven.

His strong association with that character made the revelations about Collins' off-screen life all the more shocking. While Collins was in the midst of a heated divorce with actress Faye Grant in 2014, TMZ obtained a tape of the couple in a therapy session from two years prior — Grant recorded the conversation as a means to gather evidence of suspected felonies. Collins admitted, in graphic detail, that he'd committed sexual indiscretions against three underage girls, including exposure and touching.

Collins later confessed everything to People, confirming that he'd assaulted the girls between 1973 and 1994. "I did something terribly wrong that I deeply regret," he said. "I have been working to atone for it ever since."

Dimitri Diatchenko

Mostly known for playing bit parts as violent Russians, and a small role in Sons of Anarchy, Dimitri Diatchenko is now most famous for cooking and eating his ex-girlfriend's pet rabbit, all while sending her a series of gruesome photographs of the event and threatening to do the same to her, per CNN. While a close friend claimed that it was a different rabbit, Diatchenko pleaded not guilty to the felony. Despite the animal cruelty charge carrying a possible maximum sentence of five years behind bars, Diatchenko was only sentenced to community service and animal cruelty counseling.

Robert Blake

Back in the '70s, TV was lousy with detective shows succinctly named after their main character, such as Kojak, Columbo, Cannon, and Baretta, the latter of which starred former Little Rascal-turned-tough guy actor Robert Blake. He was best known for Baretta up until the 2000s, when he became the center of one of the most publicized trials of all time.

On May 4, 2001, according to CNN, Blake and Bonnie Lee Bakley, his wife of six months, dined at an Italian restaurant in Studio City, Calif. They left, but Blake had to go back in to retrieve something — his gun — and when he returned to the car where Bakley had been waiting, he discovered that she'd been shot dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Blake was charged with murder, and his defense team argued that a lot of people other than the actor could've been responsible, such as one of the many enemies Bakley had made in her days as the operator of a "lonely hearts" scheme.

Blake was later acquitted of all charges, but still had to face a civil case filed by Bakley's family, who argued Blake was responsible for the death. According to Today, a jury found the actor liable, but he never did pay out the $30 million judgment, as he'd spent the vast majority of his fortune on his expensive legal defense team.

Randy Quaid

Legendary character actor Randy Quaid's descent into alleged madness is at least partially responsible for his unusual crimes. Convinced that he was being pursued by "star whackers" intent on murdering him, Quaid and his wife were accused of skipping out on hotel bills and unlawfully squatting on a property they had sold years prior, and repeatedly failing to appear in court to address these issues. Canada denied asylum to the couple, in part due to the ongoing legal troubles. They were eventually arrested in October 2015 while trying to sneak back into the United States from Canada via Vermont.

Mark Wahlberg

As a troubled Boston youth, Mark Wahlberg was convicted of mercilessly beating a couple of older gentlemen during a robbery outside of a convenience store. While reports originally indicated that one man lost an eye, the victim came forward years later to say that he had already been blind at the time of the attack and has forgiven Wahlberg. At one time, Wahlberg formally sought a pardon for this attack, but he later dropped that pursuit, according to the Los Angeles Times, who reported that Wahlberg said he regretted ever asking for the pardon, although he felt "'some good did come out of it' because he was able to meet one of the victims and apologize."

Matthew Broderick

During a 1987 vacation in Ireland, Matthew Broderick and then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey were involved in a head-on car accident that killed both passengers in the other car: a mother and daughter. On clear and unobstructed roads, it's been theorized that Broderick accidentally drove his car into the right ("American" side) of the road out of habit, rather than the European left. The victims' surviving family member, Martin Doherty, stated that he's since forgiven Broderick, although he never met the actor to talk about the accident in spite of several requests.

Jeffrey Jones

Jeffrey Jones is best known for his roles as the truancy-hating, teen-pursuing high school dean of students, Ed Rooney, in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and newspaper man A.W. Merrick on Deadwood. In real life, he also doggedly went after underage people and pursued photographic accounts, although in a much more alarming and disturbing manner than that of Rooney or Merrick.

Following an official accusation by a teenage boy, a long investigation, and seizure of incriminating materials from Jones, police arrested the actor in 2002 (per Entertainment Weekly) on a felony charge of coercing a person younger than 18 to appear in a film of an adult and sexual nature, as well as a misdemeanor count of possessing said materials. Jones ultimately pleaded no contest, and he didn't serve any jail time. However, he was ordered to appear on a registry of sex offenders, and after failing to annually update his personal information in 2010, Jones earned a sentence of 250 hours of community service and three years probation.

Bill Cosby

Allegations of sexual misconduct against Bill Cosby date all the way back to the 1960s. In recent years, more than 50 women have revealed unsettling experiences with the actor and comedian, and many claim to have been drugged by the once-beloved dad of The Cosby Show

In April 2018, 80-year-old Cosby was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against Andrea Constand during a retrial. The former Temple University women's basketball director claimed Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his home in 2004. According to CNN, Cosby faced a maximum sentence of 10 years for each of the three charges, but Judge Steven O'Neill opted to combine them as they were all over a single incident. Cosby's punishment: pay a fine of $25,000 plus the prosecution's costs, and to serve three to 10 years in the Pennsylvania state prison system. 

In late 2019, Cosby gave a phone interview to BlackPressUSA from his home at the SCI-Phoenix facility, saying that he expects he'll serve the full 10 years. Parole boards generally like to see convicted criminals express remorse for their actions before granting early release, which Cosby says he will not do because he doesn't believe he did anything wrong.

O.J. Simpson

In 1995, after one of the most well-publicized trials in history, former pro football player O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, despite a history of documented spousal abuse. In a subsequent civil trial, O.J. Simpson was found guilty of their wrongful deaths and ordered to pay more than $33 million in damages. In 2008, "The Juice" was convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, and assault with a deadly weapon for attempting to steal sports memorabilia in Las Vegas. He was granted parole after serving nine years of a possible 33-year sentence in July 2017.

Woody Allen

In 1993, filmmaker Woody Allen was accused by his ex-wife, actress Mia Farrow, of molesting his then-7-year-old daughter, Dylan. A subsequent police investigation resulted in no charges against Allen. The scandal reappeared in February 2014, when Dylan published an open letter to The New York Times confirming Farrow's original accusations. Allen responded with his own piece in the Times, denying everything.

Nicholas Brendon

Nicholas Brendon will forever be remembered for a major role in a cult classic: he played Xander Harris on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Since that show went off the air in 2003, Brendon has worked in indie movies and had a recurring role on Criminal Minds, while also making headlines for other things.

According to the Idaho Press, police in Boise arrested and charged the actor with two misdemeanors in October 2014 — causing malicious injury to property and resisting and obstructing officers — when police tried to calm the apparently intoxicated Brendon after he caused a disturbance in a hotel lobby. A few months later, per Entertainment Tonight, police in Ft. Lauderdale arrested the actor on grand theft and criminal mischief charges over another hotel incident, in which Brendon refused to pay a huge food tab, got drunk, and tore up his room, causing $450 worth of damages. Then, in September 2015, Brendon was arrested for third degree robbery, criminal mischief, and obstruction of breathing — he'd allegedly choked his girlfriend in a hotel room in Upstate New York.

Brendon was involved in yet another domestic violence incident in 2017, when, according to the Desert Sun, he attacked his girlfriend when she tried to leave a hotel bar, grabbing her by her hair, pushing her to the ground, and then holding a knife against her throat. In 2020, Brendon received a sentence of three years of probation and an order to attend a year-long domestic violence class.

Paul Reubens

Pee-wee's Playhouse star Paul Reubens was arrested and charged with indecent exposure over an alleged incident at an adult movie theater in Florida in 1991. Reubens pleaded no contest to the charges, but has since maintained his innocence. Years later, in 2001, Reubens was arrested and charged with possessing child pornography. That case was later settled. As part of the settlement, Reubens had to register as a sex offender, although he always insisted that the photos prosecutors used to charge him were not child porn, but rather part of his collection of "vintage erotica."

Taryn Manning

Orange is the New Black actress Taryn Manning has something of a long-standing feud with her "ex-friend and make-up artist" Holly Hartman. According to E! News, the two allegedly got into a physical altercation in 2013, and then again in 2016 in an incident in which Hartman alleged that Manning "headbutted her in the face, whipped her with a wet towel, sprayed Windex in her eyes and mouth and put her in a headlock." Manning denied the accusations in both incidents, and Hartman eventually dropped the charges in both cases.

Emile Hirsch

Known for his roles in The Girl Next Door and Speed Racer, actor Emile Hirsch made headlines when he was accused of viciously assaulting Paramount executive Daniele Bernfield during the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. According to Deadline, an intoxicated Hirsch approached Bernfield in a nightclub and "put her in a chokehold," then threw her on top of a table and proceeded to wrap his hands around her neck until she "blacked out." He pleaded guilty to the assault, receiving a 15-day jail sentence, 90 days probation, a $4,750 fine, and 50 hours of community service. He also went to rehab immediately following the incident.

Johnny Depp

Many ugly accusations came out of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard's divorce, especially Heard's claim that Depp had been both verbally and physically abusive. In a video taken by Heard and released to TMZ, an allegedly intoxicated Depp can be seen shouting at Heard and throwing a wine glass and bottle. Depp was never charged with assault, though Heard was granted a temporary restraining order. Eventually, Heard agreed to drop the order as part of a $7 million divorce settlement, which was to be donated to charity, according to The Guardian.

That wasn't the end of the story. In 2018, Heard wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post, detailing her alleged experiences with domestic violence, and how she suffered for standing up for herself. Citing how "institutions protect men accused of abuse," Heard said she paid for speaking out against Depp, claiming to have lost a sponsorship deal and a movie role as a result. Depp responded in kind, and in court, filing a $50 million defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife, according to Deadline. "Ms. Heard is not a victim of domestic abuse, she is a perpetrator," alleged one part of the suit. 

After audio recordings from 2015 appeared to feature Heard admitting to physically assaulting Depp leaked in February 2020, Depp's friend, Josh Rickman, corroborated his story in court documents (via The Blast), citing emotional abuse on Heard's part, and claiming that she once faked a bloody nose allegedly caused by Depp by pouring red nail polish onto a tissue.

Mel Gibson

As of this writing, Mel Gibson seems to be back in the good graces of Hollywood after a decade of being ostracized following several high-profile incidents involving disturbing off-set behavior. Those conflicts included hurling anti-Semitic slurs at a cop during a DUI arrest and secret recordings of violent rants against his ex-wife, Oksana Grigorieva. Out of all of the dirt that came to light, perhaps the most disturbing allegation against the Lethal Weapon star was Grigorieva's claim that Gibson "broke her front teeth with a blow that glanced off her jaw and grazed the chin of their infant daughter, whom she was holding at the time," according to Vanity Fair. Gibson later admitted to slapping his ex "one time with an open hand in an attempt to bring her back to reality." Not surprisingly, the pair finalized their divorce in 2011.

Charlie Sheen

In all honesty, it would probably be easier to just list what Charlie Sheen hasn't been accused of, but we'll just highlight the most disturbing stuff. According to a USA Today timeline of the troubled star's legal entanglements, he's been accused of the following: accidentally shooting then-fiancee Kelly Preston in the leg; assaulting then-girlfriend Brittany Ashland; physically and verbally abusing ex-wife Denise Richards as well as threatening her life; assaulting ex-wife Brooke Mueller; and punching a female dental technician in the chest during an office visit. As if all of that wasn't enough, he's also been accused by two women of failing to disclose to them that he was HIV positive, despite maintaining a sexual relationship with them.

Tom Sizemore

With a rap sheet almost as long as Charlie Sheen's, Tom Sizemore has spent years splashed across the tabloid headlines with various assault and drug-related charges. According to Fox News, the Saving Private Ryan star developed a crippling addiction to alcohol, cocaine, and heroin in the mid-1990s, which led to arrests in assault charges filed by two ex-girlfriends, including "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss. After a two-year prison stint, Sizemore continued to experience periodic brushes with the law, according to the Los Angeles Times, until he was arrested yet again in July 2016 for "suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend" on a street corner. He was sentenced to three years probation, 50 hours community service, fees and fines, and ordered to complete a domestic violence program. 

In late 2017, Sizemore was once again linked to odious criminal activity. With the #MeToo movement picking up steam, a dozen people associated with crime thriller Born Killers told The Hollywood Reporter that Sizemore was ordered to leave the film's Utah set in 2003 after an 11-year-old actress told a parent that the actor had touched her in a sexual manner. At the time, Sizemore reportedly denied any wrongdoing, but he was still sent away (ultimately returning for re-shoots), and dumped by both his management firm and talent agency. As of 2017, the actress, who wished to remain unidentified in the press reports, had hired a lawyer to explore pressing charges against Sizemore.

Christian Slater

In 2005, Christian Slater was arrested and charged with "third-degree sexual abuse" after he allegedly "grabbed a woman's behind on the street," according to CNN (via People). The charges were later dismissed by a judge, but it was not the only time Slater saw the inside of a courtroom. He was previously accused of biting someone in the stomach and served a three-month jail sentence in 1997 for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend, Michelle Jonas, and a police officer while under the influence of cocaine. In 1989, he was accused of leading police on a car chase and kicking an officer while attempting to flee. For that little legal rendezvous, the Mr. Robot actor had his license suspended and spent 10 days in jail.

Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle

Silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle saw his career go down the tubes after he was falsely accused of a violent sexual assault on fellow silent movie actress Virginia Rappe, which supposedly led to her death several days later. According to Smithsonian, Arbuckle was allegedly framed by Rappe's friend and known con artist Maude Delmont, who told newspapers that she witnessed the assault at a party she and Rappe attended in Arbuckle's hotel suite. During Arbuckle's three trials — which resulted in two hung juries and one acquittal — evidence showed that no signs of a sexual assault occurred and that Rappe suffered from a "chronic bladder condition," which likely led to the rupture of the organ that caused her death. 

Despite his exoneration, Arbuckle never came close to his previous level of stardom. He ended up barely scraping by, changing his name, and working behind the scenes doing whatever his remaining friends in the industry could offer.

Todd Bridges

The tumultuous life of Diff'rent Strokes actor Todd Bridges is well-documented. His long criminal history includes multiple drug arrests, a 1987 charge for "making a bomb threat," and a 1983 charge for "carrying a concealed firearm," according to the Los Angeles Times. The most disturbing allegation against Bridges occurred in 1989 when he was charged with the attempted murder of Kenneth "Tex" Clay, who claimed Bridges shot him eight times during an altercation in a crack house. Represented by famed defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, Bridges was acquitted of the charge twice (the first trial resulted in a deadlocked jury). After a subsequent drug arrest in 1992, Bridges got his act together, went to rehab, and as of 2016, he had 26 years of sobriety under his belt.

Charles S. Dutton

Most well known for his hit Fox show, Roc, actor Charles S. Dutton's disturbing crime was committed long before his fame. According to the Chicago Tribune, as a young man who grew up street fighting in hardscrabble Baltimore, Dutton found himself in a deadly altercation with a man who pulled a knife during one such rumble. Dutton won the fight, leaving his opponent dead in the street. He was sentenced to five years for manslaughter, eventually serving nine years total due to his "unremitting rebellion and insubordination" toward prison staff. By chance, Dutton discovered a love of reading plays while he was incarcerated, and upon his release, he rededicated his life to acting and stagecraft, leaving behind his violent and tragic past.

​Peter Robbins

Peter Robbins may not be a household name, but his work is familiar: he voiced Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas; It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; and four other Peanuts TV specials. Robbins got his start at just seven years old, landing mostly guest star roles on '60s TV shows like The Munsters and Rawhide, before wrapping up his acting career with a spot on My Three Sons less than a decade later in 1972. He went on to earn degrees in psychology and communications and lived in Southern California, where he worked as a disc jockey, raised a dog named Snoopy (really), and got a Charlie Brown tattoo on his arm.

Unfortunately, Robbins' latter-day, off-screen life overshadowed his work. According to Reuters, in 2013 he was arrested for stalking an old girlfriend and harassing a surgeon who'd given the woman her breast implants. He received eight months in a residential drug treatment center and five years probation, but found himself in front of a judge again in 2015 for making threats against the manager of the mobile home park where he lived, as well as for removing his court-ordered GPS monitor and drinking. That's a lot of probation violations, for which Robbins was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison. "I know I was certainly mentally ill," Robbins told San Diego's Fox 5 upon his release. "I wish I had gotten treatment earlier by professionals."

Kevin Spacey

Not too long ago and for a long time, Kevin Spacey was regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation. He won an Academy Award for his breakout role as a secret criminal mastermind in The Usual Suspects, released right around the same time he played the chillingly evil serial killer known only as John Doe in Se7en. A few years after that, he won another Oscar for his role as a suburban dad in the midst of a fatal midlife crisis in American Beauty. Spacey also earned good notices for his roles in Superman Returns, Baby Driver, The Shipping News, and as a scheming, murdering politician on House of Cards.

But then in November 2017, Spacey got caught up in the #MeToo movement: 15 men claimed that Spacey had committed different and varied acts of sexual misconduct, per USA Today. Among the worst accusations: Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed that Spacey forced himself on him when Rapp was just 14; a bartender in England claimed that Spacey exposed himself; and Harry Dreyfuss (son of Richard Dreyfuss) alleged that Spacey groped him. 

As of this writing, Spacey has avoided jail time for his alleged misdeeds, but his acting career may be over for good, considering he was subsequently removed from All the Money in the World and fired from House of Cards.

Amy Locane

In the 1990s, Amy Locane was an actress to watch. After a handful of TV roles as a teenager, she broke out as good girl gone bad Allison Vernon-Williams in the camp classic Cry-Baby. She then landed roles in major films of the era like School Ties, Airheads, and Blue Sky, along with a part as Sandy Louise Harling, a regular character in the early days of hot primetime soap Melrose Place. Her career cooled off somewhat in the 2000s, but sadly Locane made headlines in 2010 over an ugly incident.

According to People, Locane got behind the wheel of her SUV, admittedly after more than a few glasses of wine, with her blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. After rear-ending another vehicle, Locane crashed into a car turning into a driveway in Montgomery, N.J., immediately killing passenger Helene Seeman and severely injuring the driver, Fred Seeman. In November 2012, the actress was convicted of vehicular homicide, and later received a three-year prison sentence, which, after a review by the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office found it to be too light, was upped to five years. Locane was also found liable in a $4.8 million civil suit with the Seeman family.

John Wilkes Booth

Becoming famous for one thing — like acting ability — will almost certainly be overshadowed by committing a deplorable act that destroys lives and changes history ... such as assassination. That's what happened to John Wilkes Booth. He'll forever be part of history books as the man who, in 1865, walked into Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. and shot President Abraham Lincoln to death. Less remembered about the life of Booth? He was a phenomenally popular actor — up until the time he murdered the president, that is.

Born into an acting dynasty, Booth found fame and acclaim while very young, but was still overshadowed by his actor brother, Edwin Booth. In terms of modern-day parallels, John Wilkes Booth was like Kiefer Sutherland mixed with Liam Hemsworth. At age 17, Booth was so good in a Baltimore production of Richard III that a prominent Virginia theater hired him for its touring Shakespeare company, which played major cities all over the U.S., per Biography. By 1865, he was a headliner, a star attraction, and a sex symbol. 

"He is said to be the first actor to have his clothes torn by fans," Booth biographer Terry Alford told History. But like some of today's actors — Sean Penn or Scott Baio come to mind — Booth was interested in politics, and during the Civil War, sympathized with the Confederacy, and thus came to hate Lincoln. After a kidnapping plot failed, Booth's plan to assassinate the president worked. Booth was shot and killed by investigators just weeks later.