Stars who got caught telling huge lies

Unless you believe George Washington, every human being who has ever lived has told a lie at some point, and they always catch up with you. Bit until they do, sometimes humans have to resort to crafting even more lies to cover up the initial fibs and tall tales and that can spiral out of control. However, when celebs tell huge lies and are caught in the act of doing so, it often leads to scandal and lots of backpedalling, retractions, publicist-issued statements, more denials, and loads of drama. It's just more proof that the truth is always the best way to go. Yet, for some reason, celebs still try to get away with telling big lies about themselves.

Whether it be a wedding that never happened, invoking 9/11 to launch their careers, or a CD that skips when you're supposed to be performing live, here are some of the biggest stars who were outed for telling some pretty big whoppers.

Steve Rannazzisi

Steve Rannazzisi told multiple interviewers that his entertainment career was inspired by his near-death experience on September 11, 2001. The comedian and cast member on The League spun a tale taller than the Twin Towers, saying he was working in a Merrill Lynch office in the World Trade Center on the day of the worst terrorist attack in America's history. He obviously claimed to have escaped, but through the years, details about his 9/11 survival story changed. 

A New York Times piece outed him as a liar, who gradually downplayed his story. He went from claiming he was "jostled all over the place" while working in the south tower when the first plane hit the north tower, to backtracking that in a later interview to: "I was outside, really. I was working downtown at that time." After the damning revelation, Rannazzisi apologized in a statement, calling the lie "inexcusable."  

The same day of the NYT piece, Rannazzisi tweeted his remorse at letting his lie spiral out of control. "For many years, more than anything, I have wished that, with silence, I could somehow erase a story told by an immature young man," the comedian wrote, adding, "It only made me more ashamed." A few weeks later, Rannazzisi further owned up to Howard Stern, offering what appeared to be a heartfelt apology, and basically chalking the lies up to his way of seeking acceptance from more famous comedians when he first moved to Los Angeles. 

Brian Williams

The NBC news anchor told more than one doozy, often placing himself in the center of high-profile action. Politico noted three of his biggest fibs, which were so massive they could be deemed works of fiction. Williams stated that he was at Brandenburg Gate when the Berlin Wall came down; later investigations revealed that he didn't arrive until the next day. Williams also claimed a chopper he was riding in during the Iraq invasion was hit by an RPG. He amended his story to say his vehicle was behind the one that was hit, but sources suggested his chopper wasn't anywhere near the one that was hit. He also claimed to have traveled into Baghdad with SEAL Team 6, which famously did away with Osama bin Laden. A spokesperson blew holes in that story, noting that journalists aren't embedded in counter-terrorism ops. 

Williams apologized for the chopper lie on NBC's Nightly News, saying he "made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago." Nevertheless, he was suspended in February 2015 from his role as anchor of that program for six months without pay, before finally being demoted to a position as a "breaking-news anchor" at MSNBC (per The Washington Post).  

Rebel Wilson

Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson was exposed for lying about her age and her real name. She was previously believed to be 29. But when she filed papers with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, according to People, it was revealed that the funny gal was born in 1980 and is therefore actually 35 at the discovery in 2015.  The Australian press also claimed she lied about her real name — it's Melanie Elizabeth Bownds, although she claimed her parents legally named her "Rebel"— and she once told Conan that she grew up in "the more gangsta" side of Sydney. 

Wilson shot back at the press on Twitter with, "OMG I'm actually a 100 year old mermaid formerly known as "CC Chalice" ….thanks shady Australian press for your tall poppy syndrome x." According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Wilson sued Bauer Media for defamation in 2017, and her mother appeared in court, claiming that although her daughter wasn't a "spoilt little rich kid who went to private school," she admitted the family lived in "an average Sydney suburb."

Nicki Minaj

When the rap vixen Nicki Minaj was first blowing up and becoming a household name, she was labeled an "openly bisexual rapper," and didn't push back on that claim. It wasn't exactly clear if she was or wasn't. In a 2010 interview with Complex, Minaj was asked point black about the rumors surrounding her sexuality, but she remained non-committal. 

"When I rap, it's just an extension of how I speak, and that's how I talk. If you don't like it, don't listen. I'm also not going to explain something just because I said it in a rap," Minaj replied. "Take what you want from it. [In the press] I didn't say [I don't like women]. I said I don't have sex with women. I don't have sex with men right now either. If [bisexual is] what they wanna call me, then fine.."

But "Anaconda" hitmaker later told Rolling Stone, "I think girls are sexy. But I'm not going to lie and say that I date girls." She admitted that she only said that she was bisexual to gain fans and attention in the early days of her career. Hmm. It sounds like it was an ill-advised move by someone in her camp.

Vanilla Ice

When the "Ice Ice Baby" rapper rose to mainstream prominence back in the '90s, his handlers made an effort to position him as hard and from the hood, even if his smash hit was anything but. To force some cred, stories were circulated, suggesting Vanilla Ice "went to the same Miami high school as 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell," according to People. It was later revealed by multiple outlets (via the Los Angeles Times) that Ice, born Robert Van Winkle, did not attend that school and that his label had taken serious liberties with biographical information it shared with the media. It made him look like even more of a poser.

His mother, Beth Mino, told  that "the lies were a smoke screen to protect the privacy of the family." However, she made it clear he wasn't some rich boy. "But a lot is true. Economically, we weren't able to live in an elite part of Miami. He was raised predominantly with blacks, and he definitely was in a lot of trouble. When he was stabbed, I nearly died. But things were better for a while in high school."

Kylie Jenner

Kylie Jenner's lips were one of the hottest topics of 2015. The youngest member of the Kardashian clan's inflated pout was much-discussed in the media and she claimed that she had enhanced her extremely fully pucker with lip liner and lipstick. Most of us didn't believe that deftness with products could lead to that much volume in her top lip. She finally came clean on May 2015 episode on Keeping Up With The Kardashians when her sister Khloe told her to "cop to it" (via the Daily Mail). 

In Nov. 2016, she explained to Complex why she was hesitant to tell the truth"I wasn't even 17 yet. What if I came out and said, 'Oh, yeah, I got my lips done'? What are all those moms going to think about me? These kids, my fans, they're going to think I'm crazy. I didn't want to be a bad influence. I didn't want people to think you had to get your lips done to feel good about yourself. But they thought it was crazier that I was lying about it because it was so obvious. I wish I had just been honest and upfront." She added, "When you first get them done, you're like, 'Oh, it could be a little bit bigger on that side.' I'd go back and be like, 'They went down' and think they could be bigger. But I went too far. It was very painful."

Lance Armstrong

There was a time when cyclist Lance Armstrong was an international hero until a lie tarnished his legacy forever. His myth was perfect. He beat cancer and the odds, inspiring millions of people who also battled the disease; his Livestrong culture, ethos, and his successes let them know that they, too, could defeat the odds. But an investigation revealed that the long-held rumor — that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs to help win seven Tour de France titles — was true. However, this wasn't an ordinary lie. Armstrong vehemently denied the allegations for years, and even made a Nike commercial blasting the doping rumors – all while doping in real life.

Despite initial denials, he eventually admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and was subsequently stripped of his titles and hit with a lifetime ban from competitive cycling in 2012. Armstrong's confession seemed like a watershed moment after his decades of denials and alleged vicious smear campaigns against anyone who tried to blow the whistle on him. However, 60 Minutes later reported that he "didn't tell Oprah Winfrey the full truth about his doping and lied several times on significant issues." Yeesh. 

Victoria Beckham

Former Spice Girl and beloved fashion designer Victoria Beckham's breasts seemingly grew overnight, and to some, seemed too big for her very petite frame. Beckham denied she underwent breast enhancement surgery, telling Piers Morgan in 2003 (via Daily Mail), "I'm completely natural, except for my fingernails and I have a bit of help with my hair and a bit of a St Tropez [fake tan] going on."

However, during a 2014 interview with Allure, while looking at older photos of herself with larger cleavage, Beckham said. "I don't have them anymore" and that "I may have purchased them" regarding her breasts. "Or they got removed, one or the other," she continued.

In 2017, she penned a letter to her 18-year-old self for Vogue and told herself "Don't mess with your boobs." She continued, "All those years I denied it — stupid. A sign of insecurity. Just celebrate what you've got."

Milli Vanilli

Girl, you know it's true. You can't have a list about stars who told huge lies without the sad saga of Milli Vanilli. The pop twosome stylishly sang and danced their way up the charts in the late '80s and early '90s. The won a Grammy. Then a backing track skipped during a live performance, proving that they were lip synching and they did not sing the lead vocals on their songs. They were merely the faces of the voices. They were stripped of their award and their fame and secured a dubious spot in music and pop culture history.

"Fame is really interesting, because usually when fame disappears it's a gradual process. But with us it went from one day to the next day," surviving member Fab Morvan said in a rare 2013 Yahoo Entertainment interview. (Sadly, Rob Pilatus died "of a suspected alcohol and prescription pill overdose in" in April 1998, according to CBS News.) "We were pushed aside suddenly. You had to live with that."

The tragic irony of this scandal is that if it happened 20 years later, would anybody care? "It's very interesting, because I've been getting this question more often: 'Do you think it's weird that you were hung out to dry for lip-synching, and now people are using AutoTune?'" Morvan continued. "I'm not going to point the finger at anyone, but I've been getting that question a lot. And I'm like, 'Hey, this is the way it is.' The world has changed."

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship was born on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Only thing is … Brad was married to Jennifer Aniston while filming the movie. While entire jungles have been deforested by publications covering and analyzing the Brad/Angie/Jen saga, Brad and Angie always maintained that their romance and family began after Brad and Jen had split. 

However, a year after the movie's release, Jolie eventually admitted to Vogue that she and Pitt indeed fell in love on set. "It took until, really, the end of [shooting Mr. & Mrs. Smith] for us, I think, to realize that it might mean something more than we'd earlier allowed ourselves to believe," Jolie said (via People). "And both knowing that the reality of that was a big thing, something that was going to take a lot of serious consideration."

Aniston reacted in her own Vogue cover story, calling Jolie's statement "uncool" and "inappropriate," since Aniston was unaware of the budding romance between her husband and his leading lady. It also seemed like a tacit admission on Jolie's part that they did, in fact, lay the groundwork for their epic relationship while he still wed to Aniston.

Jack & Meg White

When The White Stripes rose to fame in 2002, their garage rock took over the airwaves. Consisting of singer and guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White, their infectious music was almost as popular as the fact that the duo were brother and sister. Except, they weren't. They just presented themselves that way. In reality, they were husband and wife who married in 1996.

Jack White, born Jack Gillis, took Meg's surname, and a band name was born. In a 2005 interview with Rolling Stone, Jack explained their reasoning for the ruse. "I want you to imagine if we had presented ourselves in another fashion, that people might have thought was the truth. How would we have been perceived, right off the bat?" he said. "When you see a band that is two pieces, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, you think. 'Oh, I see . . .' When they're brother and sister, you go, 'Oh, that's interesting.' You care more about the music, not the relationship — whether they're trying to save their relationship by being in a band. You don't think about that with a brother and sister. They're mated for life. That's what family is like."

Jussie Smollett

Empire star Jussie Smollett claimed he was brutally attacked by two white men wearing ski masks in Chicago around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019. According to TMZ, one of the men shouted racist and homophobic slurs before the two assailants fractured Smollett's rib, tied a rope around his neck, and poured a liquid (possibly bleach) on him. In an interview with Chicago police, Smollett claimed the attackers yelled, "This is MAGA country," a reference to President Donald Trump's slogan, "Make America Great Again." The Chicago Police Department said it was investigating the assault as a possible hate crime.

Shortly after, reports that Smollett staged the attack began to surface, and little more than two weeks after the alleged incident, Smollett was arrested and charged with filing a false police report. "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a blistering press conference. "How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile? How can an individual who's been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?"

In an even more bizarre twist, prosecutors later dropped all of the charges in a secret deal with Smollett and "the entire court file has been sealed at the defense's request."

Miley Cyrus

In a Jan. 2013 interview with Cosmopolitan, the former Hannah Montana star referred to Liam Hemsworth and her "hubby" and said she was "so happy" to be "married," leading many to believe that the pair had secretly wed. Hemsworth's rep quickly denied it to People, bluntly stating that the couple were "definitely NOT married."

Since then, the couple had had their up and owns, including a brief split in 2013 after Hemsworth was spotted with actress Eiza Gonzalez and Cyrus was caught "hanging out" with Arnold Schwarzenegger's son, Patrick. The pair eventually reconciled in 2015 and officially tied the knot in a secret ceremony in 2018.

In their first appearance as husband and wife, Hemsworth explained how they kept the news of their wedding so quiet. "It wasn't hard — we have a small group of friends," he told Extra. "It was mainly immediate family, a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. I am very happy to be where I am." So maybe Miley didn't lie, she can just see into the future.