Approximately 11 million people spend some amount of time in American jails every year, according to a report the Prison Policy Initiative released in March, but only a few of their mugshots wind up on TMZ. For the most part, talented actors seem to manage to keep out of trouble when they’re working on something. Director Joel Schumaker once praised the “profound work ethic” of the often-arrested Kiefer Sutherland while shooting 1987’s The Lost Boys: “Sutherland did drink, yes, but if he was out all night he’d drive up to the guard booth at Warner Brothers at 4 in the morning, sleep next to it and tell the guard to wake him at 6 for his morning call.”
Stars do get busted in the middle of filming movies, though, sometimes damaging their reputation or, worse, their all-important bankability. Google, PayPal, and credit card companies are all working to fight websites that collect the mugshots of regular people and charge for their removal, but gossiping about movie stars has been an accepted Hollywood industry since the silent-film era. Being arrested as a star could also have perks, however. As Prison Legal News reports: There are two criminal justice systems in the United States. One is for people with wealth, fame or influence who can afford to hire top-notch attorneys and public relations firms… The other justice system is for everybody else.”
In that case, some of these 15 Actors Arrested While They Were Filming A Movie might’ve gotten off easy.
15. Chris Pine
After the location-wrap party in New Zealand for the post-apocalyptic thriller Z for Zachariah, Chris Pine reportedly drove through a police checkpoint without stopping. When the police pulled him over, Pine told them he’d had four vodka drinks, and subsequent testing showed the future Steve Trevor’s blood alcohol level to be 0.11, three points over the country’s legal limit. Legal proceedings delayed Pine’s planned return to Los Angeles, and the court ordered Pine to pay a fine equivalent to $79 USD and suspended his New Zealand driver’s license for six months.
The manager at the pub hosting the party told reporters that Pine “was a really nice guy” who “did not appear to staff to be intoxicated to a level where intervention might have been warranted” but added, “there was no lack of volunteers to drive Chris home amongst our female staff members,” so maybe he should’ve just bummed a ride. Even Captain Kirk would’ve considered that.
14. Reese Witherspoon
Atlanta police officers pulled over CAA talent agent Jim Toth under suspicion of drunken driving in 2013, but his arrest probably wouldn’t have made the trades if Toth’s wife, Reese Witherspoon, hadn’t been along for the ride. In Georgia filming The Good Lie at the time, Witherspoon was also arrested for disorderly conduct after the arresting officer reported she “began to hang out the window and say that she did not believe that I was a real police officer,” and ignored the officer’s orders “to sit on her butt and be quiet.” Dash-cam footage of the incident shows Witherspoon telling the officer, “You’re about to find out who I am!”
In a written statement released after the incident, Witherspoon — who pleaded no contest to an obstruction charge — explained “I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said.” After the film’s release, The Good Lie itself became the subject of legal action when 54 Sudanese refugees sued filmmakers (including producer Ron Howard) for copyright infringement, charging that they had not been fairly compensated or credited for the interviews the film was based on.
13. Christopher McDonald
Actor Christopher McDonald, probably still best known for playing Happy Gilmore‘s nemesis Shooter McGavin, was filming another golf movie, The Squeeze, in Wilmington, North Carolina, when police arrested him for drunken driving. A breath test recorded McDonald’s blood-alcohol content as .15, nearly twice the legal limit. Though the actor told reporters that he was not driving at the time, North Carolina’s state law stipulates that a person behind the wheel of a vehicle can be charged with driving while intoxicated even if their vehicle is not in motion.
In addition to the requisite celebrity mugshot, TMZ posted pictures McDonald reportedly took with fans before leaving the bar, and Wilmington TV station WECT posted a surveillance video of the actor taking a Breathalyzer test at the police station, which may be more compelling than the actual movie McDonald was working on at the time. Portraying the high-rolling gambler Riverboat in what Variety described as a “faith-based golf caper” with “one-dimensional characters” and “handicapped by prosaic dialogue,” got McDonald far less attention than the DWI charge he incurred while filming The Squeeze. The film did, however, receive glowing recommendations from Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson, who praised its authentic golfing scenes.
12. Matthew Fox
Unlike the previously mentioned actors on this list, Lost alum Matthew Fox allegedly attempted to catch a bus ride back to his hotel while filming thriller Alex Cross in Cleveland. Unfortunately for Fox, the bus in question was a privately rented party bus, and the driver, a 29-year-old woman, said she wouldn’t allow him to board. At that point, the driver said, Fox “started punching my crotch and breast” then, the driver says she “took one hand to his jaw and he was spitting blood. He stumbled backwards.“
Fox, who was detained but not charged by local police after the incident, offered a different version of events in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, saying he was sucker-punched by a man on the bus and that the driver “decided that she was going to write up a different version of events … and try to extort money from me.” Lost co-star Dominic Monaghan told his Twitter followers that Fox “beats women” and not in “isolated incidents” either, but the driver’s attorney later dropped her lawsuit against Fox, saying she “intentionally failed and refused to provide full and timely cooperation and information.” The next year, Fox pleaded no contest to DUI charges after he was pulled over on his way to a drive-through in Oregon. Maybe he was afraid to take the bus.
11. Jamie Waylett
Die-hard Harry Potter fans noticed that Vincent Crabbe’s memorable exit from the book series wasn’t depicted in the film version of Deathly Hallows. Instead, he’s replaced by with Blaise Zabini, who fights alongside Crabbe’s typical compatriots Malfoy and Goyle in the Room of Requirement standoff vs. Ron, Hermione, and Harry. The actor who played Crabbe, Jamie Waylett made headlines in 2009 when he was arrested and charged with growing marijuana at his mother’s house, a charge to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 120 hours of community service. Police searched the house after finding pics of the plants on Waylett’s camera, which officers said they confiscated because they caught the actor taking a picture of them from a moving vehicle.
Waylett was arrested two years later for allegedly carrying a Molotov cocktail during the 2011 London riots — during which approximately 3,100 other people were also busted by law enforcement. The jury acquitted Waylett of the charge of intending to destroy property, but he was sentenced to two years in prison for violent disorder and for handling stolen goods because of a surveillance video that showed him drinking from a champagne bottle a looter had recently taken from a grocery store.
10. Shia LaBeouf
He’s since apologized for plagiarism by hiring a skywriting airplane, disrupted a performance of Cabaret and spit on a police officer, out-crazied director Lars von Trier by attending a press conference and movie premiere with a paper bag over his head, and “retired from all public life“, so it’d be easy to forget that Shia LaBeouf was arrested for suspected drunken driving back in 2008 during the filming of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
LaBeouf’s Ford F-150 rolled over after colliding with another vehicle in Los Angeles, crushing the actor’s left hand and causing him to miss a month of scheduled filming. Fallen co-star Isabel Lucas, riding as a passenger at the time, suffered minor bumps and bruises, but she was able to return to work immediately. Officers on the scene of the accident reported that LaBeouf appeared intoxicated, but the case was eventually dropped due to lack of evidence. The actor was most recently arrested on assault charges after allegedly accosting a disruptive visitor at his anti-Trump art installation, “He Will Not Divide Us.”
9. Josh Brolin
“Brolin outdoes himself in the title role,” writes film critic Kelly Vance in the East Bay Express review of Oliver Stone’s Bush biopic W. So maybe it was method acting a character who is “never without a drink in hand” for a large portion of the film that lead to Brolin’s arrest on a charge of interfering with police following a reported disturbance in Shreveport, Louisiana’s Stray Cat Bar. Police officers reported that Brolin, co-star Jeffrey Wright (who portrays Colin Powell in the film), and several members of the film crew attempted to intervene on behalf of a crew member accused of creating a drunken disturbance.
Brolin, 40 at the time (10 years older than the former president he portrayed at the time of W.’s own alcohol-related arrest) was previously arrested for spousal battery after now-ex-wife Diane Lane reportedly told Los Angeles police that he hit her, and he has since been arrested for public intoxication and captured on video in altercations with a taxi driver and a bouncer in Santa Monica. “It won’t be happening again,” Brolin told reporters after these incidents, “I can guarantee it.” Prepping for the role of Cable in the upcoming Deadpool sequel has apparently inspired Brolin to take up a diet and weight training regime, which seems a whole lot healthier.
8. Wesley Snipes
In 2006, the Blade actor was indicted for eight counts of tax fraud by a Florida court, but he was not arrested because — according to the IRS — “authorities don’t know where he is.” Fortuitously for Snipes, he was actually in the south African country Namibia (a nation that didn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S.) filming the supernatural western GallowWalkers when the warrant was issued for his arrest. Though producers told the press at the time that Snipes would be able to remain in the country until filming wrapped, the movie’s release was ultimately delayed until 2013.
In the time between, Snipes was arrested, convicted of three misdemeanor counts of failing to file tax returns, and — despite several appeals — sentenced to three years in federal prison. Like GallowWalkers, Snipes was also released in 2013 and allowed to serve the remaining four months of his sentence under house arrest. Snipes received the maximum sentence possible for his conviction — possibly in part to “deter anti-tax activists,” though Snipes’ appeals claimed racial bias. The movie ultimately received harsh verdicts from critics, such as the A.V. Club’s Josh Modell, who wrote: “GallowWalkers is a narrative mess, and it’s undeniably dumb.”
7. Vince Vaughn
“The most surprising thing about the movie,” reads The Washington Post‘s review of the critically panned 2001 thriller Domestic Disturbance, “is that somebody bothered to make it in the first place. Never has the edge of one’s seat seemed so much like the wrong place to sit.” Perhaps a more compelling movie could’ve been adapted from the fight that took place in the parking lot of a Wilmington, North Carolina, bar during filming, which resulted in Vince Vaughn’s arrest and Steve Buscemi’s hospitalization for knife wounds. Two Wilmington locals reportedly picked a fight with the two actors and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg after seeing Vaughn talking to one’s girlfriend at the Firebelly Lounge, and the men took it outside.
By the time police broke up the brawl, Buscemi had been stabbed in the face, throat, and arm. Officers arrested the attacker (who later pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon), but the fight continued. Police reportedly pepper-sprayed the crowd to subdue them and then arrested Vaughn, Rosenberg, and two local men on misdemeanor assault charges. Vaughn pleaded no contest, and the charges were eventually dropped.
6. Eliza Dushku and Gabrielle Union
Discussing the goings-on behind the scenes of cheerleading comedy Bring It On 15 years after its release, Gabrielle Union quoted another movie: “First rule of Fight Club, don’t talk about Fight Club,” Union told MTV in 2015. “There were a lot of adventures, I will say that.” The invocation of the Tyler Durden decree might explain why the details are a little hazy and contradictory, but some of the cast of the cult teen movie are rumored to have been arrested in Mexico during filming. “There might have been some trips down to Tijuana, perhaps,” Union sort-of elaborates. “Unconfirmed bribing of federale. The stuff of legend.“
When it comes to who might have bribed the government official or even where the events actually took place, the cast and filmmakers sound more like Rashomon. Executive producer Max Wong recalled, “a bunch of the actors … were on the beach drinking and got arrested and got thrown into Mexican jail. … I got a middle of the night phone call to bail them out, and I did.” Eliza Dushku, however, contradicted: “There may have been an incident in TJ one weekend but we got ourselves out of it … there was no producer bailing out happening.” And Jesse Bradford corrected: “It was Rosarito, not Tijuana.“
5. Christian Slater
“These are tough times for Christian Slater,” begins a 1998 New York Daily News feature titled “Leading Men Behaving Badly.” “On the one hand, there is his new movie, Hard Rain, opening in New York on Jan. 16. On the other, he is heading for the slammer … to begin a three-month sentence on a smorgasbord of charges involving drugs and alcohol.” That “smorgasbord” of alleged offenses included a tequila-and-cocaine-fueled attack on two friends at a party and an altercation with the arresting officers, in which the actor reportedly attempted to grab an officer’s gun. Slater pleaded no contest to charges of “battering a female companion and a police officer and being under the influence of a controlled substance” and almost missed the premiere of the armored-car heist/natural disaster movie The New York Times called “routine entertainment,” but the judge sentencing Slater allowed him to start his 90-day the Monday after opening weekend.
The actor was previously arrested for a DUI in 1989 after leading Los Angeles police in a car chase that ended with him crashing into a telephone pole and attempting to scale a chainlink fence, and again in 1994 for bringing a gun to a New York City airport.
4. Robert Downey Jr.
Also featured in the New York Daily News article was future Iron Man Robert Downey Jr., who at the time was serving a six-month sentence for violating probation. In 1996, Downey was pulled over for speeding in Malibu and arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin, then arrested later that same day for trespassing and being under the influence of a controlled substance. According to a Los Angeles Times article, Downey was working on two films at the time, one of which was directed by his father, Robert Downey Sr. Downey Jr. was sentenced to parole, but after repeatedly missing court-ordered drug tests, the actor was sentenced to a half a year behind bars.
Though quoted as saying, “I would never tell you the worst things that have happened to me,” in prison, many prisoner-rights advocates protested what they viewed as preferential treatment for the actor, which included allowing him to see his personal plastic surgeon after a fight with another prisoner wounded his face, and granting the actor a three-day furlough to complete post-production on In Dreams, in which he played a child-murdering psychopath. California Governor Jerry Brown granted the actor a full and unconditional pardon for these offenses and others in 2015.
3. Tim Allen
Tim Allen, aka Timothy Alan Dick, aka Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, has two mugshots on file with legal document archive The Smoking Gun. The first is from 1978, before he found fame as a standup comedian and actor, for attempting to sell more than a pound of cocaine to an undercover police officer. He could have been sentenced to life in prison under Michigan drug laws, but he received a reduced sentence for providing police with the names of other dealers. The judge who sentenced Allen reportedly told him “I expect you to be a very successful comedian.“
The second mugshot comes from 1997, after Allen had fulfilled that judge’s expectations, becoming one of the highest paid stars of the 1990s. Police stopped Allen for speeding and he reportedly “appeared unsteady, smelled of alcohol and failed several sobriety tests.” His blood alcohol level tested at .15, nearly twice the legal limit, and he entered no plea to charges of drunken driving. At the time the incident, E! reported Allen couldn’t be reached for comment because he was “filming a movie in Baltimore.” That movie was For Richer or Poorer, a film about a rich couple hiding from the IRS in Amish country. Maybe Wesley Snipes was unavailable.
2. Sean Penn
In the 1988 film Colors, Sean Penn and Robert Duvall play Los Angeles police officers attempting to combat gang violence, but Penn created more work for the actual LAPD when he attacked an extra on the set for attempting to photograph him. Penn — who had previously been sentenced to a year’s probation for punching a songwriter for kissing his then-wife Madonna at a nightclub and a two-year’s suspended sentence for attacking British photographers for attempting to take her picture in Nashville — was sentenced to 60 days in jail for attacking the extra and for a reckless driving charge, both of which violated the terms of his parole. Penn pleaded no contest to all charges.
The actor’s attorney, Howard L. Weitzman said Penn “has to learn that people are going to attempt to goad him into situations where he may react inappropriately. He needs to and does understand that incidents like this are inescapable and he can control and will control them.” In 2009, a photographer filed assault charges against Penn, who was videoed kicking the paparazzo. Penn pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and three years of informal probation.
1. Errol Flynn
The popular-at-the-time expression “in like Flynn” took on a whole new meaning in 1942 when two teenage girls accused dashing movie star Errol Flynn of statutory rape. He was reportedly arrested and locked up with criminals accused of murder and kidnapping. After making bail, he allegedly complained, “I’m bewildered. I can’t understand it. I hardly touched the girl.” The film he was working on at the time, Edge of Darkness, was delayed while Flynn stood trial. The actor’s defense attorney predictably called the girls’ morals into question, bringing up past affairs with married men, cases in which the girls admitted to lying about their ages, and an “illegal procedure” (i.e. abortion) one of them had undergone.
The jury acquitted Flynn after more than 24 hours deliberation, and the actor’s career quickly recovered. In 1944, he married Nora Eddington, who he met when she was working as a teenage cigarette girl at the courthouse where he stood trial. In a 1937 Photoplay column on Hollywood morals, Flynn wrote, “The cardinal sin of Hollywood is to be caught.”
What other stars went to the slammer while they were making a movie? Let us know in the comments.
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