Actors, especially those based out of Hollywood, are some of the highest paid professionals in the Western world. Making millions of dollars for one film, a television episode, or even just a 30 second commercial, these stars can sometimes rake in so much money that they just need to find things to spend it all on. And when you have that much money, you end up spending it on the most ridiculous things. You can also sometimes forget that a pot of gold— no matter how big it is— can still empty out if you never budget or ‘forget’ to pay your taxes.
Incredibly, some of society’s most loved— and highest paid— actors have had some serious financial problems, oftentimes leading them to fall to rock-bottom: bankruptcy. From not paying large amounts of taxes to spending insane amounts of money on exotic animals, A-list stars have found themselves in dire straits, while other celebrities have had to go so far as to file for bankruptcy.
All of this goes to show that it’s really not about the lump sum of money that you make (at least after a certain point)— it’s about how wise you are with that money. And the following celebrities have clearly not been too wise.
Read on for the 11 Stars Who Lost It All (And 4 Who Almost Did).
15. Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is ranked as one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. Although he was estimated to have been valued at $48 million in 2016, his good fortune has not always been secure. When emails were leaked to the press in June of this year, the public caught wind that not all has always been fine and dandy for Depp’s finances.
The leaked emails give some background to the current law suit involving Depp suing his money managers, The Mandel Co., for failing to pay his substantial taxes and mismanaging his money. They are counter-suing Depp for mismanaging his own money, however. The 2009 leaked emails show The Mandel Co. pleading with Depp to quit his spending on private planes, outrageous auctions, and overly-expensive Christmas shopping sprees.
14. Lindsay Lohan
Although Lindsay Lohan is not in the same pay bracket as Johnny Depp, the child/teen star would have made some substantial income in her heyday. In 2004, Forbes estimated her net worth to be around $11 million.
Unfortunately, after several stints in rehabilitation facilities, a lavish lifestyle from earlier years, and failing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal taxes, Lohan was left with just a pittance— at least, for an actor who was once on Hollywood’s A-list. Indeed, according to the Huffington Post, the Internal Revenue Service had to freeze some of her accounts back in 2012.
13. Wesley Snipes
Considering Wesley Snipes played the lead role in Marvel’s blockbuster Blade trilogy, and starred in hit films like New Jack City and White Men Can’t Jump, you would probably assume that money would be the last thing on Snipes’ mind. And it was— too much so, in fact.
Unfortunately for Snipes, his quick rise to fame and subsequent impressively large paycheques went to his head, and was charged heavily for tax evasion and fraud on several occasions.
In 2006, the cost of court cases and charges against him for his hefty tax evasion schemes had simply cost him too much— by this point, he owed the International Revenue Service tens of millions of dollars— and he filed for bankruptcy in 2006, according to federal court records. His bad luck didn’t end there, though: he was also convicted to a few years’ jail time and was on house arrest until 2013.
12. Nicholas Cage
It’s hard to believe that someone as famous and as successful as Hollywood A-lister Nicholas Cage could ever have financial problems.
But he has, largely due to a strong penchant for insane purchases. On top of being a talented actor, Cage has now gained a reputation for being a heavy spender— in fact, he is known as one of Hollywood’s most frivolous and ridiculous!
Just this year, it was reported that Cage was purchasing islands, yachts, and castles, but also more crazy memorabilia – like blowing $95 000 on a special one-of-a-kind comic, and $270 000 on a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull. Unfortunately, the skull was later discovered to be stolen, and Cage was sadly forced to give it up.
All of this to say Cage has not been overly financially responsible, resulting in his having to auction off many of his more insane (although valuable) purchases, as well as sell some of his properties.
11. Drake Bell
It’s always sad but rarely surprising when a child star goes through a rough time a little later on in their life. And this has sadly been the case for child star Drake Bell, of Nickelodeon’s show Drake and Josh.
Despite starring in his own show for four years and launching a generally well-received musical career with three albums, two of which have appeared on Billboard 200, this promising Nickelodeon star still had to face some substantial financial obstacles. After three DUI’s under his belt, Bell was sentenced to a short stint in prison and was forced to pay out a $20 000 bail.
10. Kim Basinger
Kim Basinger was already in dire straits back in 1989 when her family convinced her to buy a 20 million dollar property in Georgia and turn it into a tourist attraction that eventually wound up being a complete flop.
Then, when Basinger pulled out of her movie deal for the controversial 1993 film Boxing Helena, she was soon out an additional 8.1 million dollars as the studio consequently sued her for backing out on her contract. Although she counter-sued and settled to pay just 3.2 million, these two fiascos in her earlier days left her skint for cash.
The iconic Bond girl, Batman star, and Academy Award-winning actress was thus forced to file for bankruptcy in 1995, helping her to pay for the insurmountable debt she was facing at the time.
9. Larry King
Larry King is one of Hollywood’s oldest talk show hosts, gaining fame for his long-running show of 25 years, Larry King Live.
As CNN’s most-watched program and longest-running show ever, no one could have ever guessed that one of the most successful talk show hosts of all time had once declared bankruptcy.
Indeed, before his rise to success, King was arrested under allegations of stealing money from his ex-business partner and was fired from his job as a radio announcer. He eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1978— which just so happens to be the same year he was picked up to host a nightly talk show on national radio. From there, he was picked up by CNN in 1985— and obviously has since done quite well for himself!
8. Natasha Lyonne
You probably know Natasha Lyonne for her iconic roles in ’90s classics like Slums of Beverly Hills, But I’m a Cheerleader, and American Pie. If you knew her then, then you also probably knew her a few years later, battling an addiction to drugs and consequently facing some serious health complications.
Along with this, Lyonne also faced some pretty serious financial problems. Spending her hard-earned money on her addiction, a DUI ticket, hospital bills, and rehabilitation meant she had very little money left for much else when all was said and done.
Happily, Lyonne’s story is one of redemption, as she has been clean for several years. Nowadays, she plays main character Nicky Nichols in Orange is the New Black, which means she has a regular salary, as well as a built-in support group in her fellow cast mates.
7. Gary Dourdan
Gary Dourdan is best known for his lead role as Warrick Brown, an analyst battling a gambling addiction, in 8 seasons of CSI. But the character he portrayed in the show is not so far off from some of the real life experiences he’s had.
In real life, Dourdan has faced several run-ins with the law, and was arrested for breaking his girlfriend’s nose. Drug addiction, lawsuit and bailout costs, and counselling expenses cost him a substantial bit of money, and by 2012 Dourdan was forced to file bankruptcy, as his debt by this time amounted to $1.7 million.
6. Martine McCutcheon
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking stories on this list— if only for the fact that this stunning actress was everyone’s favorite from the hit Christmas Classic Love Actually, as well as a series regular on the British soap EastEnders— the lovely Martine McCutcheon was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2013.
But how could this be?! On top of already starring in a Hollywood box office hit and a ridiculously successful British soap opera, McCutcheon was also a published bestselling author by this time in her life, and had toured the world with her hit single, “Perfect Moment.”
Despite her successes, general money mismanagement and a failure to pay the appropriate amount of taxes in due time led to her declaration of bankruptcy. Fortunately, she has just this year released a well-received pop album!
5. Stephen Baldwin
Stephen Baldwin, brother of actor Alec Baldwin and father to model Haley Baldwin, gained fame in ’90s for his role in The Usual Suspects, although hasn’t starred in anything bigger (or better) since that time.
His lack of big Hollywood roles may partly explain what happened to the younger Baldwin brother in 2009: he filed for bankruptcy due to two unpaid mortgages for properties in New York, unpaid taxes, a failed lawsuit against Kevin Costner, visa debt, and general money mismanagement.
Additionally, in 2013, the younger Baldwin was forced to pay $300 000 worth of failed filed taxes, to be paid within one year. Because of his most recent charges, we can’t say with confidence that Baldwin is out of his financial troubles just quite yet.
4. Debbie Reynolds
The late Debbie Reynolds was Hollywood’s darling of the 1950s, charming young and old alike in her outstanding performance in Singin’ in the Rain alongside Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.
Along with her success in this film, she starred in several other 1950s hits like Susan Slept Here, Bundle of Joy, Affairs of Dobie Gillis, and The Catered Affair.
Given that the wage gap in Hollywood still exists to this day, it’s safe to assume that it certainly would have existed back then. So, along with probably being paid an unfair wage for her work, Reynolds was at the same time putting most of her money into divorce settlements and failed business ventures, which included the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Hollywood— which resulted in her declaring bankruptcy in 1997.
3. Gary Busey
Given that the thought of Gary Busey may not have crossed your mind since the 1980s and 1990s, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that Busey has not really starred in an overwhelming number of successes since his heyday.
But just because he’s not the money-maker he was back in the day does not mean he didn’t have more than enough to sustain him through for the rest of his life.
Of course, though, as many of the actors on this list, with increased finances comes great fiscal responsibility— something that Busey has obviously not succeeded in having. In 2012, his heavy debt, along with a lawsuit against him for assault, caused him to file for bankruptcy. We can’t say we feel very sorry for the guy when one of his reasons for being in this situation was tackling someone at an airport.
2. Burt Reynolds
Divorce settlements and irresponsible gambling have long plagued the legendary Burt Reynolds, resulting in a rather morbid auction based out of Las Vegas back in 2014, where items ranging from old movie props to expired credit cards were sold to the public (although many items were never bid on at all).
Another victim of lavish spending, Reynolds told Vanity Fair a year later that he had some regrets pertaining to his rather lax money management, especially his declaration of bankruptcy back in 1996. However, last reported, Reynolds is doing better money-wise, and still owns beautiful (and valuable) property in Palm Beach, Florida. His response to Vanity Fair when questioned about his financial woes? “There are a couple of actors who are quite brilliant with the way they’ve handled their money. But they’re not very good actors.”
1. Mickey Rooney
The late Mickey Rooney was one of Hollywood’s true legends, starring in upwards of 300 films and wedding an astounding number of wives— 8, to be exact.
In fact, these two facts are exactly the reason why Rooney was forced to declare bankruptcy back in the day. After having mismanaged his abundant sum of money for too long (and spending far too much of it on divorce settlements), Rooney declared bankruptcy in 1962.
He replenished his finances later on in his career after starring in the Broadway musical Sugar Babies, as well as by making cameos in hundreds of celebrated television shows. However, an unfortunate gambling habit in his later years meant that upon his death, Rooney’s entire estate was worth $18,000.
Did we miss an actor who’s had some serious financial difficulties? Let us know in the comments!
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