Actors who ruined their career in a matter of seconds

We're all guilty of making split second decisions that we later come to regret, but when you're in the business of show, those moments can be potentially career ending. Scandal is nothing new in Hollywood, though if you're an actor and your private transgressions happen to go public, then you better be prepared to look for a new line of work. While some disgraced stars manage to claw their way back into the limelight from a seemingly impossible position, for most, retiring from the public eye with whatever dignity remains intact is the only option.

Randy Quaid

Randy Quaid doesn't always get the credit he deserves for being a solid comedic actor. Sure, not all his movies were prestigious (just try to watch Pluto Nash, we dare you), but his work in the Vacation films, Kingpin, and even Independence Day is pretty great. Plus, the guy was nominated for an Oscar in 1974, so how did it all go so wrong?

In September 2009, Quaid and his wife, Evi were arrested for not paying a $10,000 hotel bill. They were arrested again for squatting in a home they used to own, so the two skipped town and headed up to Canada. Now, not paying bills and squatting is odd behavior for a well-known actor, but nothing too crazy. But in Canada, things got weird.

Though people assumed the Quaids were on the run from the law, they claimed they'd fled to the North was to avoid the "Hollywood Star Wackers," a secret organization that took celebs out or manufactured scandals to discredit them. Why 2009 Quaid would be on the top of their list, who knows, but the Quaids felt threatened and ran for the hills. Quaid told the Vancouver press about the mysteries behind the Star Wackers and claimed that Heath Ledger, David Carradine, and Chris Penn were the cabal's latest victims. Since those bizarre claims, the Quaids were arrested and released once more in 2015.

The two have some bizarro videos. The craziest of them all features Randy Quaid in a full "get off my property" mountain man beard pretending to have sex with his wife while she wears a Rupert Murdoch mask. After that YouTube gem, it's unlikely a lot of big roles will be coming his way.

Jennifer Grey

When someone's resume lists starring roles in Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Dirty Dancing, you'd figure that '80s darling would go on to have a fantastic career. Matthew Broderick and Patrick Swayze did just fine, but whatever ever happened to Jennifer Grey? In case you haven't brushed up on your '80s starlets in a while, Grey was Bueller's sister in the John Hughes film and Baby of "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" fame. You've definitely seen her be snarky and get lifted in a lake. But if you saw her today, you'd have no idea it was the '80s idol.

Grey was known for her nose, but as her career slowed down a touch in the early '90s, she got a nose job. On the good side, she left the operating table with a smaller nose. On the bad side, she looked completely different. The plastic surgery left her unrecognizable, which made casting all the more difficult. Having to go to auditions with an old headshot, government ID, and proclaiming, "I swear, I'm Ferris's sister" didn't make it easy to book roles.

Grey once said, "It was the nose job from hell. I'll always be this once-famous actress nobody ­recognizes because of a nose job."

Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes was a big star with roles in White Men Can't Jump, To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, and the Blade trilogy. He was doing pretty great. Then Snipes decided to not pay his taxes.

Now, it's obvious that not paying your taxes is bad, but what's the worst that could happen? You pay it back plus some fines and maybe have to make Demolition Man 2 to get some cash? Nope. Snipes's tax offenses were bad enough that they sent him to jail. Snipes was found guilty of willfully not filing taxes for three years and got a year in the slammer for each year he failed to make a trip to H&R Block. Plus, he had to pay back $17 million in taxes and penalties. Since it's pretty hard to make a Blade sequel from jail, his tax evasion put a complete stop on his career. Let that be a lesson to all you movie stars out there: if you want a career, don't try to get tricky with the tax man.

Rip Torn

Rip Torn is one of those "oh that guy" character actors who's been acting since the '50s. Best known for his role as Zed in Men in Black, his appearance in Albert Brooks's Defending Your Life, and his great turn in The Larry Sanders Show, Torn has been around. But in 1967, he had the chance to become a star, and a fateful dinner ruined it all.

Torn went to dinner with Peter Fonda, writer Terry Southern, and Dennis Hopper to talk about Torn taking a role in their new film Easy Rider. He was very interested in the part, but Torn and Hopper got into a fight. According to Torn, Hopper pulled a knife on him. According to Hopper, Torn was the knife puller. Peter Fonda claimed they were both trying to fight each other with butter knives and forks. Whoever got the knife first didn't really matter, since the altercation lost Torn the job. Later, the part went to Jack Nicholson, and it took him from struggling actor to superstar overnight.

Hopper told the story of a knife-happy Torn around town, and it definitely hurt his career. Then, years later, when Torn gained success with the Larry Sanders show, Hopper brought the story up one more time on a 1994 episode of The Tonight Show. Hopper again accused Torn of pulling a knife and getting fired from Easy Rider, but this time, Torn wasn't having it. He sued Hopper for defamation and won. Torn got $475,000 from Hopper's pocket 30 years after the fact, but he never got Jack Nicholson's career.

Paz de la Huerta

With her role as Nucky's girlfriend in Boardwalk Empire, Paz de la Huerta was about to become a sensation. The actress excelled at sexy, mysterious characters and was more than happy to take off her clothes for a role. When New York Magazine did an article about her before the launch of Boardwalk Empire, they recounted a story. De la Huerta went into a sauna naked, the only one unclothed, rubbed honey all over her breasts, then proceeded to point at the bulge in a guy's pants and laugh. The guy said, "What are you, crazy?" She replied, "No. I'm Paz. It means peace. Get it, got it, good." It seemed clear that this slightly nutty actress would either use her eccentricity to make great art or go full blown Sean Young. She chose the Young path.

While she was on the show, she got a reputation as a party girl. TMZ got footage of the star walking super drunk from the Golden Globes. She slipped and fell, not a big deal, but it left her breast hanging out, and she was far too wasted to notice. If that didn't clue people in that she might be intoxicated, her exceptionally slurred speech when answering paparazzi questions made her drunkenness abundantly clear.

Then, De la Huerta was arrested for assault. Allegedly, she threw a glass at a reality star, then punched her in the face. The Hollywood Reporter stated that Lindsay Lohan, also attending the party, spent part of her night picking glass shards from the reality star's leg. When Lohan is the most together person at a party in 2011, you know things have gone terribly wrong.

On set, things didn't seem to be much better. There were many rumors of De la Huerta's erratic behavior, including a predilection for publicly shaving her pubic hair between shoots and showing up to work drugged up and crying. In 2013, Boardwalk Empire had enough and fired her from the show. Turns out coming into the spotlight and immediately becoming a drunken mess isn't the best way to sustain a career.

Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman's career ruining was less outrageous, but the consequences were much worse. The star of Casablanca and Gaslight appeared to be a typical woman of the time, married and happy to serve her husband. But in reality, she was a free spirit who wanted to screw around like all her male costars. Though she was married to Peter Lindstrom, Bergman began an affair with her director on Stromboli, Roberto Rossellini. Bergman loved Rossellini, and when she got pregnant with his child, she left Lindstrom and her first kid to go off with the Italian director. For a woman to publicly admit an affair, leave her husband, and have the bastard child was an insane scandal. This was 1950, so we didn't have celebrity sex tapes to go nuts over.

Though a woman having an affair and getting a divorce seems pretty tame compared to the exploits of Tila Tequila, America was freaked out. The fervor went all the way to Washington when Senator Edwin C. Johnson proposed a bill that would require movies to be approved not just based on the moral content of the film itself but the moral character of the people involved in filmmaking—some slut like Bergman, he seemed to say, shouldn't be able to go around willy-nilly appearing in films since she slept with more than one man.

Johnson claimed that Bergman "had perpetrated an assault upon the institution of marriage" and was "a powerful influence for evil." The senator tried to ban Bergman from all future American films. Bergman stayed out of the country for eight years, and though she continued to make films, her star status was permanently damaged by an affair of the heart.

Michael Richards

Actors that dabble in the minefield of stand-up comedy need to ensure that their routine isn't going to negatively impact their career on-screen, though one thing you can never fully predict is the influence of hecklers. When Seinfeld's Michael Richards found himself in a battle of wits with a member of his audience during a live show in 2006, he made a split second decision that destroyed his career in an instant. Richards responded to the man's criticism with a series of racial slurs, demanding that the African American customer be thrown out of the club.

A video of the incident soon found its way online, showing Richards stopping his show mid-monologue and turning on the audience member, telling him that "Fifty years ago they'd have you hanging upside down with a [expletive] fork up your [expletive]." There were audible gasps in the room as the incensed actor then repeatedly used the N-word, despite the man shouting back that the language was uncalled for. The comedian left the stage without finishing his routine.

Richards appeared via satellite on the Late Show with David Letterman to apologize for his outburst, telling the nation that he was "deeply sorry" about what happened and insisting that he wasn't actually a racist. It didn't do him any good, however, as his career since has been limited to the occasional token TV appearance.

Mel Gibson

When it comes to career-ending outbursts, 2006 was a popular year, since Mel Gibson also committed professional suicide in '06. The Australian was arrested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department after officers in Malibu caught him speeding with an open bottle of booze, though it wasn't him being busted for a DUI that made the headlines. After initially refusing arrest and unsuccessfully attempting to flee the scene, Gibson was cuffed and detained, and what he said in the back of the police car en route to the station still haunts him to this day.

The Lethal Weapon star repeatedly threatened his arresting officer, telling him that he owned Malibu and would spend every cent he had left on getting even with him. According to a transcript of the police report obtained by the LA Times, Gibson then "blurted out a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks about '[expletive] Jews.' Gibson yelled out, 'The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.' Gibson then asked, 'Are you a Jew?'"

Unlike Michael Richards, however, Gibson has refused to throw in the towel and is looking to make a comeback a decade after retiring from the public eye in disgrace. His violent daddy-daughter thriller Blood Father has been positively received by critics, and his return to the director's chair with so-called atonement piece Hacksaw Ridge has gone down equally well, getting a 10 minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival.

Tila Tequila

Tila 'Tequila' Nguyen began her questionable path to fame by becoming one of the earliest recognized social media celebrities, graduating from the most popular person on MySpace to one of the most unpopular personalities in recent history. MTV saw fit to capitalize on her online fan base by giving Tequila her own dating show, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila in 2007, and she made her first film appearance (as a Hooters Girl in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) that same year, though it all came crashing down after a bizarre post on her website.

The article, entitled Why I Sympathize with Hitler, caused widespread outrage. The Singapore-born celebrity wrote that she had "learned the truth about the war and what Hitler truly did," insisting that "he was not a bad person as they have made him out to be." On top of the inflammatory piece, Tequila posted photos of herself posing in front of a picture of Auschwitz dressed as a scantily clad Nazi.

Tequila attempted to get her career back on track in 2015 when she appeared as a housemate on the UK 's Celebrity Big Brother, though once show runners learned of Nazi sympathizing antics she was booted out of the house. The premature eviction didn't teach her a lesson, however. She was at it once again in 2016, launching a scathing attack on Jewish conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro, whom she said "should be gassed and sent back to Israel."

Lindsay Lohan

Being under the spotlight is nothing new for Lindsay Lohan, who began working as a child model when she was just three years old. She soon made inroads into the acting business, with her regular spot on soap opera Another World getting her noticed by Disney, who cast her in their surprisingly successful 1998 remake of The Parent Trap. The redheaded actress became a teen sensation in the years that followed, finding more success in 2003's Freaky Friday, 2004's Mean Girls and 2005's Herbie: Fully Loaded. But her hot streak would come to an abrupt halt early in 2007.

On May 26, Lohan was taken to the hospital in Beverly Hills after getting into a car accident. The actress had recently been discharged from the Wonderland Center rehab facility in Los Angeles for undisclosed problems, though the nature of these issues became all too clear when Lohan was charged with DUI, possession of cocaine and misdemeanor hit and run following the incident. If her career wasn't compromised on this occasion, then it certainly was when she was arrested on the same charges just two months later, days after another unsuccessful stint in rehab.

The severity of her downfall was highlighted by the critical response to her next film, the "incoherent and semi-vile" I Know Who Killed Me. Lohan plays opposite herself in the two main roles, and her double performance won her the Worst Screen Couple at he the 2008 Golden Raspberry Awards as well as Worst Actress. The film took home a record setting eight Razzies in total.

Sung Hyun-Ah

Dating in Hollywood has never been straightforward, though it isn't just the actresses of Tinseltown who find their love lives under intense scrutiny. Former Miss Korea contestant Sung Hyun-Ah had a short relationship with a prominent Korean businessman, and that relationship ended up destroying her show business career. Sung soon herself embroiled in a prostitution scandal in 2013, indicted for allegedly accepting a payment of 50 million Won (approximately $44,000) from the businessman in exchange for three instances of sexual intercourse. The actress attempted to counter-sue, but the court dismissed her claims and found her guilty.

Sung took her case to the Supreme Court who, two years after her guilty verdict, overturned the decision and named her innocent of all charges relating to prostitution, though the damage was already done. The actress already had a reputation as a law breaker after being caught with ecstasy during a drug bust in 2002, and her lawyer confirmed that her career would be taking a backseat while she recovers from her ordeal:

"After Ms. Sung's first trial, she had felt wronged by so many things for a long time. She's been declared innocent now, but she's getting stung by attention still just because she's been in trial. Please refrain so that Ms. Sung can recover from defamation and make a recovery in society."

Paul Reubens

Bow-tied man-child Pee-wee Herman was huge during the 1980s, the subject of two feature films as well as an Emmy-winning children's TV series. But the public perception of both the character and the man behind him changed drastically in 1991. During a visit with his parents in Sarasota, Florida, Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure at an adult movie theater, with sheriff's deputies claiming that they spotted him masturbating during the movie.

The actor, aged 38 at the time, pleaded no contest and agreed to take part in a new anti-drug campaign to avoid a trial on the misdemeanor charge. Pee-wee toys were pulled from shelves across the nation and Reubens retreated from the public eye entirely, disappearing for the remainder of the '90s.

His attempted comeback at the turn of the millennium was quickly thwarted when more charges of a sexual nature were brought against him, this time relating to child pornography. Acting on a tip off, officers seized thousands of items from a collection of vintage gay erotica, and while Reubens has always denied he owned any sexual images of children, the tatters of his reputation went up in flames.

It took another decade before Reubens dared return to the character, which he did successfully in 2016, starring in critically acclaimed Netflix film Pee-wee's Big Holiday. The positive response to his comeback is scant consolation for a man who spent most of his career in hiding because of a few very bad decisions.

Rob Lowe

One of the items confiscated from Paul Reubens' stash of pornography was the infamous Rob Lowe sex tape, the first video of a celebrity having sex to be copied and sold at large. Lowe was a prominent member of the the so-called Brat Pack in the early and mid-'80s, appearing in the likes of St. Elmo's Fire and Youngbloods, though when a video of him having sex with a 16-year-old girl was leaked, his promising career took a severe nosedive.

Lowe was in Atlanta to attend the 1988 Democratic National Convention when he took two girls to bed after meeting them in a nightclub, unaware that one was only 16. As the legal age of consent in Georgia is 16, Lowe escaped prosecution, but his public image was dealt further damage when a second clip showing him and a friend having sex with a woman at the same time surfaced. While he admits that he has never been out of work, Lowe is aware how much of his career those tapes cost him, revealing that he lost out on a role in a Best Picture winner as a result of the fallout:

"I've been fortunate that I've always, always, always worked. Even after the sex tape was made public, it was like: You're still a professional baseball player, but you're playing for Double or Triple A. I lost the role in Titanic that Billy Zane got. But I was never banned from the game."

Robert Blake

In a career spanning the best part of 70 years, Robert Blake went from child star of MGM's Little Rascals to The Mystery Man in David Lynch's Lost Highway, the last character he played before the murder of his wife in 2001. Bonnie Lee Bakley was shot in the head at point blank range in Blake's car, which was parked around the corner from the Studio City restaurant the couple had been eating at that night. Blake claimed that he had to return to the restaurant to collect his missing gun when the fatal shooting of his wife took place.

Police determined that the gun in question was not the one used to kill Bakley, though Blake was finally arrested in 2002 when two former stuntmen came forward claiming that the actor had tried to hire both of them to murder his wife on separate occasions. Both men had a history of drug abuse, something Blake's legal team leaned on heavily during their defense of their client. Three years after his arrest, Blake was acquitted, though a civil court claim later found him guilty of "intentionally" causing Bakley's death and ordered him to pay $30 million to Bakley's children.

Blake's criminal trial was the nail in his career's coffin, though that didn't stop the then 71-year-old actor from issuing a plea to producers in the aftermath. He proclaimed himself "broke" and announced himself available for work. Unsurprisingly, none ever came.

Fatty Arbuckle

Star of the silent film era, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was at the height of his fame when he made a decision that would not only bring his career in Hollywood to an abrupt end, but would also land him in court. On September 5, 1921, the actor and comedian booked three rooms at the St. Francis Hotel, where he intended to throw a party. An aspiring actress named Virginia Rappe was one of the several women who were extended an invite, though it was an invitation she should never have accepted.

Rappe was found seriously ill in room 1219 of the hotel, the room Arbuckle was sleeping in. After allegedly telling people that Fatty had hurt her, the hotel doctor declared her simply intoxicated, but she died four days later of a ruptured bladder. Opinion in the media was split, with some reports suggesting Arbuckle's weight had caused the damage as he raped her, while others suggested that the actress's recent abortion had simply gone wrong.

Arbuckle was arrested and charged with manslaughter, though the jury failed to reach a verdict and a mistrial was called. After a second trial yielded the same result, Arbuckle's legal team stepped up their defense, making sure that the third one went in their favor. Arbuckle was acquitted, though his career was over nonetheless, with his films subject to bans and his reputation in tatters.

Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser is one of those names that is almost always followed by a question: "why doesn't Hollywood cast him anymore?" The American-Canadian graduated from a character actor to a bona fide movie star when he appeared as the swashbuckling Rick O'Connell in The Mummy, the first film in a trilogy that has come to define him. That franchise came to an unspectacular end in 2008, though Fraser struck gold when another of his films released that year became an unexpected hit.

The 3D fantasy adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth returned a worldwide box office total of $242 million from a budget of $60 million, reaffirming Fraser's position as a genuine leading man and presenting him with a chance to establish the character's longevity in further films. This is the point at which Fraser took a wrong turn that would eventually derail his career completely, a decision that he likely regrets to this day. In a monumental error of judgement, Fraser turned down the chance to reprise his role in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Content with the work he had done in Extraordinary Measures and Furry Vengeance, Fraser felt comfortable letting the role go to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, though when those two films became two of the biggest box office bombs of 2010, it became clear that he had made a huge mistake. Journey 2 went on to surpass the original, raking in an eye-watering $335 million from a budget of $79 million.