Top 20 Famous People Who Were Blacklisted by Hollywood

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
These celebs angered the wrong people. For this list, we'll be looking at people who, because of their actions and/or opinions, have been blacklisted from Hollywood. Our countdown includes Shia LaBeouf, Mel Gibson, Kathy Griffin, Thora Birch, Michael Richards, and more!

Top 20 Famous People Who Were Blacklisted from Hollywood

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 20 Famous People Who Were Blacklisted from Hollywood.

For this list, we’ll be looking at people who, because of their actions and/or opinions, have been blacklisted from Hollywood. We’ll also include people who’ve been unofficially blacklisted; that is to say they can barely find work in the entertainment industry anymore, as well as those that have found their way back into Hollywood’s good books..

Which celeb were you most surprised to see on this list? Let us know in the comments!

#20: Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf had a promising career for many years. He was constantly reinventing himself, exploring new creative paths and always surprising people. But from 2014 onwards, many of his actions were surprising for all of the wrong reasons. Substance abuse issues were at the root of several arrests of the actor including one in Savannah, Georgia in 2017 in which LaBeouf was racist and abusive towards police officers. Then in 2020, the “Even Stevens” star faced a lawsuit over battery and assault from former girlfriend, English recording artist FKA Twigs. While the case is ongoing, LaBeouf has faced severe backlash over this, and has already been let go from the upcoming Olivia Wilde project “Don’t Worry Darling” due to his poor behavior and treatment of others on set.

#19: Josh Trank

Josh Trank emerged as one of Hollywood’s hottest up and coming directors following the critical and commercial success of 2012's “Chronicle”. This led to him directing the “Fantastic Four” reboot, but things didn’t exactly go as planned after that. On set, Trank was reportedly difficult to work with, continuously distancing himself from the cast and crew. Things unraveled furthur when it was revealed Trank had caused $100,000 worth of damage to a house he was renting during filming. This sort of behavior would eventually cost him the chance to helm a standalone “Star Wars” picture, and seemingly shoved him off Hollywood’s radar, save for the 2020 gangster-flop “Capone”.

#18: Lloyd Bridges

Imagine history had gone differently. Imagine Lloyd Bridges had been permanently blacklisted from Hollywood. Would “Airplane!” have been as funny? What about “Hot Shots!”? Would his sons, Jeff and Beaut Bridges, even be actors?! Thankfully, Lloyd Bridges wasn’t blacklisted forever, but what did he do to be barred in the first place? Simple. He was affiliated with the Actors’ Laboratory Theatre, which was alleged to have ties to Communism. Bridges testified truthfully before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Congressional communist hunt committee, and was then blacklisted from Hollywood, but later returned after the FBI cleared his name.

#17: Thora Birch

With “Hocus Pocus” and “American Beauty”, Thora Birch did an excellent job establishing herself as one of the industry’s brightest young stars. But since the 2000s, Birch has been relegated to indie films and small television roles. So what gives? How does an actress with so much talent disappear overnight? The answer: her father and manager Jack Birch – a former ‘70s adult star – who demanded to be present during his daughter’s love scenes and threatened crewmembers when things didn’t go his way. His antics have gotten Thora fired on more than once, resulting in Hollywood turning its back on her and Birch going on to take a break from acting.

#16: Isaiah Washington

At one time, this “Grey’s Anatomy” star was an up and coming Hollywood favorite. However he’s struggled to get quality work ever since he was evidently blacklisted from the game in the mid-2000s. Washington’s difficulties resulted from an apparent on-set dispute with a “Grey’s Anatomy” co-star. According to reports, Washington hurled homophobic slurs, and after being chastised, he went on to do so again. He was fired from “Grey’s Anatomy” on June 7th, 2007, and while he went on “Larry King Live” less than a month later to defend himself, Washington only seemed to dig a deeper hole. Ever since the controversy, we haven’t seen Washington in much.

#15: CeeLo Green

CeeLo Green is a man of many talents, and trouble is just one of them. Being a successful singer, record producer and TV personality didn't matter much when Green was accused of sexual battery and drugging a woman in 2012. He was eventually sentenced to three years probation, ordered to attend Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings and perform a round of community service. The Atlanta native continues to make music and shows up on reality TV from time to time, but his run-in with the law still cost him, as his show “CeeLo Green’s The Good Life” was cancelled after he posted controversial tweets about the case on his Twitter account.

#14: Lena Horne

At her prime, jazz artist, pop singer, dancer, actor, and civil rights activist Lena Horne was one of the most active entertainers in Hollywood. She came up in the 1930s as a vocalist, and by the 1940s had worked her way onto the silver screen, signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. However, it’s reported that by the 1950s, Horne had lost her lust for Hollywood, and was looking to step away. Of course, that didn’t matter much, since she was blacklisted that decade for her ties to communism in the ‘40s and was forced out anyway. She couldn’t get Hollywood roles, but fortunately nightclubs welcomed her with open arms.

#13: Michael Richards

No one could have predicted how far Michael Richards’ star would fall in the years following his successes with “Seinfeld”. In the now infamous Laugh Factory incident of 2006, Richards berated a number of audience members with a string of racist remarks, all of which was caught on video. While he was quick to apologize following the incident, the damage was done. Suffice to say, Richards had a hard time finding work after the incident, and in an appearance in Jerry Seinfeld’s web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, he professed that he’s never truly gotten over it; and really, neither has Hollywood.

#12: Jim Caviezel

At one time, Jim Caviezel was one of the most promising names in Hollywood. He had the requisite movie star looks, the camera clearly loved him and his acting chops were solid. But Caviezel’s entire career trajectory changed when he starred in one little movie: “The Passion of the Christ.” Portraying religious figure Jesus Christ, Caviezel actually received acclaim for his performance, but the film angered many in Hollywood for its graphic violence and apparent anti-Semitic undertones. Mel Gibson warned Caviezel about what the role could do to his career, but the actor firmly believed in the movie, saying, “We all have a cross to carry.”

#11: Megan Fox

While Megan Fox has appeared in a number of big budget Hollywood films over the years, her outspokenness towards directors, other actors and the media led to some degree of blacklisting. Before the 3rd movie started filming, Fox notoriously compared her “Transformers” director Michael Bay to Hitler. Whether or not that was the reason she didn't appear in the film has been subject to debate. While that statement was insensitive, Bay’s treatment of the young actress is certainly worthy of criticism as well. Thanks in part to the growth of the #MeToo movement, Fox has since regained some of her footing in the industry.

#10: Katherine Heigl

With her work as Dr. Izzie Stevens on “Grey’s Anatomy” serving as a launching pad, Katherine Heigl was sought after by many studios. However, reports then emerged that Heigl was difficult to work with. While that certainly didn’t do her any favors, the biggest reason she hasn’t found much work is most likely her badmouthing of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and their movie “Knocked Up.” The film helped launch Heigl to stardom, but she publicly criticized the movie, even calling it sexist. Those comments took the wind out of her sails in Hollywood, but she has fought her way back to the screen since then, starring in a main role in the 2021 Netflix series “Firefly Lane”.

#9: Kathy Griffin

Often outspoken, the comedian has seen herself banned from a number of talk shows, including “The View” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” for her no holds barred brand of humor; something that was on full display during a 2007 Creative Arts Emmys speech in which she told Jesus to “suck it”. That comment got her scheduled appearance on “Hannah Montana” cancelled. The real misfire was her 2017 social media post that featured her holding a mask that resembled the severed head of the President of the United States, Donald Trump. CNN fired her for the stunt while her comedy tour was promptly cancelled. She even doubled down on the photo, posting it again on her 60th birthday in 2020.

#8: Tippi Hedren

You just can’t discuss Tippi Hedren without bringing up Alfred Hitchcock. It was Hitchcock who first discovered Hedren. He was watching “The Today Show” and was captivated by her appearance in a diet drink commercial. The two set up a meeting, and Hitchcock signed Hedren to a seven-year deal. And Hedren’s Hitchcock debut wasn’t minor; it was the lead actress role in his acclaimed film “The Birds.” She even went on to be Hitchcock’s muse - until they parted ways. According to Hedren, she repeatedly rejected Hitchcock’s sexual advances and he retaliated by ruining her career out of spite. Hitchcock wouldn’t release Hedren from her contract, but he wouldn’t give her work either.

#7: James Woods

Academy Award nominated actor James Woods has appeared in dozens of films in his decades-long career. Still, he fell out of Hollywood’s good graces in 2017 when he made a number of anti-Obama comments on his Twitter account. Woods, a staunch Donald Trump supporter, didn’t seem to care that he was being blacklisted and at one point tweeted “The only reason I express my views is that I have accepted the fact that I’m blacklisted.” Hollywood, which has long been a democratic stronghold, didn’t appreciate Woods’ stance and because of it, he’s been pretty much out of work – whether he's concerned about it or not.

#6: Mel Gibson

Gibson’s struggles in Hollywood have been among the most public. He was once one of the biggest names in film, starring in movies like “Mad Max,” “Braveheart,” and “Lethal Weapon,” to name a few. His directorial work has been equally impressive. But despite his talent, Hollywood turned on Gibson in 2006. After being pulled over for a DUI, Gibson reportedly spewed a shocking anti-Semitic rant. He’s also been caught making homophobic and other racist slurs. While he’s worked on a few projects since, like the 2016 film “Hacksaw Ridge” and is set to star in the John Wick origin series “The Continental”, Gibson has worn out his welcome in many Hollywood front offices.

#5: O. J. Simpson

Remember the time O. J. Simpson was arrested and tried for murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman? Well, so does Tinseltown. Dubbed the “Trial of the Century”, Simpson was ultimately acquitted, but with many still believing strongly in his guilt, his life never truly went back to normal. In the years following the controversial verdict, the former athlete, actor and convicted robber appeared in a grand total of 0 films; a testament to the fact that even if the jury finds you not guilty, Hollywood – and the general public – has a hard time forgiving suspected murderers.

#4: Dalton Trumbo

While more modern examples of Hollywood blacklisting tend to focus on individuals, the 1950s McCarthy Era Hollywood blacklisting was far more wide reaching – and Dalton Trumbo’s story is among the most outrageous. After refusing to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, Trumbo was not only ousted from Hollywood; he also served time in prison. That, however, did not stop him from working. Trumbo launched a new, subversive career, writing screenplays under pseudonyms and the names of other writers. Two of Trumbo’s un-credited works, “Roman Holiday” and “The Brave One,” even won Academy Awards.

#3: Harvey Weinstein

Following revelations that shocked few insiders, Harvey Weinstein awoke to a world of trouble in 2017. The reports, which included accusations of violence and harassment by dozens of women, caused many others to speak up, with the count rising to 80 women within weeks of the story breaking. In addition to igniting the #MeToo Movement and bringing to light other now-blacklisted individuals like Kevin Spacey, the allegations led to Weinstein’s firing from “The Weinstein Company”. It also saw his ties to numerous big name organizations severed, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2020, while trials were ongoing, Weinstein was also stripped of his honorary CBE - a British order of chivalry. He currently faces 23 years in prison, with even more charges potentially on the way.

#2: Charlie Chaplin

Chaplin was the silent movie star. Actually, he’s one of the biggest Hollywood stars ever, which makes it all the more surprising that he was blacklisted from the industry. Like others on this list, Chaplin refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, but his punishment was far harsher than others. Since he was not a US citizen, when Chaplin left the country to premiere his film “Limelight” in London, the US Attorney General revoked his re-entry permit, banning Chaplin from re-entering the United States. Not only was Chaplin blacklisted from working in Hollywood; he was banned from the entire country altogether.

#1: Bill Cosby

In 2014, legendary comedian Bill Cosby was publicly accused by dozens of different women of various heinous crimes dating all the way back to the mid-‘60s. Charges were filed against him in 2015. After a 2017 mistrial, he was found guilty in 2018, fined $25,000 and given 3 to 10 years in jail. In the interim, Cosby was also dropped by sponsors, saw honorary degrees and awards revoked and witnessed the entertainment industry turn its back on him. Even reruns of the show that made him a household name were pulled. Despite his conviction being overturned in 2021, Cosby’s relationship with Hollywood is all but finished.