Once one of the world’s most successful comedians and television stars, Bill Cosby has become toxic in show business. While rumors and allegations of sexual misconduct had surrounded the stand-up comic for years, they never gathered much steam in the public consciousness. However, the controversy surrounding Cosby truly erupted in 2014 when stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress’s bit about the allegations went viral. After that, over 40 women came forward to accuse Cosby of having drugged and taken advantage of them since as far back as 1965. While Cosby hasn’t been convicted of anything, his career is unlikely to recover, as a new TV show was indefinitely shelved, as were plans to air a new stand-up special.
In 2004, Mel Gibson wrote and directed The Passion of the Christ, a controversial film inspired by his deep Catholic faith, and which many saw as tacitly anti-Semitic. Those concerns seemed confirmed in 2006, when the former Mad Max was pulled over for drunk driving, and proceeded to provide an anti-Semitic rant that was captured on tape and spread across the Internet. Amazingly, it got worse: in 2010, a tape of Gibson threatening his wife (and using more than a few racial slurs in the process) made its way online. Gibson’s acting career has been on life support since then, despite his claims of sobriety, repentance, and a few calls from other actors for Hollywood’s forgiveness.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
With roles in the National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise, Independence Day, Kingpin, Brokeback Mountain, and many, many more, Randy Quaid had a solid career of supporting and starring roles in Hollywood. Then things got weird: in 2010, Quaid and his wife Evi were charged with burglary after illegally living in a guest house they didn’t own. That same year, the pair ran for the northern border, seeking asylum in Canada, claiming that a murderous cabal of “star whackers” were pursuing them in the United States. Quaid hasn’t worked in Hollywood since then, and until 2015, he and his wife were living under the radar somewhere in Canada.
The kid-oriented sketch comedy show All That gave Amanda Bynes her first taste of stardom, and she got her own sketch program called The Amanda Show on the same network not too long after that. She transitioned to movies and enjoyed solid successes with starring and supporting roles in She’s The Man,Hairspray, and Easy A. Strangely, in 2010 Bynes announced her retirement from acting—and then her “unretirement” a month later…and then her retirement again in 2012. But by that year, Bynes seemed to be experiencing a very public breakdown, getting arrested for hit-and-runs and DUIs. In 2013, she chucked a bong out of her apartment window, and later started a fire in front of someone’s house. By 2014, she threatened to kill her parents, accused (and then un-accused) her father of sexually abusing her, and she was in and out of psychiatric hospitals. It’s possible she’s on the right path toward stability by now, but what that means for her career is a complete mystery.