Blacklisting in Hollywood is an age-old punishment that has long played havoc on the careers of some of its brightest stars. Many an actor and director has suffered because of perceived grievances against those in power, from declining sexual advances to alleged ties to communism or, in Keanu Reeves’ case, refusing to make the sequel to Speed.
Anyone who has seen Speed 2: Cruise Control knows that was a pretty wise decision, artistically, but it led to the actor allegedly being blacklisted by Fox for 14 years.
Reeves is not alone in feeling the wrath of the studio, mogul or government so here are some of the most famous cases of blacklisting in Tinseltown.
The iconic actress of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies The Birds and Marnie had a terrible time making them. Hedren has spoken wildly about the experience, claiming the revered director sexually assaulted her throughout filming. When she rebuffed Hitchcock’s advances, the actress claims, he made her life hell by ruling that no other cast members spoke or socialised with her and on Marnie made sure he could access her dressing room next to his via an adjoining the door.
Hedren also said the director blocked Universal, the studio she was under contract with, from submitting her performance in Marnie for an Oscar as well as prevented her working for two years.
“Studios were the power,” Hedren said in 2012. “And I was at the end of that, and there was absolutely nothing I could do legally whatsoever. There were no laws about this kind of a situation. If this had happened today, I would be a very rich woman.”
Fraser was a major star during the late 90s-early 2000s, in no small part due to his leading role in The Mummy franchise. Sadly, Fraser’s career started to stall and he says the former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is partly to blame.
The actor claims he was sexually assaulted by Phillip Berk at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2003 and that led to him getting fewer invites to the Golden Globes (which the HFPA run) as well as opportunities in Hollywood.
“The phone does stop ringing in your career, and you start asking yourself why. There are many reasons, but was this one of them? I think it was,” he said.
The actress is one of several women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sabotaging their careers after becoming victims to his sexual assault and/or harassment. In McGowan’s case, she claims that she was raped by the movie producer round about the time of the release of Scream and after settling out of court he allegedly tried to tank her movies.
“They threatened [me] with being blacklisted. I was blacklisted after I was raped, because I got raped because I said something … but only like internally, you know,” she said in an interview published by The Observer.
Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino also had their careers stalled by Weinstein after rebuffing his sexual advances and Peter Jackson admits to being a part of it. The director says that he was told by Miramax to not hire the actresses for Lord of the Rings.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson said. “At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us. But in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing. I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women.”
Oh, Randy Quaid. The actor known for his roles in Independence Day and National Lampoon’s Vacation franchise quickly lost favour in Hollywood while shooting Lone Star Love, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, in 2007.
According to the Telegraph, Quaid assaulted a crew member but his wife Evi caused most of the drama by sending nasty emails to producers, sending round a naked photo of herself with a gun to the cast and crew as well as filming rehearsals, which was against the rules set out by the theatrical union Equity. This led to the actor being banned from Equity for life, fired from the movie and being fined $81,000.
His blacklisting is rather self-inflicted and his case is certainly not helped by claims that he is being targetted by a group called the Celebrity Star Whackers who want to have him killed having already (according to him) whacked Heath Ledger, David Carradine and Chris Penn.
Feldman was a rising star in the 80s thanks to his roles in The Goonies and Lost Boys but he claims he was blacklisted for exposing the Hollywood paedophile ring that he was the victim of. On Dr. Oz, he claims he was getting the fiancial backing to make his documentary on the subject because of who might be implicated in the business.
His career had been in decline for years because of drug abuse that stemmed from the trauma of his abuse at the hands of several Hollywood figures, but until the New York Times’ exposé on Harvey Weinstein came out and the #MeToo movement expanded, his accusations had never been taken seriously.
Even now, Feldman hasn’t enjoyed the same sort of acting offers as he did in his youth but he is focused more on his advocacy on issues of child abuse, especially in the entertainment industry.
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Trumbo was one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of writers, directors and producers, who were put on The Hollywood Blacklist after refusing to answer questions in Congress about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party.
Despite the Blacklist, Trumbo still managed to work secretly under a pseudonym and his work on Roman Holiday and The Brave One earned each Oscars. He was also approached by Kirk Douglas to pen Spartacus and the film plus Exodus were the first to bare his real name again in the credits. This pretty much marked the beginning of the end of the Blacklist and he was soon credited for all his work during that period by the Writers’ Guild of America.
The actress was riding high after her Oscar win for Precious, but apparently, that came to an end because she “didn’t play the game” when it came to the promotional campaign. Mo’nique did not want to do additional press engagements, because she was not being paid for them, and in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said the director Lee Daniels confirmed she had been blacklisted in a phone call because of the decision.
Daniels seemed to support this allegation by saying: “Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community.”
Locke was an actress and director who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in her first role in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. She also had a 14-year relationship with Clint Eastwood which ended badly and led to her being blackballed by studios. She filed a palimony suit against Eastwood after he changed to locks on their home and moved her possessions into storage while she was on the set of Impulse.
They settled out of court, after a year, because she agreed to drop the suit if Eastwood agreed to set up a film development deal as a director at Warner Bros. However, it was a sham as Warner Bros rejected over 30 projects she pitched and never used her as a director.
In a 1995 lawsuit suing Eastwood for fraud, Locke’s lawyer said the Dirty Harry star has committed “the ultimate betrayal” by arranging the “bogus” deal as a way to keep his ex from work.
Charlie Sheen claims he has been blacklisted
The actor was once a hot shot in the industry and earning $1.8 million an episode on Two And a Half Men but he was fired when he installed show co-creator Chuck Lorre publicly and demanded a 50% raise. This was when the show went on hiatus in January 2011, following another stint in rehab for alcohol and drug abuse and while facing multiple cases of domestic violence against women.
In court documents filed in 2018 to reduce his child support payments, Sheen claimed that he had “been unable to find steady work, and [has] been blacklisted from many aspects of the entertainment industry.”
Sheen’s last acting jobs were in 2017 though judging by his Twitter feed he’s now an ambassador for a peanut brand.