Hollywood has always been a ruthless machine – a machine where toxic men thrive effortlessly. The brutal industry can wear down even the most confident creatives, and these celebrities had to take a step back for their sanity.
Working on the hit Nickelodeon series iCarly left a sour taste in Jennette McCurdy’s mouth. While enduring endless abuse from his own mother, the actor also had to deal with disgusting on-set behavior from a man she dubbed “The Creator.” As a teenager on the show, McCurdy was sexualized and forced to drink alcohol. The onslaught of terrible experiences with her mother and “The Creator” turned her away from acting. She even rejected an offer to appear in the iCarly to restart.
In 2014, Kesha filed a bombshell claim against music producer Dr Luke, claiming he had “sexually, physically and verbally abused her” for over a decade. Luke filed a countersuit for breach of contract and defamation. Thus began a very public and very long legal battle that would put an abrupt end to Kesha’s music career for years.
Brendan Fraser won our hearts in the 90s with roles in movies like The Mummy And George of the Jungle. In a 2018 interview with GQ, Fraser described how Philip Berk (former president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) sexually assaulted him over lunch in 2003. Berk denied the allegations, but Fraser felt a change immediately in his career. He eventually stepped out of the spotlight, saying the experience marred his sense of “who I was and what I did”.
Grace Van Dien, who played Chrissy Cunningham in stranger things, began turning down movie offers after a few nasty on-set experiences. She claims that a producer “…hired a girl he was sleeping with and then he asked her to have a threesome with them. So she’s my boss. And I didn’t [do it]and I cried and was so upset.” Van Dien now prefers Twitch streaming because it gives him more control over his mental health.
Gwyneth Paltrow quit acting for several reasons, one of them being Harvey Weinstein. She’s incredibly busy as the founder/CEO of her lifestyle brand, Goop. She also considers herself a homebody who is tired of constant travel and public scrutiny. However, Paltrow had “a really tough boss for most of my film career at Miramax”, which she credits as one of the reasons she fell in love with the craft.
Sandra Bullock told USA Today that she almost quit acting because of the sexism she endured in the industry. She recalled having a waking moment and thinking, “Oh my God, I’m being treated this way because I have a vagina.” Although she didn’t drop names or share details about her experience, she said she felt “like I was less than because I was a woman.”
Britney Spears took a break from music to get revenge on her father Jamie, who controlled every aspect of her life as a conservative. Her mother and sister did nothing to help the pop star break out of her father’s grip.
As a teenager, JoJo endured a toxic environment at Blackground Records in an effort to get her music released. She claims that when she was 18, the label’s president hinted that JoJo wasn’t thin enough, telling her, “We just want you to look as healthy as possible.” She disputed his remark, but was eventually put on a 500 calorie a day diet. This resulted in extreme insecurity which led her down a dark and reckless path. After a hiatus of several years, JoJo was able to return with new music under another label.
In 2017, Jane Seymour revealed that she had been sexually harassed early in her career by “the most powerful man in Hollywood at that time”. While discussing a possible job opportunity with a producer, she soon discovered that he expected sexual favors in return. “…I did my part. Now it’s up to you to do your part,” he reportedly told her. This led Seymour to stop acting for a year, and she almost gave up the industry altogether.
Although she was a successful musician in the early 2000s, Ashanti was forced to take a break from the music industry when the men in charge of her label were accused of laundering drug money. . “It wasn’t a choice,” she says. “It was something that had to happen because of everything that was going on.”
Rose McGowan has spent years exposing Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood abusers. THE Planet Terror The star claimed the disgraced film producer raped her in 1997. ‘If I hadn’t been blacklisted by Weinstein, maybe I would have had a better career,’ she said told the Guardian in 2021. McGowan moved to Mexico to escape industry toxicity, among other things, and vowed never to live in the United States again.
Tara Subkoff has claimed that refusing Harvey Weinstein’s advances deprived her of the acting career she wanted. “My reputation was ruined by fake gossip, and I was called ‘too hard to work with,'” she told Variety. “It became impossible for me to find work as an actress after that, so I had to start a new career…”
Freddie Prinze Jr. “hated every moment” of working with Kiefer Sutherland on 24 so much so that it made him want to stop playing. “Kiefer was the most unprofessional guy in the world,” Prinze said. “It’s not me talking rubbish, I’d say it to the face, I think everyone who worked with him said it.” He added that the experience made him want “to quit the business… So, I just kind of quit.”
NCIS star, Lauren Holly, shared her Harvey Weinstein horror story in 2017. After working together on Beautiful girls, the producer subjected Holly to a disturbing situation in a hotel room, approaching her while naked after a shower. While the encounter didn’t destroy her career, it disgusted her enough that she chose to walk away from acting altogether.
As an 80s movie icon, Sean Young had to put up with several toxic and empowered men. In an interview with The Daily Beast, she detailed negative experiences with the likes of James Woods, Ridley Scott, Charlie Sheen, Oliver Stone, and (of course) Harvey Weinstein, among others. Young eventually walked away from the Hollywood scene after being blacklisted, happily participating in smaller projects.
Romola Garai called her experience on Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights “a cesspool of horrible misogyny” so scarred that she left Hollywood altogether. After a stint in college, Garai decided to give acting another shot, this time bringing feminism to the fore.
If you need proof that Hollywood has always been cruel, look no further than Cora Sue Collins. The 1930s child star appeared in numerous films during Tinseltown’s heyday. At the tender age of 15, she was offered a role on the condition that she sleep with 50-year-old screenwriter Harry Ruskin. “It’s a rotten business,” Collins said. “That was then, this is now. And that’s not going to change.” Naturally, she has no regrets about leaving the industry.