Celebrity scandals are at the forefront of the media world. There’s nothing that sells more papers and magazines than a good ol’ fashioned affair, or ill-advised tweet. More often than not, celebs end up issuing a public apology, but some are better received than others.
From Hugh Grant’s prostitution pick-up to Kobe Bryant’s $4-million-dollar apology present, let’s take a look at some of the best and worst celebrity apologies to ever make the headlines.
WORST: Kristen Stewart’s Cheating Apology
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Back In 2012, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were dating, and Twilight was still a thing. Perhaps one of the hardest shipped fan romances of all time, the two actors were going strong for three years. That is before K-Stew was caught on camera canoodling with her married Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders.
What followed was an incredibly awkward public statement by Kristen. “This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing I have in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.” Hands down one of the most cringe-worthy celebrity apologies to have ever graced our ears. Needless to say, it didn’t work and they split soon after.
BEST: Ozzy Osbourne’s Five Page Love Letter
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Veteran rocker Ozzy Osbourne was no angel in his youth, but wife Sharon always stood by him. In his later years, the Black Sabbath singer seemed to have calmed down considerably, becoming quite the family man while still performing with his metal band.
In 2016, the harmony was shattered when it became public knowledge that the 67-year-old singer had multiple affairs over the course of six years. When Sharon wised up to the goings on, it was touch and go. Determined to save the marriage and show his remorse, Ozzy enrolled himself in sex addiction therapy and penned a five-page letter of remorse to his wife, begging her to give him one final chance. Sharon was so moved by her husband’s slice of humble pie that she agreed to give it another go, so it can’t have been half bad.
WORST: Charlie Sheen’s Tweet to Rihanna
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Honestly, Charlie Sheen has messed up so many times that we could write an entire article about his indiscretions alone. In January of 2017, he appeared on popular Bravo show, Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.
When Andy asked the Two and a Half Men actor about his “feud” with Rihanna and if it was over – Rihanna shunned a request from Sheen three years prior to meet his then-fiancée Scottine Ross – Sheen said, “Oh, that [expletive],” and said she had no common courtesy or sense. Ouch. Understandably, it added more fuel to the fire and RiRi wasn’t happy. Charlie tweeted out a lame apology that’s almost as insulting as the initial slur. “Dear @rihanna, pardon my inane self-indulgence. Let’s have a drink someday (on me).”
WORST: Matthew Weiner’s Verbal Excuse Pity Party
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Back in 2017 Mad Men mastermind, Matthew Weiner was accused of sexual harassment by former writer Kater Gordon. Weiner never fully addressed the claims, but he did talk to Orange is the New Black showrunner Jenji Kohan about it.
“I have hired dozens of women over the years and dozens of people. I am a demanding boss…I had a lot of stress and – you know this – it’s very lonely. When I think back on it if I had to do it differently, letting people go and being mad about having to rewrite everything – I was just angry a lot of the time.” On the one hand, he’s admitting wrongdoing, but on the other hand, he’s excusing himself. All in all, it’s a pretty vague way of saying, “It’s not my fault.” Honestly, what do you expect from a guy with the last name Weiner?
BEST: Justin Bieber’s Racist Joke Apology
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Justin Bieber has come a long way since he was the angel-faced cherub that melted tween hearts everywhere, and now he’s a little bit of a bad boy. We’ve heard stories of him trashing his neighbor’s houses and generally causing quite the ruckus, but what we didn’t expect was a 2011 video to surface, where Biebs makes a racist joke.
The popstar humbly apologized for his wrongdoings in a pretty decent manner, releasing a long statement. “As a kid, I didn’t understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt,” he said. “I thought it was okay to repeat hurtful words and jokes…thanks to my friends and family I learned from my mistakes and grew up and apologized for those wrongs. Now that these mistakes from the past have become public I need to apologize again to all those I have offended. I’m very sorry.” A strong 8/10 for effort.
WORST: Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi Ad Apology On KUWTK
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We’re used to seeing the likes of older Kardashian sisters making public gaffs, but it was supermodel Kendall Jenner’s turn in 2017 when she starred in a controversial Pepsi ad. The commercial saw Jenner seemingly bring peace to a protest by offering an armed officer a can of the carbonated beverage. Needless to say, the world wasn’t impressed, saying it made a mockery of important issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Pepsi immediately pulled the ad and the world waited for Kendall to apologize…and wait we did. The 22-year-old kept mum on the subject until she finally brought it up on the following season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Getting teary-eyed, the brunette beauty said: “I felt so [expletive] stupid.” She talks about the incident with her sister Kim on the show, telling her that she felt “really bad that anyone was ever offended.” Many felt the apology was insincere and purposely left for the show to boost ratings.
BEST: Lance Armstrong Admits To Doping In An Interview With Oprah
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While public statements issued through PR agencies or pre-filmed for a reality show are all well and good, these apologies always run the risk of feeling staged and untrue. It takes a lot of backbone to admit what you’ve done wrong in a face-to-face situation, and that’s exactly what cycling sensation Lance Armstrong did in an interview with Oprah.
The medallist told the billionaire host that he used drugs to win the Tour de France seven times. “I view this situation as one big lie I repeated a lot of times,” he said shamefully. “I made those decisions, they were my mistake and I’m here to say sorry.” Armstrong was stripped of all of his medals following the scandal. No excuses, no misplaced blame, just a good ol’ fashioned sorry.
BEST: Arnie’s Love Child Lament
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Arnold Schwarzenegger has accomplished a great deal over the course of his decades-long career. Not only has he starred in some of the most successful movies of all time, but he even forged a political career, becoming the Governor of California. When news broke of a secret love child the actor fathered during an affair, the jig was up.
“After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago,” he said. “I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused.” While the apology was a decent one as far as apologies go, the betrayal was too much for Maria Shriver and the couple divorced after 25 years of marriage.
BEST: Reese Witherspoon’s GMA Grovel
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Reese Witherspoon has always seemed a true Southern Belle, offering a plethora of touching rom-coms for audiences to enjoy. But her arrest for disorderly conduct in 2013 ruffled a few feathers. The star got a little heated with police officers when her husband, Jim Toth, was arrested for DUI.
Going live to talk about a sensitive situation is going to be a high-pressure situation, but Reese took it in her stride during an appearance on Good Morning America. “I do want to say, I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that’s no excuse.” Is that good enough for y’all?
BEST: Tiger Woods’ 14-Minute Live Apology
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When Tiger Woods rose to fame as one of the best pro golfer’s America has ever seen, he could do no wrong. He seemed to have it all, the perfect family, doting wife, numerous accolades and a pretty penny in the bank – but it soon came crashing down in one of the most infamous cheating scandals of all time.
Woods was caught having solicitous affairs with more than a dozen women while married to Elin Nordegren. In an arduous 14-minute press conference, the fallen idol said, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply…I ask you to one day find room in your heart to believe in me again.” While the statement seemed heartfelt, Woods’ mistakes were too much for Nordegren to bear and the couple soon divorced. Tiger’s reputation never fully recovered, either.
WORST: Roseanne Barr’s Racism Excuse
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This year marked the revival of one of the best-loved ’90s sitcoms of all time, Roseanne. Audiences were excited and tuned in to watch Roseanne Barr and John Goodman return to the screen, bringing in huge ratings for the network. Unfortunately, Roseanne Barr tweeted an incredibly offensive tweet about former advisor to Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett. “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = VJ,” read the message.
ABC immediately canceled the show on the back of Barr’s indiscretion, but rather than take responsibility, the actress blamed the tweet on Ambien. In another tweet, she called the original message “one stupid joke” and claimed that a lifetime of helping charitable causes would never be taken away from her.
WORST: Mel Gibson’s GMA Hole-Digging
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Mel Gibson was one of the most successful actors of his generation, starring in blockbuster hits like Braveheart. He was a Hollywood icon, so when it turned out that he was also an anti-Semite, it went down like a lead balloon.
When he was arrested for a DUI, the actor hurled sexist and anti-Semitic abuse at the officers. Of course, it all came out in the public forum and Mel lost all credibility – which he’s never quite regained. He sat down to talk with GMA’s Diane Sawyer to explain his actions…but all he did was dig himself a bigger hole. Gibson explained that he had been “over-wrought, too much pressure, too much work.” Despite admitting that the words that came out of his mouth were “awful,” his attitude was lackadaisical and didn’t seem to reflect the gravity of the situation.
BEST: David Letterman’s Serious Side
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David Letterman is hardly known for his serious side, so when he left the jokes at home and took a moment out of the usual laugh-a-minute script on his show, it counted. After a CBS producer threatened to spill the beans on Letterman’s multiple affairs with staff unless he was paid off, the talk show host was left no other option but to come clean.
David spoke candidly about the revelation and apologized to his female staff who were subsequently being hounded by the press. He expressed remorse for the “episodes in the past.” He also went on to say sorry to his wife, Regina, who had been “horribly hurt” by his actions. Audiences reacted well to the 2009 on-air apology and David came out the other side, marriage intact.
WORST: Kobe Bryant’s $4 Million Ring
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Kobe Bryant remains one of the most well-known basketball stars of his time, but in 2003 his reputation was tarnished significantly when a 19-year-old hotel employee accused him of rape. Kobe, who has been married to Vanessa Laine since he was 21, maintained that the tryst was consensual. The case was due to go to court, but the accuser refused to testify for reasons unknown.
Bryant then decided to release a statement explaining that while he felt like the encounter was mutually desired at the time, he now realizes that “she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and her testimony in person, I now understand that she feels she did not consent.” The two sides settled a civil suit privately for an undisclosed amount, while Kobe’s wife got a $4 million dollar ring for her troubles.
WORST: John Mayer’s On Stage Fumble
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Notorious ladies man John Mayer has a lot to answer for – not least that Taylor Swift song, Dear John that we all had to endure. During a Playboy interview, the musician made frequent use of the N-word, for no reason at all. How did John try and rectify the situation? By pausing one of his concerts.
The 40-year-old crooner stopped the band and put a halt to the music so he could spend a few minutes apologizing for his ill-advised use of language, before merrily going on with the show. The time and the place was a little odd for such a serious apology, that quite frankly it sucked more than his last album.
BEST: Jonah Hill’s Homophobic Remarks
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In 2014, Jonah Hill was caught on camera doing something that none of us ever expected to see from the friendly actor – using a homophobic slur. Rather than burying his head in the sand a la Kendall Jenner, Hill addressed the incident full-force on The Howard Stern Show.
“This is a heart-breaking situation for me…in that moment I said a disgusting word that does not at all reflect how I feel about any group of people,” said the then 30-year-old, explaining that he was being mercilessly taunted by the paparazzi before he lost his temper. “I grew up with gay family members. I’m leaving here to go spend the day with one of my closest co-workers and best friend who is gay.” Hill took responsibility like a man.
WORST: Julianne Hough’s Blackface Controversy
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The People’s Choice Awards
Dancing with the Stars alum Julianne Hough made a corker of a mistake a few years ago when she dressed up as Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black for Halloween, in full blackface. The star, who was pictured laughing and smiling in her costume, said that she had no idea that her choice of outfit would cause such an offense.
“I’m a huge fan of the show, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.” Despite the apology, it was a little too late for a lot of people.
WORST: Paula Deen’s Today Show Tears
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Paula Deen seemed like the quintessential TV chef, nothing too exciting and a lot of well-cooked food. In a deposition, the celebrity cook copped to using the N-word previously. She’s certainly not the first celeb to do so, and it caused massive repercussions, with a large number of her sponsors cutting her contracts short.
The Georgia-born star went on to the Today show to explain herself, but mainly just talked about God. “Let me say this: The main reason I’m here today, it’s important that I tell you and everyone out there how I live my life,” she said. “I believe that every one of God’s creatures was created equal, no matter what church you go to pray. I believe that everyone should be treated equal, and that’s the way I was raised.”
WORST: Kanye West’s Taylor Swift Meltdown
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The moment that Kanye West jumped on stage to belittle a young Taylor Swift and say that Beyonce should’ve won her MTV Award made history. It was just the beginning of all the crazy things that West would do over the years – and let’s not even mention the ongoing feud between Swift and West.
However, Kanye did repeatedly apologize for this huge faux pas, issuing an apology where he rebuked his own actions, but it was slightly backhanded. “I’m not crazy, Y’all, I’m just real.” He later apologized again on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and a third time a year later. While some fans felt he was sincere, others thought he was just trying to save his own butt. We’re in the latter camp.
BEST: Hugh Grant’s Prostitution Pick-Up
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It’s been over 20 years since lovable British actor Hugh Grant was caught up in a rather precarious situation. Despite being Hollywood hot property, Grant decided to hook up with a prostitute, Devine Brown. The liaison led to an arrest and a media circus.
Hugh hopped on to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to eat some humble pie, and it went down a treat with fans who forgave him on the spot. “You know in life what’s a good thing to do and what’s a bad thing, and I did a bad thing. And there you have it.” Simple, understated and quintessentially British – it did the trick. The actor pleaded no contest to the charges, paid the fine and went on probation.