In this day and age, with phone records, endless email chains, and people who save three gigs worth of text messages, if you’re going to say something mean about a celebrity, it better be true. Celebrity lawsuits aren’t anything new, but they seem to have been happening more frequently in the last 20 years. The most prevalent cases happen when a celebrity feels like they’ve been slandered – be it by the press, by another celebrity, or just some guy on Twitter. Slander is serious business: If enough people believe a lie about you it can be perceived as real and in the entertainment biz, perception is reality. Here’s a list of celebrities who were slandered, and celebrities who sued.
A lot of the famous lawsuits on this list involve a star suing a paper for insisting that they’re too fat, or too skinny, or an alien or whatever, but some of the most interesting cases involve celebrities not wanting to be perceived as something they view as harmful to their career. James Woods didn't want to be seen as a drug addict; Jim Carrey didn't want to be seen as gropey; and Bret Michaels really could have been seen in two different performances at the same time. The celebrity slander cases on this list are mostly over with, but some are still pending so keep your eye on the news. You never know when a $500 million ruling is going to come down.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lee Daniels compared Empire star Terrence Howard to Sean Penn, as they've both had a few domestic disputes. Sean Penn didn't care for the comparison and filed a lawsuit against Daniels for the princely sum of $10 million.
Birthplace: California, United States of America
Profession: Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor, Film Director
Children: Dylan Frances Penn, Hopper Jack Pennsee more on Sean Penn
In 2011, Katie Holmes settled a lawsuit against celebrity gossip rag The Star for $50 million. The suit was over an article that claimed that Holmes was addicted to drugs. The magazine issued an apology and even said that they would make a "substantial donation" to one of Holmes's favorite non-profits.
Birthplace: Toledo, Ohio, United States of America
Profession: Model, Actor
Children: Suri Cruisesee more on Katie Holmes
In 2003, Tom Cruise won a defamation case against a gay adult film actor who claimed to a French magazine that he and Cruise had an affair that led to the dissolving of Cruise's marriage to Nicole Kidman.
The man was told to pay a sum of $10 million.
Birthplace: Syracuse, New York, United States of America
Profession: Television director, Film Producer, Screenwriter, Actor
Children: Suri Cruise, Connor Cruise, Isabella Jane Cruisesee more on Tom Cruise
The next time you write a novel, make sure ScarJo isn't a character, because she'll probably sue. Case in point: In 2014 she sued French author Grégoire Delacourt for writing her into his book as a model who had multiple affairs.
She said the book defamed her name, but the court disagreed and awarded her just €2,500 of the the €50,000 she asked for.
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
Profession: Model, Actor, Voice acting, Singer
Children: Rose Dorothy Dauriacsee more on Scarlett Johansson