Monsters are real. They're not actually as scaly or slimy or horn-studded as they are in certain horror movies, but they definitely exist. Some deserve the reluctance, some aren't nearly as scary as media coverage of them might let on, and some have barks far more intimidating than their bites.
In Hollywood, monsters are super prevalent. Stemming all the way back to the birth of motion pictures, they were all over the place — from the Phantom of the Opera and the Wolf Man to Dracula and the Bride of Frankenstein. Now, monsters may look more realistic than they did back in Hollywood's heyday, but they are—no matter how convincing they might look—still only human underneath. And seeing as there's a bit of monster in us all, the same is just as true for actors.
Over the years, various actors who have played monsters in movies have turned out to be not-so-innocent themselves. At the very least, they turned out to have rap sheets (even if the crime wasn't quite as deserving of punishment as Johnny Law might have claimed). So, if you're curious to see which movie monsters have faced legal woes with their own inner demons, then keep reading to check out 15 Movie Monsters Who Were Criminals IRL.
15 Mischa Barton - The Sixth Sense
In The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment's Cole Sear has a unique gift (though he's far more likely to call it a curse): he can see dead people. What's more is that he can even talk to dead people (or have them talk to him, whether or not he wants to listen — which runs the risk of being super creepy).
During the movie, Cole starts taking advice from his psychiatrist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (played by Bruce Willis) and stops running away from the ghosts every time they show up. Instead, he starts listening, realizing that the reason they're always so keen on reaching out is because they figure he's the only person who can help. In doing so, he meets a little ghost girl named Kyra Collins (played by Mischa Barton). And even though Cole eventually discovers that there's nothing to be afraid of with her (especially seeing as she's a victim, not a monster), that's not to say that she isn't going all-in on the creep factor. She's a ghost, she vomits all over herself... she's scary.
Outside of the movie, Barton faced some troubles of her own IRL. In 2007, she was arrested for a DUI, which unsurprisingly corresponded with an emotional breakdown she had been suffering. Not only was Barton intoxicated when she was pulled over, she also had narcotics on her and was driving without a valid license.
14 Macaulay Culkin - The Good Son
When most people think back to the sort of roles Macaulay Culkin played a kid, they tend to think of movies like Home Alone, Uncle Buck, and The Pagemaster. They remember the kind-hearted, if not conflicted, characters he brought to the screen, and they sink into their little memory bubble with a flat smile on their face whilst staring off into the abyss of nostalgia (just me?). As it so happens, though, Culkin was the star of yet another movie in the '90s that didn't depict as the smiling, likable hero that most audiences knew him as. In 1993, he starred as Henry Evans in the psychological thriller The Good Son (in which he played the exceptionally bad son).
In the movie, he goes full-blown crazy, and the one pastime he absolutely adores just so happens to rhyme with herder (please tell me you picked up on that). And even though Culkin never came close to the level of criminal that his character reached, he did get himself into legal troubles when he got a bit older.
He was arrested for possession of illegal substances in 2004 while driving through Oklahoma City. According to the police report, he had been found with various illegal substances, including some prescription drugs for which he did not have a prescription.
13 Danny Trejo - From Dusk Till Dawn
In From Dusk Till Dawn (which was directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino), Danny Trejo gives intimidation teeth. As if the actor wasn't imposing enough, it's later revealed in the movie that his character is a vampire, and it certainly doesn't make things easy for the protagonists in the movie. He's got fangs, he's got muscles, and he's got a natural ability to scare the heck out of people. And even though Trejo never came close to biting anyone's neck IRL, he does have a rap sheet.
Before Trejo found his way in Hollywood, he was facing the ultimate penalty. He was in and out of prisons as a young man, and in 1968, he was arrested for throwing a rock during the Cinco de Mayo riots at San Quentin State Prison, which just so happened to hit a police officer. He was sentenced to solitary confinement and even faced the ultimate penalty three times, but eventually things turned around.
Trejo made a promise to himself to turn his life around; first becoming a substance counsellor, and later becoming a movie star.
So, yes, he played a monster in a movie, but Trejo is also living proof that being a monster is nothing more than a state of mind.
12 Edward Furlong - American History X
In a lot of cases, the monsters in most movies are as traditionally grotesque as any of the zombies in Night of the Living Dead or the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. That said, this isn't always the case. Sometimes, movie monsters are human characters who just so happen to be representing the sort human monsters that actually exist in the real world.
Take Danny Vinyard (played by Edward Furlong) in the very hard-to-watch American History X, for example. Even though his older brother Derek (played by Edward Norton) is the outright monster in the movie (he ends up going to prison), Danny looks up to him. He idolizes him. And considering that Derek is an aggressive, violent person who discriminates, it comes as no surprise that his idolization results in similarly vile behavior.
Now, even though Furlong was nothing like his character in the movie, he did end up facing consequences for another type of crime he committed in real life. In 2013, he was arrested in three different times in three months for domestic harm. In fact, when he was arrested, Furlong was alleged to have already had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for a previous incident.
11 Emma Roberts - American Horror Story
Emma Roberts is wickedly talented when it comes to jumping between playing heroes and villains. As a child actor in movies like Nancy Drew, Aquamarine, and Hotel for Dogs, she was always the happy-go-lucky heroine. It wasn't until she got older that she started tackling more aggressively troubled characters — the standout being her role as Madison Montgomery in FX's American Horror Story: Coven.
She played the character that everyone loved to despise, and even though she had her rare moments of likability, she was a legitimately wicked witch.
(By the way, Roberts may or may not also play the villain in yet another movie, but you'll have to seek that one out on your own, as revealing it here would be an epic spoiler.)
Unfortunately, aside from playing a monster on TV, Roberts ran into some trouble in real life when she was arrested for allegedly harming her boyfriend Evan Peters (whom she starred alongside in two seasons of American Horror Story, including Coven and Freak Show). She had allegedly busted his nose and bit him, according to reports.
The two eventually got engaged, then broke up, and then rekindled their relationship. It's been a bumpy road, but when is love anything but?
10 Jake Lloyd - Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Too often are Star Wars fans are not good to the franchise. Though they may hold the movies close to their heart, some fans go overboard when expressing their personal criticisms. Instead of simply disliking something, some fans have taken their disdain so far that they outright attack the actors that they're not particularly fond of. It's happened in the new trilogy with Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran, and it happened all the way back in the late '90s/early 2000s with Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker.
He was criticized so much for his performance, that he outright abandoned Hollywood and essentially closed himself off from the world... for the most part.
Sadly, his life took a turn for the worse when he got himself caught up in legal drama. In 2015, Lloyd was arrested for reckless driving, driving without a license, and resisting arrest in Southern California. Following the arrest after a high speed chase, Lloyd was eventually moved to a psychiatric hospital where the former young actor was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
So, while he's not necessarily a real-life monster, Lloyd was certainly pushed to the Dark Side when the universally beloved franchise that was meant to elevate his Hollywood recognition did the exact opposite.
9 Jamie Waylett - Harry Potter
The casting agents who OK'd Jamie Waylett for the role of Vincent Crabbe in the Harry Potter series may well have foreseen the actor's criminal future when they cast him.
In the books and movies, Crabbe is one half of Draco Malfoy's personal cronies. Alongside Gregory Goyle, Crabbe delights in the mostly-harmless torturing of fellow students (especially those who are smaller than himself). He's a bully, and seeing as the loyal duo that follows Draco would even follow him into the service of Lord Voldemort, his life choices end up elevating him from "bully status" to a traditional bad guy as well.
Off-set, Waylett was apparently being a bit of a method actor by not playing by the rules IRL (and not following the law, either, for that matter).
In 2009, the actor was arrested for growing illegal substances in his mother's house. He also pleaded guilty for possession of a knife. This ended up costing him his role in the Harry Potter series. That said, in a case of WWCD (What Would Crabbe Do?), Waylett got himself into legal trouble yet again when he took part in the 2011 London riots. He was arrested and sentenced to prison for two years for violent disorder (he was spotted with an explosive, as well as drinking stolen champagne which was looted during the riots).
8 Matthew McConaughey - The Dark Tower
Even though Matthew McConaughey may not have been especially intimidating in last summer's adaptation The Dark Tower, that doesn't changed the fact that he was playing a monster. In fact, based on the character and series created by Stephen King, McConaughey played Randall Flagg (aka The Man in Black). Essentially the embodiment of a villain, Flagg would like nothing more than to wreak havoc as a beloved pastime.
Now, despite the fact that this Academy Award-winning actor always seems to be preaching peace, love, and super chill vibes, that didn't save him from Johnny Law. In 1999, McConaughey was attempting to have some fun in his Austin, TX home, when his partying turned to trouble. Due to noise complaints from neighbors, police arrived at McConaughey's home and discovered an unusual site: McConaughey was dancing naked outside whilst banging on bongos. Police discovered some substances inside his home, and the actor was arrested as a result.
However, McConaughey fought the charges, and they were eventually dropped. And, in this case—to be fair—the monster in question wasn't McConaughey, but the neighbors who ratted him out. Just when you thought that the United States was a place where free citizens could feel comfortable expressing their passions through nudity and music, someone comes in and ruins all the fun.
7 Vince Vaughn - Psycho
Vince Vaughn is typically known for his comedic roles. Especially in the 2000s, Vaughn was the actor who encouraged laughter, slapped knees, and busted guts when he starred in movies like Old School, Wedding Crashers, and DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Since then, however, he's taken on roles with significantly more gravitas (and significantly less laughter), but it was early in his career in the '90s when he embarked on one of those ambitious roles of his career: playing Norman Bates in Gus Van Sant's remake of Alfred Hitchcock's beloved Psycho.
In the movie, Vaughn played the titular psycho (I'd offer a spoiler warning, but several decades have passed for both movies), and even though some critics might have laughed at the movie, it was most definitely not a comedy.
In 2001, Vaughn was involved with a bar brawl with actor Steve Buscemi (who was harmed in the scuffle), and was arrested as a result.
Though it allegedly wasn't his fault, he was still taken into custody. That said, the guy who whipped out a knife and went after Buscemi several times was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to do some bad things. And this all happened while Vaughn was filming Domestic Disturbance, in which he plays yet another villain.
6 Kiefer Sutherland - The Lost Boys
Even though Kiefer Sutherland has played plenty of heroes in his lifetime, one role for which he will always be remembered is in the '80s vampire movie The Lost Boys. In the movie, he plays the (supposed) lead vampire David. He messes with people's minds, he gives off bad vibes, and—most notably—he bites unsuspecting people's throats and drinks their blood. And even though David is one of those characters that audiences can't help but be enamored by (maybe it's the vampiric powers), he's still a seriously bad dude.
What's more is Sutherland played another memorable villain in the Stephen King adaptation Stand By Me. It's more grounded in reality than The Lost Boys, but that's not to say he's any less scary.
In 2007, Sutherland faced some real-life issues of his own that had nothing to do with sucking blood or beating up kids far younger than himself. He was arrested for a DUI and spent 48 days in a cell. Though hardly a monstrous act, he did ultimately put people's lives at risk while intoxicated behind the wheel of his car. That said, Sutherland was deeply apologetic for his actions and took full responsibility. In fact, even jail spokesman Officer John Balian said in a public statement that Sutherland was "polite and humble" and "very cooperative."
5 Tom Sizemore - Strange Days
Some actors are just naturally intimidating. Even if there's also a special kind of charm about them, they still carry with them a vibe that seems completely unpredictable. Tom Sizemore has one of those vibes. Likable though he may well be, he's got a presence that makes it no surprise that Hollywood would cast him in so many formidable roles.
In Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days, Sizemore plays the villain in the movie's futuristic landscape. (Yes, even in a world where virtual reality allows people to experience other people's memories and experiences, there's still the end of life — go figure.) And as it so happens, even though his crime in real life was far less severe than the crimes he commits in Strange Days, Sizemore got himself into some trouble when the cameras weren't rolling.
In 2016, Sizemore was arrested for domestic violence with three misdemeanors (luckily for him, the LA County district attorney's office didn't pursue felony charges).
And this wasn't the first time that the actor had issues with the law. Just a decade prior in 2006, Sizemore was arrested for methamphetamine use, and was sentenced to probation for 36 months. Life didn't necessarily imitate art in this scenario, but crime apparently begets more crime – even when it's fake, initially.
4 Josh Brolin - Avengers: Infinity War
First of all, good luck trying to arrest the Mad Titan Thanos. The dude can literally (SPOILER WARNING) wipe out half the universe with a single snap of his fingers, so trying to cuff him, no matter how severe the crime might be, seems to be pretty much impossible. That said, the actor who plays him is a different story. Before Josh Brolin suited up to play the purple Avengers: Infinity War villain, he had gotten himself into some trouble off-camera.
In 2007, Brolin made his Hollywood comeback in the Coen Brothers' No Country for Old Men (which ended up winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards), but a few years prior, he was arrested. In 2004, Brolin was arrested for spousal battery against his former wife Diane Lane. However, even though Lane had requested that Brolin not be arrested, despite calling the police herself, protocol called for his arrest. What's more is that a few years later in 2014, he was arrested yet again for public intoxication in Santa Monica, CA.
Brolin has since sworn off drinks, admitting that he hasn't exactly been 100% upstanding citizen, and the future appears to be bright, despite his previous run-ins with the law.
3 Robert Mitchum - The Night of the Hunter
Though Robert Mitchum may not be nearly as familiar with younger audiences today as he was back in the day, few people weren't familiar with his name. In fact, they were especially familiar with his performance in the 1955 movie The Night of the Hunter. In the movie, Mitchum plays a mass-slayer who's just been released from prison (keep in mind that he was in prison for car theft, and authorities hadn't been aware of his crazy tendencies). On the loose, he tracks some hidden money, only to run into a helpless family in the process.
When the cameras weren't rolling, Mitchum had a run-in with police as well — only it wasn't for the same sort of reasons.
Just under a decade before he had ever starred in The Night of the Hunter, Mitchum was arrested when he was caught smoking illicit substances.
Hardly as big a deal these days as it was then, Mitchum ended up serving a 60-day sentence. He had been caught with actress Lila Leeds, her roommate Vickie Evans (who was cleared of all charges), and real estate agent Robin Ford.
By comparison, his character in The Night of the Hunter was easily the more aggressive criminal, but even in La La Land, the law is the law (no matter how unfair it might seem to most).
2 Nick Carter - 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back)'
In the '90s, had Backstreet Boy Nick Carter been accused of committing a crime, there may well have been riots in the streets. Fangirls and fanboys would have likely stormed whatever prison he was being locked up in and broke the bars off themselves, transporting himself back to Backstreet Boys Headquarters. Unfortunately, his arrest came later in life when his Backstreet Boys allure had mostly worn off.
At peak Backstreet Boys, the boy band had released a music video for "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" that served as a kind of spiritual cousin to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." The bandmates were dressed up as classic horror movie monsters wreaking havoc (but dancing, mostly) inside a giant mansion. And of the creatures they were dressed up as, Carter was playing a much prettier take on Boris Karloff's Mummy.
After the Backstreet Boys had long been broken up, police had to break up a fight courtesy of Carter when he was at a bar in Key West, FL. However, that was in 2016, and he has since tried to move on from the incident and look to a more positive future. He appears to have been on the up-and-up ever since. The same can't be said for the evil mummy, however.
1 Mark Twitchell
Though filmmaker-turned-criminal Mark Twitchell never played a monster in a movie, the low-budget horror movie he was directing at the time of the crime he committed definitely earns him a place on this list.
In 2008, Twitchell had written a script called House of Cards, and he was in the process of shooting it. In one of the scenes in the movie, a character is lured into a room under the assumption that he was meeting a date he met online. The character is ultimately wacked. Two weeks after the short had wrapped, Twitchell brought the scene to life.
Twitchell lured a man named Johnny Altinger to his garage, with the man believing that he was meeting a date. It turned out that Twitchell was recreating the scene from the movie.
He ended up ending Altinger's life right then and there. Twitchell was later caught and is currently serving time in prison for Altinger's passing.
Now, as if the story isn't odd enough, Twitchell is adamant that he receive the footage from an older movie so that he can edit and complete the final cut while in prison. He even believes that he is the victim in this situation, saying that he refuses to let his life "end in tragedy," referring to the movie not being completed.
Sources: imdb.com, shmoop.com, people.com, imdb.com, cnn.com, theguardian.com, dailymail.co.uk, imdb.com, dailymail.co.uk, ew.com, usmagazine.com, bustle.com, eonline.com, people.com, imdb.com, latimes.com, imdb.com, people.com, nbcnews.com, imdb.com, latimes.com, people.com, theglobeandmail.com