• Thu, Feb 6 - 12:13 pm ET

10 Violent Men Who Are Always Forgiven Because Everyone Loves Their Art

6. Roman Polanski

'La Venus A La Fourrure' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Roman Polanski was arrested and charged with raping 13-year-old Samantha Gailey (whose name I use because she’s spoken publicly and written a memoir about the rape). Polanski had invited her over under the pretense of photographing her, and then gave her alcohol and Quaaludes before raping her. After his conviction, Polanski fled to France and has avoided extradition.

In September of 2009, Polanski was detained at the Zurich Airport due to his 1978 U.S. Arrest Warrant. While Polanski was in custody, over 100 people in the film industry publicly called for his release in a petition, including Woody Allen, because making notable artistic contributions outweighs raping a 13-year-old. In July of 2010, Switzerland rejected the U.S. request and Polanski was released from custody.

7. Michael Fassbender

Fox And FX's 2014 Golden Globe Awards Party - Arrivals

Michael Fassbender is known for being a truly excellent actor whose gritty performances elicit visceral reaction in viewers, but he also beat his ex-girlfriend, which elicits a different type of visceral response. The Frisky reports on the details of the attack:

His ex claimed he threw her over a chair, broke her nose, dragged her alongside her car, and caused her to twist her left ankle and blow out her left kneecap. In addition to a restraining order, she asked for $20,000 to cover medical expenses for her injuries.

Eventually, the woman in question dropped the charges for any number of reasons, including the possibility of being intimidated, not wanting to sabotage Fassbender’s career, or being paid off. Fassbender, for his part, has expressed a deep sadness about how much people care about his penis.

8. Sean Connery

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Sean Connery has publicly admitted to beating women, and doesn’t see anything wrong with it. In this case, I think his words say a lot more than I ever could. He was quoted in a 1965 Playboy saying:

“I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman - although I don’t recommend doing it in the same way that you’d hit a man. An openhanded slap is justified – if all other alternatives fail and there has been plenty of warning. If a woman is a bitch, or hysterical, or bloody-minded continually, then I’d do it. I think a man has to be slightly advanced, ahead of the woman. I really do – by virtue of the way a man is built, if nothing else. But I wouldn’t call myself sadistic.”

20 years later, he told Barbara Walters:

“I haven’t changed my opinion. […] No. Not at all. I don’t think it’s bad, and I think it depends entirely on the circumstances, and if it merits it. If you have tried everything else – and women are pretty good at this – when they can’t leave it alone and want to have the last word, then you give them the last word. But they’re not happy with having the last word, they want to say it again and get into a really provocative situation. Then, I think it’s absolutely right.”

Connery was knighted in 2000.

9. Tommy Lee

2005 Jack Awards - Arrivals

After beating wife Pamela Anderson and leaving her badly bruised, Tommy Lee was sentenced to 180 days in jail for felony spousal abuse in 1998. At the time of the beating, Anderson was holding their infant son. This wasn’t a one time offense–”Lee had been repeatedly placed on probation for a series of violent incidents dating back to 1983.” The judge in the case “faulted the justice system for allowing the rocker to believe that he could get away with behaving violently.” This is an excellent point, because it’s certainly not just public opinion that lets celebrities off the hook. The justice system is just as culpable, although serving time doesn’t necessarily do much to lower people’s opinions of celebrities (see: Mike Tyson).

10. David O. Russell

'American Bluff' Paris Premiere At UGC Normandie

Russell is known for his violent temper and erratic behavior–anyone remember the Lily Tomlin incident while filming I Heart Huckabees? But things really took a turn for the worse in 2013, when Russell admitted to groping his 19-year-old niece (who for some reason is always referred to as “transgender niece,” when “niece” would suffice), although faced no charges. This all happened at a gym, where Russell helped his niece work out and then for some reason felt her breasts after enquiring about breast augmentation. Russell says that he did this because he was simply curious about the procedure, and also that his niece flirted. As nieces do.

This is by no means a complete list, because the number of violent people glorified by Hollywood would fill an entire website, but these are the people I forget about and have been so wholly forgiven that it amazes me what we’re capable of repressing.

I think by this point, we’re past the conversation of the ability of bad people to make great art. Of course they can. Charles Dickens was a wife-beating asshole. J.D. Salinger liked them young. Pablo Picasso was a sociopath who tormented the women in his life. Bad people make great art all the time. It’s up to individuals to reconcile that difference, because if we start saying that every bad person’s art should be disregarded, we would unfortunately be left with very little to look at.

Of course, good art does nothing to exonerate horrific behavior, and some people’s behavior is so atrocious that it’s hard to separate their work from their actions (plenty of people on this list fit that criteria). Perhaps the issue here is one of priorities–to appreciate their creations but always in the context of who they are. Maybe we should start thinking of these guys as rapists/abusers who make art, instead of the other way around.

Photos: Getty Images

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  • Samantha Escobar

    DID NOT KNOW ABOUT JIMMY PAGE. Whoa.

    • DuBois

      Read the Zeppelin bio “Hammer of the Gods.” Let’s just say that Jerry Lee Lewis has nothing on those guys…

  • Lindsey Conklin

    Charlie Sheen has quite a violent history (he shot kelly preston). It’s sad how long this list could be. Quite the double standard

    • Alishmcmalish Dayum

      I think the point of the article is to point out men people forget have violent pasts. I wasn’t even aware of more than half of these men. People like Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown, Mel Gibson, OJ Simpson are all well known to be crazy. These guys are a little more unexpected.

    • Lindsey Conklin

      No I know, I completely agree with Julia. I just think it’s sad how long this list is.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      You’re right! I think we could have gotten like twelve more posts out of this, easily.

    • JLH1986

      Man I totally forgot about Charlie Sheen shooting Kelly Preston. I knew he was a nut and misogynistic but I forgot he was violent because it’s never brought up anymore. Like Sean Penn

    • Tina

      And also Charlie claims he left a loaded gun in his pocket and and Kelly picked up his pants and the gun went off

  • http://ThePeppercat.com/ Candace

    Wow, I had to keep myself from laughing at that Sean Connery quote, because it’s so fucking absurd it seems like a joke.
    sick

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  • Kristen

    “But I wouldn’t call myself sadistic.” – Sean Connery.

    ?!?!?!

    Yeah, I’d say you’re fucking sadistic…

    • March

      Unless you infer from what he said that he definitely ENJOYS hitting a woman, and that that is his main or sole reason for doing it, then no, technically we cannot call the man sadistic.
      What we CAN call him is deluded, but that is different.

  • MerlePerle

    This is going to give me nightmares. I just recently read an article about R. Kelly, who’s basically a serial rapist yet an outspoken feminist like Lady Gaga sings ‘do what you want with my body’ to him! That song disgusts me.

    • Julia Sonenshein

      I know that drives me crazy, too. The R. Kelly things is unreal.

  • Kathy

    Here’s what I remember about the Roman Polanski thing: he claimed at the time (1978) that it was consensual sex between himself and the girl. He actually made a deal with the girl’s mother and the mother consented. So Polanski didn’t feel it was rape, because nothing was forced on the girl. I haven’t read her book so I don’t if that’s the story she tells now. But that was the rumor going around at the time, and I believe that’s why people defended him. In those days he got a lot of sympathy anyway because his wife had been murdered by Charles Manson. I guess I’m older than most of you so I remember this stuff. ;-)

    • Jessie

      Rapists make up all sorts of reasons for why their assault was justified. That doesn’t NOT make it rape. Regardless of what deal he made with her mother (something I’ve never heard, and I’ve done some reading on this issue), the girl was 13. He got her drunk, drugged her with Quaaludes and raped her vaginally and anally while she clearly told him “no.” He is a piece of shit and he doesn’t get a pass just because Sharon Tate was murdered.

    • Bunny Lucia

      Yes, let’s make a deal with the girl’s mother to have sex with the girl, drug her, and then “Have sex” with her while she’s incoherent. But at least the mother consented, so it’s not rape, right?

  • elle

    Thank you for including Michael Fassbender. I try to tell people about his history all the time but nobody believes me! I don’t know why. How about Josh Brolin? His and Diane’s marriage started with spousal abuse but nobody blinks an eye about working with him and lauding him either.

    • Samantha Escobar

      SAME. Fassbender is just another person who is really, really attractive (and talented) so he gets away with being “charming” even though he’s an asshole.

      Also–did not know about Josh Brolin, whoa x2.

    • StephanieTruth

      Somewhere in an attic a portrait of Michael Fassbender is getting very old and ugly…

    • SDS

      I’d add Christian Bale to the list too.

    • E. D.

      Did not know about Fassbender. Terrible.

    • Shelley

      The Fassbender case was investigated, even after she dropped her allegations. No arrest was made, no charges were filed, there was no trial and thus no conviction. The ex (who is actually well-connected in Hollywood) has a history of making false allegations in at least one other case. To add Fassbender to this list is false and misleading. We don’t find people guilty on the basis of an accusation without evidence, particularly when the allegations have been dismissed.

  • thisshortenough

    Everyone mentions eminem but I can find no actual thing anywhere but gossip sites that claim he ever actually abused anyone

  • Mandie

    Most upset about Sean Connery. I mean, that’s not even an allegation. That is a declaration. JAMES BOND IS RUINED! Caps of sadness, not sarcasm. Ugh.

    • Gangle

      I always suspected James Bond would be a violent douche to women. I never realised Sean Connery, by his own admission, recommends beating women. Because, you know. When you get frustrated with someone your legs get cemented to the ground, making it impossible to walk away.

  • NYCNanny

    I know my comment is going to be so unpopular, but I literally LOVE half the men on this lost. And I love Sean connects quote. Hysterical and honest and I think he’s awesome.

    • CMJ

      Yep! Nothing is more hysterical than a man giving a woman a good ‘ole open handed slap.

      http://www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/colbert-jaw-drop.gif

    • Misenhammer

      I lovED half the men on this list. Now I feel really uncomfortable and upset with them.

      And also, I feel grossed out because you said hitting women is hysterical and awesome.

    • March

      Honest, yes, very true. Because what he is actually doing is admitting his weakness regarding hysterical/bitchy/unreasonable/shrewy women. He doesn’t know how to deal with them, so he resorts to mindless caveman methods. That is weak, and for a man like Connery to admit that kind of weakness takes some guts.
      Well, it WOULD take some guts, if so many people (men AND women) did not still agree with his views…

  • Misenhammer

    Omg literally every other article on David O. Russell makes constant mention of his TRANSGENDER (or worse, TRANSGENDERED) niece. LITERALLY EVERY ONE. What is happening???

  • Elizabeth Aspen

    I’m glad I found this list. More “artists” whose work I don’t need in my life.

  • Muggle

    The fuck?! I had no idea about Bill Cosby.

  • Lerie

    As for the Jimmy Page thing, yes he WAS with Lori Maddox when she was a teenager, but she knew all about how he was pursuing her and hung out on the Sunset Strip scene in those days and was known in those circles as one of the main groupies of the time. There were even magazines back then specifically about the L.A. groupie scene (“Star” being one of them) that she and her friends were featured in. Posing topless no less, as a thirteen yeard old. This is where Jimmy first saw her, and then proceeded to find her the next time then band came to L.A.

    That Cracked article makes it seem like he actually kidnapped her and held her for three years against her will somewhere a la Ariel Castro, and no one knew about it. It was common knowledge that they were a “thing”, but only when he was in L.A. as of course he was based in England. They would plan “secret” meet ups at his hotel when he was playing L.A., and that went on for three years. She was into it from the first day, and has gone on record in many interviews saying it was consensual and a very beautiful thing at the time. She has said he had met her mother and used to call her mother to ask to take her out, and he mother was totally fine with it. Crazy, I know.

    Having said all that, it was still illegal, which is why he “hid” her in his hotel room. Probably something he is definitely not proud of, but it really was sort of common back in that time with rock bands. I could list a whole bunch of rock stars that slept with teenagers. It is still very creepy, the age difference and the fact that it was definitely illegal, but that article just blew it all out of proportion. I think it’s pretty fucked up actually, mostly because a girl that young can’t be expected to male adult decisions and have adult feelings and relationships, but was definitely not the only one doing this back then. I am a fan, and I honestly do think that I would not have turned him down either at that age. Sorry for the long post, but that story has reached urban legend status and it is mostly bullshit.

    • Cee

      All you had to say is that you are a fan. This is mostly apologist bullshit.

    • DuBois

      The fact that other rock stars were guilty of disgusting behavior back then too doesn’t lessen how much disgust Page merits for his own behavior.

  • kj

    Since I read this article like, 4 days ago, I have been trying to figure out why I hate all of them except Eminem…. I think it might be because he has acknowledged his violence and talked about it in his art, whereas the rest of them seem completely unrepentant.

  • Bee

    Ok, the Fassbender one seems to have little to no proof. I’m not denying it, I’m just saying, a random Hollywood report?

    As for Cosby – literally had no idea.

    Why do we give these people awards?