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10 Dark Secrets That Expose the Truth About Hollywood

by Stassi Reid
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Now that mega-producer Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men in Hollywood have been exposed, it has shed a lot of light on the secret side of the industry. If you’ve thought about becoming a huge star and being famous, you might want to reconsider your plans after finding out what it’s really like to live in the limelight.

There’s more to Hollywood than money, fame, red carpet appearances, and millions of adoring fans. There’s also staggering shallowness, abuse, heartbreak, and more than a little crime. Here are ten dark secrets and horrifying tales that blow the lid off of the entertainment industry.

10 Paparazzi-For-Hire

If you look at a picture in a tabloid or on a gossip website, and it looks like the celebrity is posing in a staged photo, they probably are. In 2016, a photographer revealed that many celebs stage their pictures to have better control over their image. Kim Kardashian is one star who keeps her personal paparazzo on speed dial.[1] She texts the photographer regularly and flies him around the world to photograph her. Kardashian reviews every image, and they’re heavily photoshopped before they’re sold to magazines.

Long before Kardashian had the paparazzi in the palm of her hand, Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag of MTV’s The Hills had a 50/50 agreement with a company named Pacific Coast News. They would pose for “cheesy over-the-top shots” that were then sold to magazines across the globe. Pratt called it “the best gig ever,” and he and Montag raked in over $1 million by selling their pictures. Celebs consider it a working relationship that’s mutually beneficial for everyone who’s involved, and their fans are usually clueless that the “candid” photos are carefully crafted before they’re ever released to the public.

9 Illegal Substances Are Allowed On Set

Sometimes, all it takes is an illicit drug for an actor or actress to put on their best performance. Tinseltown has been known to allegedly supply many A-list stars with a never-ending flow of their favorite vice.

Legendary actor Dennis Quaid revealed he had a “casual” addiction to cocaine before becoming a huge star.[2] When he first moved to Los Angeles in 1974, he dabbled with the drug here and there, but things didn’t get out of control until he was booked to appear in mainstream films. He also revealed that cocaine was listed in movies’ budgets–disguised as “petty cash” to keep the drug-fueled sets a secret. He claimed the drug was freely given out on movie sets because it was the norm, and it was something that everyone was doing. Looking back on it, he called his cocaine addiction one of his biggest mistakes. The actor said being addicted to the drug caused his entire life to fall apart.

Even Jack Nicholson has spoken candidly about his drug use. In a 1980 interview, he said, “Drugs ain’t no big thing,” and he still loved to get high “about four days a week.”

8 Publicity Stunts

Photo credit: Vogue

Hollywood is no stranger to publicity stunts, and there’s no limit to how far the industry will go to get the public’s attention. Back in 2014, there was a lot of talk about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian fighting for a spot on the cover of Vogue. When the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, finally decided to place them on the front page of the fashion magazine, she created an intense firestorm. Some readers threatened to cancel their Vogue subscriptions, calling Kimye disgraceful and inappropriate for the iconic publication.

Wintour later went on the record and said that no one would have batted an eye if the magazine had stuck with “tasteful” cover stars. But by placing West and Kardashian on the cover, she drummed up some much-needed publicity for the magazine.[3] In the entertainment world, any kind of attention is good, even if it’s bad.

7 Eating Disorders

The pressure to look beautiful and thin has caused some stars to suffer from eating disorders. Being in front of the spotlight means they’re put underneath a microscope 24/7. Not only are they judged by their fans and the public, but sometimes their agents and managers can pressure them to drop pounds in unhealthy ways, too.

Demi Lovato remembered at the age of “2 or 3 years old,” she would look down at her belly and wonder if it would ever be flat.[4] As she grew older, she struggled with an eating disorder and would relapse after difficult periods in her life. After breaking up with her ex, Wilmer Valderrama, she binged and purged because she missed him.

Actress Naomi Watts also revealed that she basically starved herself for a red carpet appearance, and plus-size model Ashley Graham said an agent waved $20 bills in her face and told her if she lost more weight, she could make “a lot more than this.”

6 The Casting Couch Is Nothing New

Long before the Harvey Weinstein scandal emerged, there were rumors about the casting couch—a term used to describe stars who are given roles in exchange for sexual favors. Megan Fox gave an interview to GQ and put the rumors to rest by laying out the cold, hard facts.

The actress said “Hollywood legends” would invite her to meet, and she would be so excited for the opportunity. Then, when she would show up, she would realize that the meeting was just a ploy. She said many of the men were able to get away with sleeping with a lot of girls in the industry, but she wasn’t one of them. She would shut them down immediately.[5]

The history of the casting couch is lengthy, with many guilty of its use. An early “practitioner” was Louis B. Mayer, who co-founded Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in 1924. Mayer, the ground zero of this kind of abuse, had means, motive, opportunity, and that critical piece of the puzzle: the whip. If women didn’t comply, he’d threaten to ruin their careers or those of their loved ones. Sound familiar? “The perils for women in Hollywood are embedded, like land mines, from an actress’s debut to her swan song,” says film critic and historian Carrie Rickey, “where moguls like Harry Cohn reputedly wouldn’t cast starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Kim Novak unless they auditioned in bed.”

5 The Mafia

Photo credit: CineChronicle

Hollywood may be seen as a town full of glitz and lavish lifestyles, but it has a past history that’s anything but glamorous. In fact, there’s a much shadier side that many people are unaware of.

It has been rumored that a mobster named Mickey Cohen ran the Hollywood underworld. In 1950, Life magazine published an expose, entitled “Trouble in Los Angeles,” to focus on Cohen and his rampant organized crime units that ran the industry.[6] This is one secret Hollywood would definitely like to erase and forget about forever.

4 Fixers Can Fix Anything

Photo credit: Inc.

In a perfect world, a celebrity would stay out of trouble and have a successful career without any hiccups. But the truth is that accidents and sticky situations are a part of life. When things get too much for a celeb to handle, they call a fixer like Michael Sitrick to come to their rescue.[7]

Sitrick has been a “spinmeister” in the industry for years, with a talent for twisting negative stories in the press into positive ones. He has worked for various popular clients, including David Lee Roth and disgraced NFL quarterback Michael Vick. Tackling controversy is his forte, and when a celeb is getting pounded by negative press, there’s no one other than Sitrick they’d want on their side. If a famous person has been caught in a comprising situation, and you suddenly see an influx of positive articles about them, it’s likely that Sitrick, or someone just like him, is hard at work.

3 Ageism

Ageism is alive and well in Hollywood, and some actresses feel the need to shave a few years off their date of birth. Margot Robbie received a ton of backlash when rumors about her true age began to pop up online. But did she have a good reason to lie? Perhaps.

An actress named Junie Hoang sued the website Internet Movie Database for revealing her true age.[8] In her lawsuit, Hoang said, “In the entertainment industry, youth is king,” a simple way for her to accuse the website of ruining her chances of landing gigs by exposing her true age. She lost the lawsuit, but the case brought a lot of attention to just how rampant ageism is in Hollywood.

2 Cheating

Photo credit: WOKV-FM

Some actors spend the majority of their time filming on set. This means they’re away from their partners for long periods of time, and they’re spending even more time with their costars and the crew. It’s no surprise that some stars have a moment of weakness and end up cheating on their significant others. Some of the flings end as soon as the movies wrap, but others turn into juicy cheating scandals, full-blown relationships, and even marriages.

Angelina Jolie was labeled a homewrecker when she began a relationship with Brad Pitt on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.[9] Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston at the time, and their relationship crashed and burned when rumors of the affair were revealed. Aniston filed for divorce, and Pitt later married Jolie. Kristen Stewart is another star who got caught up in a cheating scandal. While she was dating her Twilight costar Robert Pattinson, she was caught making out with director Rupert Sanders on the set of their film, Snow White and the Huntsman. These cases are just two examples of the rampant cheating in the industry.

1 Love Child

Photo credit: Hello!

Everyone was shocked when Eva Mendes managed to hide her growing baby bump from the public, but she has nothing on the celebs who have kept their secret love children away from the media. And sometimes, the kids are just as baffled as the rest of us!

It wasn’t until she was eight years old that Liv Tyler found out she was the biological daughter of Aerosmith’s frontman Steven Tyler. Her mother was young when she gave birth to Liv, and the actress said there was a “bit of confusion” about where she came from for most of her life. She was forced to put the pieces of the puzzle together herself when she could no longer ignore the resemblance she had to the singer. While attending his concert, Liv took a glance at Steve’s daughter Mia, her half-sister who was born 17 months after her, and said it was “literally like looking at my twin.”[10] Liv looked at her mom, and her mom had tears in her eyes. That’s when she finally realized she was the love child of a rock star.

+ Child Abuse

Predators in the industry have been an open secret for decades, and finally, some of Hollywood’s top execs and stars have been outed for their alleged improper behavior with young children. Kevin Spacey was recently exposed for allegedly trying to take advantage of a young 14-year-old actor. Child star Corey Feldman has always been vocal about a top Hollywood figure abusing him when he was a teen.

In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, Feldman finally found the courage to name his alleged abuser on an episode of The Doctor Oz Show.[11] Feldman accused actor Jon Grissom of molesting him back in the 1980s and said that Grissom continued to taunt him and flaunt his alleged actions by keeping photos of the two of them on his Myspace page. This is just one case of alleged inappropriate behavior in the industry, and many believe that there are even more hidden secrets that will surely be exposed in due time.

An avid Internet surfer with a passion for writing. On the rare occasion she’s not buried in her laptop screen, you can find her on the quest for the perfect order of chicken nachos, chugging a Venti Caramel Macchiato, or catching up on her favorite reality TV shows.


Hollywood was just as bad in the good ol’ days. For proof of that, check out 10 Seedy Stories From The Golden Age Of Hollywood and 10 Dark Hollywood Scandals That Are Long Forgotten.

fact checked by Jamie Frater