Many people envy celebrities for their seemingly perfect and charmed lives but there are actually many Hollywood stars with troubled pasts who have overcome a very difficult childhood. As heartbreaking as many of these stories are, it really shows us how strong we can be in the face of adversity and that with hope and perseverance we can overcome many things and achieve our dreams!
1. DREW BARRYMORE
Drew Barrymore is considered to be Hollywood royalty and as a child star, she’s one of the first names that come to mind when it comes to Hollywood stars with troubled pasts. She plays very fun and free-spirited roles now but this actress started drinking at the age of 11, started using cocaine at 13 and was in rehab twice by the time she was a teen. Child stardom can often lead people down a very dark path but thankfully she got help for her substance abuse issues and we can continue to watch her on the big screen!
2. TYLER PERRY
Tyler Perry or Madea as many of us know him is another celebrity who overcame a dark past. You would never guess that this actor/director of inspiring and comical films would have come from such a harsh and difficult upbringing. Perry states that he was often physically and sexually abused as a child and his grandmother even bathed him in ammonia to purge him of allergies. He recalls his drunken father beating him with a cord until his skin was coming off of his back. He reports his faith is what got him through these tough times and made him what he is today. It’s so inspiring to see someone who came from such a dark place be so successful and full of life!
3. CHARLIZE THERON
This blonde bombshell often portrays strong and confident roles in her films but she’s also a Hollywood star with a troubled past. Charlize grew up with an alcoholic father who often cheated on her mother and abused her for many years. Although her parents were married for many years, one night her mother had enough and ended up shooting her father dead in self-defense. Charlize’s mother forced her into modeling to try and get her mind off of her father’s death where she won modeling contests and later got her big break in Children of the Corn III.
4. BRITNEY SPEARS
Pop princess Britney didn’t have a troubled childhood like many of the other celebrities who overcame a dark past on this list had, but she certainly went through a difficult period. Remember the Sam Lufti days when Britney was often caught on camera acting erratically, appeared to be under the influence of drugs and eventually lost custody of her kids and publicly shaved her head?! Lucky for Brit she had the support of her family and she totally turned her life around! She’s back on top of her game and looks as happy and healthy as ever!
5. JOHNNY DEPP
This former teen idol makes many of us swoon with his smoldering good looks but he’s also another one of the Hollywood stars with a troubled past. Depp’s father’s job required that he and his family move frequently which had a huge impact on Johnny and his family. He described himself as very withdrawn, odd and started experimenting with drugs and alcohol at an early age as a result of family problems. Depp reports engaging in self-harm and often locked himself in his room to play the guitar. Despite his rough start, Depp remains one of the most in-demand actors and has won countless awards for his roles.
6. ANGELINA JOLIE
Angelina is now known for being a mommy, humanitarian and a total knockout but the public first got to know Angelina as a celebrity who overcame a dark past. While she was married to Billy Bob Thornton, we discovered that Angelina had a drug addiction, battled with anorexia and was quite promiscuous in her earlier days. Based on biographies of Angie, her father had an extramarital affair when she was a small child which tore her family apart and resulted in a strained relationship between she and her father for many years. Although Angelina had many struggles in her early years, she’s now recognized as one of the highest paid actresses and is renowned for her humanitarian efforts.
7. LEIGHTON MEESTER
Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester has one of the most coveted roles on TV however she’s also a Hollywood star with a troubled past. Leighton’s mother was pregnant with her while she was serving a sentence in a federal prison for smuggling marijuana from Jamaica to the U.S. As a result of her tough childhood, Leighton describes not being able to relate to other kids as a child as her major concerns were having enough gas for the car and having food to eat whereas other kids were worried about toys and boys. Nowadays, Leighton has a successful acting and singing career so I highly doubt she worries about gas or food anymore!
8. OPRAH WINFREY
Oprah is perhaps the most famous of the Hollywood stars with troubled pasts. Oprah was born to very poor, teenage parents who separated and moved away to work. Oprah describes being repeatedly molested by male relatives which led her to a life of drugs, alcohol and sex and gave birth to a preemie at the age of 14. Oprah moved to live with her father where she landed a job as a news reporter and quickly moved up the ranks to compete against the big dogs of network TV to become one of the richest and most influential women in the world.
All of these stories of Hollywood stars with troubled pasts are very painful but they are also very moving and inspire the rest of us that although we go through difficult times, we can live to fight another day. I hope that these stories encouraged you and showed you that although we go through really challenging periods in our lives that we can still overcome our past and shine like a star!