When Stars And Photographers Collide
Avatar star Sam Worthington was arrested Sunday for alleged assault against a paparazzo, adding to a long list of celebrity/paparazzi scuffles in recent years. We look at the increasingly extreme altercations between shutterbugs and the Hollywood set and ask, "Who's taking it too far?"
Sam Worthington's Sunday arrest followed a tussle with New York City's Sheng Li, a 37-year-old freelance photographer based in Manhattan. According to NYPD Detective Kellyann Ort, Li allegedly kicked Worthington's 26-year-old girlfriend Lara Bingle in the shin, and Worthington — best known for his roles in the blockbusters Avatar, Terminator Salvation, Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans — reportedly responded by punching Li in the face. Neither Worthington nor Li required serious medical attention, but both were arrested. Worthington is due in court on Wednesday to face assault charges, while Li is being held pending arraignment on charges of reckless endangerment, assault and harassment.
30 Rock star (and notorious hothead) Alec Baldwin is so fed up with the paparazzi he's bidding public life goodbye for good... or so he says in an open letter to New York Magazine's Vulture blog. The actor's interactions with New York street photographers have been tabloid fodder for years. Last November, he reportedly called a paparazzo a "c***sucking f**" after the shutterbug ventured too close to Baldwin's wife, Hilaria, and their baby girl, Carmen. In August of last year, he allegedly tussled with a photographer on the streets, insisting the photog was the aggressor. Of the list of skirmishes — which, it would seem, goes on and on — the actor says, "I haven't changed, but public life has."
In September 2013, Nicole Kidman was simply trying to make her way into New York's Carlyle hotel when cycling paparazzo Carl Wu crashed into the actress, knocking her to the ground. Later that evening at a Calvin Klein Collection event following a show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the 46-year-old Australian actress shared details about the terrifying run-in, telling E! News, "It was awful, but I got back up." Wu was given a citation by the police for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, reckless driving and riding a bike without a helmet. "I've lived with it for so long now," Kidman said at the time. "Luckily I got up, but there will be a time when someone does not."
Kanye West is known for getting heated, so it may not come as much of a surprise that his history with the paparazzi has been incendiary. In July of last year, "Yeezus" allegedly viciously attacked a paparazzo at LAX, injuring the photographer badly enough to warrant paramedics and police being rushed to the scene. The assault came after the photographer in question — part of a swarm of paparazzi snapping pics of West as he left the airport — repeatedly pressed the rapper with questions after West had asked him not to. West lost his temper and tried to get the camera from the photog, but the paparazzo fell down. This wasn't West's first scuffle at LAX, though. In 2008, TMZ captured footage of the rapper and his road manager, Don Crawley, smashing the equipment of a photographer who got in his way.
Justin Bieber's legal woes grow by the day. As a result of a June 2013 paparazzi incident in Miami, the pop star will soon be deposed and questioned. Paparazzo Jeffrey Binion sued Bieber over the altercation in question, during which the Biebs allegedly instructed one of his bodyguards, Hugo Hesny, to attack the photographer and take his memory card. According to Binion, the bodyguard threatened him with a gun at the time. Back in January of last year, Bieber was also indirectly involved in a paparazzi run-in during which 29-year-old photographer Chris Guerra was struck by two cars and killed. Although sources speculated at the time that Guerra was trying to get a photo of Bieber in his Ferrari, it was later confirmed that Bieber was not behind the wheel — he had let his friend Lil Twist borrow his ride.