While we tend to think of celebrity life as full of red carpet parties and luxury mansions, that’s just one side of living with this kind of fame. The lifestyles of the rich and famous can sometimes get sadly complicated, and the cost of living that high-profile lifestyle can be a steep one — especially when it leads to lawsuits. A lot of your favorite celebrities have seen the inside of a courtroom, from Sussex royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to recently separated Kelly Clarkson and beyond. And while they’re better equipped financially to arm themselves for legal battle than the average person, we’re saddened by how often what they’re fighting to legally protect is their basic privacy, right to decent treatment, or protection from someone trying to take away their earnings.
That being said, the celebrity lawsuits that have stood the test of time are those that made their mark on Hollywood history, either shedding light on longstanding issues of sexual harassment and assault, like Rose McGowan’s lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein or Kesha’s lawsuit against Dr. Luke, or setting new standards about what’s accepted practice for everyone from paparazzi to on-set drivers. When celebrity file lawsuits, they also — however inadvertently — raise awareness of the issue they’re fighting, and spark momentum for real change.
Whether these stars are battling for justice, reputation, or simply to set a precedent, they’ve each made their legal mark and drawn a line about what treatment they will not accept. Here are some of the biggest celebrity lawsuits in the past 15 years and how they turned out.
A version of this article was previously published in May 2020.