The 17 Best (or Worst) Celebrity Apologies: Where Does Jonah Hill Rank?

From Kristen Stewart to Justin Bieber: check out these celebs' memorable mea culpas

By Bruna Nessif, Alyssa Toomey Jun 03, 2014 7:44 PMTags
justin bieber, kristen stewart, arnold schwarzenegger, paula deen, jonah hillStarTraks, Getty Images

While Jonah Hill is the latest celeb to issue public apology, he certainly won't be the last.

The Wolf of Wall Street actor expressed his remorse on the Howard Stern Show Tuesday after he was caught on camera using a homophobic slur and admitted that he hopes other people will learn from his mistake.

"This is a heartbreaking situation for me…in that moment I said a disgusting word that does not at all reflect how I feel about any group of people," the 30-year-old actor said after revealing that he was repeatedly taunted by the paps before he lost his cool. "I grew up with gay family members. I'm leaving here to go spend the day with one of my closest co-workers and best friend who is gay, who's getting married, who I'm going to stand at his wedding. You know?"

Getty; istock

"I'm not at all defending my choice of words but I am happy to be the poster boy for thinking about what you say and how those words, even if you don't intend them and how they mean, they are rooted in hate, and that's bulls—t. I shouldn't have said that."

While Hill's apology sure sounds heartfelt, there are a number of celebs who may need a lesson in begging for forgiveness.

So where does the actor rank among the most noteworthy celeb apologies? We'll let you decide.

1. Justin Bieber: The 20-year-old pop star issued a public apology after a 2011 video recently surfaced, in which the Biebs tells a racist joke. "As a kid, I didn't understand the power of certain words and how they can hurt," the Biebs began in his lengthy statement. "I thought it was ok to repeat hurtful words and jokes, but didn't realize at the time that it wasn't funny and that in fact my actions were continuing the ignorance. Thanks to friends and family I learned from my mistakes and grew up and apologized for those wrongs. Now that these mistakes from the past have become public I need to apologize again to all those I have offended. I'm very sorry."

Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

2. Kristen Stewart: After the actress was caught on camera with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rubert Sanders, who, at the time, was a married father of two, Stewart publicly apologized—and confessed her love for then-boyfriend Robert Pattinson. "I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I've caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected," she said in a statement. "This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry." The two later split after nearly four years of dating while Sander's wife Liberty Ross—who played Stewart's mother in the flick—filed for divorce.


3. Lance Armstrong: Armstong's reputation as a world-class athlete was shattered after he publicly admitted to doping to win the Tour de France a whopping seven times in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. "I view this situation as one big lie I repeated a lot of times," he said. "I made those decisions, they were my mistake and I'm here to say sorry." Prior to his interview, Armstrong also apologized to the staff of the Livestrong Foundation after he stepped down as chairman of the organization. He has since been stripped of all his medals.

Reed Saxon-Pool/Getty Images

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger: There's no easy way to say you're sorry after fathering a love child with a longtime staff member, but the former governor of California tried his very best to make his amends with his family after the scandal came to light. "After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago. I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family," he said. "There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry." No surprise, Schwarzenegger and his then-wife of 25 years Maria Shriver wound up filing for divorce.

5. Reese Witherspoon: Fans were shocked after the wholesome mother of three was arrested in Georgia for disorderly conduct while her hubby Jim Toth was also arrested for DUI. Proving she's still a class act, the actress took the high road and admitted her fault in the matter during an appearance on GMA. "I do want to say, I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse."

6. Tiger Woods: The pro golfer found himself at the center of one of the most infamous cheating scandals after Woods, who, at the time, was married to Elin Nordegren, was caught having inappropriate relations with more than a dozen women. "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart," he said during a nearly 14-minute press conference. "I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply… I ask you to one day find room in your heart to believe in me again."

Peter Kramer/NBC

7. Paula Deen: The celebrity chef's empire crumbled after she admitted in a deposition to previously using the N-word. As a result, a number of sponsors severed their ties with the 67-year-old Georgia native, who issued a tearful apology on the Today show (after first cancelling her scheduled appearance). "Let me say this: The main reason I'm here today, it's important that I tell you and everyone out there how I live my life," she said. "I believe that every one of God's creatures was created equal, no matter what church you go to pray. I believe that everyone should be treated equal, and that's the way I was raised." Asked whether she is a racist by host Matt Lauer, Deen replied "No, I'm not."

Devone Byrd, PacificCoastNews

8. Julianne Hough: The Dancing With the Stars hoofer took to Twitter to apologize after she donned blackface while dressing up as the character "Crazy Eyes" from Orange Is the New Black for Halloween."I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created. It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize."

9. Mel Gibson: Following his arrest for DUI, Mel sparked outrage after it was revealed that he spouted sexist and anti-Semitic remarks to the cops that busted him. When he sat down with Diane Sawyer to explain his actions...Well, his explanation didn't necessarily help his cause.

10. David Letterman: It would be unlike Dave to leave all the funny at home, but he definitely showed a serious side when apologizing to his wife and staff for his affairs. He wasn't the usual jokester, and we liked what we saw. Apology accepted.

11. Alec Baldwin: You gotta hand it to the man: He chose to apologize to a roomful of women for the vile voicemail he left on daughter Ireland's phone, in which he called his own child a "rude, thoughtless pig." Terrible, but his apparent sincerity and regret for his actions seemed to satisfy a tough crowd.

12. Hugh Grant : It's been nearly 19 years since one of our favorite stars got arrested after hooking up with a Hollywood prostitute. And when it came to apologizing, Hugh did it right. He just 'fessed up. It was simple, it was honest and, judging by his continued success, it was accepted.

13. Michael Richards: He may have had to glom onto pal Jerry Seinfeld's guest spot in order to get on Letterman, but at least the Seinfeld standout had his former costar there to shush the crowd when it kept breaking into nervous laughter. Overall, it was tough to watch Richards struggling to express his remorse for using the N-word while doing standup. But as awkward as the apology sounded, Richards was trying to do the right thing. And to finally put it behind him, he poked fun at the situation during his recent appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

14. Kanye West: Kanye's decision to interrupt Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards may be one of the rapper's biggest snafus, but his apology on Leno came off as genuine. "It was just very rude, period," West said. "I'd like to apologize to her in person."

15. Christian Bale: After an explosive rant recorded on the Terminator: Salvation set was leaked, Bale didn't go to Oprah. He turned to L.A. DJs Kevin and Bean for vindication. And by addressing what happened frankly, he made it hard not to forgive him. So we did.

16. Kobe Bryant: In 2003, the Lakers star was accused of sexually assaulting a female hotel employee in Colorado. Bryant argued the sex was consensual and the charge was ultimately dropped (and a separate civil suit was settled out of court). Bryant made a public apology to the woman, and he bought his wife, Vanessa, a $4 million ring.

17. John Mayer: This ladies' man stopped midperformance during a Nashville concert to apologize for his Playboy interview that featured frequent use of the N-word. Then he got back to doing what he does best: playing his guitar. Let's hope that lasts.