7 Celebrity Pranks That Backfired Horrifically
Pranks are supposed to be lighthearted jokes you play on friends that involve some clever bit of deception and don't cause any lasting harm. But once you become famous, that definition changes to "raining viscera-strewn destruction upon innocent bystanders."
And, in what should come as no surprise to anyone who still remembers how to interact with other human beings in a way that isn't psychotically destructive, these can backfire in huge ways.
Zach Braff Punched A Child On Punk'd
Professional wooden sculpture Ashton Kutcher's MTV prank show Punk'd was a delightful hidden-camera show about insanely rich and famous people playing insanely rich practical jokes on each other before collapsing into self-congratulatory giggles over their own cleverness. We got to see Justin Timberlake reduced to blubbering tears and calling his mother, and we got to see Kanye West freak the hell out because he famously has no sense of humor about Kanye West.
The punchline wasn't "Kanye West is a genius," so naturally he was confused.
What we didn't get to see was a child straight-up assaulted on television. Donald Faison, star of Skyline, thought it would be awesome to prank his Scrubs co-star Zach Braff by having a group of kids pretend to destroy Braff's brand-new Porsche. This went exactly as well as you might have expected.
Faison and the Punk'd crew set the prank up so that, upon exiting a liquor store, Braff spotted a group of toothpick-chewing adolescents spray-painting his $100,000 automobile. The kids were supposed to escape while Braff stood there dumbfounded, but the Garden State goofus apparently became possessed by some long dead Mesopotamian war god and chased one of them down, beating the 12-year-old actor mercilessly like a drunken stepfather in an after-school special.
The worst thing Zach Braff ever did, but only the 7,465th worst thing someone
wearing a Yankees hat ever did.
Needless to say, MTV had to edit around the beating before airing the hilarious prank, because a man violently assaulting a child isn't the kind of programming your advertisers generally thrill over.
Someone On The Set Of Titanic Slipped Everyone PCP
For many people, a party isn't a party until you're tricking people into getting dangerously intoxicated. This logic has resulted in many a punch bowl being secretly tainted with whatever flavor of Schnapps was marked down at the liquor store that morning. The set of James Cameron's Titanic, while not technically a party in the traditional sense, definitely qualified in the "huge gathering of people eating from the same bowl" sense, so in keeping with tradition, some noble prankster (who remains unidentified to this day) decided to spike the crew's lobster chowder with PCP. That's right -- 50 members of the cast and crew of Titanic (presumably those who didn't eat alone in their trailers like a weirdo) got seriously wet. Ahem.
This entire steerage scene was just security footage they colorized in post.
Instead of an unforgettable dance-off and some impromptu karaoke, the prank resulted in a terribly sick crew and wound up sending 50 people to the emergency room. As we said, nobody knows who was behind the "joke" (which is a term here meaning "mass poisoning"). Was it James Cameron himself, trying to figure out who was cool enough to run with his crew? Was it Billy Zane being Billy Zany (we would have also accepted "pulling a Billy Zinger")? Was it the vengeful ghost of the actual Titanic?
Whatever the case, a doctor officially diagnosed the crew as "stoned," while actor Bill Paxton took special note of his co-workers' strange behavior -- laughing, crying, and milling about aimlessly -- while he himself became incredibly paranoid. The entire situation sounds almost as miserable as actually filming a movie with James Cameron.
Jonah Hill Tricked Leonardo DiCaprio Into Getting Physically Ill While Filming The Wolf Of Wall Street
The occasionally schlubby Jonah Hill fell victim to Leonardo DiCaprio's hilarious pranking antics, being brutally beaten over and over again for six straight months during the filming of Martin Scorsese's excess-laden Wolf Of Wall Street, because apparently Leo thinks "random beatings" is a fun game that friends play with each other.
"Hey, at least no one filmed you with a candle up your ass."
Hill waited for just the right moment to exact his revenge, watching with shifty-eyed anticipation for the scenario that would allow him to stick it to one of Hollywood's highly respected actors in such a way that his prank would be totally undetected until he was ready to unleash his madness on the world.
Finally, he found it: In a poignant scene toward the end of the film, Hill and DiCaprio's characters are eating sushi while coming to the realization that their journey together is almost over. Jonah's character was supposed to take the last bite of sushi, but instead, perhaps banking on his reputation as a skilled improviser, Hill took a chance and told DiCaprio (in character) that he could have the last bite all to himself. So DiCaprio ate that last piece of sushi. And then he ate it again. And again. And again.
To match that first take, DiCaprio had to continue to eat the last morsel of sushi in every subsequent take. DiCaprio did around 70 takes this way, swallowing chunk after chunk of raw fish, until he finally doubled over in vomit-inducing pain. This, of course, panicked the cast and crew, who rushed to DiCaprio's aid to make sure he wasn't dying of the food poisoning he probably contracted from eating an ocean's worth of raw, mercury-infused fish. Well, everyone but Hill and Scorsese himself, who found the entire situation to be goddamn hilarious.
"I totally would have let go."
A Rapper Jammed A Police Phone Line For No Reason, Hindering Emergency Services
Rapper The Game pulled a double-deception by convincing his (at the time) 580,000 Twitter followers that calling a certain phone number would gain them the opportunity to try out for an internship working directly with him. The gag was, the number he posted belonged to the L.A. Sheriff's Department's Compton station, which was immediately flooded with enough calls to effectively jam the phone lines for two hours. The police were confused at first, but once they realized they'd been had, they shared a hearty chuckle with The Game, marveling at his undeniable skill as a joke craftsman.
"LOL, GG! GG!" -L.A. Sheriff's Department
Just kidding -- they were fucking furious. Like we mentioned, The Game's stunt jammed up emergency lines for two hours, during which time any number of people in actual need of assistance were calling the police station and getting a busy signal. Captain Mike Parker was finally able to put an end to the flood of calls when he tweeted at The Game to knock that shit off, because it was entirely possible The Game's prank, while undeniably wacky, was endangering people's lives.
The police were understandably livid and announced they were gathering evidence in order to prosecute The Game, but ultimately decided not to bother. The Game apologized publicly on CNN and, noticeably contrite, went off to go punch an off-duty cop at a basketball game.
Still no charges for releasing The R.E.D. Album.
An Actor Staged A Fake Arrest On The Set Of 24
No doubt the cast of the fast-paced thriller 24 were in frequent need of blowing off steam after a long, hard day of explosions and whisper-shouts. But actor Carlos Bernard, who plays Tony Almeida, decided to up the ante by convincing his co-star Mia Kirshner that she was being arrested, because for some reason he felt this would be a festival of hilarity.
"Hi, IRS, I'd like to get the entire cast audited for April Fools'. Classic Bernard!"
Bernard convinced two of his police officer buddies to show up on set and pretend to arrest Kirshner for smoking marijuana outside of her trailer, which is a thing she hadn't been doing. Kirshner completely and justifiably freaked out, so Bernard, sensing an opportunity to stretch his comedy wings even further, swooped in and pretended to assault the officers in an attempt to prevent them from carrying her off to jail.
The prank halted filming for hours, ultimately costing the show a day of production and a bunch of money due to Kirshner being totally distraught and thoroughly confused by Bernard's inexplicable anti-joke. Bernard went on to describe the event as "a fun day at the office," which presumably only confirmed his co-workers' suspicions that he has zero self-awareness.
Russell Brand And Jonathan Ross Ruined A Woman's Life With A Stupid Voicemail Prank
In October of 2009, Russell Brand was at his Russell Brandiest when he and his radio show co-host Jonathon Ross made a series of highly inappropriate prank calls to the voicemail of Andrew Sachs, an actor who starred in the British comedy Fawlty Towers with John Cleese. Sachs was supposed to be a guest on the show but had canceled at the last minute, so Brand and Ross left four messages on his voicemail claiming Brand had an intimate relationship with Sachs' granddaughter, Georgina Baillie, because that seemed like the professional thing to do.
Apparently the idea that a 79-year-old might have something more
important going on than humoring Russell Brand never came up.
This wasn't a gentle ribbing, either -- in the first message, Brand begins to talk as Ross suddenly shouts, "He fucked your granddaughter!" into the phone. Then they call back to apologize, which somehow devolves into Ross further elaborating that, "She was bent over the couch," and Brand improvising a song about how he shouldn't have said that he slept with Sachs' granddaughter. So, to reiterate, two famous strangers are shouting into a 79-year-old man's answering machine, on a nationally broadcast radio show, about having sex with his 24-year-old granddaughter.
Unsurprisingly, Sachs was not amused, and neither were the listeners -- the BBC received 37,500 complaints from audience members and stuck the two hosts with a 150,000 pound fine. Brand ultimately quit the show, and Ross was suspended for 12 weeks, which seems minor in comparison to what happened to Georgina Baillie.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, Baillie describes how her grandfather still refuses to speak to her six years later (despite a brief period of reconciliation). Apparently, her grandparents feel the poor decisions she made in her wild youth are what prompted Brand and Ross. She was forced to apologize profusely to her family for an incident that she had absolutely no part in and was disinvited from her grandmother's 80th birthday. She points out that since her grandparents are now both firmly in their 80s, she might never actually get to speak to them again, all because a pair of braying jackasses decided to leave some dipshit message on her famous grandfather's answering machine.
Mel Gibson Is A Goddamn Maniac
Mel Gibson is currently best known as an aging racist lunatic who occasionally shows up in direct-to-DVD movies, but at one point he was one of the biggest stars in the world. Everyone wanted to work with him, and he had a reputation for being an incorrigible prankster, which is a term here meaning "burgeoning serial killer." The majority of his pranks were singularly focused on humiliating his female co-stars in ways that would be considered felonies if they were committed by even a slightly less famous maniac.
Choice in movie roles may also have been a clue.
While filming Forever Young with Jamie Lee Curtis, Mel pretended to be a knife-wielding lunatic and showed up at her trailer in a hockey mask, a prank which was presumably doubly insulting because Michael Myers (the killer who chased Curtis through Halloween) wears a William Shatner mask. It is unclear whether this mistake was intentional, because Mel Gibson is a crazy asshole.
"Fine by me. The last thing I need is people mistaking me for that lunatic."
Mel Gibson gifted a freeze-dried rat to his co-star Helen Hunt on the set of What Women Want, because Mel Gibson does not know the answer to that question. He also took his "stalker" gag a step further -- rather than simply show up at someone's trailer with a mask and a knife, he created a fake report about a knife-wielding lunatic running around the studio, and even had memos printed up and posted in the security office and around the Paramount lot. Only then did he put on his "maniac" costume to deliver the punchline to his hilarious joke, which was to whimsically attack the film's director, Nancy Meyers, in her office. Meyers screamed and began stabbing him with a pencil, because she thought she was about to be murdered, which means Mel's clever joke was a rousing success. He climbed on top of the makeup trailer and, in his own words, began "laughing like a hyena" in celebration of his wit, because holy shit Mel Gibson is a fucking lunatic.
While filming Ransom, Gibson tracked down some nude photos that Rene Russo, who had the somber misfortune of playing Mel's wife in the film, had taken back when she was a teenager. That last word is incredibly important. When Mel got hold of the photos, he had portions of them enlarged to poster-size, and presumably also had them laminated to defend against maniac slobber. He then posted them, a single image at a time, on the crew bulletin board. So every day the cast and crew of Ransom were treated to a different part of 17-year-old Rene Russo's anatomy. According to her: "He put bits and pieces of it -- a breast, a finger, a knee -- and he put them on the bulletin board every day." You may recognize this as something a serial killer would do.
To be honest, we are afraid to purchase the complete article.
Julia Roberts, who got off relatively easy with just a freeze-dried rat delivered to her trailer, affectionately refers to Gibson as the only thing on Earth that makes her paranoid. Maybe we should all be taking a cue from that.
Carolyn hearts Mila Kunis and Twitter.
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