Before reality TV was just wine-slinging housewives, it was about Jessica Simpson debating the difference between chicken and tuna in her million-dollar home. When you watched Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, you mainly saw the hijinks of marriage and reality TV fame. But as it turns out, what made it to the screen was only the beginning of Jessica’s story.
People thought they were getting a glimpse into the fabulous life of Jessica Simpson, but the show was just a highly-edited version of her reality. She wasn’t the dumb blonde the show portrayed her to be. Her real life is much less glamorous than that shown on TV, and it all goes back to her rocky rise to fame…and to a childhood secret.
When Jessica’s singing career was first launched, her “image” was supposed to be the opposite of Britney Spears’. She was meant to be sweet, chaste, and practically angelic. Of course, perfection is impossible, especially in the music industry.
This was all too clear from the moment she signed her first record deal. In her own words, she was forced to start a “crash diet,” one with seemingly no end in sight. Suddenly, her talent wasn’t what mattered anymore.
Her appearance and her weight became the subject of tabloids and snarky internet blogs, each with the same headlines screaming pretty much the same things: “Jessica isn’t good enough.” The squeaky-clean image her music label crafted for her was quickly abandoned.
”I took diet pills. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how much I was taking. It ended up being something I did for 20 years,” Jessica later revealed. Instead, maintaining her new image as a sex symbol became her single goal…
The Dukes of Hazzard/Warner Bros. Pictures
At least, that’s how it seemed to her fans, many of whom saw Jessica as the feminine ideal. In reality, she was struggling just to stay healthy. Her weight fluctuated over those two decades — a cardinal sin for a famous woman — and her struggle hit its peak in 2017.
Michael Rozman / Warner Bros.
Although she met her now-husband in 2010 and started a family, her life was far from how she had envisioned it would be as a kid. Her highly religious upbringing had prepared her for a quiet, church-going life, not one filled with fame, secrets, and, as she revealed, alcoholism.
Though her struggle with alcohol began beforehand, fans first started to notice there was a problem after Jessica’s controversial interview on Ellen in 2017. It didn’t take much investigative work to deduce that something was off.
”I can’t even watch the interview,” Jessica admitted of the video of her on Ellen, in which she slurs her words and appears inebriated. “It was a weak moment for me…I had started a spiral, and I couldn’t catch up with myself.”
She found herself drinking constantly. “I always had a glitter cup that was filled to the brim with alcohol,” she revealed. This revelation was a shock to her Instagram followers, who only ever saw the picture-perfect parts of her life.
Now, her new memoir Open Book reveals some of her darkest secrets — and some are definitely darker than others. Before her body image and substance abuse issues, even before her fame, Jessica dealt with a totally different kind of abuse.
The Today Show/NBC
At just six years old, Jessica faced one of the darkest things a child can ever experience. “At the time I didn’t really understand what was happening,” she said. All she knew was that the sleepovers that were once so much fun were suddenly anything but.
“I knew it was wrong, what was going on,” she said. Even at such a young age, Jessica could sense that she was in danger. Even so, it was a long time before she finally told her parents the truth about what she was going through.
For years, Jessica was abused by a close family friend. The young girl she once viewed as a friend was taking advantage of their sleepovers together in the worst way possible. Even the abuser, though, had a disturbing past.
”This was a very close person, and she was being abused,” Jessica revealed. It was a terrible domino effect of abuse that ended with Jessica. “It happened throughout a long time in my life,” she said, which no-doubt caused her to keep it a secret.
”I was a preacher’s daughter,” she explained of her reason for keeping the abuse to herself. “I never wanted to share these sexual things that were happening because I didn’t want to hurt anybody.” Eventually, though, the truth had to come out.
Her parents didn’t respond to her confession with words — it was too painful, according to Jessica, for them to speak about what was going on. “That’s a heavy thing to hear from your child,” Jessica explained. Instead, they responded with action.
”I never had to do the sleepovers again. I never had to go back,” Jessica said. But she had to live with the knowledge of what had happened to her for the rest of her life…and as her fame grew, she had to keep it a secret.
The Today Show/NBC
That’s how it all began: The body image problems, her failed marriage to Nick Lachey, her eventual descent into alcoholism — it all stemmed from that one secret she was forced to keep hidden. She had crafted a convincing mask made out of smiley photos and Instagram filters…
But her dark truth couldn’t stay hidden forever, and after spending Halloween 2017 completely “dazed and confused,” she came to a sobering realization. “I just realized that I had to surrender,” she recalled. The next day, she made a life-changing decision.
She started seeing a therapist and quit drinking, a decision that set her firmly on the path to healing. ”Now I’m strong enough to deal with anything that comes my way,” she said. Confronting her past abuse was her first step towards recovery…
”The other side of fear is what’s so beautiful,” she said. “That’s when you get the reward.” Jessica’s “reward” is the ability to finally love herself, regardless of her difficult past. Still, she’ll never forget how damaging fame can be, especially as a woman in Hollywood.
Kathleen Turner understands better than some how Jessica must have felt. Turner hasn’t looked like her old self in quite some time, not since the ‘80s, when she smashed onto the scene as one of Hollywood’s newest sex symbols…
The 1981 thriller Body Heat made her an international star practically overnight. “I was the new trophy in town,” Kathleen reflected. But being a trophy, she learned, isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
She made one hit after the other, most notably Romancing the Stone, Prizzi’s Honor, and Peggy Sue Got Married. All three movies earned her Golden Globe nominations — two of which she won — and she was even nominated for an Academy Award.
The 42nd Annual Golden Globe Awards, 1985
In a five-year span, Kathleen had become one of Hollywood’s biggest box-office draws. She wasn’t only a pretty face, but a reliable talent who constantly earned rave reviews…not just from award shows, but from her male co-stars, as well.
According to the actress, some of her male co-stars competed to see “who could get [her] first.” Tabloids covered her love life more than her actual career, and her trophy-status only rose in 1988 with her most iconic role yet.
Voicing Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the perfect role for the actress, whose trophy-status reached new heights with the role. But being a “trophy” is hard work, especially when, out of nowhere, your body decides to rebel against you.
In 1992, Kathleen was filming Serial Mom when she started experienced “inexplicable pains and fevers.” At first, she tried to brush them off as symptoms of over-work or exhaustion. But after a year, the pain only increased.
Traveling, walking on stage, and acting on a movie set — all tasks that had once been so easy were suddenly impossible. “My body could respond only with excruciating pain whenever I tried to move,” she explained. Even simple tasks turned into anxiety-inducing obstacles.
“I couldn’t hold a glass to get a drink of water,” she said. “I couldn’t pick up my child…my feet would blow up so badly that I couldn’t…walk on them.” But after a year of pain, Kathleen finally got her answer.
She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and told she would end up in a wheelchair. This would rattle anyone, but as a young actress made famous in part by her looks, it was a professional death sentence…not that she told anyone.
Instead of revealing her debilitating health struggles, Kathleen suffered in silence. The world had taken notice of her sudden disappearance from Hollywood, but without knowing the details of her illness, all they saw was one thing: An unrecognizable Kathleen Turner.
A combination of chemotherapy, steroids, and swelling greatly changed Kathleen’s appearance, something the tabloids picked up on right away. “The press were merciless,” she has said. When it comes to their speculations, “merciless” barely covers it.
“They snipped that I had become fat…because I was an angry, washed-up diva, an out of control has-been,” Kathleen explained, even though her bodily changes “were not within my control,” she said. She searched desperately for a way to alleviate the pain…
When asked how she coped, she was frank. “Oh, I abused alcohol,” she said. “Because it’s a great painkiller, let me tell you.” Rumors spread that Kathleen’s weight gain was caused by her alcoholism, and she did nothing to stop the rumor-mill.
“I couldn’t publicly refute them because I believed it was worse to have people know that I had this terrible illness,” she admitted. She “felt it was imperative” that no one knew the truth. Her greatest fear was having her secret slip…
“They’d hire me if they thought I was a drunk, because they could understand drinking, but they wouldn’t hire me if I had a mysterious, scary illness they didn’t understand,” she explained. But alcohol and arthritis aside — the roles just weren’t there.
Her career harshly declined as she struggled to find medication that eased the pain. She appeared in low-budget films and critical flops, all the while seeing unflattering paparazzi photos of herself plastered on magazines at the supermarket.
The ‘90s continued in a similarly painful fashion for Kathleen…until hope finally arrived in the early 2000s. Cutting-edge treatments made her rheumatoid arthritis go into remission, and for the first time in almost a decade, she could move.
Kathleen had a new lease on life — not that Hollywood noticed. She took on roles that addressed her new image head-on: She played Chandler’s father on Friends, and revived her stage career with a lauded performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
She’s also written two memoirs, and the most recent one — Kathleen Turner on Acting: Conversations about Film, Television, and Theater — contains words of wisdom that apply not only to aspiring actors, but to anyone going through something seemingly insurmountable.
“What I hope for is to have people take risks…[and] make choices and not just accept,” she explained. Kathleen may look different nowadays — something she wants you to “get over” already — but she’s just as strong, talented, and compelling as ever.
This advice resonated with so many of Kathleen’s ’80s peers, especially one star whose path mirrored Kathleen’s closely, from the rise to the fall. She, too, recently opened up about how she fell from Hollywood’s graces — and what she’s doing about it.
Born Margaret Hyra, the young beauty initially eyed a career in journalism. She studied that field at UConn and NYU until her lucrative part-time job convinced her to seek out a different path.
Meg made a few bucks acting on the side, but her perspective totally shifted when she started booking regular roles. Following a recurring part in the soap opera As the World Turns, she chose to drop out of college with just a semester left.
As the next few years saw Meg bounce around small turns in TV shows, it wasn’t until 1986 that she introduced herself to mainstream audiences. A supporting role in the blockbuster Top Gun suddenly put her in the same echelon as Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
In the late 1980s through the ’90s, Meg established herself as queen of the rom-com. She frequently collaborated with Tom Hanks, in classics like Joe vs. the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. She’s also behind one of the most iconic moments in film.
Movie buffs may ultimately remember Meg best for When Harry Met Sally. Audiences experienced just as much pleasure as Meg pretended to have in the iconic deli scene. She wasn’t just making headlines for her acting work either.
Meg married fellow actor Dennis Quaid in 1991 after they starred in the movies Innerspace and The D.O.A. together. In this new chapter of her life, she started taking more creative risks.
One of these risks, her foray into voice acting, paid off big time. She headlined Fox’s Anastasia, which won over enough moviegoers to break Disney’s stranglehold on animated flicks. However, not all of Meg’s gambled worked out for her.
Meg came under fire as she transitioned from romantic comedies to serious drama. Not even the additional star power of Diane Keaton and Lisa Kudrow could rescue the drudgery of Hanging Up, the tale of three sisters bonding after their father’s death.
With the new millennium arriving, the flops only continued. Meg floundered with Russell Crowe in Proof of Life, though the harsh reviews weren’t even the worst part. Rumors of an affair with Crowe followed her, tainting her personal and professional reputation.
That drama led to Meg’s split with Dennis in 2001. Meanwhile, her forays into strange new genres continued. Erotic thrillers, boxing flicks — it just didn’t pan out. And what was worse was that some projects that could’ve defined her career totally fizzled out.
Years prior, she memorably passed on the lead in Pretty Woman. While Julia Roberts was eternally grateful, that iconic part could’ve kept up Meg’s marketability through her string of flops. Then, there were big roles that never came to pass.
With the behemoth sitcom How I Met Your Mother about to end, CBS planned a spinoff called How I Met Your Dad. Meg provided the future voice of the main character — played by Greta Gerwig — but the network killed the show after a disappointing pilot.
Not long before, critics called Meg Ryan “America’s Sweetheart.” Then, a few years into the 2000s, she could barely get a guest spot. She didn’t have a husband, so she turned to the other man in her life.
Meg had always been close to her son Jack, who made a name for himself with an appearance in The Hunger Games. When she vented about her lack of opportunities, Jack encouraged her to keep taking risks, particularly one she always had on her mind.
After countless hours of being bossed around in front of the camera, Meg wanted to try her hand at directing. Understandably, she felt nervous before making this leap, so she called up an old friend.
She recruited Tom Hanks for 2016’s Ithaca, in which she also starred. Though not all critics adored it, Meg called it one of her most fulfilling experiences. However, behind-the-scenes developments prevented her from hopping back into the director’s chair.
Meg had too much going on in her personal life — especially with a new daughter! After adopting Daisy a few years earlier, the actress needed to set aside extra time as her daughter came of age. Plus, she had a bit of romance to enjoy as well.
You couldn’t call Meg the Cougar in this relationship because she was dating the legendary John Mellencamp! In 2018, they tied the knot and took some time to enjoy each other’s company before delving into their next big projects.
With so much going on, Meg will doubtlessly return to the silver screen once she’s ready. After all, performers often step away from the camera for a variety of reasons; others, though, don’t have a choice.
Throughout the ’90s, if a movie was billed as a comedy, you better believe Jim Carrey’s name was attached in some way. But as he accrued more and more roles, he eventually took a stand that nearly landed him on the sidelines with Meg.
From a young age, Jim Carrey always knew he wanted to be a comedian. With a knack for impressions and physical comedy, it wasn’t long before Jim was doing stand-up at local comedy clubs in the hope of being discovered.
And discovered he was, as legendary comedian Rodney Dangerfield quickly took a shine to the young joker and signed him as a supporting act. With his star on the rise, Jim decided to take his talents to Hollywood to see if he could make it big.
The Un-Natural Act
It wasn’t long before Jim’s popularity as a comedian took off, and by the early 80s, he was making regular appearances on An Evening at the Improv and The Tonight Show. But everything changed when in 1990, Jim became a regular cast member on the sketch comedy show In Living Color.
In Living Color
Jim and his expressive slapstick style of comedy became a huge hit, and his success on television launched him into starring roles in comedy classics like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb & Dumber, and The Mask. But this was only the beginning for young Jim Carrey.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective / Dumb and Dumber / The Mask
After reprising his role as Ace Ventura in 1995’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and starring as the Riddler in Batman Forever, Jim’s price tag reached an astonishing $20 million per film. In fact, Jim was so sought after that he even began to score leading-man roles in dramatic films like The Truman Show.
The Truman Show
Around the turn of the century, Jim began to shy away from comedies in favor of films he considered to be more “highbrow”. With his performance in 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind receiving critical acclaim, it appeared that the comedian’s acting style was beginning to shift — and people were taking notice.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
During an interview that same year, Jim’s acting pursuits were called into question. Although he attributed his transition from goofy comedian to serious actor to the nature of the roles he was given, there was still no denying that Jim’s slapstick days were now behind him…for better or worse.
The latter proved to become a reality when in 2007, Jim starred in the psychological horror film The Number 23, which was both a critical and commercial disaster. While he’d bounce back a year later with the comedy Yes Man, this marked the first moment of decline in the storied actor’s career.
The Number 23
Though in the years to come, we saw him star in films like A Christmas Carol, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and Dumb and Dumber To, Jim’s performances were receiving more and more mixed reviews. Then, in 2013, the floodgate holding Jim’s career in place finally burst.
A Christmas Carol / Mr. Popper’s Penguins / Dumb and Dumber To
Several months prior to the release of the film Kick-Ass 2, Jim took to Twitter to denounce his role in the project. Citing the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the actor withdrew his support for what he believed to be an excessively violent film.
“I did Kick-Ass a month before Sandy Hook,” Jim tweeted, “and now in all good conscience, I cannot support that level of violence. My apologies to others involved with the film. I am not ashamed of it, but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”
Though some praised Jim for sticking to his morals, an overwhelming majority — including Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar and some of Jim’s co-stars — openly rebuked his comments. But this wouldn’t be the last time Jim’s mouth would get him into trouble.
In 2015, the comedian once again took to Twitter to share some of his more controversial beliefs. Not only was Jim not a fan of Kick-Ass, but apparently he was anti-vaccination as well.
“California Government says ‘yes’ to poisoning more children with mercury and aluminum in mandatory vaccines,” Jim declared, in reference to a recently passed California law. “This corporate fascist must be stopped.”
Public outrage was immediate, with many pointing out that mercury is no longer used in vaccines and that refusing to vaccinate children poses a serious risk to public health. Though he backtracked his comments in several follow-up tweets, the labeling of Jim as an anti-science nutcase had already begun.
In fact, Time magazine even published an article titled, “Jim Carrey, Please Shut Up About Vaccines”. As one would expect, this kind of bad publicity only made finding work more difficult for the already struggling actor.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Despite being brought on for an episode of Saturday Night Live, film and television studios seemed to have blacklisted Jim, leaving his 2015 filmography almost completely blank. Things were bad for the former megastar, but what came next was the final nail in his coffin.
Following the suicide of his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White, a lawsuit was brought against Jim by her family and estranged husband. They alleged that Cathriona took her own life using prescription drugs that Jim provided her with just days before her death.
Not only that, but Cathriona’s mother accused Jim of emotionally abusing her daughter, giving her STDs, and using “high-priced Hollywood lawyers” to intimidate her following their breakup. The case is still playing out in court, with Jim fighting desperately to repair his already shattered public image.
In late 2018, Jim made his return to acting in Showtime’s comedy-drama Kidding. While the former Hollywood heavyweight will likely never regain the kind of stardom he achieved early on in his career.