Being famous comes with its fair share of perks—we’ve all seen MTV’s Cribs. But when the professionally good-looking aren’t getting at-home blowouts, enjoying the best restaurants in the world, or whimsically naming their kids after various foodstuffs, they’re making painstaking efforts to protect their privacy. While fame is super fun when you’re trying to sell a warehouse full of waist-trainers or pass a how-to guide to push-up bras off as original content, it becomes a bit of a drag when the nosy public tries to gain access to every aspect of your personal life.
In his October GQ cover story, symmetrical face-haver Ryan Reynolds shared his firsthand account of a traumatically invasive incident. According to Reynolds, he was shocked to discover that one of his “closest friends,” someone he “grew up with,” was shopping around a private photo of him, his wife Blake Lively, and their newborn daughter, James. It didn't take long for Reynolds to track down the culprit, since he says he only shared the image with his “closest family and [his] closest friends.” The actor told GQ that the experience “was one of those devastating things to find out” and likened the betrayal to “a death.”
Unfortunately, this type of money-hungry treachery is fairly common in the world of celebrity friendships. Whether it’s a fellow star, a non-famous friend, or even a parent or family member, there’s always someone looking to make a buck off the inside scoop.
In 2014, a leaked Lindsay Lohan “sex list” revealed 36 of the star’s alleged conquests. The handwritten account, which named Hollywood hunks like James Franco, Justin Timberlake, and Zac Efron, naturally became tabloid fodder. But the insanely private all-access pass to Lohan’s sex life was never supposed to go viral. On the finale of her OWN docu-series, the actress admitted that she wrote a “sexual inventory” during her time in rehab at the Betty Ford Center, citing it as part of her 12 steps for Alcoholics Anonymous. “That was in my Betty Ford book, so that was really personal to my sponsor,” she insisted.
Lohan believes that the list was leaked by one of two people who helped her move out of the Beverly Hills Hotel, saying, “Pretty sure I know who it is, unfortunately...They’re not a part of my life at all anymore.” Reflecting on the betrayal, the star explained, “The fact that that happened was not only humiliating, but just mean. It was mean-spirited for someone to do that…That is a desperate human being and I hope they find some peace. Because anyone that’s willing to do that to someone else is really f--ked up in the head. And I don’t want that in my life.”
British songstress Leona Lewis feels Lindsay’s pain. In 2012, Lewis told The Daily Mail that “I’ve been let down really badly by a couple of friends in recent years who I thought were genuine but I then found out were selling stories about me, which was devastating. They betrayed me and that just makes them evil.”
An even more concerning trend involves celebrities who are obviously in a position of vulnerability, and the blood-sucking parasites harvesting their breakdown pain for tabloid profits. During the long national nightmare that was Amanda Bynes’s public breakdown, a recording of the former child star threatening to “murder” her father started making the Internet rounds. In a statement released by Bynes’s attorney, the troubled starlet apologized. “I’m sorry I trusted people who clearly were not my friends and capitalized on my illness...I never expected others to take advantage and profit from my condition,” she said. “I’m disappointed with those who lulled me into a false sense of security only to find out they really are only interested in selling my privacy to the media.”
Kim Kardashian similarly accused non-famous KUTWK cast member and best friend Jonathan Cheban of selling her out. In a 2014 episode of Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons, Kardashian surmised that the former publicist leaked a story about Kourtney’s therapy. It was a strangely confident accusation coming from Kim, who was reportedly the “number one source for all things juicy and gossip-related” when it came to dishing dirt on former BFF Paris Hilton. (Before she was Kim Kardashian West, Kim was a lowly Hilton handmaiden with a chip on her shoulder and a direct line to TMZ. It just goes to prove the age-old adage: Keep your friends close, and your closet organizers closer.)
But while celeb-on-celeb sabotage is no laughing matter, there’s no source of betrayal more upsetting than a parent. Just ask Katy Perry or Jennifer Aniston; both stars have mothers who have profited off family stories and salacious gossip. Nancy Aniston’s book, From Mother to Daughter to Friends, told the story of her tense relationship with her movie-star daughter. Mary Hudson, Katy Perry’s mother, is reportedly trying to pull off a similar stunt, shopping around a memoir about her once-Christian daughter’s fall from grace.
In a 2011 Vogue interview, Rihanna told a cautionary tale about celebrity parenthood, recalling how her father sold childhood photos to a tabloid. The pop star warned, “You hear the horror stories about people going behind people’s backs and doing strange things, but you always think, not my family. My father would never do that to me.” Rounding out this squad of parental failures is Drew Barrymore’s mother, Jaid Barrymore, who went so far as peddling her famous daughter’s baby clothes on eBay. No wonder Drew appealed for legal emancipation at the tender age of 15.
Whether it’s a baby picture, a privileged confession, or even a sex list, tabloid betrayals reveal just how hard it is for celebrities to find someone to trust, whether it’s a childhood friend, a fellow star, or even dear old mom and dad. Maybe Kanye’s complaints about how difficult it is to be famous weren’t so off the mark after all.