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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Kate Ng and Ellie Muir

The most infamous celebrity scandals of 2022


Cringeworthy sexts, dramatic slaps, court cases and alleged infidelity – 2022 had all the great plotlines of a season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but on steroids.

There was nary a week that went by without some celebrity scandal or other making the headlines and going viral on social media. From the “slap heard around the world” to restaurant bans to multiple cheating scandals, we were kept on the edge of our seats to see what would happen next.

Whether or not 2023 will bring a similar level of celebrity drama is unknown, but if this year was anything to go by, we think it will.

Here are the biggest, most talked-about celebrity scandals of 2022:

Will Smith Oscars slap

(Getty Images)

When Will Smith struck Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards in March, the auditorium almost fell silent as nobody knew exactly how to react. It was bizarre. After the slap, Smith yelled “keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth”, since Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith‘s shaved head, which she had been shaving due to alopecia. The Academy later announced that Smith would be banned from its events for the next 10 years. In a statement, Smith said: “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.” Smith later issued an apology video on social media, calling his own behaviour “unacceptable”.

Wagatha Christie trial

Two WAGs – Rebekah Vardy and Colleen Rooney – went head-to-head at the Royal Courts of Justice in May, after Vardy tried to sue Rooney for libel in response to public allegations that the former had been leaking the latter’s personal information to The Sun newspaper. After years since Rooney’s first public Tweet about the matter – with the pandemic delaying the trial – the social media attention given to the trial made it one of the most highly anticipated and extensively reported libel cases of all time. As the private WhatsApp messages, tweets and Instagram posts sent by the pair to their different associates were used as court evidence; popular culture was given a new lease of life as court evidence was deemed highly meme-worthy by the internet. The judge ruled that it’s....... Rebekah Vardy’s account, after all, and Vardy was ordered to pay up to £1.5m, covering 90 per cent of Rooney’s legal costs.

Adam Levine cheating allegations

Behati Prinsloo and Adam Levine (AFP via Getty Images)

In September, Adam Levine found himself at the centre of a cheating scandal after an Instagram model named Sumner Stroh, 23, claimed the pair had an affair. This prompted several women to come forward, who alleged that they had received risque DMs featuring cringeworthy sexts from the singer. Levine went onto deny having an affair, via an Instagram Story, but did admit to “crossing the line” with a few flirty DMs that he shouldn’t have sent. Everyone sounded off; Chrishell Stause, Emily Ratajkowski, and more celebrities tried to dissect the power dynamics at play within Levine’s alleged relationships. Levine’s alleged DMs were turned into memes as his sexting attempts – the most infamous being “I may need to see the booty” – were ridiculed on the internet.

Olivia Wilde getting served on stage at Comic Con

In April, while discussing a forthcoming film on stage at Comic Con, Olivia Wilde received a mysterious envelope, passed across the stage by someone in the front row. The contents were custody papers from her ex-fiancée, Jason Sudeikis – star of Apple TV+’s hit show Ted Lasso – with whom she has two children. Wilde has since called the serve a “sabotage attempt” since it happened while she was on stage, working. A representative later said that Sudeikis was not aware that the papers were served in that way. Wilde later won the custody battle, with the judge ruling that the children’s home state is in California, where Wilde resides.

Kim Kardashian wearing the iconic Marilyn Monroe dress

(Getty Images for The Met Museum/)

Kim Kardashian’s determination to wear what is widely considered one of the most important dresses in fashion history caused a storm among fashion watchers. The reality star donned the late Marilyn Monroe’s iconic “naked” dress to walk the red carpet at the Met Gala this year. The 60-year-old dress was loaned to Kardashian by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, who acquired the fragile garment in 2016. From Kardashian boasting that she lost 16 pounds in three weeks in order to fit into the dress to a collector alleging that she “permanently damaged” what has been dubbed the “most famous dress in the world”, wearing Marilyn’s “Happy Birthday Mr President” dress proved to be a defining moment for Kardashian this year.

James Corden banned from NYC restaurant

In one of the most bizarre beefs of the year, James Corden found himself banned from New York restaurant Balthazar after its owner, Keith McNally, accused him of being “the most abusive customer” towards his staff. McNally, who is known for making controversial posts on Instagram, alleged that Corden had behaved in an “extremely nasty” manner to servers on at least two occasions and was subsequently “86’d” from Balthazar. However, in a follow-up post soon after, the restuarant proprieter U-turned on the ban after claiming that Corden had “apologised profusely” – only for Corden to later say in an interview with the New York Times that he had “not done anything wrong, on any level” and declaring the incident “beneath” him. McNally once again responded to the actor via Instagram, questioning if Corden was “denying being abusive to my servers”. Corden then addressed the incident on his talk show and admitted he had made a “rude, rude comment” and vowed he would go back and apologise in person “one day”.

Kanye West anti-semitism row

(Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for ADIDAS)

Once hailed one of the greatest rappers of all time, Kanye West has seen a rather spectacular fall from grace this year. From his worrying posts about Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson, who he threatened to “beat his a**” in his song “Eazy”, to designing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt for his fashion brand Yeezy’s Paris fashion show, West has courted numerous controversies in the past 12 months. But it all came to a head when he made a series of antisemitic comments on his social media, and later doubled down on them in interviews instead of apologising. A clip of the Donda rapper claiming he “could say antisemitic things and Adidas can’t drop me” also caused further uproar. The resulting backlash led to West being dropped from brand partnerships including Balenciaga and Adidas.

TJ Holmes and Amy Robach affair

Good Morning America co-hosts TJ Holmes and Amy Robach became subjects of scrutiny after photographs of them spending time together away from their spouses emerged. Snaps of the GMA3 anchors holding hands and appearing affectionate were published by The Daily Mail in November, and the story exploded among viewers of the popular news programme. In the aftermath, fans were unearthing old flirty moments between Holmes and Robach while they were live on air, while Robach’s husband Andrew Shue appeared to have deleted some images of the couple from his social media following the revelation. Later, it was reported that ABC News took the pair off the air as it weighs the impact their secret relationship has on the show. Recently, Holmes reportedly filed for divorce from his wife of 12 years. As Gayle King said, the whole situation is “very messy”.

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