What Hollywood stars are uninsurable?
Lights, camera, insurance?
That phrase may not be quite as snappy, but without insurance to help protect the production’s investors, it’s nearly impossible to make a film or hold a major live event. For any production that features actors, musicians or other types of live entertainment, “artist liability” insurance can help protect the production’s bankrollers from financial damage in the event that the star is not able to complete his role, or if he says or does something damaging that results in a lawsuit against the production company.
But, depending on who’s in the film or event, it’s not always easy to get coverage. And a black mark from an insurance underwriter could spell doom for a star’s career.
Hollywood’s most uninsurable stars
Here’s a look at some celebrities who’ve been considered “uninsurable” by entertainment insurance companies, and why.
Although she originally rose to fame in 1998 playing both of the adorable twins in “The Parent Trap”, Lindsay Lohan’s life has taken a decidedly less wholesome turn in the years since then: She’s been involved in numerous car accidents and DUI incidents; has been arrested for assault; and has been arrested for cocaine use. As a result of her ongoing legal trouble, many film studios have refused to hire her because giving her a role would raise their insurance premiums substantially. In 2010, she was fired from the Linda Lovelace biopic, “Inferno”, for this very reason.
Robert Downey Jr.
Although he’s now the star of the successful “Iron Man”franchise, Robert Downey Jr.’s career seemed done-for after a string of drug busts for cocaine, heroin and Valium between 1996 and 2000. He was able to star in an indie film, “The Singing Detective”, in 2001 only because Mel Gibson, a close friend of his, paid Downey Jr.’s insurance bond for the film. On Downey Jr.’s next film, “Gothika”, producer Joel Silver held onto 40 percent of his salary as insurance, in case the star ran into trouble that shut down the production. (Fortunately, he didn’t.)
You may remember Elliott Gould as Ross and Monica’s father on “Friends”, but back in the 1970s, he was gearing up for a career as one of the hottest stars in Hollywood. However, after allegedly beating up his co-stars and showing up for work high on drugs on the set of the film “A Glimpse of Tiger” in 1971, Warner Brothers Studio shut down the production and put his career on hold. According to Gould, he was considered uninsurable, and couldn’t get another role in a Hollywood production for the following two years.
Although drug abuse is one of the most common causes for a star to be declared “uninsurable,” it’s not the only one. In 2001, Nicole Kidman was experiencing severe knee pain that caused two delays in the production of “Moulin Rouge”, costing $3 million in insurance claims for overtime costs by the studio. Because of her knee problem, the cost to insure Kidman for her next film, “Panic Room”, was allegedly so high that the actress was replaced in the lead role by Jodie Foster, although Kidman has denied that she was fired from the film.
Although the concert promotion group AEG was able to take out an insurance policy for “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, the company was unable to collect on its $17.5 million claim with insurer Lloyd’s of London to reimburse the cost of concert promotion expenses after Jackson’s sudden death from a drug overdose. After investigating the case, an insurance underwriter discovered that AEG had prior knowledge of Jackson’s health issues and drug abuse before the policy was written—and failed to disclose that information to the insurance company.
Lloyd’s of London filed a lawsuit against AEG for failing to disclose the information, but offered to withdraw the suit if AEG dropped the claim, which it did. However, Jackson’s heirs allowed AEG to recover the money they lost due to the cancelled tour from his estate.
The 2012 film, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III”, was a huge flop with moviegoers—and its star, Charlie Sheen, didn’t win over insurance agencies, either. The actor, who was fired from the TV show “Two and a Half Men” in 2011 and has had several arrests and public episodes in the months since, was refused insurance for the film. However, director Roman Coppola, a longtime friend of Sheen’s, opted to make the film without insurance. Fortunately, Sheen had no major issues during the filmmaking process—without insurance, the movie might never have happened if anything went wrong.