(NOTE LANGUAGE) When it comes to celebrity scandals of 2022, there's arguably nothing bigger than what was dubbed the "Slap Heard 'Round the World." The sight of one of the biggest stars of the world, Will Smith, slapping and then cursing out one of the most famous comics on Earth, Chris Rock, would have been news had it happened at a pub, let alone at the Academy Awards.
That said, there were other stars making headlines for all the wrong reasons this year, so let's do what their publicists wish we wouldn't and take a look back.
Ezra Miller's banner year:
- The Justice League star kicked off 2022 with a bizarre video on Instagram, in which the actor, who uses they/them pronouns, referred to themselves as "the Bengal Ghouls [and] Mad Goose Wizard," and sent a message "for the Beulaville chapter of the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan," in which he invited them to "kill yourself with your own guns ... Otherwise, keep doing what you're doing ... and we'll do it for you." The video was later deleted.
- In March, then again in April, Miller was arrested for allegedly causing trouble in Hawaii. In March, the actor pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct, and was ordered to pay a $500 fine and stay away from Margarita Village in Hilo, Hawaii, after a scrum there; in April, Miller was arrested for second-degree assault for allegedly hurling a chair at a woman at a get-together.
- In May, Miller allegedly broke into a Vermont home and stole booze; the actor was officially charged with felony burglary in August.
- In June, attorney and activist Chase Iron Eyes and his wife, Sara Jumping Eagle, filed court documents in Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court alleging that Miller has been "physically and emotionally abusing," as well as "psychologically manipulating, physically intimidating, and endangering the safety and welfare" of their daughter, Tokata Iron Eyes. The parents accused the actor of grooming her beginning when she was 13.
- In August, Vermont State Police showed up to Miller's home in search of a mother and three young children who were reportedly staying there against the wishes of the children's father. The trio was nowhere to be found.
- Later in the month, the actor said they were seeking treatment for “complex mental health issues” after exhibiting alarming behavior that led to a series of arrests and accusations. Industry insiders sniped it was a play to save his forthcoming Flash movie.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock
While the action reverberated throughout the year, the notorious Oscars slap happened back on March 27, in front of a stunned, star-studded audience at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre. A joke Rock made as a presenter at the expense of Jada Pinkett Smith's bald head initially drew a laugh from Will, which made his striding to the stage to confront the comic seem like it was the beginning of a bit. However, the powerful slap, which Rock later said left him without hearing for a spell, was nothing to joke about. Neither was Will screaming, "Keep my wife's name out your f****ing mouth!" twice. Smith went on to ignore the incident when picking up his Best Actor trophy for King Richard, but in a subsequent apology, he accepted a 10-year ban from Academy events.
The Johnny Depp/Amber Heard defamation case:
May and June were all about the U.S. headline-grabbing defamation case between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. The former Pirates of the Caribbean series star sued his ex over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which the Aquaman actress wrote about experiencing physical and sexual abuse.
- As the trial played out, the public saw their tumultuous marriage writ large, and saw Depp testify how it was Heard who abused him both physically and psychologically. Then there was the testimony that gave the world #AmberTurd for the actress's alleged spite-befouling of a bed.
- The jury sided with Depp in June, ruling Heard defamed him to hurt his career and boost her own. Depp was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages, but the latter was capped to $350,000 due to Virginia law. Heard was awarded $2 million in compensatory damages for statements made by Depp's former attorney, but was awarded no punitive damages. Months later, she filed an appeal of the verdict.
- In December, Heard reportedly settled with Depp for $1 million, and noted she was dropping her plans to appeal. The actress noted she had "lost faith in the American legal system," and said of the payment, "...This is not an act of concession. There are no restrictions or gags with respect to my voice moving forward." Depp's team vowed to give the money to charity.
Like a train wreck in slow-motion, Ye's flame-out took time to get going, but in the end, the destruction was arguably absolute.
- The first months of the year saw Kanye lamenting on social media and elsewhere about the state of his split with Kim Kardashian and the custody arrangements with the mother of his four children.
- In February, Ye's music career was still in full swing: His 21-track Donda 2 album was released on his own branded Stem Player. He claims to have sold more than $2 million worth of the devices.
- Later in the year, Ye made headlines for taking social media shots at "Skete" — or Pete Davidson, whom Kim began seeing romantically. One of these posts, and a video of an animated version of Kanye murdering Davidson, got Ye temporarily suspended from Instagram in March for violating the platform's harassment policy. Apparently Davidson thought the diss track was hilarious.
- After countless disses of the celebrity couple online, Kim and Pete called it quits in August, which Kanye celebrated online.
- In September, following the death of Queen Elizabeth, Ye promised he was ending all his grudges, but later announced his YEEZY company was terminating its partnership with Gap.
- Also in September, West gave an interview with ABC News, in which he talked about his relationship with God; his school, the Donda Academy; and fatherhood. At this point, despite his social media behavior, he was being hailed in some circles as something of a maverick mogul.
- By October, however, things took a turn; Ye invited controversy by wearing a "White Lives Matter" shirt during Paris Fashion Week. He was escorted out of Skechers offices in LA after an "unauthorized" visit. And he said he was going "Death Con 3" on Jewish people who had wronged him. While he quickly apologized for the comment, as the fall wore on, he made a series of other antisemitic comments, culminating with him claiming to controversial media figure Alex Jones that he admired Hitler.
After claiming he couldn't be canceled, he was: his agency CAA cut ties with him, as did Adidas, losing him his billionaire status, and making him the target of late-night comedians' jokes and of the Anti-Defamation League.