It might seem like being a celebrity means that you’re universally loved and adored, but that may not actually be the reality. Some celebrities have learned that the hard way when they’ve found themselves prohibited from entering a foreign country. These actors and musicians may find themselves banned for any number of reasons — their own over-the-top behavior or criminal records, or the country in question’s strict religious laws or political motivations — but whatever the cause, plenty of bigtime stars have had to cancel travel plans and alter tour dates because they were barred. Here are 18 celebrities who have found themselves in some trouble with border patrol.
18. Katy Perry
Katy Perry has been banned from China indefinitely for reasons that seem almost accidental. In 2015, Ms. Perry performed in Taipei wearing a glittery dress covered in sunflowers. Two years later, while reviewing a visa that would allow the pop star to perform at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai, Chinese government officials decided that her costume choice was actually a political message. Sunflowers had been the official symbol of the Sunflower Student Movement, which protested the Chinese government’s involvement in Taiwan, and the officials determined that the dress meant that Perry was aligning herself with the Taiwanese independence movement. So they banned her and kept her from performing at the VS show.
17. Charlie Heaton
In October 2017, Charlie Heaton was sent back to the U.K. and missed the premiere party for his hit Netflix show Stranger Things. The reason? Drug-sniffing dogs at LAX detected traces of cocaine in the actor’s luggage. At the time, the actor wasn’t charged with a crime or arrested, but the existence of the drugs was enough to get him kicked out of the country and his visa revoked. Charlie issued an apology to his fans and asked that the tabloid story not negatively affect people’s view of the show, but it was still quite the scandal. Since then, he’s been permitted to re-enter the USA to film the Netflix Original’s third seaosn.
16. Miley Cyrus
Before we go too much farther, it’s important to know that China has banned a lot of celebrities, and for all sorts of different and random reasons. Miley Cyrus was banned from the country when a picture surfaced of the singer pulling at her eyes in order to make them appear slanted – a move many of her fans were disappointed in and deemed “mocking Asians.” The Chinese foreign minister actually issued a statement that said, “Miss Cyrus has made it clear she is no friend of China or anyone of East Asian descent. We have no interest in further polluting our children’s minds with her American ignorance.” It seems she won’t be walking the Great Wall any time soon.
15. Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez really went above and beyond and got herself banned from not one, but two countries. In 2016, the former Disney Channel star was denied entry to Russia by officials who feared that she would speak out against the country’s notoriously strict anti-LGBT laws during the two concerts she had been planning to hold in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Then, a few short months later, Chinese officials told Selena that she wasn’t welcome there either thanks to a handful of pictures she’d taken with the Dalai Lama years prior. If there’s a reason to find yourself banned from a foreign country, protesting bigoted laws is definitely it. Way to go, girl!
14. Mike Tyson
In a very #metoo movement decision, Mike Tyson has been banned from New Zealand over his 1992 rape conviction. The former boxer had been attempting to bring his one-man show to the country, which detailed his time spent in prison and his struggle with addiction, but the Associate Immigration Minister wasn’t convinced that the country needed to hear that story from a man who had behaved so inappropriately in the past. Tyson argued against the ban and submitted a new application for entry, but that one was denied as well, citing the country’s Immigration Act of 2009. We’re here for it.
13. Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg has a whole host of countries he’s either currently banned from or has been banned from in the past. In 2006, the U.K. gave him the boot after the rapper and his entourage started a fight over not being allowed access to the first class lounge in Heathrow airport and ended up totally destroying a duty-free store. (He was allowed to come back in 2010.) In 2012, Snoop was caught trying to bring marijuana and too much cash into the country and was banned for two years. He’s also been booted out of Australia and the Netherlands. You’d think he’d thrive in the Netherlands!
12. Paris Hilton
In 2010, Paris Hilton was in the middle of a worldwide tour to promote her new fragrance and fashion line. When she attempted to land at a Tokyo airport she endured six hours of questioning by officials and spent the night in an airport hotel before being asked to leave the country. Her offense? Pleading guilty to a drug charge in Las Vegas a month before. The heiress had been arrested for cocaine possession, and the Japanese officials decided that her drug habit wasn’t in line with the moral standard they had for their countrymen. She’s since returned to the country, but we’d imagine that it took quite a little bit of wrangling.
Kesha was banned from Malaysia in 2013 for a pretty vague reason. Authorities said that the concert she had planned in the country would “hurt cultural and religious sensitivities.” The very religious country has strict rules for performers, and Kesha had already agreed to alter some of her songs’ lyrics and make her costume choices more modest, but 24-hours before the concert was set to begin, the country decided that they weren’t going to let her perform. The singer was understandably frustrated, and tweeted that she wanted to perform anyways, but wasn’t up for the “possible imprisonment” that would accompany her illegal show.
Kesha isn’t the only one who’s ran into trouble in Malaysia — Beyoncé has also been banned from the conservative Muslim country. Queen Bey isn’t allowed to tour, perform or even enter the country because of her “provocative” music. It seems that government officials are concerned that her lyrics and costumes are too risqué, and could possibly corrupt the youth. Her ban was a preemptive one, it didn’t come hours before a concert like Kesha’s did, but was just a general “don’t ever even think of coming here” sort of thing. Which is sad, because her “world-wide” tours won’t ever get to actually be world-wide.
9. Hayden Panettiere
Hayden Panettiere’s ban from Japan is more of a personal one than an official one passed down from country officials. See, there’s a standing warrant out for her arrest in the country because of a 2007 dolphin hunt incident. Along with 5 other activists, the actress and animal lover paddled out into the ocean to interfere with a hunt of the sea creatures. The country charged her and her associates with violating international commerce, and Hayden hasn’t been back since. The actress also issued a statement about the incident, saying, “We must unite as a world to solve our increasing international environmental crises. We can no longer hide [behind] outdated, senseless cultural traditions and lazy, bad habits that are resulting in the annihilation of our planet’s resources and the extinction of our species.”
8. Justin Bieber
We told you that a lot of celebrities have been banned from China! Justin Bieber has also found himself standing on the wrong side of the border after attempting to enter the country. And apparently, he’s only got his own bad behavior to blame. The official statement from the Chinese government said, “Justin Bieber is a gifted singer. But in order to maintain order in the Chinese market and purify the Chinese performance environment, it is not suitable to bring in badly behaved entertainers.” They seem to be referring to the disrespectful photos he took at the Great Wall while on tour there in 2013, and the reckless skateboarding he did through Beijing’s downtown area while on tour there in 2014. Seems like it’s a “two strikes and you’re out” policy.
7. Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart seems like the last celebrity you’d find on a “banned celebs” list, but here she is. In 2008, after arriving in the U.K. to give a speech at the Royal Academy and attend a number of business meetings, the homemaking goddess found herself being denied entry. The immigration agency cited “serious criminal offenses abroad,” as their reason for rejecting her. It turns out that her five-month prison sentence for insider trading, lying and impeding a federal investigation was just too much, and the lifestyle star shouldn’t expect to be allowed back anytime soon. But it’s okay, because her Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party co-host isn’t exactly welcome there either.
6. The Beatles
Celebrities being banned from a country isn’t a new phenomenon. Back in 1966, The Beatles were banned from the Philippines after snubbing then first-lady Imelda Marcos. She’d invited the boy band to enjoy breakfast with her at the Presidential Palace, but the group politely declined, saying that it had never been the band’s policy to accept such “official” invitations. What they didn’t know, though, was that the first couple was practically worshipped in the Philippines, and after slighting the country this way, their police escort mysteriously vanished, their hotel was mobbed by angry fans, and demonstrators met them at the airport when they tried to make a quick getaway. They got out, but it was all a pretty dangerous affair and they were told, in not so many words, that they could never come back.
5. Lily Allen
America doesn’t ban too many celebrities, especially in comparison to other countries, but they did give Lily Allen the boot. After she attacked a paparazzo in London in 2007, her USA work visa was revoked. The pop star was forced to cancel all of her tour dates and missed a scheduled appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards. At a festival in Staffordshire a few months later, the “Smile” singer was nonchalant about her ban, saying “I’ve been banned from America. That’s nice. Oh well, that means I can’t go back there. Good.” She later tried to clarify that just because she hated George W. Bush didn’t mean that she hated the country, but relations between the pop star and the USA still seem weird.
4. Brad Pitt
The list of celebs banned from China continues. Brad Pitt found himself unwelcome in the country after his film Seven Years in Tibet premiered. The government was unimpressed with the film, and in turn, the actor’s pro-Tibet views. Relations between the two countries have been strained for years, with China saying that they’re free to occupy Tibet because it’s actually a part of China and they’ve done tons to better the country. Tibet argues that it’s its own state, with an individual culture, language and government and China just needs to back off. Understandably, China doesn’t take too fondly with anyone in a position of power opposing their reign in Tibet, leaving people like Brad Pitt banned for long periods of time.
3. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is pretty universally loved. The pop star has a huge following of fans from all over the world. Well, all over the world minus Indonesia. In 2012, the country refused to issue her a permit to hold a concert in Jakarta which had been sold out for months. The official position was that “[Indonesia] will stop her from setting foot on our land. She had better not dare spread her satanic faith in this country… Her style is vulgar; her sexual and indecent clothes will destroy our children’s sense of morality. She’s very dangerous.” Harsh words for a singer who’s known to promote tolerance, empathy, and love.
2. Chris Brown
Everyone knows about the felony assault charges that were levied against Chris Brown for the domestic violence he committed against then-girlfriend Rihanna. But what many people don’t know is that the incident has kept him from ever being able to step foot in Australia. He tried to visit in 2015, but the government turned him away, saying, “People need to understand if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world, there are going to be countries that say to you, ‘You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect in Australia.’” He appealed their decision, and told the government he’d start a domestic violence awareness campaign in the country, but they held firm on their decision and he hasn’t been back since.
1. Harrison Ford
You won’t find Indiana Jones trekking through the mountains of China in search of lost treasures anytime soon, because he’s been banned from the country since 1995. Harrison Ford has been perhaps the most vocal celebrity supporter of a free Tibet, and China’s taken note. Harrison has even gone so far as to testify before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee shedding light on the human rights abuses that go on in Tibet, and making a case for America’s support of free Tibet’s cause, which was really the final nail in the coffin as far as the actor never being able to return.