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Actors Who Have Killed People

It isn't outrageous to see actors portray characters that kill on screen, since it's part and parcel of the job. However, a number of performers have crossed the line between fiction and reality, whether they wanted to or not. Through circumstances such as a heartbreaking accident, a stunt scene gone terribly wrong, or straight-up murder, someone lost their life at the end of the day and an actor was involved.

An incident like Matthew Broderick's car crash, which claimed two victims, continues to be debated decades later, casting a heavy shadow over the actor's career. Similarly, Rebecca Gayheart grappled with how the car accident that killed a nine-year-old child impacted her own life and mental well-being. Events like these also touch others who were around the people when they died, such as Ernie Hudson, who can't bring himself to revisit "The Crow" after Brandon Lee's tragic death.

Death is never an easy topic to discuss, even more so when it happens under horrifying circumstances. Yet it's still an important conversation to have, especially if it brings awareness to certain situations and scenarios that could be avoided in the future. While the victims of these tragedies can never return to their loved ones, their stories could save others from the same fates if heeded.

Alec Baldwin

In October 2021, a fatal accident on the set of the Alec Baldwin film "Rust" stunned Hollywood. During a rehearsal, Baldwin — also a producer on the film — discharged a prop revolver that had live rounds in it, resulting in the devastating death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. In subsequent interviews, Baldwin denied that he pulled the trigger of the gun; however, a forensic investigation found that the actor must have in order for the gun to go off. He also stated that he was informed the gun didn't have live rounds, so he couldn't have been aware of what would have happened.

In March 2024, armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for failing to check the ammunition of the gun and permitting live rounds on the film set. Baldwin was also charged with involuntary manslaughter and is scheduled to stand trial at the time of writing.

Speaking about the incident to ABC News in December 2021, Baldwin claimed he met with Hutchins' widow, Matthew, and their son. The actor broke down in tears during the interview, stating: "This boy doesn't have a mother anymore. And there's nothing we can do to bring her back. And I told him ... I said, 'I don't know what to say. I don't know how to convey to you how sorry I am and how I'm willing to do anything I can to cooperate.'"

Matthew Broderick

In 1986, Matthew Broderick rode a wave of popularity after the release of the high school comedy classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." He was an in-demand and celebrated young actor with the world at his feet. However, in 1987, tragedy struck while he was on holiday with his then-girlfriend Jennifer Grey, who played Ferris' sister Jeanie in the movie and was about to dance up a storm as Baby in "Dirty Dancing."

The couple headed to Northern Ireland and rented a BMW to get around. On August 5, their car ended up in a head-on collision with a Volvo that carried Anna Gallagher and her mother, Margaret Doherty, who both died following the crash. Speaking about the incident to Entertainment Tonight in 2022, Grey said, "I was the sole living witness, because Matthew had survived, but he was unconscious and had amnesia and was very badly injured. I thought he was dead. I didn't even know there were two other women who were tragically killed at the time. It's just something that you just don't come back from in the same way."

Broderick was ultimately charged with careless driving and received a $175 fine, though he claimed to be traumatized by the accident and its consequences thereafter.

Brandy Norwood

Brandy Norwood established herself in the 1990s as both a musician and actor, selling more than four million copies of her 1994 debut album while establishing herself as a TV and movie star. Sitcom fans recognize her from her starring role as Moesha Mitchell in "Moesha," while horror aficionados remember her turn as Karla Wilson in "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer." But in December 2006, Norwood found herself in a real-life horror scenario on the Los Angeles freeway.

Traveling in her car, Norwood hit the back of a Toyota, which resulted in a multiple-vehicle accident. A day after the accident, Awatef Aboudihaj, who was driving the Toyota, died from her injuries. An investigation was conducted into the incident, but no charges were filed against Norwood by the city.

In 2012, Norwood opened up about the accident and how people branded her after it occurred on VH1's "Behind the Music" (via Billboard). "They know that they can call me a murderer or call me someone that killed someone," she said. "They know that is a button for me. A murderer is someone who premeditates it. I didn't wake up that day to be involved in a fatal car crash. I didn't plan for that. And if I could take it back, I would."

Ryan Grantham

Ryan Grantham landed a small but essential role in Season 4 of "Riverdale" as Jeffrey Augustine, the driver who kills Archie Andrew's father, Fred (Luke Perry), in a hit-and-run accident on The CW's teen drama. However, this part would end up being one of the actor's last gigs, as he was arrested for murder in 2020. In March of that year, Grantham shot his mother, Barbara Waite, in the back of the head as she played the piano in their home in the Canadian town of Squamish. The actor subsequently recorded the body of his deceased mother as well as his confession on camera. 

According to prosecutors, Grantham got in his car intending to kill Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or commit more murders at either Simon Fraser University or the Lions Gate Bridge hours after killing his mother. However, he turned his vehicle around and handed himself over to the authorities, confessing to his mother's murder.  He reportedly killed his mother so that she wouldn't have to deal with the results of the violence he planned. Reading a statement to the court (via Deadline), Grantham said, "In the face of something so horrible, saying sorry seems so pointless. But from every fiber of my being, I am sorry." He was sentenced in September 2022 to life in prison for his crime.

Amy Locane

While not the most recognized actor among other stars who are currently in jail, Amy Locane appeared in a number of high-profile productions in the '90s, including "School Ties," "Airheads," and "Melrose Place." In June 2010, she jumped into her SUV to head back home after drinking at the wrap party for a local New Jersey theater production she had appeared in. Not too long afterward, she slammed into the back of a Honda at a red light. When the Honda driver approached her and could tell she had been drinking, Locane fled the scene of the accident.

Locane's speeding car crashed into another vehicle that carried Fred Seeman and his wife, Helene, as they were about to turn into their house. The 60-year-old Helene died, while her husband was badly injured. The police investigation determined that Locane had been three times over the legal alcohol limit at the time of the crash.

In November 2012, Locane was sentenced to three years in prison for second-degree vehicular manslaughter and assault by automobile. While the minimum sentence for the offense was five years, Locane received a lighter ruling, due to being a first-time offender and citing her children's well-being. She served time in prison before being released on parole in June 2015. In February 2019, however, Locane was re-sentenced to a further eight years behind bars (with three already served) after another judge deemed the original sentence to be too lenient. She is eligible for release in December 2024.

Lane Garrison

Lane Garrison made a name for himself playing David "Tweener" Apolskis in "Prison Break." However, his rise to television fame was halted in its tracks as he was arrested for a drunk driving car crash that resulted in the death of a teenager in December 2006.

Reportedly, Garrison met three teenagers — two 15-year-old girls and a 17-year-old boy, Vahagn Setian — at a store and planned to give them a lift in his Land Rover to a party. On the way there, he crashed his vehicle into a tree, which resulted in the death of Setian and injured the other passengers. According to the police report, Garrison — 27 years old at the time — had both cocaine and alcohol (double the legal limit) in his bloodstream. The actor pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence, and giving alcohol to an underage minor.

In October 2007, Garrison was sentenced to three years and four months behind bars and ordered to pay approximately $300,000 in restitution. In April 2009, Garrison received parole and was released from prison. He would go on to work in the entertainment industry again, appearing as Ray in "Yellowstone" and Carney in "Mayors of Kingstown."

Charles S. Dutton

Before becoming a celebrated and respected actor and director, Charles S. Dutton served almost 10 years in prison. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he revealed that he grew up in a rough neighborhood in Baltimore where it wasn't uncommon for people to land in jail. Dutton found himself behind bars after a violent encounter turned into a knife fight that resulted in a man's death. 

"My manslaughter conviction came from a fight with a guy who stabbed me seven times," he said. "I wrestled the knife from him and killed him. Got 18 months [in 1967]. Then got three years for possession of a weapon and another eight years tacked on for a fight with a guard."

In prison, he experienced a life-changing event when an inmate stabbed him in the neck, sending him to the hospital for two months. There and then, Dutton made a promise to himself to change the trajectory of his dangerous life. After completing a community college degree while in prison, he applied for a drama scholarship at Yale University once he was paroled. From there, his career — and life — took off in a much better direction than before, with films and TV shows like "Alien 3," "A Time to Kill," "Menace II Society," "Roc," and "Without a Trace" to his name.

Michael Massee

In a bizarre and tragic accident that happened on the set of 1994's "The Crow," Brandon Lee died after being mortally wounded in a scene that went horribly wrong. In what seemed to be a simple-enough stunt, the scene called for Lee's Eric Draven to walk into the room with a grocery bag. Michael Massee's Funboy would then unload on him with his .44-caliber gun from a distance. At the same time, Lee would detonate a device inside the bag to add to the effect and fall to the ground. Everything appeared to happen according to plan; however, Lee didn't get up from the floor once the scene ended. Only then did the crew notice he was bleeding and an ambulance rushed Lee to the hospital where he later died.

The tragedy happened because the prop gun was improperly loaded, as a broken metal tip of a dummy bullet fired out of the chamber and pierced Lee's body. For Massee, Lee's death stayed with him and he took a year off from acting to come to terms with what happened. However, he admitted he never got over it. "What happened to Brandon was a tragic accident," he told Extra in 2005. "And it's something that I'm going to live with. It's taken me the time it took to not so much put it in perspective but to be able to move on with my life." Massee died from stomach cancer in October 2016.

Rebecca Gayheart

Rebecca Gayheart captured the public's attention thanks to quintessential '90s roles in "Beverly Hills, 90210," "Scream 2," "Urban Legend," and "Jawbreaker." But the 2000s didn't start off in the best possible way for her, as she was involved in a horrible tragedy that claimed the life of a nine-year-old boy named Jorge Cruz Jr. in 2001.

Cruz was reportedly crossing the street when he was hit by a Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Gayheart. Further complicating matters, the vehicle belonged to Gayheart's "From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter" co-star Marco Leonardi. Gayheart paid for Cruz's hospital fees and funeral costs, while also offering to pay for his parents' counseling. She pleaded no contest to a charge of vehicular manslaughter, receiving three years of probation, a year's suspension of her driver's license, 750 hours of community service, and a fine of $2,800. In addition, she settled a civil suit with the Cruz family out of court.

Speaking on "The Only One in the Room" podcast (via Today) in 2019, Gayheart recalled the harrowing incident, saying that she swerved to miss another car and hit Cruz, who was running after his soccer ball into the street. "I did not cope very well after,” she said. "I just didn't want to live after that accident. That's what it came down to. I couldn't handle it at all. So I spent about a year just trying to kill myself, basically, by doing every self-destructive thing a person can do."

Johnny Lewis

In September 2012, "Sons of Anarchy" actor Johnny Lewis was found dead outside of his 81-year-old landlady Catherine Davis' home. The news sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment industry — not just because of the tragic death of the 28-year-old Lewis, but also the horrific nature of what had happened beforehand.

After police responded to a call alleging Lewis had been in a violent altercation with two men, the authorities discovered Lewis' dead body on his landlady's driveway. In the ensuing investigation, Davis and her cat were found dead inside the house, which had been ransacked. Ultimately, the authorities determined that Lewis killed his landlady — and presumably the cat too — but were uncertain about his motivations. He then had a run-in with the two men outside before returning back to Davis' home and falling to his death. A toxicology report revealed that there were no drugs in his system, and reports that he was suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or head trauma were inconclusive.

It was a shocking and seemingly senseless event, especially considering how Lewis had previously praised Davis to others, including his friend and fellow actor, Beau Garrett. "I remember all the nice things he said about her and how she opened her place to artists and eccentrics," Garrett told Los Angeles magazine.

Michael Jace

What is the cast of "The Shield" doing today? In the case of Michael Jace, he finds himself behind bars for life. Jace played Julien Lowe in all seven seasons of the popular cop drama series. The actor also built up a respectable filmography, appearing in recognizable movies such as "Cradle 2 the Grave," "Gridiron Gang," and "State of Play." However, his acting career ended in May 2014 after he shot and killed his wife, April, in front of their two young children.

According to prosecutors, April told Jace she wanted a divorce earlier in the day. Upset about the pending dissolution of his marriage and suspecting she was dating someone else, Jace shot her. The actor told detectives (via NBC Los Angeles) that he didn't want to kill her, but that events had escalated. "I was just angry," he said. "All I intended to do was shoot her in the leg. And then I shot her in the leg and that was it."

Jace revealed that he planned to turn the gun on himself after killing his wife, but didn't go through with it. Instead, he phoned the police and confessed to his actions when the detectives arrived. Jace received a 40-year sentence for second-degree murder and issued an apology to his wife's family.

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