A celebrity’s image is their lifeblood. Why would we pay Brad Pitt $40 million to stand onscreen for 2 hours if there were 80 people who looked just like him willing to do it for a hundred bucks and the promise we never slap their ridiculously handsome face again?
That’s why celebrities will invariably be very protective of their likeness and how it’s used. When it’s used against their wishes, that when you get stories like …
10. Ultimate Nick Fury Was Based On Samuel L. Jackson, Years Before Jackson Played Him On Screen
The Ultimate Marvel universe is exactly like the regular Marvel universe, only things in it are usually way cooler. This is proven no better than by the fact that Ultimate Nick Fury bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Samuel L. Jackson. Nowadays, Jackson is well known for playing Nick Fury in the Avengers movie, but this Ultimate incarnation of Fury pre-dates the film by several years, and Samuel L. Jackson literally had no idea it existed.
He stumbled upon a comic bearing his likeness at random, and immediately called his lawyer to see what Marvel had to say about it. After an undoubtedly terrified executive picked up the phone to speak to Shaft himself, they quietly informed Jackson that they were making an Avengers movie, and they wanted him to play Fury. Out of nowhere, Jackson suddenly wasn’t that fussed about his image being used.
But here’s the coolest part; when asked about who would play him in a movie, Ultimate Nick Fury openly exclaims that nobody but Samuel L. Jackson could do the role justice. Fast forward a few years, and Samuel L. Jackson was signing on to play him in a movie. Who says comics are unrealistic?
9. Ellen Page Accidentally Stars In Two Video Games
The Last Of Us is widely recognized as one of the finest games ever released, and it has won more awards than you could shake a stupidly well-rendered stick at. Prior to being released though, fans quickly noticed that the 14-year-old character named Ellie bore a striking resemblance to actress Ellen Page. The fact the character was called Ellie only added fuel to the fire.
Naughty Dog (the publisher) were quick to point out that Ellie wasn’t based on Ellen Page, and was in fact based on Ellie’s voice actress, Ashley Johnson. This did very little to convince anyone, up to and including Ellen freaking Page, who commented on the similarity, expressing that she wasn’t happy with Naughty Dog ripping off her image. Mainly because she was lending her likeness to another game called Beyond Two Souls, a game which was making a huge deal out of Ellen being involved.
Naughty Dog, in one of the most crystal-clear backtracking moves in gaming history, decided to redesign Ellie to make her look more like Ashley Johnson. Which didn’t seem to work, because everyone still thinks Ellen Page is in the game anyway.
8. The Metal Gear Series Ripped Off Almost Every Action Star, And A Flamenco Dancer
Early in life-cycle, the Metal Gear series was a 2D sprite-based game with very little in the way of intricate character design. So to counter this, they put in loads of cool artwork to show off how they felt each character looked. However, a lot of this art looked suspiciously like some people you may recognize.
The character Big Boss, for example, looked oddly like Sean Connery. The main character, Snake, looked like a pre-meltdown Mel Gibson and Colonel Campbell was a dead ringer for Richard Crenna in Rambo. Apparently this was before lawyers, since none of these men ever complained.
An even more blatant ripoff was the game’s own box art, which was essentially a line-for-line trace of the Terminator movie poster. As the game series has gone on, the game has based characters on more and more obscure people. In the series’ first 3D outing, Snake was redesigned to look like Christopher Walken; in a later game, the character of Vamp (an undead knife-wielding murderer) was based on famed flamenco dancer, Joaquín Cortés. Again, no one has ever complained about these likenesses, presumably because doing so would mean they can’t secretly play the game as themselves and feel like a badass.
7. A Kid Copied Darth Vader’s Voice For A YouTube video, Now Plays Vader In Cartoons
We’d be inclined to say that Darth Vader has an inimitable voice and presence, if it wasn’t for the fact that everyone and their mother can do a half-decent Vader impression. But we’re not here to talk about half-decent impressions; we’re here to talk about a great one.
Matt Sloan is known for two things: his YouTube videos and the fact he can do a boss Vader. Sloan voiced a character called Chad Vader in the YouTube series Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager. You’ll notice that all of those words are things that would net a copyright takedown notice from lesser companies. However, LucasArts never sent one; instead, they sent Sloan a job offer to play Darth Vader! After hearing his impression, Sloan was approached to play the man himself in Soul Calibur 4. After proving his Sith chops in that game, Sloan was offered several more Darth Vader-based roles, proof that you don’t need to something original to get ahead, you just need to copy someone else, really well.
6. Rihanna Sues Shop That Put Her Face On A T-Shirt, For $5 Million
We’re not going to say that celebrities don’t profit from their image, or that they shouldn’t have the ability to protect their image. We are going to say that, when they do, they should be reasonable about it. It’s at this point we’d like to point out that Rihanna isn’t a reasonable lady.
When British clothing chain Topshop released a t-shirt with Rihanna’s image, the singer was rather displeased. Now, if she’d sent a cease-and-desist letter and called it a day, she wouldn’t be on this list. But rather than just send a letter, Rihanna had to open her mouth. If she had listened to any of her albums beforehand, she would have realized this was a bad idea.
Rihanna went on to claim that, along with ripping off her image, the store was fooling fans into thinking they’d bought an item with “an emotional connection to their heroine.” Because when fans buy stupidly overpriced merchandise through the official channels, they’re comforted by the fact that Rihanna personally watched over the 10-year-old children stitching her likeness to it, something they obviously weren’t getting through Topshop’s shirts. To top everything off, she then sued Topshop for $5 million, since that’s obviously what a grainy picture of Rihanna painted on 5 bucks worth of cotton is worth.
5. Beyonce Demands Unflattering Photos Of Her Be Removed From The Web, Doesn’t Understand The Internet
We’ll bet Beyonce has a lot of skills and talents; hell, one day she might give up singing to pursue them. But understanding how the Internet works isn’t one of them; in February of 2013, her people sent a letter to Buzzfeed asking for unflattering photos of her to be removed from their site. The photos in question were screenshots that Buzzfeed staff had taken during Beyonce’s Superbowl performance. Beyonce felt these didn’t represent the singer in the best light, and so she wanted them wiped off the Internet completely. And if she had to personally track down every person who downloaded the pics to their hard-drive, and then uploaded them to anonymous image-sharing websites, then that’s what she was prepared to do, dagnabbit!
The images in question are some of the most popular things Buzzfeed has ever posted, and we’d like to point out that they were all screenshots from a performance anyone could watch online. As in, anyone could go to the YouTube video of the performance and screenshot her face looking stupid. Buzzfeed just did it for a mass audience.
After receiving a takedown notice, Buzzfeed posted the letter, which predictably went viral. Buzzfeed then spun the whole thing into another 14 articles, because thinking of 14 new and original ideas is really hard. All this proved to Beyonce that she can’t just will something away once it’s online; that’s simply not how the real world works. And if someone had bothered to tell her that beforehand, she’d have looked way less stupid.
4. Scarlett Johansson Sues A Publisher Because Its Character Looks Like Her
Scarlett Johansson has probably had it rougher than other celebs when it comes to her likeness and privacy being violated, what with all those naked pictures of her and all. Even still, that’s not an excuse to go postal on any perceived infringement of your image. Johansson, on the other hand, totally felt that it was.
Which is the only reason we can think of for Johansson wanting to sue a small book publishing company for daring to have a character described as looking like Scarlett Johansson. This book had no pictures. So yes, Johansson sued a book publisher for releasing a book in which a fictional character is described as looking like her. Fictional characters can look however you want; just because a character is described one way doesn’t mean readers will picture them like that.
All Johansson proved by doing this was that she didn’t know how books worked, and that she totally didn’t want first dibs when it came to playing the character when the book is inevitably adapted into a movie.
3. Sweet Brown Sues Apple Because Someone Remixed An Interview She Conducted
Sweet Brown is the person behind this interview, that was later autotuned into this song. You may notice that Apple has absolutely nothing to do with either of those things. Suing Apple for something they actually had something to do with with is a bad enough idea; suing them for this was just suicide. This didn’t stop Sweet Brown from filing a suit for unlawful use of her image — you know, in all those videos using sound clips from the video interview she agreed to take part in. We’re no lawyers, but if anyone has the right to sue in this case, it’s probably the station who conducted the interview, who actually owns the rights to it.
Regardless, Sweet Brown was insistent that a number of places were making unlawful money from her likeness and image, and so decided to sue instead of simply asking for some of the money made, or by actually releasing the song on her own or something. Because we’re pretty sure all of those things are easier than winning in court against Apple.
2. Nicolas Cage Is Adopted By The Internet, Can’t Be Bothered To Sue Anyone
In case you’ve lived under a rock for the last 2 years, Nicolas Cage is pretty much the God of the internet. He’s spawned an entire following online, with a number of impressive efforts to Cage-ify everything. Fans have done everything from sticking his handsome mug onto every Pokemon, to creating a couch made of nothing but pictures of his face.
Now, if Nicolas Cage sued even a fraction of the places online using his image without his permission, he’d be a trillionaire many times over. However, Cage hasn’t sued anybody because, well, he’s “not a computer guy.” He’s aware of the jokes, and almost certainly aware that he’s sitting on a legal goldmine here, but he hasn’t tried to stop anyone because he doesn’t use computers enough for it to bother him. In fact, he seems to think that people sticking his face on everything is kind of neat. Man, we can see why people worship this guy now.
1. Kim Kardashian Sues Old Navy For Hiring An Actor Who Kind Of Looks Like Her
Kim Kardashian is supposedly a very attractive lady, but we still have no idea what she does aside from being a parasite on society. It must be bloody well important though, seeing as she felt the need to file a $20 million lawsuit against Old Navy because they had the audacity to hire an attractive brunette with a nice butt. Kardashian felt that this was infringing on her “right to publicity,” because she’s the only person on Earth who’s allowed to have brown hair, a nice butt, and a metric ton of plastic surgery.
We’re not kidding about this; Kardashian actually sued a company because they filmed an advert that starred someone who kinda sorta looked like her. Just think about what that means. If you’ve ever been told that you look like a celebrity, kiss your acting career goodbye, because if that celebrity notice the similarity too, they can evidently sue you into oblivion. But thanks anyway Kim Kardashian, because the one thing we’ve always wanted is less attractive women on TV.