Actors Who Were Forced to Do Films They Didn’t Want to Make

Keanu Reeves – The Watcher

Why anyone would want to trick Hollywood’s nicest guy, Keanu Reeves, is a mystery. Sadly, it is exactly how Reeves came to star in career clunker, The Watcher.

The director, Joe Charbanic, allegedly forged the signature of his then friend and, unable to prove the forgery and wishing to stay out of the courts, Reeves reluctantly took part.

Emily Blunt – Gulliver’s Travels

After turning head’s in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada, Emily Blunt was Marvel’s top choice for comic book heroine, Black Widow, in Iron Man 2.

Blunt desperately wanted to accept, however, her Devil Wears Prada contract contained a clause that meant she had to star in another Fox Studios film first. That film was the box-office disaster, Gulliver’s Travels.

Val Kilmer – Top Gun

Top Gun is a film that helped strengthen Val Kilmer’s career, and yet Kilmer was originally reluctant to get involved.

On paper he hated the concept, but being two films into a three movie contract with Paramount, he was cast regardless without a say in the matter. In the end, he enjoyed the film and went on to appear in its sequel, Top Gun: Maverick.

Sylvester Stallone – Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

Action heroes Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger had a well publicised rivalry. Stallone eventually fell foul of this after he found himself tricked into starring in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

Stallone got word that Schwarzenegger was interested in the script and so, wanting to beat him, immediately signed on. He later found out that Schwarzenegger’s interest had been deliberately faked.

Natalie Portman – Thor: The Dark World

Despite an appearance in the Star Wars prequels, Natalie Portman has a reputation for making more serious, arthouse movies. When she was announced as starring opposite Chris Hemsworth in Thor, audiences were confused, as the actress was said to have hated the experience.

However, Portman had to return for its sequel, Thor: The Dark World, due to a multiple films stipulation in her contract.

Matt Damon – The Bourne Ultimatum

Although Matt Damon loved his time playing amnesiac CIA operative Jason Bourne, the actor would have preferred not to have starred in The Bourne Ultimatum.

The reason for this was that the film was rushed into production before the script was ready. Damon tried to back out, or at least postpone filming, but was unsuccessful.

Ben Affleck – Justice League

Although initially happy to have been cast as every little boy’s hero Batman, Ben Affleck’s joy was short-lived.

His first outing as the caped-crusader in Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice, was ill received, and unfortunately for Affleck, he couldn’t move on as his contract tied him into appearing in Justice League. His disdain can be felt in every scene.

Sigourney Weaver – Alien 3

Despite having earned an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Aliens, Sigourney Weaver initially had no interest in returning for Alien 3. Scripts forged ahead without her, but none of them felt right.

Eventually 20th Century Fox managed to coerce Weaver back with both a hefty $4 million salary and a co-producer credit.

Channing Tatum – G.I Joe: Retribution

Early in his career Channing Tatum landed the lead role in G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Whilst it raised Tatum’s profile, the film took a critical mauling.

By the time its sequel, G.I Joe: Retribution, was on the horizon, Tatum was a full-fledged star and didn’t want to return. His contract obligations had him locked in however.

Bruce Willis – Armageddon

Armageddon may have been one of the highest grossing movies of 1998, but star Bruce Willis hated the project.

His involvement was part of a settlement with Walt Disney Studios after he bailed on the doomed Disney movie, Broadway Brawler. Rather than go to court, he agreed to star in three movies for the studio at a reduced rate.

Linda Blair – The Exorcist: The Heretic

Linda Blair was catapulted to stardom after playing possessed teenager Regan MacNeil in William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist. In 1977 came the sequel, The Exorcist: The Heretic, and after years of turning requests down, Blair finally read a worthy script and signed on.

Unfortunately, that script was rewritten and Blair was stuck in a movie she has since proclaimed as “the biggest disappointment” of her career.

Marlon Brando – Désirée

Marlon Brando might be regarded as a titan of cinema, but he was not above being hoodwinked into agreeing to a film he would later come to hate.

His involvement in 1954’s Désirée came via an obligation incurred after passing on another film – The Egyptian. Not one to mask his feelings, Brandon performed the bare minimum to fulfil the commitment.

Ryan Reynolds – X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Long before playing Deadpool in the recent movies of the same name, Ryan Reynolds appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine as the merc with a mouth.

His portrayal took a mauling from comic book fans, but Reynolds himself was against it from the start. But as the star was trying to get Deadpool greenlit (and after Fox informed him that they would simply recast the part) Reynolds reluctantly agreed to their terms.

Whoopi Goldberg – Theodore Rex

Thankfully for EGOT Whoopi Goldberg, most audiences have forgotten about 1995’s Theodore Rex. The nightmare began in 1992 when Goldberg verbally agreed to the buddy cop flop.

Pre-production was started, but Goldberg had a change of heart and stopped taking the studio’s calls. Eventually both sides went to court, and after a recording was used as evidence of Goldberg’s agreement, she had no choice but to proceed.

Bill Murray – Garfield

Bill Murray’s voicing of cartoon cat Garfield happened by mistake. When reading the script, Murray misread the name of the writer, Joel Cohen (Cheaper by the Dozen), as Joel Coen (Fargo), and immediately signed up.

Only later when he properly read the script did he realise his mistake. He honored his contract, but his error remains a cautionary warning for actors everywhere.

Christopher Lee – Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Whilst history remembers the late Sir Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Dracula fondly, for Lee himself it was a troublesome role.

After the success of 1958’s Dracula, Hammer Films were eager for more but Lee wanted to explore other avenues. Hammer allegedly used emotional blackmail to ensnare the star, reminding him of the people who would be jobless if he declined.

Jennifer Garner – Elektra

Of all the superhero films, Elektra is one that has consistently appeared on the ‘worst ever’ lists. It is also a film that star Jennifer Garner did not want to make.

However, prior to starring in 2003’s Daredevil, she signed a contract agreeing to future appearances. Elektra was rushed into production after Daredevil performed well, and Garner was left with no option other than to star.

Brad Pitt – Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire solidified Brad Pitt as a bona-fide star, and yet he tried to leave the project – citing cold night shoots and painful contact lenses as the cause.

During production he asked producer David Geffen what it would cost to buy himself out of his contract. The figure of $40 million was far more than Pitt possessed at the time, and so he continued.

Mike Myers – The Cat in the Hat

Mike Myers’ appearance as the titular character in live-action monstrosity The Cat in the Hat was born out of a legal battle.

After Myers backed out of a project based around one of his former Saturday Night Live personas, he found himself in court against Universal. The settlement involved Myer’s participation in The Cat in the Hat – and a nightmare was born.

Fairuza Balk – The Island of Dr. Moreau

In 1996, Fairuza Balk starred in The Island of Dr. Moreau, a film with a reputation of being one of the most troubled film-sets in history. Days into production, original director Richard Stanley was dismissed, leading to a furious Balk storming off set, insisting that she was done.

However, after her agent warned her that the decision might lead to her being blacklisted, she reluctantly returned.

Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones

In Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, Stanley Tucci plays the deplorable child murderer George Harvey. Although a heavy part, Tucci was initially intrigued to play George.

The reality of the character’s depravity however left Tucci regretting his decision and he made attempts to leave the project but was unable to. It wasn’t all bad news though, as Tucci went onto be nominated for an Academy Award for his work in the film.

David Cross – Alvin and the Chipmunks

Arrested Development’s David Cross starred in all three Chipmunks films as a record label CEO, and hated the experience from beginning to end.

His contract was for three movies, and whilst he begrudgingly adhered to it, he openly admits that they were the worst experience of his career.

Jamie Lee Curtis – Halloween: Resurrection

After Halloween: H20 revived the famous slasher franchise, Jamie Lee Curtis was contractually bound to return for follow-up Halloween: Resurrection.

Horrified that her character had killed an innocent person, Curtis agreed to star only if Laurie was immediately killed. She believed Laurie would not want to live with a death on her conscience, and so she became the first fatality.

Daniel Craig – James Bond series

Although the role of super spy James Bond is highly coveted, the role comes with a heavy crown. Daniel Craig found this out the hard way when he was cast as 007.

Bond ate up a significant portion of his time, making him unavailable for more alluring projects. In the end he performed all his Bond related duties, but not without repeatedly voicing his dismay.

Shia LaBeouf – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

In 2007, Michael Bay’s Transformers made Shia LaBeouf’s a household name. Transformers was a gigantic hit and so the sequels clause in LaBeouf’s contract was activated.

Although he had few issues with Transformers, his time on its sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, was not pleasant. LaBeouf’s feelings mirrored the critics, but the contract kept him in place for a third movie.

Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Whilst many actors find themselves trapped into making multiple movies they do not want to, Jessica Alba had a somewhat lucky escape.

Upon signing on as Sue Storm in Fantastic Four, Alba’s contract was for three films. Although she hated returning for sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, she was thankfully spared a third outing after the sequel tanked at the box-office.

Edward Norton – The Italian Job

Ahead of the release of Primal Fear, its star Edward Norton, signed a three picture deal with Paramount. The film was Norton’s breakthrough role, but that contract weighed heavily on him.

After passing on a lot of projects, he was eventually coerced into starring in the 2003 remake of The Italian Job, a film he openly admits to only doing to appease the studio.

Roy Scheider – Jaws 2

1975 blockbuster Jaws might have helped make Roy Scheider a star, but he was adamant that he wanted no part of sequel Jaws 2.

His co-stars all happily signed on, but Scheider remained steadfast. However, after dropping out of the lead role in The Deer Hunter, Universal were able to leverage his multiple-movie contract and insisted upon his reprisal of Chief Brody in this inferior sequel.

Natalie Wood – The Searchers

During what is termed ‘the Golden Age of Hollywood’, actors had their roles assigned. The process was known as the ‘studio system’ and would see an actor sign exclusivity contracts with a particular studio.

Natalie Wood found herself placed at Warner Bros. for seven years, and in that time she performed in several films she believed herself to be unsuitable for, including Western epic The Searchers.

Geena Davis – Cutthroat Island

Pirate rom Cutthroat Island is widely considered one of blockbuster cinema’s biggest failings. It was originally meant to star both Geena Davis and Michael Douglas, however after a major script change, Douglas used a loophole in his contract to leave.

Davis sadly did not have the same life-raft, and had the added complication of being married to the film’s producer, Renny Harlin.

Bruce Willis – The Sixth Sense

Bruce Willis found himself indebted to Disney after leaving troubled production Broadway Brawler. His get out deal involved signing up for several future Disney movies, which included The Sixth Sense.

Luckily, the film performed phenomenally and became a calling card for Willis and one of his most famous roles. It also helped Willis secure future work with director M. Night Shyamalan, the pair reuniting for both Unbreakable and Glass.

Robert Pattinson – Twilight series

During the time since, actor Robert Pattinson has made no secret of his dislike for the Twilight franchise. His role as shimmery vampire Edward Cullen may have propelled his career, but he hated everything about the part.

Frustratingly for him, he signed on knowing that there was the potential to have to make several sequels, a decision he came to regret.

Jeremy Renner – The Avengers series

For his first few appearances in the MCU, Hawkeye was trapped under the control of the villainous Loki, giving actor Jeremy Renner little to do. Renner hated the role and tried to convince Marvel to simply kill off the character.

He even improvised Hawkeye’s death during scenes to demonstrate how easy it would be. Marvel refused, and Hawkeye eventually got a story arc.

Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos

After hearing of the backlash to the news of her casting as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos, Nicole Kidman attempted to back out.

She took the negativity to heart and was concerned that the project would be a disaster. Director Aaron Sorkin explained it was too late for her to be replaced and persuaded her to stay.

Jim Carrey – How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a beloved festive favourite, but it nearly didn’t get finished. To play The Grinch, Carrey had to be in the make-up chair for hours and hours.

Eventually Carrey snapped and begged to be replaced. Instead, the studio provided him with a man who trained him in techniques used to survive torture and the film was completed.

Paul Bettany – Dogville

Paul Bettany joined Lars von Trier’s Dogville under the encouragement of co-star Stellan Skarsgård. The Swedish actor promised that the set would be a ‘party’, however, in reality Bettany did not gel with von Trier’s method of directing.

Bettany attempted to back out, but his contract had already been finalized. Skarsgård later admitted he’d tricked Bettany as he didn’t want to be on his own.

Tippi Hedren – The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock had a reputation for playing tricks to generate more realistic reactions from his cast, but in The Birds he pushed Tippi Hedren too far.

Having initially been assured that mechanical birds would be used, Hedren arrived on set to discover they were broken. After five days of having real birds thrust at her, Hedren tried to leave, but was informed she was still needed.

Melanie Griffith – Roar

Although Melanie Griffith was not technically forced into taking part in big cat comedy Roar, it is clear there was likely some guilt involved.

The film was directed by her then step-father Noel Marshall and starred her mother Tippi Hedren. Griffith originally backed out, citing a fear of injury. Her fears proved true as she was later mauled by a lion on set.

Brad Pitt – Troy

Having worked with David Fincher on both Se7en and Fight Club, Brad Pitt struggled to get back into the Hollywood star mentality during his stint in the 2004’s Troy.

Worse still, Pitt never wanted to make the historical epic – the actor ended up saddled with the gig after pulling out of another movie for the studio, who insisted he star in this as reparation.

The entire cast – Movie 43

Currently sitting on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 4%, Movie 43 somehow has one of the starriest casts outside of Oppenheimer, including Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Emma Stone and more.

Presented as a series of short films, none of the actors were aware of what was happening outside of their segment. By the time they did, it was too late for anyone to get out of their contracts.

Tyler Perry – The Madea Movies

Tyler Perry made his name as tough grandmother Madea, but behind the scenes he – perhaps understandably – began to hate the character. He wanted to quit the role and focus on his more serious roles like those seen in Gone Girl and Vice. However, the Madea series had somehow become a billion dollar franchise. With so much money on the line, the studio insisted Perry continue as Madea.

Jared Leto – Suicide Quad

As the first on screen iteration of the Joker since the late Heath Ledger had portrayed him so perfectly in The Dark Knight, Jared Leto was initially reticent about playing the part. Eventually he was convinced, however he has since been very vocal that the version of the character he ended up playing was very different to the concept he was originally pitched.

Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Whilst Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Mystique is one of the best things about X-Men: Days of Future Past, long hours in the make-up chair left her reluctant to return. After Bryan Singer departed the franchise, Lawrence said she would only return if Simon Kinberg was the director. When he was hired to helm X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Lawrence had to keep her promise.

Dean Norris – Breaking Bad

During the fifth season of Breaking Bad, Dean Norris, who played Walter White’s brother-in-law, Hank, was desperate to leave the show. His reason was that he wanted to focus on another television show, Under the Dome. The writers however refused his request, citing Hank as a pivotal character. Norris ended up appearing in fourteen of the sixteen episodes of the season.

Amanda Seyfried – Alpha Dog

Amanda Seyfried had no interest in starring in 2006’s Alpha Dog. She only went to the audition at the behest of her agent. During the meeting she made it clear that she was overworked and just wanted to see her family, even breaking down in tears. Casting director Matthew Barry spent over an hour convincing Seyfried and somehow eventually managed to get her onboard.

Sally Field – The Flying Nun

These days, Sally Field is known for her phenomenal career in hard-hitting dramas. However, one of her earlier roles – television series The Flying Nun – was a silly sitcom that followed the misadventures of a nun who can fly, her convent, and her neighbours. The series remains an embarrassment for Field who has since admitted that her stepfather convinced her to take it for job security.

Charisma Carpenter – Angel

Charisma Carpenter made her name playing Cordelia Chase in both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Although a fan favorite, Cordelia was eventually written out of Angel. When asked to return for Angel’s 100th episode, Carpenter initially declined. With much persuasion, she agreed on the condition that Cordelia would live, but after signing her contract, she discovered that her character would die after all.

Ron Howard – Happy Days

Before he became an Academy Award winning Director, Ron Howard had a career as an actor. He rose to fame playing Richie in sitcom Happy Days, though he first passed on the project. His reason was that he didn’t want to get stuck playing a teenager for the rest of his life. After three years on the show, Howard’s character finally graduated high-school.

Marilyn Monroe – Some Like it Hot

Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe initially had no interest in Some Like it Hot. She hated the role of Sugar, lamenting that she didn’t want to play a character who couldn’t tell that Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtist’ Daphne and Josephine were really men dressed in drag. After being offered 10% of the movie’s gross, Monroe agreed to appear, though she caused havoc on set, needing multiple takes per scene.

Jackie Chan – Rush Hour series

Despite making him a household name, Jackie Chan hated The Rush Hour movies. The series saw him star alongside Chris Rock and followed the classic buddy-cop formula. For each sequel he pushed his list of demands higher, hoping to be let go. The studio however agreed to all terms, including 15% of the box-office and distribution rights to the film in China and Hong Kong.

Rooney Mara – A Nightmare on Elm Street

When a remake of 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street was announced, young actresses across the industry were clamouring for the lead role of Nancy. However, a pre-fame Rooney Mara was less enthused. She deliberately tried to tank her audition, but the studio overlooked this performance and gave her the role. Her agreement was clearly linked to promises of making her a star.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Lost

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was miserable as Lost’s Mr. Eko. Having made a career playing criminals and drug-dealers, he was thrilled to be cast as a Nigerian Priest. However, upon learning of Mr. Eko’s backstory, which included substance abuse, he immediately wanted to quit. He was forced to complete all of his season two appearances, but Mr. Eko was granted death early during the third season.

Doris Day – The Doris Day Show

Families across America used to love tuning into The Doris Day Show, but the star herself was forced into the project without her knowledge. Her appearance was agreed to by Day’s husband, Martin Melcher, who died unexpectedly in 1968 and left Day with the surprise contractual obligation.

Alec Guinness – Star Wars: A New Hope

Alec Guinness was never shy about his disdain for Star Wars. Guinness viewed himself as a serious actor and thought that sci-fi films were beneath someone of his caliber. He tried repeatedly to reject George Lucas, and when that didn’t work, he made several outlandish demands – including a 2% slice of Lucas’ own royalties. When Lucas agreed to them all, Guinness had no choice but to oblige.

Whoopi Goldberg – Sister Act 2

After the success of Sister Act, star Whoopi Goldberg was not pleased about the prospect of a thrown-together sequel. She instead intended a passion project – an adaptation of stage musical Sarafina! – to be her next project. Struggling for financing, Goldberg eventually agreed to star in Sister Act 2 after some gentle urging from her agents, using her staggering $7 million fee to fund Sarafina!

Vin Diesel – Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

It’s hard to believe now, but during the production of Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Vin Diesel had to be pressured to star in it. Diesel was over the series and was not open to a return. The studio only won him over by leveraging The Chronicles of Riddick series, and Diesel was given ownership of the franchise in exchange for a cameo during Tokyo Drift’s credits.

Sir Patrick Stewart – Wild Geese II

Whilst nowadays Sir Patrick Stewart is a household name thanks to his work in Star Trek and the X-Men franchise, he was once a struggling actor. His desperation for money is the only reason he agreed to star in Wild Geese II. Stewart needed new windows for his house, and serendipitously the fee for the role was exactly the bill for the contracting work.

David Hyde Pierce – Hellboy

Although played on screen by Doug Jones in the first of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy films, Abe Sapien is voiced by Fraiser’s David Hyde Pierce. Upon arriving to record his lines, Pierce was horrified to learn he would be re-dubbing what he considered Jones’ immaculate performance. He tried to quit, but his contract had been signed. In the sequel, Jones’ performance went undoctored.

Winona Ryder – Boys

Winona Ryder’s 1996’s Boys was mauled by critics, and her casting as a femme fatale was singled out as being the weakest part of the film. Ryder however, had her reservations about the project during the production when there were last-minute script changes. Ryder was stuck in her contract, which sadly granted her no control over script approval.

George Clooney – ER

When hospital drama ER began, George Clooney became a massive star. His five season contract had him locked in tight, and Clooney had to routinely turn down offers for exciting projects. As soon as his contact was up, Clooney took off like a bat out of Hell and has gone from strength to strength in the film industry since.

Alec Baldwin – Rock Of Ages

Since appearing in 2012’s Rock of Ages, Alec Baldwin has gone on the record to say that he realized it was a disaster early into production. About a week in, Baldwin decided to try and get out of his deal, but the studio refused his pleas and so he had to finish the project.

Jamie Foxx – The Soloist

After winning an Academy Award for his work in Ray, Jamie Foxx sought out more dramatic roles. The Soloist however, pushed Foxx to the extreme. He played Nathaniel Ayers, a musician whose career was stalled by mental health issues. Foxx asked his manager to get him out of his contract, and when that couldn’t happen, he was sent to a psychiatrist to help process the role.

Bruce Willis – The Kid

After quitting the ill-fated Broadway Brawler days into shooting, Bruce Willis was in trouble with Disney. The studio threatened court action, but eventually both parties settled on a different deal; Willis would film three projects for Disney at a reduced rate. Armageddon and The Sixth Sense were two of the films, the third was The Kid, which was the star’s first family film.

Anne Hathaway – The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement

Anne Hathaway was initially reluctant to return for The Princess Diaries sequel. At the time, Hathaway was apprehensive about getting typecast, not wanting to play versions of her character Mia for the rest of her career. She also didn’t want to ruin the memory of the first. After much convincing, Hathaway was eventually coerced by the studio to give the sequel a chance.

Lily Tomlin – 9-5

After a year of being courted to star in 9-5, Lily Tomlin finally agreed, but just one week into filming she was trying to quit. Her reason for leaving was that she was convinced that her performance was terrible. Only after the insistence of co-star Jane Fonda, did Tomlin agree to give the project a little longer.

Liam Neeson – Taken 3

The Taken series helped rebrand Liam Neeson as an action hero. Following the release of Taken 2, Neeson was adamant that there would not be a third film. Fox however had other plans. As much as Neeson hated the idea, he insisted on a massive $20 million paycheck to soften the blow.

Cher – Moonstruck

Superstar Cher may have won an Academy Award for her performance in Moonstruck, but it almost didn’t happen. During pre-production, Cher got cold feet and wanted to quit. Her agent lied to her, saying the only way she could quit would be to tell the producers face-to-face. Scared of their reaction, and not wanting to ruin her reputation, she stayed.

Wesley Snipes – Blade Trinity

Wesley Snipes was reportedly exceptionally difficult on the set of Blade Trinity. He refused to open his eyes during one scene, which was eventually ‘fixed’ during post-production. The reason for his behaviour was due to him feeling left out of the decision to hire director David S. Goyer. As co-producer and financier, Snipes couldn’t leave, so became awkward instead.

Tyler Perry – Gone Girl

Tyler Perry took the role in Gone Girl under orders from his agent, and had no awareness of the content of Gillian Flynn’s novel or of David Fincher’s body of work. Perry has said, had he been more aware, he would have passed on the project. Knowing that his agent knew this would be the case, he believes he was deliberately manipulated into the role.

Olivia de Havilland – Essentially everything she ever made

Olivia de Havilland, star of Gone with the Wind, had a well documented tumultuous partnership with Warner Bros. Working at the height of the studio system regime, de Havilland grew constantly frustrated about the roles that Warner Bros. deemed her fit for. Constantly frustrated by the lack of range, she repeatedly tried several times to leave the company, but was stuck for seven years.