20 Hollywood Actors Who Publicly Criticised Their Own Films
We suspect that most actors would never agree to star in any film they knew was going to end up being terrible. After all, most people – actors included, no doubt – go into new jobs with the best hopes and intentions.
Still, when you look back on some of the turkeys that Hollywood’s best and brightest have starred in over the years, you do have to wonder whether a fat paycheck was the only reason they made the decision to sign their name on the dotted line.
There are also occasions when stars take a disliking to a film of theirs that many of us would consider to be a classic, sometimes for rather strange and bizarre reasons. But whether they were justified or not, below are some occasions when actors made the decision to publicly criticise one of their own films.
20. Alec Guinness – Star Wars
It may be considered one of the defining film franchises of an entire generation, but not everyone loves Star Wars.
One of the most famous detractors of the iconic space opera was actually in it: Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Sir Alec Guinness.
The late British actor was less than complimentary about his time working on George Lucas’ original Star Wars (AKA A New Hope) back in 1977.
“Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film,” Guinness once admitted, declaring the role was “not an acting job.”
The actor had a particular issue with Lucas’ writing: “the dialogue, which is lamentable, keeps being changed and only slightly improved.”
It was at Guinness’ own suggestion that Obi-Wan is killed off midway through the original Star Wars, as the actor wanted to keep his work minimal, although he would also return for brief cameos in the two sequels.
19. Sylvester Stallone – Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
Three-time Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone has starred in and directed some much-loved films over the years.
However, let’s not forget that on top of his classics, Stallone has also appeared in a few real stinkers.
The worst of these, as far as the actor himself is concerned, is Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. This critically reviled 1992 action comedy cast the Rocky and Rambo actor alongside Estelle Getty of TV’s The Golden Girls.
In an amusing twist, Stallone only made the movie because of his then-ongoing rivalry with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stallone signed on to appear after hearing Schwarzenegger was interested in the lead role.
However, Schwarzenegger later admitted he publicly lied about being interest in the hopes that Stallone would sign on instead, knowing full well how bad the script was!
“If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film,” Stallone once joked. “They will confess to anything after 15 minutes.”
18. Richard Gere – Pretty Woman
We consider Pretty Woman to be an absolute classic, a view that we’re sure many of you will share.
The film’s success established Julia Roberts as the most popular actress of her generation, and rejuvenated the career of leading man Richard Gere.
Despite the fact that it’s probably his most widely-loved work, Gere has been less than positive about the 1990 film over the years.
When speaking to Woman’s Day magazine in 2012, Gere dismissed Pretty Woman as “a silly rom-com.”
Gere also objected to how the film glamourised greedy corporate raiders, like his character Edward Lewis: “it made those guys seem dashing, which was wrong.”
The actor explained, “I would rather be loved than have money and all that other stuff. I know now that I would rather have something that is true, something that is based on real love.”
17. Mark Wahlberg – Boogie Nights
Many consider Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights to be one of the greatest films of the 1990s.
As well as marking a major breakthrough for its writer-director, the 1997 drama helped make Mark Wahlberg a major Hollywood leading man.
However, Wahlberg has voiced regrets about starring in it, mainly due to its thorny subject matter: the adult film industry.
As a Catholic, Wahlberg has admitted that his role in the film might run contrary to his belief system.
Wahlberg has been quoted as saying, “I just hope God has a sense of humour, because I made some decisions that may not be okay with Him.”
However, Wahlberg has since stressed that this remark was a joke that had been taken too seriously by the media.
16. Bob Hoskins – Super Mario Bros.
The late Bob Hoskins wasn’t alone in thinking that the 1993 Super Mario Bros. game to film adaptation was a complete disaster.
The oddball sci-fi comedy adventure was the first major movie based on a video game, and had a very troubled production.
In one interview, the British actor was asked about his biggest regret, his biggest disappointment, and the one thing from his career he would change – and his answer to all three questions was Super Mario Bros.
As well as having to struggle with a script that was constantly being rewritten and numerous behind-the-scenes tensions, the production also saw Hoskins suffer an accident in which he was electrocuted, and another in which he broke a finger.
Small wonder Hoskins didn’t look back on the film with fondness, although it has gained a cult following over the years.
Hoskins’ also sadly-missed co-star Dennis Hopper didn’t think highly of the film either. Hopper was once quoted as saying that his son asked why he took the role of King Koopa: “I said, ‘Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes.’ And he said, ‘Dad, I don’t need shoes that badly.’”
15. Brad Pitt – The Devil’s Own
He doesn’t often star in a bad film, but Brad Pitt was not at all complimentary about 1997’s The Devil’s Own.
The provocative drama cast Pitt as a member of the IRA, alongside screen legend Harrison Ford.
While Pitt had been attached to the project throughout its development, he tried to quit late in the day due to behind the scenes disagreements.
The Devil’s Own was criticised on release for its clumsy handling of a sensitive subject, and Pitt agreed, blasting the film as “the most irresponsible bit of film making – if you can even call it that – that I’ve ever seen.”
The actor elaborated, “We had a great script but it got tossed for various reasons. To have to make something up as you go along, Jesus, what pressure! It was ridiculous.”
Pitt’s feelings on the movie have since cooled, however: “It was a good schooling for me. Still, I think the movie could have been better.”
14. Michael Caine – Jaws: The Revenge
Actors are occasionally honest enough to speak openly about roles they took simply for the money.
However, not too many actors have been quite so open about it as Michael Caine was when talking about his 1987 film Jaws: The Revenge.
The third sequel to Steven Spielberg’s classic shark movie is a shocker for all the wrong reasons, and one of the most notorious flops ever.
The film cast Caine as Hoagie Newcombe, a pilot and new love interest for Lorraine Gary’s Ellen Brody.
Caine’s account of Jaws: The Revenge in his autobiography has gone down in history as one of the most legendary instances of an actor putting down their own work.
Caine wrote, “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
13. George Clooney – Batman & Robin
George Clooney was at the height of his small screen fame on drama E.R. when he landed the highly desirable role of Batman.
Sadly this proved to be something of a poisoned chalice, as Clooney was cast as the superhero in 1997’s notorious Batman & Robin.
Clooney’s performance was just one of the many problems in the critically lambasted misfire which killed the Batman series for a decade.
The actor has long since accepted some responsibility for this, admitting he “so terribly destroyed the part of Batman” in the film.
“It was a difficult film to be good in,” Clooney has said. “With hindsight it’s easy to look back at this and go ‘woah, that was really s*** and I was really bad in it.'”
To this day, Clooney apologises for Batman & Robin every time the film is brought up in interviews.
12. Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
It’s generally agreed that none of the movies made thus far about Marvel super-team the Fantastic Four have been particularly good.
Getting cast as Sue Storm/the Invisible Woman was a big break for Jessica Alba – but she’s since revealed that because of her experience on the films, she “wanted to stop acting.”
The actress admitted having a particularly miserable time filming 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, her second and last film in which she starred as Storm.
“I remember when I was dying. The director was like, ‘It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? Cry pretty, Jessica… we can CGI the tears in.”
“It got me thinking: Am I not good enough? Are my instincts and my emotions not good enough?… so I just said, ‘f*** it. I don’t care about this business anymore.'” True enough, Alba is now semi-retired as an actress and enjoys massive success as a businesswoman.
Nor was Alba the only Fantastic Four cast member damaged by the experience. Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic actor Ioan Gruffudd revealed he started seeing a therapist after the films failed to elevate his career.
11. Jackie Chan – Rush Hour
Hong Kong martial arts legend Jackie Chan had been trying unsuccessfully to crack Hollywood for almost 20 years when he finally broke through with Rush Hour.
The 1998 action comedy teamed Chan with Chris Tucker, and it proved a huge hit, spawning two sequels (with a third long rumoured to be on the cards).
Further Hollywood roles followed for Chan in the Shanghai Noon movies, The Spy Next Door and the remake of The Karate Kid.
Despite this, Chan has not spoken kindly about some of the films that he made in America, making special mention of the Rush Hour franchise.
“When we finished filming, I felt very disappointed because it was a movie I didn’t appreciate and I did not like the action scenes,” Chan revealed.
The actor explained, “I felt the style of action was too Americanised and I didn’t understand the American humour.”
10. James Franco – Your Highness
After the success of off-the-wall action-comedy Pineapple Express, James Franco reunited with director David Gordon Green for 2011’s Your Highness.
The ambitious project, co-written by actor Danny McBride, was a ribald take on the sword and sorcery genre.
Unfortunately, Your Highness proved to be a costly flop that was met with scathing reviews – and few were more scathing about it than James Franco himself.
When asked about Your Highness in an interview with GQ, Franco flatly declared, “That movie sucks. You can’t get around that.”
Franco also made a dig at the film at his Comedy Central Roast, remarking, “I agreed to do this roast because I wanted to do something I’ve never done before – something that has zero artistic value, something nobody will remember three months from now…
“…Something that’s offensive, homophobic, and stars horrifically untalented people and something that’s only a big deal to a handful of teenage stoners on Twitter. You might say, ‘James, didn’t you just describe Your Highness?'”
9. Channing Tatum – GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
After rising to fame with Step Up, Channing Tatum spent some time struggling to escape two-dimensional Hollywood hero roles.
One of the most prominent such roles was that of Duke in 2009’s GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the first movie based on the toy and cartoon franchise.
Tatum didn’t mince his words when discussing the experience years later with Howard Stern: “Look, I’ll be honest. I f***ing hate that movie.”
Tatum explained he had been “pushed into doing that movie” to honour a three-picture deal with studio Paramount Pictures.
Later, Tatum only agreed to reprise the role of Duke in 2013 follow-up GI Joe: Retaliation on the condition that he be killed off early on.
Tatum’s feelings were echoed by co-star Christopher Eccleston, who declared, “[working on] GI Joe was horrendous. I just wanted to cut my throat every day.”
8. Robert Pattinson – The Twilight Saga
Being cast as Edward Cullen in 2008’s Twilight was a massive career breakthrough for Robert Pattinson, making the actor an international heartthrob overnight.
However, while fans of the YA supernatural romance series may have gone gaga for it, not everyone was impressed – including Pattinson himself.
As can be seen in the video above, the actor has never held back his true feelings about the material, even when the movies were at the height of their box office success.
Amongst many zingers, Pattinson described Stephanie Meyer’s original novel as “a book that wasn’t supposed to be published,” and the author herself as “mad.”
Even on the DVD commentary of the original movie, Pattinson admits walking out of the film’s premiere midway because he couldn’t stand it.
The actor has made it clear he only appeared in all four films due to contractual obligation, and he came close to getting fired on the first film over clashes with his approach to the character.
Pattinson’s co-star and partner of the time Kristen Stewart has been similarly disdainful of the Twilight movies, and the intense scrutiny their success brought on the actor’s lives.
7. Michelle Pfeiffer – Grease 2
1978 musical Grease may divide opinion somewhat these days, but most people are in agreement about one thing: the sequel was way worse.
1982’s Grease 2 saw almost none of the original cast return – but it did provide a breakthrough role for future superstar Michelle Pfeiffer.
However, this wasn’t necessarily much of a blessing for the young actress, as the film was a critical and commercial flop.
Audiences weren’t the only ones unimpressed by Grease 2, as Pfeiffer has never made any secret about disliking the film.
The actress once declared, “I hated that film with a vengeance and could not believe how bad it was.”
Despite all this, Grease 2 does have something of a cult following – and one high profile admirer in Drew Barrymore, who has said she prefers it to the original.
6. Halle Berry – Catwoman
After Michelle Pfeiffer successfully brought supervillain Catwoman to life in 1992’s Batman Returns, plans were soon afoot for a spin-off movie.
However, the project wound up languishing in development hell for many years – and many wished it had stayed there once the film finally arrived.
2004’s Catwoman saw Halle Berry take over in a reimagined take on the character, and the results were widely savaged by fans and critics alike.
This proved to be a particularly brutal fall from grace for Berry, who had not long since won the Best Actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball.
Catwoman proved to be a big ‘winner’ at the Golden Raspberry Awards, where it received the awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Actress for Berry.
Graciously, Berry became one of the few major Hollywood figures to accept her Razzie in person.
Whilst accepting the award, Berry poked fun at the famously emotional speech she had given on winning her Oscar, as well as acknowledging Catwoman’s many flaws.
5. Shia LaBeouf – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
There aren’t many Hollywood actors who have enjoyed such a meteoric rise and fall as Shia LaBeouf. At the height of his fame, the young actor landed one of the most coveted roles around at the time: Mutt, the son of Indiana Jones.
However, the fourth instalment in George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s adventure series was not as well received as expected – and LaBeouf had some choice words to say on the subject.
Not long after the 2008 film was released, LaBeouf said they had “dropped the ball” on the film, and he accepted blame for this: “the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault.”
LaBeouf’s illustrious co-star Harrison Ford was not impressed by the young actor’s words, remarking, “I think he was a f***ing idiot. As an actor, I think it’s my obligation to support the film without making a complete ass of myself.”
Then in 2011, LaBeouf was less guarded about his time working on the film, telling The Guardian, “I don’t like the movies I made with Spielberg” (the others being the first three Transformers films, which Spielberg produced). He also described the legendary filmmaker as “less a director than he is a f***ing company.”
LaBeouf’s status in Hollywood has long since plummeted; recent accusations of domestic violence are just the latest in a string of controversies to surround the actor. He will not reprise the role of Mutt in the upcoming fifth Indiana Jones movie.
4. Katherine Heigl – Knocked Up
Katherine Heigl’s career has long been sullied by widespread reports of the actress being ‘difficult’ to work with.
Such claims seemed to be confirmed by Heigl’s remarks about Knocked Up, the 2008 comedy-drama for which she received her best reviews ever.
Heigl stunned many – including director Judd Apatow and co-star Seth Rogen – by telling Vanity Fair that she considered the film “a little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”
The actress said she “had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a b***h; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie.”
This led to a public war of words between Heigl and Rogen, who said he felt “betrayed” by his co-star’s words, having enjoyed working with her: Rogen told Howard Stern, “As we were making the movie, honestly, I was like, ‘I would make a dozen movies with her.'”
Heigl has never worked with her Knocked Up director or co-star again, and major roles for the actress have been few and far between since.
3. David Cross – Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
To many younger viewers (and their long-suffering parents), actor and comedian David Cross is most recognisable for his recurring role in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies.
Kicking off in 2007, the big screen franchise based on the long-running novelty record and TV cartoon characters proved a big commercial success, despite largely scathing reviews.
Cross appeared in the first three Alvin and the Chipmunks movies as bad guy Ian Hawke – but by 2011’s third instalment Chipwrecked, he made it clear he’d had enough.
Discussing the film in an interview with Conan O’Brien, Cross said Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked was “the most miserable experience I’ve ever had in my professional life.”
He blasted the film as nothing more than a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines,” and urged viewers not to see it.
Unsurprisingly, Cross did not return for the fourth and to date final film in the series, 2015’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.
2. Ben Affleck – Armageddon
1998 sci-fi action epic Armageddon was a big professional step-up for Ben Affleck, then best known as the other guy from Good Will Hunting (for which he and Matt Damon shared the Best Original Screenplay Oscar).
Taking second billing under Bruce Willis in a big budget movie from Michael Bay may have been a major career move for Affleck, but this didn’t keep the actor from mincing his words about the film itself.
Most surprisingly, Affleck chose to air all his grievances about Armageddon in the DVD commentary he recorded for the movie. Here, the actor punches as many holes as he can in the film’s admittedly slender logic.
The now legendary commentary track is loaded with such remarks as, “I asked Michael [Bay] why it was easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts than it was to train astronauts to become oil drillers and he told me to shut the f*** up.”
Another Affleck-Armageddon zinger: “Bruce Willis is the best deep-core driller? I didn’t know they rated deep-core drillers. You know what I mean? Like, if you went around and asked somebody, ‘Who’s the best deep-core driller?’ How do you know? Who keeps track of these things?”
None of this was enough to stop Affleck from reuniting with Michael Bay on 2001’s Pearl Harbor, which was less commercially successful than Armageddon and heavily panned by the critics.
1. Megan Fox – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Transformers franchise may have collectively grossed close to $5 billion at the box office, but for the most part the movies have never been critical darlings.
2009’s second instalment Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen met with particularly harsh reviews – one of which came from its own star, Megan Fox.
Fox said of the film, “I don’t know how you saw it in IMAX without having a brain aneurysm or at least a migraine headache.”
Nor did she stop there, going on to say, “I’m in the movie, and I read the script, and I watched the movie, and I still didn’t know what was happening… [if] you see it and you understand it, I think you might be a genius.”
Factor in another interview in which she likened director Michael Bay to Hitler, and it’s no wonder that Fox was not invited back for the third movie, 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Still, Bay later made peace with the actress and cast her as April O’Neill in the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.