It’s not necessarily uncommon for an artist to not enjoy their own work. But sometimes it runs deeper than that. With some artists, there is a fear of seeing what they’ve created. The reasons for this fear vary, but it exists, and that’s worth talking about. In Hollywood, the artists are no different from the rest of the world, except that once their art leaves their hands, it is no longer really theirs anymore. The way it’s positioned, framed and complemented on screen is not up to them, well, most of them anyways. This likely adds to the feeling of dread when it comes to seeing your own work. But hold on. We’re not only speaking of metaphorical fear either.
Have you ever wondered if actors in horror movies fear their own films? Well, the answer is almost always a resounding no. Being there during the filming, behind-the-scenes or before-the-magic, however you want to look at it, eliminates almost any feelings of realism attached to the film for the actor. But the key word here is almost. There certainly are cases where actors are afraid of their own movies, or, were at one point. Take Connie Britton, for example, the actress who played Vivien Harmon in American Horror Story (season one). Britton was too afraid to sit through American Horror Story so she just didn’t see it, and she’s not alone in those feelings towards her own work. There are several examples out there of actors being scared of their own films, for so many different reasons. Let’s count down the highest profile examples of these weird little quirks. Here are 15 stars who are afraid of their own movies.
15. Kyle Richards – Halloween
Most people probably know Kyle Richards from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, but, way back when, Richards was a child actor and she landed a role in Halloween (1978). Playing the young Lindsey Wallace (the little girl that Laurie Strode/Jamie Lee Curtis babysits), Richards was too young to really absorb what was happening around her at the time. It wasn’t until later, when the film had been released for some time, that Richards got around to watching it. That was a mistake. Richards remembers that it scared the living daylights out of her: “Seeing it for the first time all pieced together was a very, very different movie. It was just really scary. And I really did sleep with my mom until I was 15 years old after that. I was terrified.”
14. Ned Beatty – Deliverance
If you’ve seen Deliverance, you know there’s one scene in particular that everyone always talks about. It’s disgusting and perhaps the scariest thing on film. Well, apparently Ned Beatty, the poor guy who is the victim in that horrific scene, was just as scared filming as we are watching.
Co-star, Burt Reynolds, says of the filming, “as we got closer to the r*pe scene, I caught [Bill McKinney] staring at Ned Beatty in an odd, unnerving way. Ned would see it, and look away… McKinney turned out to be a pretty good guy who just took the method way too far. Staring straight at Ned, [speaking of the r*pe scene], he whispered, ‘I’ve always wanted to try that. Always have.’ Ned shouted, ‘John! Oh, John!’ In his brilliance, Boorman reassured Ned but also brought in several additional cameras, knowing Ned wasn’t going to give him a second, third or fourth take. Ned was only going to do the brutal scene once. When it came down to shooting it, Cowboy and McKinney were hands-down brilliant. Scared the sh*t out of everybody who saw the movie. People crawled out of the theater. None of that creepy ‘Squeal, piggy, piggy’ stuff was in the script. But McKinney, I swear to God, really wanted to hump Ned. And I think he was going to. He had it up and he was going to bang him. It’s the first and only time I have ever seen camera operators turn their heads away. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I ran into the scene, dove on McKinney, and pulled him off. Boorman, hot on my tracks, helped hold him down. Ned, who was crying from both rage and fear, found a big stick and started beating him on the head. Half a dozen guys grabbed Ned and pulled him away. We separated the two of them and let things cool off.”
13. Ellen Burstyn and More – The Exorcist
While Max von Sydow has openly said that The Exorcist didn’t and doesn’t scare him, there were a number of people on set that were scared, including Ellen Burstyn who played Chris MacNeil, Reagan’s mother. Due in large part to the “based on a true story” material as well as some of the weird happenings on set, injuries, accidents, fires and more, many of the cast members began to get freaked out. Director William Friedkin asked the technical advisor, Rev. Thomas Bermingham, to exorcise the set to put people at ease, but he said no, that would only increase the tension on set. He did, however, talk to the cast members and blessed the set to help out. More recently, Burstyn has claimed that the film is no longer scary for her, but at the time when it was being filmed, she says that everyone on the set was on edge and frightened daily.
12. Johnny Depp – Everything
Johnny Depp is one of those stars who doesn’t watch ANY of his films. For him, the reason is that he fears it will only be a negative experience. Since the performance is done, nothing can be gained. In his own words, Depp says, “I feel like it would just harm me. I would rather stay as ignorant as possible about the result of anything because once you’re done playing that character, it’s really not your business anymore.” There is, you know, the chance you might be able to improve your acting abilities, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for old JD. Do people call him that?
11. John Cusack – Better off Dead
Even though John Cusack has somewhat backtracked on his early statements about Better Off Dead, there’s no question that the man despises it. He hates it so bad that even talking about it get’s him all sweaty and freaked out. It’s not a fear of the content. It’s more a fear of what he is in the movie. Cusack accused the director, savage Steve Holland, of conning him, tricking him into making a movie he hates. Apparently, during the first screening, Cusack walked out and never returned. When he spoke to Holland the next day, Cusack said it was the worst film he’d ever seen and he never wanted to speak to Holland again. Harsh.
10. Andrew Lincoln – Everything
Similar to Johnny Depp, Andrew Lincoln, best known from his work as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead, doesn’t watch ANY of his work on film or TV. The main reason is because he doesn’t like looking at himself, but he also fears that it will develop a self-consciousness in his work. In reference to watching himself, Lincoln said, “I did it for a while, I watched it, and it’s a self-conscious thing of watching myself and going, “Oh I like it when I do that. That’s kind of cool.” And then, “Oh, I don’t like it when I do that.” And that defeats the object of what I want to do as an actor, which is to try and be in the role and not be self-conscious.” So, no, Lincoln isn’t terrified of zombies or the other work he does, but he is scared of becoming an actor who’s afraid to be himself because of how he thinks he looks on screen.
9. Tippi Hedren – Birds
When Tippi Hedren was brought in to play the role of Melanie Daniels in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, she was so fresh in the industry that she didn’t care what the role was, just that she had a role. It turns out that maybe it wasn’t the best film because Hedren was deathly afraid of birds. She was told that the shoot would use different types of mechanical birds, which they did, but that wasn’t all they used. There would be countless live birds, all with their beaks tied shut, which the crew would throw into the scenes. Some of the birds would attack Hedren, which left her traumatized on set. Maybe the end result wasn’t that scary for her to watch, but the process of making the film, much like The Exorcist, was about as scary as she could handle.
8. Andrew Garfield – Everything
Andrew Garfield is another one of those actors who fears that, if they see ANY of their own films, it’ll negatively impact how they act in the future. For him, it’s about being conscious of how he looks, good or bad; “I don’t want to be aware of what I’m doing. As soon as I am, I’m less open.” If he’s scared of seeing himself on camera in all movies, he must have been terrified to see himself in that skin-tight suit in The Amazing Spider-Man. This is a strange stance on your own movies, though. You would think that by viewing your performance and critiquing it might make you a better performer. It might also be a fear of realizing that you’re not very good. Maybe.
7. Sigourney Weaver – Alien
Sigourney Weaver has said that the film Alien was scary, but no end result was as scary as when they filmed the famous chestburster scene. Ridley Scott intentionally didn’t divulge a whole lot of information about this scene to his cast, except for John Hurt, who was the guy that the thing was meant to burst out of. This meant that when the chestburster came out, squirting blood everywhere, the looks of sheer terror on the faces of the cast are genuine. Weaver would say that in that moment, she forgot where she was and felt like everything happening was real. After that, nothing on the set or in the film would scare her.
6. Carrie Henn – Aliens
For Carrie Henn, who may not be considered a “star” exactly, acting the role of the little girl, Newt, on the set of Aliens, was never that scary of a task. Henn says that all of the aliens on set were her friends and she felt very safe everywhere she went. That would change when she saw the final cut. That was when things felt more real. In her words, “I never got scared until I saw the movie – even though I knew what was coming.” For the 9-year old, she knew the individual scenes, but didn’t necessarily put it all together in her mind. When she saw it all laid out, it was a bit of a shock for her, but nothing too traumatizing. She’s now a teacher.
5. Kate Winslet – Titanic
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are actually both afraid of Titanic. Not because of the iceberg, because of their performances. Winslet is by far the more critical of the two. When she describes herself watching the film, she says, “I put my glasses on and I sat there all excited and then the second my face came on I was like, ‘Oh my god, make it stop, switch it off, somebody make it stop, turn the sound down, is that what we looked like?’ Oh my god, look what I looked like and look what Leo looks like!” Winslet is hyper-critical of her younger self, wishing she did things a bit differently so that she could enjoy the film more in the long run: “Every single scene, I’m like ‘Really, really? You did it like that?’ Oh my god.”
4. Tom Hanks – Everything
Tom Hanks doesn’t watch ANY of his own movies, not really out of fear, but because there is nothing to be gained. When asked if he does, Hanks said, “No, no I don’t. I think that’s a horrible mistake because you never learn what to do. You only sort of learn what not to do. The thing about looking at the old movies is that they don’t change.” For him, since he was there when the movies were being filmed, Hanks feels that’s more than enough. To watch them afterward “would be madness,” he said. “I’ve seen all the movies once, but I don’t need to see them again.”
3. Francis O’Connor – The Conjuring 2
Francis O’Connor, who played Peggy Hodgson, the mother of the family being haunted in The Conjuring 2, is not shy about discussing her fears while on set and watching the film. She said that when director James Wan had the set blessed, things started to seem a bit more real. The fact that many of the events within the film are said to be based on true events meant that the stakes were a little higher as well. For both O’Connor and co-star Madison Wolfe, who played Janet Hodgson, even the interior of the set was creepy. Since seeing the film, both stars have said that it is entirely freaky, and they’re right. It’s terrifying.
2. Christopher Plummer – The Sound of Music
OK, so maybe “terrified” isn’t the best word, but Christopher Plummer does not look at The Sound of Music with any type of fondness whatsoever. The legendary film and theater star has been known to seriously belittle the classic film, calling it “The Sound of Mucus” and “S&M.” Though he and co-star, Julie Andrews, have remained great friends ever since they first appeared in the film together, her sunny disposition led him to say that watching her in the movie and on set was like “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.” Plummer avoids watching or even speaking about the movie as much as he possibly can, often saying that it was the most difficult role he would ever play.
1. Janet Leigh – Psycho
A lot has been said of Janet Leigh and her lifelong fears that she developed while filming Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, Psycho, but it’s such a part of movie history that we have to give it its due. After filming the iconic shower scene, Leigh was traumatized by it all, and seeing it on film certainly didn’t help the situation. After completing the film, her life was changed forever: “I stopped taking showers and I take baths, only baths,” she said. Even staying in hotels or at an unfamiliar place became uneasy territory for the actress: “I make sure the doors and windows of the house are locked, and I leave the bathroom door open and shower curtain open. I’m always facing the door, watching, no matter where the shower head is.”
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