Every actor dreams of that role of a lifetime, characters that can really test their abilities, and scenes that they can really sink their teeth into. The joys of being an actor can be extremely rewarding, especially with regards to awards and most obviously a huge wad of cash to play with at the end of each project. However, what happens when that role just proves to be too much, when those characters are revealed to not be as interesting as they had originally thought, or that scene that they worked so hard on, turns out to be a creepy mess, inspired by an even stranger experience. Every day actors are forced into becoming people who they really don’t want to be, from murderers to rapists, to bank robbers and beyond, sometimes making it that much more difficult to separate real life from imagination.
While Hollywood may seem appealing, with the glitz and glamour of tinsel town making it seem the ideal place to live and work, breathing in the money and the smell of the upper classes, yet the work that goes into producing a movie can be extremely difficult. I mean think about it, from action flicks, to playing dead, to shooting someone in the face, doing such things over and over again can really test a person. The hours put in by these actors each year are grossly underestimated, with most people forgetting the trials and tribulations that actors have to face. Behind those big pots of cash, a movie set can be a daunting and demanding place for an actor, with long hours, self obsessed co-stars, and angry directors all contributing to an extremely tense and stressful atmosphere. So, to take a look at those that very nearly didn’t make it, here are 15 movies with set conditions that almost made actors quit.
15. Russell Crowe – Gladiator
Aussie bad boy and all round hard nut Russell Crowe is probably most famous for his role as Maximus Decimus Meridius in the critically acclaimed, Gladiator. However, despite the movie’s success and Crowe’s subsequent Oscar win, the film very nearly fell apart mid-shoot, due to Crowe’s unruly and volatile behavior. That’s right, known for his temper, Crowe often fought with a number of people on set, especially that of the producer who he threatened to kill “with his bare hands”, over a pay dispute. As well as getting angry about his finances, Crowe was also partial to walking off set a number of times, with claims that the script was to blame. Unhappy with a number of lines, including the movies most famous quote, ‘and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next,’ Crowe desperately tried to have them changed, citing them forced and ridiculous. Nevertheless Crowe eventually got his act together, with Gladiator one of his most iconic roles to date.
14. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio – The Abyss
While shooting the science fiction epic The Abyss in 1989, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was subjected to a lot of work, especially with regards to what her character had to go through. However, it was one scene in particular that forced the actress to walk off set, after her character is given a brutal force of CPR. Prodded, pressed and slapped by co-star Ed Harris, Mastrantonio had no other choice but to take it, all while shivering and soaking wet on the cold and uncomfortable floor beneath her. But, the worst was yet to come, when the camera man suddenly announced that the camera had broken mid shot, resulting in an immediate re-shoot of the same traumatic scene. Rightly angered, Mastrantonio stormed off set, only to return after director James Cameron decided they could use previous footage, without subjecting her to another round of monstrous CPR.
13. Brad Pitt – Interview With A Vampire
Based on the book of the same name, Interview With a Vampire, has become somewhat of a cult classic, especially with the movies two leading men, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, now fully fledged movie stars. However, although the movie was well received, things were not exactly happy down on set, with Pitt recently claiming he was “miserable”. Unhappy with the location and the script itself, Pitt was at loggerheads with the books author and script writer Anne Rice, who in turn hated the casting of Pitt in the main role, going as far as calling it “the worst crime in the name of casting since Bonfire of the Vanities,” ouch. Yet, all was not lost, with Pitt insisting that he in no way regrets the movie, stating,”I don’t lament the failures, the failures prepare you for the next one. It’s a step you needed to take, and I’m all for it.”
12. Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Newcomer to the acting world, Daisy Ridley, barely had a credit to her name when plucked from obscurity by director J.J. Abrams for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, mirroring George Lucas’ preferred method of casting unknowns. Extremely nervous, Ridley spent the time prior to shooting convincing herself to quit, admitting that she nearly left the production a variety of times. In fact, Ridley was so scared that she confessed to massively freaking out beforehand stating, “I was petrified, I thought I was going to have a panic attack on the first day”. Plus, with Abrams himself calling her “wooden”, on the first day of filming, Ridley very nearly packed up and left right there and then, with the comment reducing her to tears. However, with everything seemingly working out in the end, Ridley was praised throughout the world for her performance, granting her a well earned spot in the epic franchise that is the Star Wars film canon.
11. Gene Hackman – The French Connection
Going down in history as one of the best action flicks ever produced, William Friedkin’s epic thriller The French Connection, turned already well-known movie star Gene Hackman into the full-fledged icon that he is today. Playing the part of Popeye, Hackman’s character became an instant hit, but it very nearly didn’t happen at all. In fact, Hackman wasn’t even Frienkin’s first choice for the role, with Friedkin making that point extremely clear all the way through shooting. Sensing a bitter atmosphere, Hackman was understandably pissed, especially when Friedkin was considered to be the king of re-shoots. Threatening to leave the set after he was forced to redo a scene 27 times, Hackman had reached his limit. So much so that even when accepting the award for best actor at the Oscars, Hackman mentioned how he had wanted to quit a number of times, embarrassing Friedkin in the process.
10. Jim Carrey – Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Famed for his comedic persona and funny faces, Jim Carrey is one of the world’s most loved comedians. However, all was not well on the set of his most famous role to date, with Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas proving to be a difficult experience for the hilarious actor. In fact, things got so bad, that Carrey threatened to leave just two days into filming, complaining that the contact lenses used for his character were extremely painful, referring to them as “Frisbee-like contact lenses”. And that’s not all, with the huge amount of makeup becoming exceptionally time consuming, enough was enough for the impatient actor who continued to complain throughout the shooting process. That’s right Carrey was so close to quitting that he had to have producer Brian Glazer talk him into staying, with Glazer stating, “we’re a month away from shooting the movie and I’m watching Jim Carrey continually be uncomfortable having this three and a half hours of prosthetic be welded to his body and then these green Frisbee-like contact lenses. One day he’s so uncomfortable, he’s thought about this, he’s been paid $20 million to do this movie then, 12 or 15 years ago, he says, ‘I can’t do this any longer, I’m gonna give all the money back. I can’t do it, this is tortuous to me.”
9. Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four
Based on the Marvel comic superhero splash of the same name, Fantastic Four was extremely successful, sparking a number of careers. However, seemingly unhappy with the experience, Jessica Alba has spoken a number of times with regards to how the movie made her want to quit the industry. That’s right, claiming that she “wanted to stop acting”, Alba admitted that the relationship she had with director Tim Story, was not as nice as she would have liked. In fact, Alba argued that Story would often make outlandish demands, stating, “the director was like, ‘It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? Cry pretty, Jessica. Don’t do that thing with your face. Just make it flat. We can CGI the tears in.’ And I’m like, But there’s no connection to a human being. And then it got me thinking: Am I not good enough? Are my instincts and my emotions not good enough? Do people hate them so much that they don’t want me to be a person? Am I not allowed to be a person in my work? And so I just said, ‘F–k it. I don’t care about this business anymore.” You tell him, Jessica!
8. Faye Dunaway – Chinatown
One of the greatest movies ever made, Chinatown not only impressed audiences world wide with its killer script and amazing cinematography, but also for the impressive acting skills that were screened throughout. Directed by controversial film director Roman Polanski, the movie starred the amazing Jack Nicholson and the equally excellent Faye Dunaway. However, famously clashing on set, Polanski and Dunaway were not the best of pals, with Polanski rumored to have been extremely tough with his stars on set. From refusing them bathroom breaks, to working exceptionally long hours, Dunaway had seemingly had enough, threatening to walk off set a number of times. In fact, Dunaway got so mad, that during one scene in particular in which Nicholson surprises her character in her car, Dunaway ended up relieving herself in a cup, which she then threw all over Polanski’s face. Classy.
7. Mike Myers – Wayne’s World
Up there with the greatest comedy flicks ever made, Wayne’s World sparked a number of catchphrases and comedic scenes that are still referenced today. Starring SNL alumni Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, the movie was an instant hit, earning itself a sequel in the process. Forever remembered for one iconic moment in particular, the scene itself sees Myers and his pals head banging to the now iconic tune and Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody. However, Myers later confessed that the scene very nearly didn’t happen at all, with the studio insisting on using a cheaper song by the more famous Guns N’ Roses. Pushing for the original rock anthem, Myers threatened to pull the entire film, claiming that it was absolutely necessary to use the Queen track. With the studio giving in, movie magic was created, with the scene becoming one of the most famous in Hollywood history.
6. Al Pacino – The Godfather
Probably one of the greatest performances of all time, Al Pacino stole the show as Michael Corleone in the critically acclaimed gangster classic The Godfather. Stealing scenes from the likes of Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, The Godfather will always be remembered for Pacino’s stone cold and menacing performance. However, although Pacino went on to receive world wide acclaim, he was originally extremely disliked, with the studio even threatening to throw him off set. That’s right, recalling the story, Pacino recently admitted, “they wanted to fire me when I was on the picture, because they kept seeing the rushes, you know, or the footage that was shot, and they kept looking at it and thinking, ‘What is he doing?'” Feeling extremely awkward, Pacino only stayed out of loyalty to film director Francis Ford Coppola, claiming, “If it wasn’t for Francis, I would’ve just not showed up one day and said, ‘Hey, look man, I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted.'”
5. Michelle Rodriguez – The Fast And The Furious
Everyone’s guilty pleasure, The Fast and The Furious has somehow become one of the most successful franchises of all time, mostly in part due to the selection of actors that have worked on the movies throughout production. Starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriquez and the late great Paul Walker to name but a few, the chemistry between the actors is as thrilling as the cars themselves. However, with Rodriquez initially upset with how the original script panned out, she tried her hardest to have a major plot device changed, even after she had already signed up to play the now iconic role.
Referring to the idea that her character would cheat on her boyfriend/eventual husband, Dominic Toretto (Diesel), Rodriquez blasted the storyline as unrealistic, claiming, “It was more of a Point Break idea. They just followed the format without thinking about the reality of it. Is it realistic for a Latin girl who’s with the alpha-est of the alpha males to cheat on him with the cute boy? I had to put my foot down. I basically cried and said, I’m going to quit and, ‘Don’t sue me, please, I’m sorry, but I can’t do this in front of millions of people. My whole point in being an actress is that I thought I got to live a dream. And I don’t dream about being a slut! Do you?!”. Thankfully the producers listened, with Rodriquez managing to change their minds and the eventual script.
4. Tippi Hedren – The Birds
Famed for the menacing way in which he treated his stars, Alfred Hitchcock was not the kindest of film directors nor was he the easiest to be around. With a crazed obsession with ice cold blondes, and an unhealthy fixation on his leading ladies, Hitchcock often made life unbearable for the actresses that starred in his masterful epics. In fact, things got so bad, that Tippi Hedren, star of the now iconic The Birds, claimed in an interview that she nearly walked off set a number of times due to his strange and psychotic behavior. That’s right, after knocking back his sexual advances, the director began making life hell for the young actress, subjecting her to crude sexual jokes, and ruthless set times. Recalling that period in her life, Hedren admitted, “I had to get out of there, I was dealing with one of the most powerful men in motion pictures and it was difficult, embarrassing and insulting. He said, ‘If you leave, I’ll ruin your career.’ And he did.”
Helping to create one of the most iconic characters in history, Sir Ian McKellen is now one of the most loved actors of all time. However, although the rest of the world may love the character of Gandalf, McKellen seemingly disagreed, very nearly leaving a number of times throughout the production of The Hobbit. Declaring the shooting process to be “miserable”, McKellen admitted that he often though about quitting. Blaming the excessive use of the green screen as the main problem, McKellen found the visual necessities extremely demanding. In fact, things got so bad that McKellen even thought about leaving the acting industry altogether, confessing, “I felt pretty miserable … and thought perhaps, has the time come for me to stop acting altogether if I can’t cope with these difficulties?” Noticing his obvious distress, director Peter Jackson did his best to hurry the process, with McKellen finishing the production and thankfully continuing to act to this day.
2. Shelley Duvall – The Shining
Arguably one of the greatest horror films ever produced, if not the best movie ever made, The Shining, has most definitely cemented itself proudly in Hollywood history. Directed by the late Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, the movie was critically acclaimed, turning itself into a now iconic and masterful motion picture.
However, the filming process was an entirely different story, with rumors that notorious film maker Kubrick was up to his old tricks again, pushing his stars to their limits, and creating a frosty atmosphere on set. Stating that Kubrick was a “different director”, Nicholson obviously had his doubts, yet it was Duvall who seemingly got the brunt of Kubrick’s wrath, claiming she often felt isolated and ignored on set. Plus, if that wasn’t enough, Duvall was forced to re-shoot certain scenes a number of times, with the baseball bat scene in particular racking up a hefty 127 retakes. Exhausted, Duvall became affected in real life, with claims that her hair had begun to fall out as a result of severe stress and genuine crying, admitting, “from May until October I was really in and out of ill health because the stress of the role was so great. Stanley pushed me and prodded me further than I’ve ever been pushed before. It’s the most difficult role I’ve ever had to play”.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Titanic
Everybody’s favorite guilty pleasure, Titanic has risen to the top as the number one chick flick of all time. Famed for its two leads, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, the movie made history upon its release, garnering a number of awards and welcomed reviews. However, although it may have seemed victorious, not everybody was happy, with DiCaprio ready to quit the industry due to experiences on set.
Struggling to cope with the excessive media interest, DiCaprio was unwittingly lumbered with the ‘pretty boy’ image, something he detested enormously. Recalling the time period, DiCaprio claimed, “at first I hated the way I was turned into a pretty boy, as if that was all that was expected of me. It made me almost want to stop acting for a while because the attention that was focused on me was not where I wanted to take my career”. Thankfully, DiCaprio didn’t give in, choosing to focus on a new career path instead and selecting roles that were not expected of him. Now, one of the best actors in the industry, DiCaprio only gets better, winning his first Academy Award in early 2016.
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