Every now and then, a role comes along for an actor, and he/she is faced with a tough choice. The actor can either take the role—and the paycheck that comes with it, or deny the role and risk going months or even years without work. Of course, it’s also important to consider that the roles that actors agree to take shape their professional reputations. This means that taking the wrong acting job could result in years of being blackballed in Hollywood. Not to mention, actors can quickly become the butt of cruel jokes if they make even one career-related mistake.
Even though a lot of pressure can be involved with choosing the right movie roles, there are some jobs that actors should just flat out refuse, regardless of the consequences. After all, it’s better to run the risk of auditioning for a new role, than to accept an offer for a movie that could possibly haunt you forever. While taking bad roles is sometimes a part of the game when it comes to acting, there’s a point in every actor’s career when he/she has to say “no” to a job. Here are 12 celebs who never should have played that role.
12. Jennifer Garner – Elektra
When Garner was starring on the TV series Alias in 2003, she got a starring role in a pretty bad interpretation of the Marvel Comic Daredevil. That’s where she met Ben Affleck, who would later become her husband and father of her three children. The two have since separated after Affleck’s alleged fling with the nanny. Jennifer played Elektra in the movie and then starred in the spin-off Elektra, which was even worse than the original movie. Even though she never should have starred in either of these films (in hindsight), Garner didn’t have much of a choice when it came to appearing in Elektra, since she was contractually obligated. Even though Garner never publicly stated that she didn’t like Daredevil, her then-boyfriend Michael Vartan, let this information slip to the press, and Garner ended her relationship with him. So, it looks like starring in the wrong movies can have an affect on an actor’s personal life as well.
11. Natalie Portman – Thor: The Dark World
Once Portman said “yes” to appearing in Thor, it was understood that she would most likely have to sign a multi-movie contract. However, Natalie must have missed this. Later, she claimed that she wanted nothing to do with the Thor sequel when filming time came around. During the film’s development phase in 2011, Portman was pregnant, and she had stated several times in interviews that she wanted to take time off to care for her baby. Marvel also fired Patty Jenkins, the woman that Portman recommended to direct the film, so that made coming to work even more unappealing for the mommy-to-be. However, Portman denied that she was forced to be in the movie. That’s probably a smart move from a legal standpoint, but most people would agree she should have passed on that role.
10. Keanu Reeves – The Watcher
Keanu Reeves has spent a considerable amount of time out of the spotlight. That means that any movie projects he decides to do should be completely worth it. When he was asked to be in The Watcher, he agreed, but he shouldn’t have. Reeves’ friends, Joe Charbanic, filmed a tour of Dogstar, which is Keanu Reeves’ band. Charbanic also directed The Watcher, and invited Keanu to be a part of the project—well, sort of. It is alleged that Joe forged Keanu’s signature on the contracts for the movie. Reeves wasn’t able to prove that this actually happened, and he didn’t want to go through the legal process of settling the matter. So, he “agreed” to be in the movie, but didn’t do any promotion. For a whole year, Reeves wasn’t able to talk about how he got involved in the movie. After that time, he didn’t hold his tongue, and even said that he didn’t find the script interesting.
9. Edward Norton – The Italian Job
Edward Norton didn’t want anything to do with The Italian Job, but he’d already signed a three-movie deal with Paramount when he landed his starring role in Primal Fear. After Primal Fear, other studios started offering Norton films, and he accepted them, but he didn’t get around to fulfilling his obligations to Paramount. So, he had to negotiate a new deal with Paramount if he wanted to keep his role in Fight Club (1999). He hadn’t found a film that he wanted to appear in, so Paramount offered him The Italian Job. Edward didn’t want to do it, but received a letter from Paramount stating that he didn’t have a choice. That’s why he didn’t do any promo work for the movie.
8. Channing Tatum – G.I. Joe
Yes, Channing Tatum is pretty hot—aesthetically and career-wise. But, there are some roles that even he should refuse. Tatum fans everywhere were cringing at the theater when Channing took the role of G.I. Joe. In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. During a Howard Stern interview, Channing admitted that taking the role was a bad idea. He even said that he was “pushed into” doing the film. Tatum had to satisfy a contract with Paramount Pictures. He also shared that she was a fan of G.I. Joe as a kid, but didn’t know if he actually wanted to be the character. He was also scared that he’d be pegged as an “action movie actor” after doing the movie. While his overall career took a little hit, we think he’s finding his way back on track.
7. Whoopi Goldberg – Theodore Rex
After the huge success of Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, producers approached Whoopi Goldberg about starring in a new movie. It was called Theodore Rex, and it involved a animatronic dinosaur. Goldberg agreed orally do to the movie, but two years later, when it was time to start filming, she started having second thoughts. Maybe her intuition kicked in and she realized that Theodore Rex was going to be a flop. She tried to back out of the movie, but realized that this was probably going to be pretty expensive. However, the movie was so terrible that it went directly to video. It’s also the only film of its kind to get a Razzie nomination.
6. Marlon Brando – Desire
Marlon Brando is one of the most legendary actors of our time. So, most people think that Brando always had a say in the type of roles he accepted. However, that wasn’t always the case. Due to contract obligations, Marlon Brando had to appear in the movie Desire, as Napoleon. It was reported that he hated the script, and he “forgot his lines” on purpose. He also used a terrible accent to say his lines and was rough-housing around set, throwing a football and spraying extras with the water hose. Brando was shocked when Desire got two Oscar nominations. If he would have taken the role more seriously, he may have gotten a nomination, too. So, maybe he shouldn’t have taken the role.
5. Mike Myers – The Cat In The Hat
Funnyman Mike Myers had just finished making Goldmember when Universal Studios proposed that he appear in a movie based on Dieter, one of his old SNL characters. Mike didn’t like the script, so he declined to participate. In response, Universal sued Myers for $3.8 million, and Mike counter-sued. Eventually, the two parties were able to come to an agreement, and Myers consenting to make a different movie—The Cat in the Hat. Mike said he wanted to do the movie because of his love for Dr. Seuss, and because The Cat in the Hat was the first book he ever read. However, the movie wasn’t a huge success, so Myers probably should have chosen another film to star in.
4. Val Kilmer – Top Gun
Most people don’t know that Val Kilmer didn’t want to appear in Top Gun, even though it was the film that virtually made him a star. However, he had to star in the movie due to a three-movie deal that he’d signed with Paramount. Kilmer had already starred in the first two movies outlined in his contract, Real Genius and Top Secret! So, in order to get his agent to stop bugging him, he met with the late Tony Scott. When the meeting was over, Val got in the elevator and said that Tony wouldn’t allow him to leave. Kilmer says that Tony knew he wasn’t interested in making the movie, but he took the role anyway. Some say he shouldn’t have, but there’s a good chance we wouldn’t even know Val Kilmer’s name if he hadn’t starred in Top Gun.
3. Hayden Christensen – Star Wars Prequels
There was once a time when Star Wars had a pretty bad name in Hollywood and people thought the franchise was finished forever. The prequels to Star Wars, directed by George Lucas, were released between 1999 and 2003. Most fans said that these movies weren’t great in terms of quality, and many fans were not happy with the fact that Lucas cast Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker (who becomes Darth Vader). Christensen was known for giving lackluster performances. In this case, Lucas should have never given the roles to Hayden, and should have searched for an actor who was more committed to the role.
2. George Clooney – Batman & Robin
Even though he tried his best, George Clooney just wasn’t the right actor to play Batman in the 1997 movie Batman & Robin. He had to do a lot of questionable things in this role, including wearing that infamous “nipple suit.” Clooney is still apologizing to this day for his participation in the movie, and says that he thought it was a good career move at the time. Clooney even expressed concern that he had destroyed the franchise by appearing in the movie. Then again, if George hadn’t appeared in the movie, Christopher Nolan wouldn’t have had the inspiration to revamp the movie franchise and create the Oscar-winning Dark Knight film trilogy.
1. Zoe Saldana – Nina Simone Biopic
This is the most recent “actor who took a role they shouldn’t have” occurrence. Zoe Saldana, who is known for her roles in movies like Colombiana and Avatar, agreed to portray musician and activist Nina Simone, in a biopic about Simone’s life. One of the problems with this is that Zoe looks nothing like Nina in real life, and had to wear a prosthetic nose and skin paint in order to “look the part.” Some actors are saying that there were plenty of other women in Hollywood who could have taken this role. Then again, Saldana is a working actor—and wants to stay that way. She’s expressed that she’s interested in Simone’s story, and wants to portray her in the best way possible. Also, she’s got twin boys at home, and probably doesn’t see the logic in passing up movie roles.
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