Many actors share a similar story about their path to success: they started out by getting small roles in movies, TV shows, or maybe even theater, they worked hard and continued to connect with new directors and go on constant auditions, and eventually, they landed the role that would make them famous. Every aspiring actor is hoping for that one breakout role—also known as their big break—the one that puts them on the map. It seems like once you’ve got that specific part under your belt, you’ve proven yourself. Suddenly, people know who you are, you’re winning awards, you’re making more money than ever before, and you know in the future, you’ll always have an easier time winning the parts you really want. Life after that breakout role must be pretty sweet, right?
In some ways, yes. But in other ways, not so much. It may sound difficult to believe, but the truth is that when some actors look back on their careers, they have some regrets when it comes to their big breaks—even if they ended up winning Oscars and getting major accolades. Here are 25 A-listers who regret the roles that made them famous.
25 Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia, Star Wars)
Carrie Fisher was an amazing actress and an all-around amazing human being in general, and when she passed away at the end of 2016, millions of Star Wars fans were devastated to hear this sad news about the woman who brought the character Princess Leia to life. This was undoubtedly Carrie’s first major role—but according to Today, Carrie said that she actually regretted taking the part of Princess Leia. She said that at the time, she did not want that level of fame, and she just never thought that Star Wars would gain such an enormous fan base.
24 Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes, Transformers)
Megan Fox may not be doing much acting right now—she is more focused on her family these days—but she became a household name after she played Mikaela Banes in the Transformers films. You would think she would look back on those films fondly, but she actually has conflicted feelings about playing Mikaela. According to Cinema Blend, she did not like working with the director Michael Bay, and she felt that he was way too harsh on the cast. The two of them clashed pretty often, and she ended up leaving the cast after the second film was released.
23 Shailene Woodley (Amy Juergens, The Secret Life of the American Teenager)
Shailene Woodley is not your typical celeb—she’s a passionate environmentalist, a political activist, and a total minimalist who can fit most of her belongings in a suitcase. Maybe that’s why she has mixed feelings about her breakout role as the main character Amy on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. According to Wet Paint, Shailene says that the moral messages on the show didn’t really align with her personal morals, which caused some internal conflict, and she also felt that towards the end of the series, she didn’t have any control over the direction that the storyline was going.
22 Zac Efron (Troy Bolton, High School Musical)
Pretty much nobody knew who Zac Efron was before High School Musical put him on the map—and suddenly, every teenage girl was head over heels in love with him! Even though High School Musical really kickstarted Zac’s career, he says that when he looks back, he’s not totally proud of it. According to Independent, Zac says that if he knew Troy Bolton in real life, there’s no way he would hang out with him! In fact, he says that he regrets a lot of the choices he made early in his acting career, and it felt like the fame wasn’t real.
21 Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, Harry Potter franchise)
It’s hard to believe that Daniel Radcliffe could ever have any regrets when it comes to his starring role in the Harry Potter series. He got to play the iconic lead role in one of the most popular film series of all time—what an incredible opportunity, right? But according to CNN, Daniel has some regrets about the series. First of all, he says that his acting was not top notch, and watching the films make him cringe. Furthermore, he says that he did not give it his all in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which disappoints him.
20 Dakota Johnson (Anastasia Steele, Fifty Shades of Gray)
The Fifty Shades of Grey films were fairly controversial in Hollywood because of their subject material, but fans still flocked to the theaters to see the book series come to life. Dakota Johnson, who starred in the films as Anastasia, says that she has some conflicted feelings about her role. According to Cosmopolitan, she occasionally wonders if taking on the role of Ana was actually a good idea—her mother refuses to watch the films—and she is unsure of how it will impact her future career. She says she wants to try some different types of movies in the future.
19 Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen, Twilight)
The Twilight films have caught a lot of flack over the past few years, but trust us, no one has made fun of them more often than Robert Pattinson himself, who played Edward Cullen. According to E! News, he almost got fired from the first film because he kept debating with the directors about how to play his character. He has also said that he would not go see the film in theaters, and that it was weird to be starring in films that he did not even like. He even made fun of the fanbase! He totally regrets Twilight.
18 Harrison Ford (Han Solo, Star Wars)
So, we’ve already established that Carrie Fisher, one of the stars of the original Star Wars films, had some regrets about accepting her role in the series. It turns out that Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo in the film series, also has some regrets. According to Digg, Harrison was happy to be a part of the Star Wars films at first, but over time, he simply got bored of playing the same role. He also felt that his part was fairly static—at a certain point, the character development kind of stopped, and he was ready to move on.
17 Penn Bagdley (Dan Humphrey, Gossip Girl)
Penn Bagdley rose to prominence while playing Dan Humphrey on the teen drama Gossip Girl. Although fans of the series loved his character, he did not seem to love the series too much. According to Bustle, Penn has had several negative things to say about his character and the series. For long-time viewers, it’s probably not surprising to hear that he did not like the way the series ended. Furthermore, he also said that he did not feel proud of his work on the series, and he also did not like his character’s personality. He was super unhappy with the series!
16 Kate Winslet (Rose, Titanic)
Alright, let’s be clear about something: it’s not that Kate Winslet regrets being in Titanic. After all, this was basically one of the biggest and most popular films of all time. However, she does have some mixed feelings about playing Rose. According to In Touch Weekly, she regrets filming some of the most famous scenes in the movie because they were a bit too revealing! She also says that she will often critique her own acting in the film and cringes when she watches it. Plus, she says she will never work with James Cameron again because he’s too intense.
15 Molly Ringwald (Claire, The Breakfast Club)
The Breakfast Club is one of those classic 80s films that you just can’t help but love—but when you watch it today, you have to admit that it’s not very progressive. Things have just changed so much since it was filmed! According to The New Yorker, Molly Ringwald, who played Claire, is not too proud of some of the themes in the film, and she doesn’t think it holds up too well today. She said that she recently watched the film with her daughter and felt embarrassed by some of the content—she said it was a pretty uncomfortable experience.
14 Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey, Fifty Shades of Grey)
Another star of the Fifty Shades of Grey series has spoken up to say that has some regrets about acting in the films. Jamie Dornan, who starred as Christian Grey, was not a huge fan of the films. According to Cosmopolitan, he has made several comments about how uncomfortable he was with the role. He says that as a father, he would never act the way that his character does, and he also said that by the time they finished shooting the second film, he was totally over the series and didn’t really care too much about shooting the third.
13 Sean Connery (James Bond, James Bond franchise)
Sean Connery is well known for starring in some of the James Bond films. And who wouldn’t want the opportunity to be in one of those classic movies? Well, it seems like Sean actually was not a huge fan! According to Cracked, Sean says that he was not too proud of the movies—in fact, he says it’s because he just couldn’t stand the character’s personality! He says that for the final Bond film he starred in, he ended up giving away his entire salary to charity because he hadn’t even wanted to do the film in the first place.
12 Adam Brody (Seth Cohen, The O.C.)
Adam Brody became a total heartthrob when he starred as Seth Cohen on the popular teen drama series The O.C. The series got huge, and teenage girls everywhere were head over heels for his character. But looking back, he actually has some regrets when it comes to the role that made him famous. According to Entertainment Tonight, Adam says that he truly was not ready for the level of fame the series would bring, and although he had fun on the series, he knows that it will always define his career. He also wasn’t happy with the last season.
11 Allison Williams (Marnie, Girls)
The series Girls was such a huge hit that it propelled several of its previously unknown stars into the spotlight. Although the show attracted its fair share of controversy, it also had a huge fanbase. Allison Williams, who played Marnie, has some regrets when it comes to the show. According to The Today Show, she says that she is absolutely nothing like her character—but interestingly enough, she also says that she wishes she got more scenes on the show! She says that while she liked being a part of Girls, she never felt like she got enough screen time.
10 Blake Lively (Serena van der Woodson, Gossip Girl)
As it turns out, another former Gossip Girl star also has some negative things to say about their role in retrospect. Blake Lively, who starred in the series as Serena van der Woodsen (a.k.a. the queen of the Upper East Side), wasn’t too proud of the show when she looked back on it. According to Hollywood Life, Blake says that she’s nothing like Serena, but she got tired of people conflating her with her character. She said that she playing the role started to feel like she was compromising her own morals, and she was not proud of that.
9 Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp, The Sound of Music)
The Sound of Music is a classic film that everyone remembers from childhood. Who doesn’t remember that soundtrack? You would think that anyone who got the opportunity to be a part of this film would be proud, but not all of the cast members feel the same way. According to Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Plummer, who played Captain Von Trapp, actually says that he regrets his role in the film. He says that he found his role challenging because the film was just too sappy for his taste, and he wished he could have brought more humor to the character he played.
8 Chris Evans (Johnny Storm, Fantastic Four)
Chris Evans is basically thought of as a real life superhero these days—after all, he does play Captain America himself! His first major role that put him in the public eye was The Human Torch (a.k.a. Johnny Storm) in The Fantastic Four. However, Chris had some second thoughts about that role when it was all said and done. According to Comic Book Movie, Chris was really excited when he first began filming The Fantastic Four movies—but when they began filming the sequels, he regretted signing a three-film contract. He wasn’t too proud of the sequels.
7 Channing Tatum (Duke, G.I. Joe)
Channing Tatum seems to be everyone’s favorite actor—he never gets into drama, he stars in both serious and funny movies, and he can dance. What’s not to love, right? Channing first started getting some buzz when he starred in the G.I. Joe films, but unfortunately, he does not look back on them fondly! According to The Guardian, Channing was pretty ecstatic to land a major role like that at first, but just like Chris Evans, he slowly regretted signing a multi-film contract, because he did not want to be in the sequels. However, he had no choice.
6 Hayden Christensen (Anakin, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones)
Hayden Christensen has a lot to say about his role as young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. According to Vanity Fair, he was pretty widely mocked for his role: fans felt that his character’s dialogue was cheesy, and there was never a whole lot of love for the Star Wars prequels anyway. Yes, he has his regrets about taking it on—and he had no idea that 15 years after the release of the film, people would still joke about it with him during interviews! But he has a good sense of humor about the movie.
5 Miley Cyrus (Miley Stewart, Hannah Montana)
Miley Cyrus has gone through some crazy career changes over the years—but finally, it seems like she’s really happy with her life and her new music. It all started when she played regular girl and secret pop star Miley Stewart on the hit Disney Channel show Hannah Montana. Everyone loved Hannah Montana—except Miley herself. According to W Magazine, Miley says that starring on Hannah Montana was so much more than she could handle—the fame was too much at that age, and it messed with her self image. She also said the hours on set were intense and grueling.
4 Lena Dunham (Hannah, Girls)
As it turns out, the creator of the series Girls also has some regrets looking back. Lena Dunham became famous when her series debuted, and she not only wrote it, she also starred in it as Hannah Horvath. But according to Vanity Fair, she has some regrets about the show, especially the earlier seasons—it got off to a rough start. She says that some of the plot lines just did not fit the show, especially when they introduced characters who only stuck around for an episode or put the main characters in situations that didn’t fit their personalities at all.
3 Johnny Depp (Tom Hanson, 21 Jump Street)
Johnny Depp has played so many different characters at this point that sometimes, we forget there was a time before he was famous. It just seems like’s been around forever! Actually, the role that eventually brought him on to the A-list was playing the main character Tom Hanson in the original TV series 21 Jump Street. According to Vulture, Johnny felt that this role held him back for a while—no matter what he auditioned for, everyone saw him as Tom Hanson, and he just wanted to break out of that mold and do his own thing in the future.
2 Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan, Twilight)
Here’s another member of the Twilight cast who actually regrets her role in the series. Kristen Stewart, who starred in the Twilight films as the main character Bella Swan, doesn’t always have the fondest memories of the set. According to Hollywood Life, Kristen says that she “has made a million bad movies,” and she hinted that Twilight was one of them! Now, she does a lot of indie films and artistic short films, whereas in Twilight, she was just a teenager finding her feet in the acting world. No matter what, we’ll always be fans of her work—she’s amazing!
1 John Cusack (Lane Myer, Better Off Dead)
John Cusack is an actor who appeared in many beloved 80s movies. And who doesn’t love a good cheesy 80s movie? There is nothing better to get you into a nostalgic mood. But according to Looper.com, John was not a huge fan of the first movie that brought him to fame, Better Off Dead. He played the main character Lane Myer, and although he was pretty much unknown before the film, he still regretted taking on the role at the time. He reportedly once walked out of a screening because he was so unsatisfied with the final cut of the film.
References: today.com, cinemablend.com, wetpaint.com, independent.co.uk, cnn.com, cosmopolitan.com, eonline.com, digg.com, bustle.com, intouchweekly.com, newyorker.com, cracked.com, etonline.com, todayshow.com, hollywoodlife.com, hollywoodreporter.com, comicbookmovies.com, theguardian.com, vanityfair.com, wmagazine.com, vulture.com, looper.com