We all suffer setbacks from time to time. In the moment, we believe we are making the best choice possible with the information that is at our fingertips, only wishing we had the luxury of 20-20 vision. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but the clock cannot be wound back – what’s done is done.
The same principle applies to the biggest Hollywood stars. From Halle Berry in the horror show that was Catwoman, George Clooney in the equally horrendous DC installment Batman & Robin, Katherine Heigl’s morning sickness for the comedy Knocked Up, Mark Wahlberg on The Happening and Sylvester Stallone for the comedy Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot – there is a litany of sadness, anger, and regret about their involvement in these pictures.
Despite their privileged access to the best agents and advisors money can buy, they jumped at the payday on the table rather than assess their long-term options and reputation in the industry. While many of these actors recovered and can look back on to laugh at those projects, others have not been so lucky.
Bad movies can be career killers. Whether you are an actor, screenwriter, producer or director – no one is safe from the high-profile flop. Zack Snyder’s stocks plummeted since his involvement in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before Joel Schumacher would apologize 20 years after making the Clooney disaster in 1997 that froze the Caped Crusader from the big screen for years.
Fortunately, some of these celebrities have owned their mistakes and put it on the public record that they were just as ashamed about their film as you were watching it. The easy option would be to hide away from the press or offer vague platitudes that don’t address the issue. Then there are some that tell the world they thought their own picture sucked.
Here are 15 of the best admissions in this category.
15 Charlize Theron – Reindeer Games
41-year-old South African native Charlize Theron has done it all in Hollywood. From her breakout appearance in the 1997 drama The Devil’s Advocate to leading roles in Mighty Joe Young and The Cider House Rules, the actress would later earn acclaim for her parts in Monster, The Road, Prometheus and the 2015 blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road.
But it would be only a couple of years into her time on the big screen that Theron would learn the tough lessons of career choice. That arrived when she linked up for the 2000 feature Reindeer Games next to Ben Affleck and Gary Sinise. She told Esquire magazine 7 years after the official release of the flick that the only reason she signed onto the project was on account of the director.
“Reindeer Games was not a good movie,” Theron admitted. “But I did it because I loved John Frankenheimer.” Sadly the filmmaker would pass away in 2002, making the critical flop his final instalment.
14 Chris Pine – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Spy thrillers are seemingly a dime a dozen these days, with the Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne and James Bond franchises still enduring at the box office. When Chris Pine attempted to get in on the action in 2014 for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the audiences around the globe did not respond the way Paramount Pictures were hoping for.
Speaking with Moviefone sometime after the title was slated by critics despite making a profit, Pine indicated that a sequel could endure if there is an improvement in the screenwriting department.
“No. I don't think it made enough money for that to happen. That's one of my deep regrets, that we didn't totally get that right. It's a great franchise and if it's not me then I hope it gets a fifth life at this point. It's just great. I love the spy genre. I hope it's done again and with a great story.”
13 Channing Tatum – G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
Channing Tatum has strived to be so much more than just a buff action star of late. The 37-year-old rose to prominence via Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets, Fighting and Public Enemies. Between some comedies that showcased his sense of humor in the 21 Jump Street franchise, he would tackle the role of Mark Shultz in the dark wrestling drama Foxcatcher in 2014.
Having the hindsight to look back on some his previous choices, one 2009 instalment stood out from the rest. That would center around G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Describing the script as no good and admitting that he was in too deep before he could back out, Tatum said the action sequel still lingers in the memory as one of his all-time great regrets.
“Look, I’ll be honest. I f***en hate that movie. I hate that movie,” he affirmed. “(After) Coach Carter, they (studio) signed me for a three-picture deal … And as a young (actor), you’re like, ‘Oh my god, that sounds amazing, I’m doing that.’”
12 Colin Farrell – Miami Vice
The gritty reboot is a tried and tested movie formula in the 21st Century. With screenwriters pressed to find unique content to create, they settle on regurgitating the same old narratives and package them for a modern audience. It passes the box office test more times than not, but in the case of Colin Farrell and 2006’s Miami Vice, it was a title that he would like consigned to the history books and never brought up again.
Talking to Moviefone about the 132-minute crime drama from Michael Mann, the Irishman did not back away from the convoluted picture that tried to make a fun television series into a dark and troubled picture.
“Miami Vice? I didn’t like it so much,” Farrell said. “I thought it was style over substance and I accept a good bit of the responsibility.”
At the very least he owned up to it. Perhaps he will do the same for the second season of True Detective?
11 Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
The actor who hated their movie more than any audience member to date has to be Jessica Alba. Taking her filmmaker Tim Story to task for the 2007 Marvel title Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, a feature that would flatter to deceive with the critics, Alba told Moviefone that it was a stain on her career.
“I'm going to be honest with you, I don't remember watching this movie at all,” she admitted. “I know I saw it, but for the life of me, I can't remember it. This leads me to believe that it wasn't a good movie (duh), but it also wasn't so horrible that it has stayed with me.”
Such was the angst Story put her through, Alba considered throwing in the towel for good.
“I wanted to stop acting. The director was like, 'It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? Cry pretty, Jessica.' He was like, '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.’ So I just said, 'F*** it. I don't care about this business anymore.”
10 Alec Guinness – Star Wars
Incredible to think that the original Obi-Wan Kenobi was embarrassed by the 1977 science-fiction adventure classic Star Wars. But that was the case as the late Alec Guinness went to town on the blockbuster that would go onto span generations and become a pillar at the box office for decades to come.
Having been an accomplished performer in his own right by the mid-70s, from his roles in Oliver Twist, Father Brown, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Scrooge and the 1973 drama Hitler: The Last Ten Days, Guinness could not stomach his take on the great Jedi nor the movie as a whole.
"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film,” he admitted. “I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."
9 Alec Baldwin – Rock Of Ages
By the time 2012 came along, Alec Baldwin did not need to gamble on the musical Rock of Ages. The Warner Brothers picture bombed with audiences and critics alike, failing to recoup the sizeable $75m investment at the theaters with a poorly $59.4m return.
With an acclaimed CV behind him that included roles in Beetlejuice, The Hunt for Red October, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Edge, The Departed and an ongoing part in the NBC series 30 Rock, Baldwin was so eager to work next to Tom Cruise that he forwent any critical thinking. The penny would drop on his horrendous choice, but by that point the Adam Shankman picture was already rolling.
“It was a complete disaster,” Baldwin said of Rock of Ages. “A week in you go, ‘Oh God, what have I done?’ (It was a) horrible movie.” Appreciate the moment of honesty Alec, but that would have been better said on the set before it was released to the wider public.
8 Matt Damon – The Bourne Ultimatum
Matt Damon took no notice of the success of his third instalment The Bourne Ultimatum as the action star took screenwriter Tony Gilroy to task. Despite winning over fans and critics with a 93% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes that followed a box office taking of $442.8m that had Universal in the black for over $300m, Damon would offer a scathing critique of the film’s narrative and laid that responsibility on one man.
“I don’t blame Tony for taking a boatload of money and handing in what he handed in. It’s just that it was unreadable,” Damon remarked. “This is a career-ender… It’s terrible. It’s really embarrassing. He was having a go, basically, and he took his money and left.”
Damon would try and walk back those words, understanding that Gilroy still had a career to pursue. “If I didn’t respect Gilroy and appreciate his talent, then I really wouldn’t have cared. My feelings were hurt. That’s all.”
7 Shia LaBeouf – Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
Michael Bay movies are not known for engaging storylines or interesting filmmaking techniques that push the boundaries of cinema. Especially in the case of his Transformers franchise, they are often bloated monstrosities that pack in as much CGI action as the studio can afford.
When the leading protagonist Shia LaBeouf had a moment of clarity following the second instalment Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009, he told the Associated Press that the series had become a soulless vessel designed to promote more movies and toys.
“When I saw the second movie, I wasn’t impressed with what we did,” LaBeouf remarked. “There were some really wild stunts in it, but the heart was gone. Mike (Michael Bay) went so big that it became too big, and I think you lost the anchor of the movie… You lost a bit of the relationships.”
It begs the question where the relationships and heart of the franchise were in the first place.
6 Kate Winslet – Titanic
In 1997, you could not turn on any television show, any radio program or pick up any newspaper without coming across something regarding Titanic. The James Cameron masterpiece was everywhere and only when 2009’s Avatar came along would the $2.1b extravaganza be overtaken in box office takings.
The epic drama would be giving stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet royalties for the rest of their days and while you would think they would be grateful for that fact, the latter cannot enjoy her work on account of the endless jokes pointed at her expense.
Playing Rose DeWitt Bukater, Winslet told MTV that the soundtrack and parodies have become too much to bear over the years. "I do feel like throwing up,” she said. “I wish I could say 'Oh listen, everybody! It's the Celine Dion song!' But I don't. I just have to sit there, you know, kind of straight-faced with a massive internal eye roll."
She went on to say,
“Honestly, I actually now get onto boats and say, 'No jokes, OK? No jokes. Can we just move on from that? And if you have any jokes, let's just get them out of the way right now. Thank you. Anyone? Jokes, jokes? OK, moving on.' And then they still tell jokes."
5 Ben Affleck – Daredevil
Ben Affleck has been a bankable performer ever since he helped to create and star in the drama Good Will Hunting. Since that time, the actor propelled himself into the blockbuster stratosphere and when DC and Warner Brothers would eventually come calling for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Affleck would be the next Caped Crusader off the production line.
Yet it would be his 2003 Marvel attempt Daredevil that continues to linger for Affleck. Opening up about his choice to be a superhero once more in 2015, he told the gathered press that he was spurred to become Bruce Wayne courtesy of that forgettable instalment.
“The only movie I actually regret is Daredevil,” he said. “It just kills me. I love that story, that character, and the fact that it got f*** up the way it did stays with me. Maybe that's part of the motivation to do Batman.”
4 Sam Worthington – Terminator Salvation
There was a period during the mid-1980s and throughout the 1990s when the Terminator franchise was the pinnacle of the action/science-fiction genre. James Cameron’s masterpiece series elevated a dark spectacle that captured the attentions of millions around the world. Then the franchise spun out of control.
This would be no more evident than McG’s unwarranted sequel Terminator Salvation. Attempting to cash in on Avatar star’s Sam Worthington newfound fame, the Australian explained to Hitfix that the plot holes and mistakes were obvious given a bit of hindsight.
"We just have try and do the best character we can do at that time,” he admitted. “And I can nit-pick with the best of them, man, and go down the list of things I saw on IMDb where they found holes in it and go, 'You are f***ing right. If there was a big ten-ton robot coming outside that gas station, surely we would hear it!' And I missed that! So I go, 'I gotta be a bit better when I'm looking through my scripts!' So that kind of raises my games a bit, cause I feel like an idiot for not saying it to McG."
3 Hugh Jackman – X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The 2017 blockbuster Logan is all the more remarkable given the mistakes that were taken by Marvel in the preceding X-Men films. The most glaring and obvious misstep was 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a movie that attempted to tell the entire backstory of James Howlett before shoehorning in a Deadpool appearance that was wiped from all memory when Ryan Reynolds went solo in 2016.
Talking about his last performance as the mutant superhero, Australian Hugh Jackman offered a not-so-subtle critique of that instalment that left not just the fans, but himself, feeling like he had to set the record straight.
"I had something to prove, and we could have done better," Jackman remarked. "Somehow the first Wolverine movie ended up looking like the fourth X-Men - just with different characters. I left unsure if we'd achieved our goal, which was to make sure people understood my character."
Fair to say that Logan achieved those goals and then some. Jackman and director James Mangold proved that it is not how you start, but how you finish that counts.
2 Bob Hoskins – Super Mario Brothers
Video game adaptations are a tough market to crack. Just take the examples of Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Wing Commander as a case in point. During that boom of the 1990s, it would be the 1993 title Super Mario Brothers that took the Nintendo characters from the console to the big screen.
Despite a cast that boasted John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper and Bob Hoskins in the lead role, the part comedy, part action, part adventure flick only garnered $20.9m from a $48m budget at the box office. It would be Hoskins that slated the installment years after the event, giving a series of blunt answers about his experience playing Mario Mario.
From “What is the worst job you've done?” to “What has been your biggest disappointment?” both came back with a response, “Super Mario Brothers.” It wouldn’t be much of a surprise when he was quizzed the following: “If you could edit your past, what would you change?” After the briefest of pauses, the veteran actor said, “I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.”
1 Jim Carrey – Kick-Ass 2
The tongue-in-cheek parody film Kick-Ass was designed to poke fun at the comic book superhero genre. For the original, they mastered that objective. However, for the 2013 sequel Kick-Ass 2, the format fell flat as the introduction of a couple of new stars could not take the franchise to the next level.
There was a number of mitigating factors from the Jeff Wadlow picture that only managed to take home $60.7m at the box office. The timing of the release arrived just around the time of the horrific Sandy Hook shooting and one of the leading stars in Jim Carrey took the filmmakers and studio to task on Twitter.
Playing Colonel Stars and Stripes, Carrey was disgusted with the R-rated graphic violence that appeared to glorify the conflict. “I did Kickass (2) a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence,” he wrote. “I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart.”