Being an actor or actress is tough. You’re given a lump sum of money for work that could either take a day, or years, depending if the director wants to reshoot. It can be an absolute nightmare, too. We as an audience don’t always realize the lengths that actors and actresses go to to entertain us. Take Leonardo DiCaprio, for example. He was subjected to freezing temperatures and developed pneumonia multiple times while filming The Revenant. It wasn’t an easy project, but Leo finally got the Academy Award that he’s deserved for years. So was it worth it? Probably.
Other times, actors are completely mistreated on set. Directors often view actors as replaceable, especially if they are playing a minor character. For example, when Zoe Saldana was filming The Pirates of the Caribbean before she starred in Avatar and Guardians of the Galaxy, she had a very small part. Her character, Anamaria, only had a few lines. As a result, production staff treated her as if she was replaceable. In her own words, Saldana said people were “disrespecting me because they look at my number on a call sheet and they think I’m not important.” She said it was so demoralizing that she almost quit acting completely!
So, who else came close to quitting? Here’s a list of 15 actors that were pushed to their absolute limits while filming.
15. Lauren Cohan — Didn’t Want To Perform A C-Section
For the past 7 years, Lauren Cohan was won over zombie fans for her role as Maggie Greene on The Walking Dead. Though she’s a prolific character on the show (and loved by just about everyone) she almost cut her own time on the show short because of how mentally and physically demanding the show was.
While filming season 3 of The Walking Dead, Lauren Cohan was reading that her character had to perform an emergency c-section on another character. Feeling that the scene was too intense, Cohan expressed regrets about signing onto the show. While talking with her love interest on the show, Steven Yeun (a.k.a. Glen), she admitted that the scene was too gruelling for her. After much debate, Yeun convinced Cohan to stay on the show. Today, Cohan says that one of her favourite things about The Walking Dead is how gruelling and intense it can be. According to her, the show is always pushing boundaries and making both audiences and cast members uncomfortable.
14. Sir Ian McKellen — Too Lonely On Set
There will always only ever be one Gandalf. You can never replace Sir Ian McKellen as the world-famous wizard of Middle Earth. He recently expressed that he was interested in playing Gandalf in the new television series based on the world of Middle Earth. This came to a surprise to fans because Sir Ian McKellen nearly quit acting after working on The Hobbit trilogy
While filming the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson tried to use minimal CGI and opted for practical effects instead. However, when it came time to film The Hobbit, Peter Jackson had to use green screens and computer animation to build the movie because of the time constraints put on production. During the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, McKellen had to stand in front of a green screen and pretend the other actors were around him for almost the entire movie. McKellen, who played a character that towered over everyone, broke down on set and explained that this isn’t why he got into acting. Peter Jackson had to throw an impromptu Sir Ian McKellen appreciation party so that the actor didn’t leave the project.
13. Al Pacino — Insulted By Studio Executives
The Godfather is one of the most famous movies of all time, and possibly the greatest movie series ever. That said, there were problems with the movies during production. So much so, that movie executives thought that the first instalment was going to flop. To prevent the movie from falling apart, executives said that they wanted Al Pacino to be replaced with another actor, but Francis Ford Coppola was insistent on keeping him.
The abuse and passive aggressiveness directed toward Pacino drove him to madness. He almost completely walked from the project, but Coppola kept Pacino focused on the final product. And it’s a good thing, too. For his work as Michael Corleone, Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for The Godfather and was later nominated for a Best Actor Award for his role in The Godfather II. Quitting the movie would have been a career-ending move.
12. Jim Carrey — Hired A Torture Expert To Help Him Deal With Wearing Contacts All Day
Whether you loved the movie or thought it was a disgrace to Dr. Seuss, you have to admit that Jim Carrey made an amazing Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Now, Carrey is a bit of a nutcase when it comes to acting. He’s been known to completely throw himself into roles, making his own life, and the lives of those around him, a living hell. And that’s exactly what happened when working on How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
On top of spending countless hours in a make up chair, Carrey had to wear extremely painful contact lenses for 8.5 hours a day. After the first day, Carrey kicked a hole in the wall of his trailer and told the director that he couldn’t do the rest of the movie because the contact lenses were torture. According to reports, director Ron Howard hired someone who trained CIA operatives how to endure torture. The man gave Carrey tips on how to endure the pain and helped him control his frustrations for the remainder of production. There are some scenes, however, where Carrey couldn’t stand to wear the contacts and his eye colour was changed digitally.
11. Jessica Alba — Was Told To Look Prettier While Crying
In the early 2000s, Jessica Alba was Hollywood’s hottie. Despite her intelligence and acting talent, she found herself placed in roles that just tried to show off how pretty she was. In fact, directors trying to exploit her looks led her realize she didn’t care about the movie business any more.
It all started on the set of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. In one scene, Alba, who played Sue Storm, was supposed to break down crying. The director, Tim Story, said that Alba’s crying looked too real and told her to be prettier when she cried. She was specifically instructed to keep her face flat so that the editors could CGI tears onto her face. Alba followed through on her promise to quit the movie business, and instead went on to co-found the Honest Company, a consumer goods company that promotes household products that are made ethically. The company is currently valued at close to $2 billion.
10. Brad Pitt — Hated The Nocturnal Production Schedule
When Brad Pitt appeared in Interview with a Vampire, his career was still in its early stages. If he made a few wrong career moves, he could have been completely out of work. Though his private life has remained, well, private, a few years ago, Pitt opened up about how miserable he was while making the movie that made him.
According to the interview, Pitt said that after spending months filming with uncomfortable contact lenses, a ridiculous wig, and spending all of his time in the dark, he was at his breaking point. Pitt approached the producer and told him that “life’s too short for this quality of life.” Pitt said he couldn’t do the movie anymore and offered to pay out of his contract. The producer, David Geffen, told Pitt he would need to pay $40,000,000 to abandon production of the movie. Pitt, realizing there was no way out, struggled through the remainder of production and the movie became an instant classic.
9. Adam Brown — Covered Head To Toe In Fish Juice
The Hobbit trilogy wasn’t nearly as well received as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, despite the fact that they had the same director. Most Middle Earth fans are quick to judge The Hobbit movies because they aren’t as dark and gritty as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and instead are just a bunch of children’s movies filled with scenes that were both memorable and fun to watch.
For example, the barrel scene from The Desolation of Smaug is definitely one for the books. Though most of the film is CGI, Peter Jackson opted to put real fish in the barrels with the actors. One of the actors, Adam Brown, who plays Ori, has a phobia of fish and was horrified at the idea of being covered in dead fish. According to the actors, they were covered in fish juice from head to toe. Of all the things to not use CGI for, why did Peter Jackson pick barrels of fish?
8. Daisy Ridley — Director Was Too Abusive
Though she’s become an icon for nerd actors and actresses everywhere, Daisy Ridley was essentially a nobody before appearing in J. J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She was essentially an unknown actress who had only appeared in small productions, though that has all changed.
There’s a famous story of Daisy Ridley’s first day on set of The Force Awakens. As the story goes, the actress almost quit on the first day of shooting after director J. J. Abrams told her that he thought her performance felt “wooden.” The newbie actress didn’t take well to the criticism and the stress of starring in the biggest franchise in the world almost led Ridley to quit. To make matters worse, production was physically demanding as well. She had to run on sand for countless takes and said that she would go home with her thighs burning.
7. Emma Watson — Cold And Miserable During Harry Potter
It’s easy to forget that Emma Watson launched her acting career through the Harry Potter franchise when she was only 11 years old. Her decision to audition for the movies changed her life as she earned worldwide fame, countless fans, and around $60 million for the movies. However, there was a time when she considered quitting.
According to reporters, Emma Watson nearly quit the hit franchise while filming Order of the Phoenix during her contract negotiation. Just like her character, Watson says she was committed to continuing her education and dead set on attending university, but filming the Harry Potter movies would have prevented her from doing that. She may have regretted her decision later when filming The Deathly Hallows Part One, where she was continually wet and cold during filming. In her own words, “I hate to sound whiny but it was horrible. This has definitely been the most intense, gruelling period of film-making I’ve ever done.”
6. Mike Myers — The Infamous “Bohemian Rhapsody” Incident
Over the years, more and more stories have been coming out about what a nightmare Mike Myers is to work with. Though he’s immensely talented, his peers have said that it’s either his way or the highway when it comes to making movies. That can be for the best, like in Wayne’s World, or for the worst, like in The Love Guru. There’s a strange story involving Mike Myers and one of the greatest scenes in Wayne’s World and how it was almost not filmed.
If you’ve seen the movie, you’re probably familiar with the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene where the characters sing along to the song while driving to a bar. It’s a head-banging hilarious scene that introduced the song to movie fans who may not have heard the song. However, the movie studio wanted to replace the song with something newer and cheaper, like a Guns ‘n’ Roses song. Myers, dead set on his vision, said that if the studio didn’t get the rights to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he was going to quit. The movie was given the rights and the scene turned out to be a nightmare to film. Mike Myers complained about having to head bang for so many takes and the cast members were fed Advil to try to manage their pain.
5. Tippi Hedren — Had Live Birds Thrown At Her By Crew Members
Alfred Hitchcok is either a genius or an absolute mad man, and to be honest, most film critics aren’t sure which it is either. There’s no denying that he created some of the most iconic movies of his time, but the measures he took to create those movies was a bit extreme. It’s almost as if he would torture the stars of his movie for the fun of it.
For example, what happened to Tippi Hedren on the set of The Birds is simply horrific. When she signed onto the movie, there was a clause in her contract that said that she would only be attacked with mechanical birds during the film. Hitchcock felt that the use of mechanical birds would prevent Hedren from experiencing real terror, so he ordered crew members to throw real, living birds at her. The five-day filming sequence was so traumatic (and probably violated today’s animal rights laws) that Hitchcock was ordered to give Hedren a week off to recover from the scene. Reports say that the terror of having live birds thrown at her led to Hedren having a break down.
4. John Cena — Almost Walked Because Of His Fear Of Heights
John ‘can’t see me’ Cena is the king of the ring. He’s one of the toughest, street savvy wrestlers in the WWE. He plays his wrestling persona so well that it’s hard to differentiate between who he actually is and his character. We know that he’s been trying for over a decade to launch a movie career, similar to Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s, but hasn’t had much success. We also know that John Cena is a bit of a wuss because he’s terrified of heights.
While filming 12 Rounds, Cena had to rappel down a skyscraper and dangle mid-air while hanging onto a rope. In an interview, Cena revealed that he almost entirely walked away from the movie because of this scene. According to Cena, his fear of heights is so severe that it triggered extreme anxiety and he wanted to abandon the movie altogether before he even got to the top of the skyscraper. Cena, who insists on doing his own stunts, also had to leap off a 60-foot cliff for the movie The Reunion.
3. Michelle Rodriguez — Not Enough Action Scenes For Women
This particular actress wasn’t upset about a scene that she filmed, but rather about the scenes that she didn’t get to film. Michelle Rodriguez, one of the stars from the Fast & Furious franchise took to Instagram to vent about her frustrations about her role in the franchise. In the post, Rodriguez threatened to leave the franchise unless it showed “some love” to the women of the franchise in the next movie.
This isn’t the first time Michelle Rodriguez had made demands, either. At the beginning of the franchise, Rodriguez had a very public disagreement about the direction her character was headed. Rodriguez felt that it was weird for her to leave her true love, Dom, and fall for the undercover cop, Brian. To her, it felt like the betrayal made no sense because her character was obviously a woman who preferred an alpha male over a pretty boy. Rodriguez put her foot down and the producers were forced to meet her demands or else she would quit.
2. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio — The Camera Broke After A Day Of Filming
The Abyss is one of James Cameron’s best movies, and that’s saying a lot considering the success he’s had over the years. The movie took place on tiny, dark sets that would make just about anyone feel claustrophobic. For the most part, production was moving along swimmingly, but there was one particular scene that was a nightmare for actress Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
In one of the scenes, Mastrantonio’s character receives CPR from Ed Harris’ character. Camera told Harris to slap Mastrantonio repeatedly while she lay motionless on the floor. Cameron repeated this sequence multiple times while she lay on the cold wet for. When Cameron finally had the take he wanted, a crew member told him that the camera had broken so they would have to film everything all over again. According to reports, Mastrantonio almost walked off set when she heard the news. Can you blame her?
1. Carl Weathers — Got Knocked Out
Carl Weathers, the former NFL linebacker, was one of the best parts of the Rocky franchise. His character, Apollo Creed, was Rocky’s former rival and mentor in Rocky IV. Of all the Rocky sequels, Rocky IV is one of my personal favorites because of the villain, Ivan Drago, who is played by Dolh Lundgren.
In the movie, Apollo Creed boxes Ivan Drago, the Communist boxer from the Soviet Union that has been injected with enough steroids to kill an elephant. When filming the fight scene, things got a little heated behind the scenes when Lundgren pushed Weathers into the corner. Weathers, not wanting to get pushed around, broke character and threw a real punch at Lundgren. In response, Lundgren swung back and completely knocked out Weathers. When he finally regained consciousness, Weathers quit the movie. Production was delayed for four days while Sylvester Stallone tried to convince Weathers to come back to the project.
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