While everyone assumes that receiving stupefying amounts of money is enough to make a person slip a mask over their face and jump from obscenely tall buildings, today’s blockbusters do not come without some regrets from the actors who star in them. While it’s a popularly opinion that actors have gobs of money and therefore have nothing to complain about, it’s worth noting that most actors in blockbusters don’t make them all the time, and have a variety of reasons for why they’re not satisfied with the final cut.
While stars like Wesley Snipes and Ben Affleck might be no strangers to big budget movies, actors like Edward Norton and Idris Elba are not, preferring to hone their craft on smaller, more intimate independent films. Gripes from actors, whatever their genre, tend to boil down to not having creative agency with their characters, monetary negotiations, and issues with script or plot development. Whether they’re used to tiny sets with no extras to huge sets with a cast of thousands, they are particular about how they work and how that work is received. CBR compiled a list of actors that have regretted the blockbusters they made. We found their reasons ranged from big issues to petty minutia, but all entertaining!
17. RYAN REYNOLDS – GREEN LANTERN
While audiences have come to associate Ryan Reynolds with the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool, one of his early forays into superhero blockbusters was as Hal Jordan in The Green Lantern in 2011. Stuffed with inane sub-plots, padded with extraneous characters, and inflated with dizzying CGI effects, it was a subpar entry into the early phase of the DCU.
Ryan Reynolds disliked the experience so much that he refused to reprise his role as Hal Jordan in Justice League or any other DCEU titles.
When he reprised his role as Deadpool in 2016, he was able to work in a jab at his previous work when as the titular character, he agreed to wear a superhero suit as long as it “wasn’t green or animated”. His expressive personality and sense of humor makes him a far better Deadpool than Green Lantern anyway.
16. TERRENCE HOWARD – IRON MAN
The first Iron Man movie jump started the first phase of the MCU. With its refreshing realism and topical ties to current events, it situated Tony Stark and Stark Industries firmly in the real world. It also jump restarted Robert Downey Jr.’s career, which had been sparse for several years prior to its release, thanks to a casting suggestion by Terrence Howard.
Terrence Howard played Tony Stark’s long time friend Rhodey, who would eventually be replaced by Don Cheadle. The replacement was due to the fact that Howard had a dispute with Marvel executives regarding his pay, which began at 3.5 million and was significantly reduced when talk of a sequel happened. He claims he was promised 5 million if a sequel was greenlit, and when Marvel couldn’t follow through on their end, he didn’t resume his role.
15. NATALIE PORTMAN – THOR: THE DARK WORLD
One of the reasons Natalie Portman signed on to do a sequel to Thor was because she liked the director, Patty Jenkins, and wanted to collaborate with her. Jenkins was famous for directing the movie Monster, which landed Charlize Theron an Oscar. Marvel executives let Jenkins go citing “creative differences”, but failed to tell Portman, who was still contractually obligated to appear in the film, and understandably frustrated.
Marvel has always operated by its own rules, often low balling talent for the purpose of adhering to a fixed budget.
Had Jenkins remained on board, she would have been the first female director to direct a tentpole superhero movie a lot sooner, but she got one over on Marvel years later by directing DC’s Wonder Woman, to much acclaim.
14. BEN AFFLECK – DAREDEVIL
Before putting on the cape and cowl of Gotham’s Dark Knight detective, Ben Affleck starred as the titular character in Daredevil. In the awkward phase when superhero movies were still campy messes but with bigger budgets and better camera work, Affleck worked hard to properly depict a blind man with specially attuned senses that gifted him superior combat skills. Critics and audiences panned Affleck’s performance, however, and it would be years before he redeemed his career.
Affleck has said that he felt very removed from the film during production, often having his artistic suggestions questioned or ignored. The whole experience left such a sour taste in his mouth that he was reluctant to appear in another superhero movie, until the role of Batman was available.
13. MICHAEL FASSBENDER – ASSASSIN’S CREED
Assassin’s Creed, the popular video game title, finally got its own movie in 2016 starring Michael Fassbender. From the very opening credits, the narrative was disjointed and confusing, with several storylines never getting tied up, characters introduced then forgotten, and all glossed over with a barrage of CGI. The beginning of the film had about three opening sequences.
Fassbender had nothing great to say about the film or his experience in it, saying that several opportunities were missed in the storytelling.
He maintained that there were a great deal of characters explaining the action sequences rather than doing them, and that all of the extrapolating and the self-serious tone of the film really prevented it from being entertaining. The fact that Fassbender is considered a serious actor and not known for his jocundity could have also had something to do with its reception.
12. WESLEY SNIPES – BLADE TRINITY
The first two Blade movies were slick, atmospheric, and gritty. Wesley Snipes imbued Blade with a battle hardened toughness that allowed audiences to suspend their disbelief about his whole half-vampire half-human origins. Whereas the first film was a sleeper hit, the second was a genuine blockbuster, and the third was primed to be the biggest budgeted film of the trilogy.
Blade Trinity was a comical farce, bolstered in part by the petulant behind the scene antics of Wesley Snipes. Staying in his trailer for days on end, and communicating with director David Goyer only through a series of Post-It notes signed “From Blade”, by the time the film wrapped (and Snipes had almost strangled Goyer), Snipes bad mouthed it every chance anybody would ask him about it.
11. EDWARD NORTON – THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Though Edward Norton is considered a serious actor with a penchant for independent movies and seering dramas, he did participate in one green screen epic, The Incredible Hulk in 2011. Drawn to the dichotomy between scientist Bruce Banner and the manifestation of his anger, The Hulk, he played it more like a Greek Tragedy than a typical blockbuster.
Drawing on shades of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, his Bruce Banner was more of a tortured soul than the recent incarnation we’ve seen by Mark Ruffalo.
When the movie was done, Norton was crestfallen to learn of the massive amounts of edits in post production which he said dampened the scope of his character development. He felt that all the team at Marvel was interested in was the accuracy of his motion capture, not the emotions captured.
10. IDRIS ELBA – THOR: THE DARK WORLD
When Thor: The Dark World was released, Idris Elba had already played the role of Heimdall, gatekeeper to Asgard and protector of the Seven Realms. He was specifically chosen by Odin for his gift of sight, which allowed him to see potential threats hundreds of miles away. The character looked much more Nordic in the Thor comics, but Elba made the character his own through his commanding presence and delivery.
Though the character was popular, Elba, who had just appeared in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom as the titular character, viewed it as inferior. From a thespian point of view, he bemoaned going from the set of a gripping biopic to being trussed up in wires, forced to wear uncomfortable contact lenses, and delivering lines he felt were not in keeping with the dialogue of the first film.
9. CHRISTOPHER REEVE – SUPERMAN IV
The first incarnation of Superman as played by Christopher Reeve was full of verve and enthusiasm. He radiated the plucky optimism and heroic altruism that had made the Man of Steel a popular comic for decades. When Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was made, it was sluggish by blockbuster standards and lacked the energy of the first three films, especially given that the third film had Richard Pryor in it.
Superman IV suffered from a low budget, bad pacing, and a poor script all about the dangers of nuclear weaponry and “improper” journalism.
Also from scenes of Clark Kent doing aerobics, Superman cooking duck with his laser vision, and fighting a villain like Nuclear Man, created from a lock of his hair. Christopher Reeve said it killed the entire franchise and was embarrassed to be in it.
8. KIRSTEN DUNST – SPIDER MAN 3
After appearing in two of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films as Peter Parker’s love interest Mary Jane Watson, Kirsten Dunst was sick of feeling like a damsel in distress. The character of Gwen Stacy was brought in to basically take up that position, leaving Dunst to be a more fully realized character not dependent on her needing to be saved. Only it didn’t exactly pan out as she imagined.
While at first Dunst praised her work on the Spider-Man films, as the reboots came into theaters she became more candid about how much she disliked how her character was handled in the last film, especially in light of how Mary Jane was portrayed in other Spider-Man films. She bemoaned not being listened to for her artistic input, and thought her character deserved a better overall story arc on par with Tobey Maguire’s.
7. GEORGE CLOONEY – BATMAN AND ROBIN
When George Clooney inherited the mantle of the Caped Crusader, it was after Val Kilmer had already given a hard pass to appearing in anything after Batman Forever. A far cry from the moody, noir versions Tim Burton directed, the Batman franchise was now colorful and marketed as one giant toy commercial.
This resulted in the stimulation overload that was Batman and Robin, in which George Clooney wears a batsuit with nipples and brings an oily charm to Bruce Wayne.
About the film, Clooney regarded the acting as either too wooden or horrendously campy, and blames the poor script and hallucinatory visuals as what ultimately killed the franchise. He has since apologized profusely to fans, and was happy when Christopher Nolan rebooted the franchise a few years later.
6. JESSICA ALBA – FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
Most fans look back on the Fantastic Four franchise with contempt, especially since its campy sequel came out years after more gripping superhero movies like Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Of all the cast members that regretted participating in Rise of the Silver Surfer, Jessica Alba is one of the most vocal.
Not only did Sue Storm not get to use her superpowers with nearly the amount of frequency as her male team members, Alba had to sustain bizzare criticism from the director. She was once told she needed to “cry prettier” and when she failed to deliver, she was told to make a pretty expression and tears would be added in post production. Alba rightly felt there were more pressing issues with the film that needed to be addressed in post production, and has had no problem listing them off since the film’s release.
5. HALLE BERRY – CATWOMAN
Besides the critically acclaimed Wonder Woman movie, female starring movies based on comic books have been few and far between. Catwoman starring Halle Berry was one of a handful in the last several decades, and a commercial flop with audiences and critics. While fans were certainly excited to see a standalone Catwoman film, the movie suffered from a poorly developed story, banal acting, and an unenthusiastic concept.
Fresh off her Oscar winning role in Monster’s Ball, Halle Berry took on the role of Catwoman because she was eager to have the starring role in a movie.
She’d already wet her feet in the action genre with Die Another Day, but Catwoman didn’t have the built in cinematic confidence as the James Bond franchise. Halle Berry blames Catwoman for her lack of great roles after its release.
4. SEAN CONNERY – THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was based on a compelling concept for a DC comic: classic literary characters like Tom Sawyer and Allan Quatermain saving the world from apocalyptic destruction. Sean Connery was cast quite perfectly as the adventurer Allan Quatermain, but fought so heavily with director Stephen Norrington and other members of the cast that it actually persuaded him to quit acting.
Plagued by the grueling shooting schedule, a lack of direction, and artistic squabbles with castmates, Connery had a horrible experience shooting the movie and wasn’t shy about airing his grievances in the press. He called the director “insane” and deeply regretted his involvement. To be fair, Connery had distanced himself from movies with that amount of CGI and wasn’t used to acting opposite thin air.
3. CHANNING TATUM: RISE OF COBRA
The first entry into the G.I. Joe movie franchise was a hit for Channing Tatum, and marked his first successful blockbuster. When it came time for a sequel to hit theaters, it seemed as though Tatum would be all too eager to continue strengthening the reimagined concepts introduced in the first G.I. Joe.
Unfortunately, the sequel wasn’t well received, which coincided with his perspective being equally unfavorable.
Tatum isn’t shy about stating his opinions about Rise of Cobra, stating it’s pretty much the most horrible film he’s ever worked on and total garbage. On “The Howard Stern Show”, he said he was pushed into making the movie, and hated every minute of it, especially since he watched the G.I. Joe cartoon every morning as a kid.
2. JOSH BROLIN – JONAH HEX
Not many people were familiar with the deeds of the disfigured bounty hunter Jonah Hex when 2010’s Jonah Hex hit theaters. The comic on which it was based was full of all the brutality and senseless violence tales on the frontier bring to mind. But no one could deny a grisled Josh Brolin wouldn’t do the role justice, even if the material he was drawing from was obscure.
The original creative team slowly bled from the movie until finally even the original director left, causing serious doubts about whether or not it would still be made. Hastily done script rewrites and reshoots didn’t help matters, all culminating in a movie that feels like it never lived up to its potential. Josh Brolin believed the end product wasn’t his best work, and didn’t do the story justice.
1. HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN – ATTACK OF THE CLONES
George Lucas saw thousands of young actors hoping to nab the part of Anakin Skywalker as an adult in Attack of the Clones, a role that would entail the young Jedi Knight’s fall from the Jedi Order and eventual transformation into Darth Vader. He wanted an actor who could effectively convey Anakin’s petulance and irascibility, while also being good looking enough to snag Natalie Portman. He chose young Canadian actor Hayden Christensen.
While originally thrilled to work for Lucas, Christensen later complained that he offered no direction to his actors, and ignored most of their suggestions or requests for further character development.
Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were the last movies Christensen made for many years following their release. When he did act again, it was in smaller, independent movies and not blockbusters.
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