DC has had a long run of successful movies, going all the way back to the 1978 smash hit Superman: The Movie. In recent years, DC has been ramping up its production with box office blockbusters like The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. Over the decades, DC movies have employed dozens of actors and some of them (like Michael Keaton and Christopher Reeve) have gone on to become legends in their roles. While most of the actors in DC movies have been happy with the experience, all those movies mean there were bound to be a few who were unhappy with the process. With the new Justice League movie coming in November 2017, CBR thought we’d take a look back at some of the unhappy ones.
We’ll be talking about actors who struggled with their cast and crew while others had problems with their costumes or props used. A few actors were actually comfortable during the shooting but weren’t happy with the final result. A bad movie can also damage the career of its high-profile leads, which is why we’ll be covering a few of those as well. Get ready for 15 actors who hated working on their DC superhero movies.
15. TOMMY LEE JONES
In 1995’s Batman Forever, there were two main villains: the crazed Riddler (played by Jim Carrey) and the scarred Two-Face (played by Tommy Lee Jones). Jones played the character with a lot of flair while capturing the maniacal quality from the comics, even though it turned out he didn’t enjoy playing the role. When Tommy Lee Jones was first offered the role of Two-Face, he said he didn’t think he could do it, but agreed because his son loved Two-Face in the comics.
He regretted it, though, having to endure three hours of makeup every day. To make things worse, Carrey was later cast as the Riddler, which enraged him. He hated Carrey because (as he explained when the two first met) Jones couldn’t stand the comedian’s “buffoonery.” The two wouldn’t even speak to each other off-camera.
14. SEAN CONNERY
In 2003, the movie adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was released in the United States. Loosely based on the DC/Wildstorm graphic novel by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, the film took fictional characters from classic novels like Tom Sawyer and Henry Jekyll and turned them into superheroes in a wild steampunk adventure. One of the characters was Allan Quatermain, played by Sean Connery.
Even though Connery was the highest-paid member of the cast, he was also the unhappiest. According to insiders, Connery fought with the director Stephen Norrington over the sets, shooting schedules and direction. One report claims they almost got into a fistfight. Connery wasn’t shy about his complaints either, calling Norrington “insane” in press interviews. In fact, Sean Connery hated working on LXG so much that it made him quit acting altogether.
13. GEORGE CLOONEY
In 1997, the Batman franchise suffered its worst blow ever with Batman and Robin, a bomb of colored lights, toy advertisements and corny gags that ended a run of successful movies. While Batman and Robin has been called one of the worst movies of all time, the audience wasn’t the only one who suffered through it. George Clooney has been open about how unhappy it was to shoot.
He didn’t agree with the decision to put nipples on his Bat-suit, but couldn’t get them to change it. He also didn’t like how heavy the suit was, and found the direction confusing with Joel Schumacher’s insistence on camp and goofiness clashing with what he saw as the traditional image of Batman. He even apologized personally to Adam West and continues to apologize to fans for the result.
12. HALLE BERRY
Catwoman was a movie that defied all expectations of a superhero movie. It was based on a supervillain who turned into a superhero. It starred an African-American woman at a time when black women were rarely the stars of any movie, much less a comic book film. It changed Catwoman’s identity and origin from the comics, TV shows and prior movies. It was also a flop.
Halle Berry received the lion’s share of criticism for the movie with critics blasting her for replacing character development with sex appeal. Berry wasn’t too happy with Catwoman and proved it when the film won seven Golden Raspberry nominations including Worst Actress. Halle Berry showed up to accept her Razzie and said: “First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of s**t, god-awful movie.”
11. RYAN REYNOLDS
Green Lantern is one of DC’s most popular heroes, but you wouldn’t know it from the movies. While Batman and Superman have over a dozen movies between them, Green Lantern has only one so far, the universally disappointing 2011 flick. One of the movie’s most outspoken critics has been the star, Ryan Reynolds. Especially after his successful role in Deadpool, Reynolds has spent plenty of time reflecting on what went wrong.
One of the first problems Reynolds had was with the script. He even had to audition and accept the role without a finished script because it hadn’t been fully written yet, and the final script was a mess. Reynolds also had problems with the director, who had wanted Bradley Cooper for the role instead. That and the green animated suit Reynolds poked fun at in Deadpool made for a miserable shoot.
10. JOSH BROLIN
To be clear, 2010’s Jonah Hex was always going to be a tough sell. He’s an obscure character, a hideously scarred bounty hunter who fights supernatural enemies in the old West. Add to that the chaos and madness of the story, and you had a B-movie in the making. Jonah Hex didn’t do that well with audiences or critics, and the star Josh Brolin has made no secret of his dislike for it.
In interviews, Brolin has complained about how the original writer/director team Neveldine and Taylor quit the movie, and the project was almost canceled when a new director Jimmy Hayward reshot and rewrote the film. Brolin also had a problem with how the movie was marketed and wished he could make the movie over again.
9. JARED LETO
In 2016, Suicide Squad hit the big screens, introducing a host of supervillains like Harley Quinn and Deadshot who get a second chance to become heroes under a secret government program. While the movie was highly anticipated, one of the things audiences were most excited about was the new version of the Joker played by Jared Leto. A lot of criticism came against Leto, and it turned out he was just as unhappy with it.
Apparently, Leto did a lot of scenes with improvised lines and changes to the script that ended up on the cutting room floor. When he found out he’d been reduced to a glorified cameo in the final version, Leto told anyone and everyone who would listen how unhappy he was. We’re guessing his co-stars (some of whom he gave live rats and used condoms to) probably weren’t too happy about the shoot either.
8. CHRISTOPHER REEVE
Reeve is the actor who defined the modern look of Superman. His chiseled features with the spit curl were the comic book version brought to life, and he made the role his own over the course of Superman and Superman II. Unfortunately, things started to go downhill in Superman III. By Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Reeve reached his breaking point, even though he was more involved than ever.
Reeve only agreed to return to do a movie about nuclear disarmament, but the story became bogged down in Lex Luthor making a Bizarro clone. The movie’s budget was also slashed in half, leaving everything done on the cheap. Reeve tried to fight to get the movie done properly, but having to film a scene in a bus station in England instead of New York was the last straw. He quit the franchise and a back injury ensured he never played Superman again.
7. BEN AFFLECK
When it comes to superhero movies, Ben Affleck has had a tough road. He starred in 2003’s Daredevil which was a critical and commercial flop. Affleck’s performance in the movie was singled out and he’s had to endure over a decade of abuse over the movie, so Batman v Superman was supposed to be a way to redeem himself. Unfortunately, while many pointed to Affleck’s performance as successful, the overall movie was poorly received by critics.
Affleck felt the movie was out of his control and was so upset by the reviews of Batman v Superman that he took control of his solo Batman movie, wanting to write and direct the next film himself. Affleck eventually backed out of the writing and directing, but remains involved as a producer.
6. MATTHEW GOODE
The long-awaited adaptation of Watchmen finally happened in 2009, and as promise, it followed the classic graphic novel about an alternate world where superheroes were real and changed the course of human history. One of the biggest controversies around the film was the casting of Ozymandias, who was a muscular blonde superman (sans powers). In the movie, Matthew Goode played Ozymandias as a slender man with a hidden German accent, not something that fans took kindly to. In later interviews, Goode admitted he wasn’t too fond of it either.
Goode explained that, while he had a good time during filming, the fact that fans didn’t want him in the role made him uncomfortable. He also knew that Jude Law was the first choice for Ozymandias because all the concept art still had Law’s face on it. That didn’t make him feel better.
5. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
With the death of Superman in 1992 came four new heroes in his place, including an African-American engineer who made a powered suit to become the superhero Steel. Steel has been one of the most prominent black superheroes in the DC universe, so a movie seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well for the 1997 movie adaptation or its star, Shaquille O’Neal.
Shaq is a big fan of Superman, even sporting a Superman tattoo, so becoming a metal version of the hero was probably a dream come true. Yet there were problems with the shoot, like a low budget, having to fit Shaq’s massive frame in with other actors and even a gang shootout on the set. Decades later, Shaq has been open about the problems with the movie, wishing he could do it over again.
4. MARION COTILLARD
In 2012, Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed trilogy of Batman movies concluded with The Dark Knight Rises, where Batman faced his deadliest enemy Bane trying to destroy the hero and his beloved Gotham City. Along with Bane, Batman also met Miranda Tate, a beautiful financier played by Marion Cotillard.
Even before the movie came out, Cotillard had problems with questions about her role. Rumors were swirling that Nolan was going to be pulling the same trick he did with Batman Begins where she was secretly playing a different villain. She had to openly lie to people who asked if she was playing Talia al Ghul, which she later said she was uncomfortable with. She was also upset with the flat take Nolan chose for her death scene that was later ridiculed by audiences.
3. VAL KILMER
In 1995, Batman Forever brought a new look, feel and cast to the Batman movies. Instead of dark and noir, Batman Forever had camp and bright colors. Instead of a brooding Michael Keaton, Batman Forever brought Val Kilmer into the cape and cowl. The movie was a box-office smash, breathing new life into the franchise, but Kilmer didn’t have a good time wearing the pointy ears.
Joel Schumacher has said in interviews that Kilmer was rude to others on set, describing the actor as “childish and impossible.” When Schumacher finally got fed up and told Kilmer to treat the crew with respect, Kilmer refused to talk to him for the next two weeks. Besides the fights with the crew, Kilmer was unhappy with how the movie seemed to be aimed at general audiences instead of the fans. When Batman and Robin went into production, Kilmer moved on.
2. RICHARD PRYOR
Among Superman fans, most agree Superman III is when the movie series went downhill. It’s the movie where comedy and camp took over, and where Richard Pryor makes a baffling turn as a bumbling computer genius named Gus Gorman. While the scenes where Superman turns evil are some of Reeve’s best work, all the questions about the movie come back to Pryor.
At the time when Pryor was known as an edgy stand-up comedian, his role in Superman III didn’t make a whole lot of sense and time hasn’t made it any better. While there have been a lot of theories as to why Pryor took the role, he was open about doing Superman III only because he was paid $4 million. He later complained that because of all the special effects, Pryor spent most of his time during the shoot sitting in his hotel, waiting for a call.
1. MARLON BRANDO
When the first Superman was being assembled in 1978, comic book adaptations didn’t have a good reputation. To build up excitement and respect for the first movie, the studio wanted to hire acclaimed actor Marlon Brando to play Jor-El. The problem came when director Richard Donner discovered Brando didn’t want to appear on screen at all.
In their first conversation about the role, Brando literally suggested Jor-El shown as a glowing green bagel or giant suitcase. Brando really wanted to talk Donner into just recording his role as a voice-over so he wouldn’t have to show up on the set. Donner talked him out of the bagel idea, but Brando refused to memorize his lines and had cue cards put up around the set for him to read his lines off of.
Which DC movie did you love most, despite what the actors thought? Let us know in the comments!
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