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12 Actors Who Regret Taking Film Roles

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.

Having regrets is a natural part of life; as humans we've all got them. However, many people have the luxury of keeping these regrets to themselves. This is not the case with famous actors, who have their bad choices displayed for the world to see. Let's take a look at 12 actors who regretted taking on famous film roles.


Matt Damon, The Bourne Ultimatum

While Matt Damon doesn't regret playing Jason Bourne at all, he does regret a specific film in the series and his role in it. The actor was contractually obligated to appear in 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, but he knew the film should never have been greenlit. Damon felt that the script was unreadable and severely lacking, but regardless he was forced to appear in it.

In a 2011 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Damon expressed, "This is a career-ender. I mean, I could put this thing up on eBay, and it would be game over for that dude. It's terrible. It's really embarrassing. He [Tony Gilroy] was having a go, basically, and he took his money and left." The actor must have gotten over it, as he would appear in one more film for the franchise.


Mark Wahlberg, The Happening

M. Night Shyamalan's 2008 post-apocalyptic film The Happening caused critics and movie-goers alike to collectively scratch their heads. The psychological flick left people wondering if it was a sharp parody or a truly awful piece of cinematography. Though many have argued both sides, the film's lead Mark Wahlberg is adamant on his stance: it was a hot mess. The actor has since expressed his complete disdain for the movie, and regrets ever agreeing to appear in it.

In a 2010 interview, Wahlberg had said, "It was a really bad movie...F**k it. It is what it is...You can't blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn't playing a cop or a crook."


Gwyneth Paltrow, Shallow Hal

The 2001 romantic comedy Shallow Hal starred Jack Black as a shallow man who, after hypnosis, begins to see only the inner beauty of people instead of just outward appearances. Gwyneth Paltrow portrayed his love interest, an obese woman who Black sees as a slender blonde. The film was extremely controversial due to its fat-shaming and constant weight jokes. Though Paltrow's performance in Shallow Hal was well-received, both she and Black would later reflect that making the film felt like selling out.


Will Smith, After Earth

Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith starred in the 2013 post-apocalyptic sci-fi film After Earth. The story focused on Earth having been abandoned and humans being in conflict with a mysterious alien race. The film was critically panned, with the acting, writing and overall storytelling heavily criticized. Will Smith, who normally is a powerhouse at the box office, couldn't save the film. After Earth was dubbed a complete and utter flop.

Smith would later express that the film was one of the lowest points in his career, and that he was deeply saddened that his son was brought down with him. He declared that it was his "most painful failure" and even compared it to Wild Wild West, but that After Earth was far worse.


George Clooney, Batman & Robin

It's not surprising that 1997's Batman & Robin would make this list; the film has arguably become the poster child for bad comic book movies. Unsurprisingly, the caped crusader himself George Clooney has repeatedly apologized for the adaption over the years. The actor had once mused that he truly believed that the movie would ultimately kill the Batman character and even called up Adam West to apologize for what they had done. Clooney is not the only actor from the film to regret their participation in it; fellow co-star Chris O'Donnell (Robin) has also expressed his disdain for the adaption.

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Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up

It may be a bit of an initial head-scratcher why Katherine Heigl would regret starring in 2007's Knocked Up. The film was a tremendous box office success, featured a very talented and hilarious cast and was critically acclaimed. It even inspired a spin-off sequel, 2012's This Is 40. However, Heigl had an issue more with her character than with the film itself. The actress infamously gave a scathing interview to Vanity Fair, in which she slammed the movie and suggested that her joyless and shrewd character was completely sexist.

She further elaborated that the film "paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys." Her comments somewhat tainted her Hollywood image and she was later deemed difficult to work with; although she would later back-track a bit on her words.

Ben Affleck, Daredevil

Ben Affleck seems to have a little problem portraying comic book characters; his first appearance as Batman was widely controversial, but it was his role in 2003's Daredevil that takes the cake. The actor has since confirmed that the film stands as his lone career regret. He would reveal that everyone involved in the adaptation was on different pages in regards to what the movie was supposed to accomplish.

Affleck revealed that the film inspired him to do Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, saying, "That's the movie I want to do. I want to be a part of [Batman v Superman]. Part of it was I wanted for once to get one of these movies and do it right—to do a good version. I hate Daredevil so much."

Halle Berry, Catwoman

There appears to be an underlying theme with famous actors regretting their roles in comic book films. No one knows exactly why Oscar winner Halle Berry would appear in the train wreck that was 2004's Catwoman. It may be the fact that initially, the film was supposed to be directed by Tim Burton as a spin-off to Batman Begins. That clearly never happened, and Berry became attached to the version that would ultimately flop. Her feelings were not truly revealed until she accepted her 2005 Razzie Award for Worst Actress.

In her acceptance speech, Berry famously said, "First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of s***, god-awful movie...It was just what my career needed."

Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music

This entry might come as a surprise to many, seeing as The Sound of Music has become a beloved classic film revered by critics and fans alike. However, the musical drama was not as well-received by one of its leading stars, Christopher Plummer. The actor revealed to The Hollywood Reporter in 2011 that his performance as Captain Von Trapp in the film was his most challenging role to date. He was far less kind the previous year, having once expressed, "I was a bit bored with the character. Although we worked hard to make him interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse."

Plummer would further elaborate his reasoning, saying it was "because it was so awful and sentimental and gooey." The seasoned actor often refers to the movie as "The Sound of Mucus."

Sean Connery, James Bond

It is shocking to learn that the original 007 reflects back on his time as James Bond with a mixture of anger and regret. Sean Connery's resentment initially stemmed from his belief that he was underpaid for the first film, Dr. No. By the sixth installment of the franchise, Connery began giving his salaries away to charity. It was clear he had grown tired of the role and the pressure that was associated with it. He had once said, "[I am] fed up to here with the whole Bond bit. I have always hated that damned James Bond. I'd like to kill him."

Michael Caine further elaborated on why Connery was hostile towards the role, having explained, "He was, and is, a much better actor than just playing James Bond, but he became synonymous with Bond...That was particularly upsetting to him."


Shia LaBeouf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Shia LaBeouf is never one to shy away from speaking openly and honestly about his film roles. His appearance as Mutt Williams in the fourth installment garnered the actor much social media ridicule, as did the polarizing reaction to the film. Multiple times LaBeouf would comment on the flick, as he expressed to Los Angeles Times in 2010 that he had "dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished" and felt that "the movie could have been updated...we just misinterpreted what we were trying to satiate."

Not only did LaBeouf express disdain for the film, but also for working with Steven Spielberg. He famously mused, "You get there, and you realize you're not meeting the Spielberg you dream of. You're meeting a different Spielberg, who is in a different stage in his career. He's less a director than he is a f****** company."


Michelle Pfeiffer, Grease 2

This one shouldn't have been tough for anyone to see coming. It's extremely difficult to live up to a classic film like 1978's Grease; fans were absolutely in love with the original so a sequel would be a tough concept to sell. Many people have strong impassioned feelings about Grease 2, for better or for worse (mainly the latter). Star Michelle Pfeiffer seems to share the same sentiment, as she once admitted to, "I hated that film with a vengeance and could not believe how bad it was. At the time I was young and didn't know any better."

© 2019 Rachel M Johnson


Rachel M Johnson (author) on August 01, 2020:

Hi Poppy, thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I completely agree, Mark Wahlberg was doing the best job he could given the script. You’re definitely right, he’s not really to blame!

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on August 01, 2020:

Excellent article! I don't blame Mark Wahlberg for regretting The Happening, though I think most people would blame M Night Shyalaman for the film itself. Great work!

Rachel M Johnson (author) on July 04, 2019:

Hi Noel, I haven’t seen it in so long but I don’t remember it being bad by any means!

Noel Penaflor from California on July 03, 2019:

Oddly enough, The Bourne Ultimatum turned out to be a pretty good movie.

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