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Not my finest hour: Eight Hollywood stars still haunted by disastrous roles

Sandra Bullock is the latest actor to come clean about an embarrassing film in her past, but she’s not alone, as several other performers have also acknowledged filmography faux pas

Hollywood stars in disastrous roles
Halle Berry, Oscar Jaenada, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock all have roles in their past they regret.Getty Images / Pepa Ortiz (Collage)
Guillermo Alonso

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One of the tricky parts of being famous is having every professional mistake available to the world for the public to revisit. When it comes to actors and actresses, these faux pas come in the shape of films that, in worst-case scenarios, can be career ending; and, in best cases, stay in the past and are remembered with humor, as these eight celebrities now do. Sandra Bullock is the last one on the long list of celebrities confessing about a particularly embarrassing and haunting project of the past.

Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric

Slow boat. Slowly going towards an island

Actress: Sandra Bullock

Film: Speed 2 (1997)

Sandra Bullock is not too fond of sequels. In an interview for The Lost City, the film she stars in with Brad Pitt, Daniel Radcliffe and Channing Tatum, the interviewer asked her whether she had any past projects she regretted. She answered frankly: “I have one no one came around to and I’m still embarrassed I was in. It’s called Speed 2. I’ve been very vocal about it. Makes no sense. Slow boat. Slowly going towards an island. That’s one I wished I hadn’t done.” And Bullock is not alone: Speed 2 is rated globally as one of the worst action films in history, with savage reviews mixed with failure at the box office, perhaps due to the absence of Keanu Reeves, the original costar who did not return for the sequel. When her interviewer told Bullock that he enjoyed Speed 2, she joked: “Were you high?” “I was 12,” the reporter answered. “OK, so that answers my question,” she replied.

George Clooney as Batman.
George Clooney as Batman.

We all whiffed on that one

Actor: George Clooney

Film: Batman & Robin (1997)

There are so many different fronts when it comes to judging the colorful, miscast disaster that was Batman & Robin – the second and final film in the saga directed by the late Joel Schumacher. Its lead actor, George Clooney, can feel lucky he wasn’t the only one under scrutiny. The director and co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger have also been blamed for the end result, as have the supporting actresses, and even the production design team for creating the first Batman suit with nipples. But Clooney has always been honest when it comes to the film. The last time he spoke about it was a year ago, at a press conference in New York to promote one of his movies, The Tender Bar. “I did one superhero movie and I fucked it up so bad they won’t let me near the set.” In an interview on Howard Stern’s radio show a year earlier, he admitted: “I couldn’t have done that one differently. It’s a big machine, that thing. You have to remember at that point; I was just an actor getting an acting job. I wasn’t the guy who could greenlight a movie. […] The truth of the matter is, I was bad in it. Akiva Goldsman wrote the screenplay. And it’s a terrible screenplay, he’ll tell you. Joel Schumacher directed it, and he’d say, ‘Yeah, it didn’t work.’ We all whiffed on that one”.

Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer in 'The Sound of Music.'©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection (©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C)

S&M

Actor: Christopher Plummer

Film: The Sound of Music (1965)

When it comes to actors’ phobias, there is room for fiascos and undisputed classics. The Sound of Music is a milestone of musical cinema, with the American Film Institute listing it as one of its best films of all time, but Christopher Plummer, who brought Captain von Trapp to life, didn’t like it. During an actor’s roundtable organized by The Hollywood Reporter in 2011, someone asked the actor which role he had disliked the most in his career, and he brought up the movie. Laughing, he explained: “It was so awful and sentimental and gooey, you had to work terribly hard to try and infuse some minuscule bit of humor into it.” His dissatisfaction is also evident in his memoir, In spite of myself: he refers to the film as S&M, initials for the movie, and sadomasochism.

Halle Berry disastrous roles
Halle Berry as Catwoman.

Thank you for “this piece of shit”

Actress: Halle Berry

Film: Catwoman (2004)

Berry is one of those actresses who best (or worst) symbolize the supposed curse of the Oscars: after being the first Black woman to win the Best Actress Academy Award for Monster’s Ball in 2002, she went for a big action project, one of the first with a female heroine, Catwoman. And everything went downhill for her after its failure at the box office. However, she took her “Razzie” – the dark side of the Oscars, rewarding the film industry disasters of each year – for Worst Actress with admirable humor and professionalism. She also became one of the first celebrities to accept this anti-award in person.

Parodying her excited reaction upon receiving the Oscar, she arrived on stage – with her Oscar in one hand, the Razzie in the other. She said: “Thank you so much. I never in my life thought I would be up here, winning a Razzie. I mean it’s not like I ever aspired to be good, but thank you,” before also thanking a few more for the award. “I’ve got so many people to thank because you don’t win a Razzie without a lot of help from a lot of people.” Amid laughter from the audience, she named those involved before exclaiming: “I want to thank Warner Brothers, thank you for putting me in a piece of shit God-awful movie!” She also thanked her manager: “This guy loves me so much that he tells me that I’m the greatest actress there ever was, he loves me so much that he convinces me to do projects, even when he knows they’re shit!”

Óscar Jaenada disastrous roles
Óscar Jaenada, in a file photo from 2019. Hector Guerrero (El Pa’s )

The protagonist would not watch it

Actor: Óscar Jaenada

Film: XXL (2004)

Before achieving fame and awards for his eponymous role in Camarón (2005), and moving to the US, where he has had a successful career, Óscar Jaenada starred in XXL (2004), a comedy he didn’t enjoy. And he didn’t even wait any time to admit it, coming clean almost at the same time as the film’s promotion. In statements to news agency EFE reported by Spanish daily El Mundo, Jaenada (nominated at the time for the Goya for Best New Actor for Achero Mañas’ Noviembre) explained: “The only Spanish cinema that seems to be relevant is the comedy genre, and XXL is just another movie.” It’s not one I would watch, but sometimes you have to accept projects that you don’t like because you have to eat.” Years later, in a conversation with EL PAÍS men’s magazine Icon, the actor remembered this moment: “I don’t have the same nerve I did when I was twenty-something now that I’m 40. […] Now, something that is catching my attention is meeting many people who actually liked that film”.

Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte
Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte in 'I Love Trouble.'photo: MPTV.net

The worst

Actor: Nick Nolte

Film: I Love Trouble (1994)

Nick Nolte, who has never exactly been backward in coming forward, deeply loathes I Love Trouble, the 1994 rom-com that united him with Julia Roberts, then the world’s biggest star. The film tried to resurrect the great battle of the sexes, similar to Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn’s screwball comedies, but it failed. Reviews were negative, and the box office registered the first flop for the previously unsinkable Roberts. The relationship between the actors was so bad that the lack of chemistry went beyond the screen. Roberts once called Nolte “completely disgusting,” he fired back, saying that Roberts was “not a nice person.” Regarding the film, the star of Affliction ranks it as the worst movie he has ever been in, admitting that he only made it for money.

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson disastrous roles
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the 'Twighlight' saga.

“A ridiculous guy”

Actor: Robert Pattinson

Saga: Twilight (2008-2012)

It is pretty standard for teen idols to end up hating the roles that saw them shoot to stardom. Jamie Dornan isn’t so fond of 50 Shades of Grey, and Leonardo DiCaprio has always expressed a certain ambiguity toward Titanic. Thanks to The Batman, Robert Pattinson is the major star of 2022. But he is no exception to this rule, and is no fan of the saga that made him an idol. In August 2011, he mocked the series himself in an interview for the British magazine Empire. “When you read the book [Twilight by Stephenie Meyer], it’s like, ‘Edward Cullen was so beautiful I creamed myself.’ I mean, every line is like that. He’s the most ridiculous person who’s so amazing at everything. […] And the more I read the script, the more I hated this guy, so that’s how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself. Plus, he’s a 108-year-old virgin, so he’s obviously got some issues there”.

Shia LaBeouf in 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.'
Shia LaBeouf in 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.'MPTV.net (David James)

Shia, more LaBeouf than ever

Actor: Shia LaBeouf

Film: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

LaBeouf is a rebel and experimental actor. For example, if almost everyone else in Hollywood spends their whole lives waiting for Steven Spielberg to call, he makes sure that Steven Spielberg never calls him again. Not even after the legendary director paved his way to stardom and gave him the opportunity to appear in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) with Harrison Ford, a role that any young actor or aspiring star would have killed for. In 2016, in an interview with Variety in Prague, LaBeouf explained that, like many other actors, he had also grown with the dream of working with Spielberg. “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 fucking company”. The actor added that it felt like there was no room to grow as an actor with the director of ET. “Everything has been so meticulously planned. You got to get this line out in 37 seconds. You do that for five years, you start to feel like not knowing what you’re doing for a living”. “I don’t like the movies that I made with Spielberg,” he says. He doesn’t consider Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a success, despite its worldwide gross of nearly $800 million. “I prepped for a year and a half, and then the movie comes out, and it’s your fault. That shit hurt bad”.

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