10 Stars Who Controversially Refused to Promote Their Own Movies

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In Hollywood it frequently goes without saying that movie stars are contractually obligated to promote the productions in which they feature. Whether it’s through attending press junkets and interviews or appearing on late-night talk shows, actors are generally expected to show up, smile enthusiastically and wax lyrical about the movie in question – all in a bid to boost box office takings.

But occasionally, often as a last-ditch act of defiance, some actors opt not to fulfill these obligations. For whatever reason – perhaps an on-set fall-out, creative differences or the workings of their own conscience – the following ten stars controversially refused to promote their own films.

10. Lindsay Lohan – The Canyons (2013)

Lindsay Lohan – The Canyons (2013)

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Lindsay Lohan is no stranger to off-camera drama, and in 2013 she added director Paul Schrader to the list of people she’s left, in Schrader’s own words, “mystified and disappointed.” Having directed Lohan in critically panned 2013 erotic thriller The Canyons, Schrader criticized the troubled actress for bailing on the movie’s 2013 Venice Film Festival premiere. “She said [she] would support the film but never did,” Schrader wrote on the official The Canyons Facebook page. The director’s dismayed post listed numerous complaints of Lohan – from her missing the premiere to skipping photoshoots and key promotional interviews. Likely feeling betrayed, Schrader added, “I hired her when no one else would.” Perhaps Lohan felt that apparently leaked stills of her nude scenes in the movie was all the promotion that The Canyons needed.

9. Edward Norton – The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Edward Norton – The Incredible Hulk (2008)

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If you believe the reports, Edward Norton resembled the real-life version of his unpredictable Birdman character Mike Shiner while on the set of 2008 superhero reboot The Incredible Hulk. On top of playing Bruce Banner and his angry alter ego Hulk, Norton rewrote large chunks of the script – and this put him on a collision course with Marvel, which wanted a more streamlined blockbuster edit over Norton’s injected character development and added dialogue. Director Louis Leterrier told Entertainment Weekly, “It was like a little burst. ‘I’m angry with you!’ ‘No, I’m angry with you!’ And me in the center saying ‘Boys, calm down.’” According to the Los Angeles Times, the actor disappeared to Africa during the movie’s key promotional phase.

8. Mo’Nique – Precious (2009)

Mo'Nique – Precious (2009)

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While Mo’Nique scooped a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in the film, her decision to skip international promotions for 2009 drama Precious resulted in a backlash that’s still ongoing. The actress claimed that she honored domestic promotional duties but argued that her $50,000 fee didn’t cover international events like Cannes. “When you work Monday through Friday, 40 hours a week, and then your boss calls you up and says we need you to come in on Saturday and work for ten hours, do you do that for free?” she asked on Access Hollywood Live!. And, as it turned out, her actions seemingly had consequences. As the actress revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, Precious director Lee Daniels called her in 2014 and said, “Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed [by the industry].” Daniels later addressed the situation on CNN by explaining, “You’ve gotta play ball. This is not just show – it is show business.”

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7. Keanu Reeves – The Watcher (2000)

Keanu Reeves – The Watcher (2000)

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Keanu Reeves maintained that he was duped and coerced into starring in disappointing 2000 thriller The Watcher. “I never found the script interesting,” he told the Calgary Sun, “but a friend of mine forged my signature on the agreement.” Some friend. Reeves – whose showing saw him nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor – added, “I couldn’t prove he did and I didn’t want to get sued, so I had no other choice but to do the film.” He also claimed that he was contractually obligated to keep his indignation a secret until a year after the feature’s U.S. release. In an apparent act of defiance, the disgruntled star opted not to promote The Watcher, bypassing the movie’s promotional interview circuit completely.

6. David Hyde Pierce – Hellboy (2004)

David Hyde Pierce – Hellboy (2004)

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David Hyde Pierce’s choice to not promote – and effectively remove himself entirely from – 2004 superhero blockbuster Hellboy was certainly a blow to the movie’s marketing campaign. However, the Frasier actor’s withdrawal – which included skipping the premiere, not doing any press and remaining uncredited on the Guillermo Del Toro film – was apparently a noble decision. Hyde Pierce was hired as a big name to voice amphibian-human hybrid Abe Sapien, but when recording his lines he was left wondering why he was needed. Doug Jones, who played the character on screen, told Comic Book Resources, “He did not want to take any of the limelight away from me, so that makes David Hyde Pierce unlike anyone else I’ve ever met in all of Hollywood,” adding that the unusual decision was made “out of respect.” Bravo.

5. Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz – Dream House (2011)

Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz – Dream House (2011)

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Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz will always remember 2011 psychological thriller Dream House with mixed feelings. Firstly, the movie was a commercial and critical failure, as its single-figure Rotten Tomatoes rating suggests. Secondly, Morgan Creek, the production company behind Dream House, was apparently unhappy with director Jim Sheridan’s test cut and decided to initiate a new final edit. Displeased with the end result, the Academy Award-nominated Sheridan attempted to have his name removed from the film. Craig and Weisz were also unimpressed with the re-edit and, along with the enraged director, they boycotted all promotional activities for the movie. On the plus side, Craig and Weisz fell in love on set and married a few months before the movie’s release. Every cloud, eh?

4. Vince Vaughn – Four Christmases (2008)

Vince Vaughn – Four Christmases (2008)

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According to reports, while shooting 2008 comedy Four Christmases, Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn did not see eye to eye – quite literally, in fact, as the stars’ huge height difference caused major on-set problems. Ever the smiling professional, Witherspoon played down reports of a rift between the pair, though she did admit, “I said to him one day, ‘People can’t talk as fast as you think.’ You can’t keep up with him. But I feel like I’ve been in training – Vince Vaughn training.” Due to Vaughn’s “other work obligations,” Witherspoon found herself doing interviews and TV appearances alone, with her co-star even skipping the film’s L.A. premiere. Ultimately, though, Witherspoon’s hard work paid off and, despite being a critical failure, the movie was a roaring commercial success.

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3. Robin Williams – Aladdin (1992)

Robin Williams – Aladdin (1992)

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When Robin Williams signed up to play the Genie in Disney’s 1992 animated hit Aladdin, he did so for for the base union fee – but on the condition that his voice wouldn’t be used to sell the movie. He also stipulated that his character shouldn’t occupy more than a quarter of the film’s promotional materials, explaining to New York magazine, “I don’t want to sell stuff.” Unfortunately, Disney didn’t honor the agreement, which resulted in Williams boycotting all promotional activity and declining the chance to appear in 1994 sequel The Return of Jafar. Still, that year Joe Roth became studio boss at Disney and attempted to make amends with the disgruntled actor. Williams was touched by Roth’s seemingly heartfelt apology and enlisted to voice the Genie in 1996 DVD production Aladdin and the King of Thieves.

2. Jim Carrey – Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Jim Carrey – Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

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In June 2013, months before the release of violent superhero sequel Kick-Ass 2, Jim Carrey withdrew his support following a horrific elementary school shooting. The actor tweeted, “I did Kickass a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence,” adding that while he wasn’t ashamed of his role as Colonel Stars and Stripes, aka Sal Bertolinni, he had had “a change in my heart.” Mark Millar, who created the original Kick-Ass comic series, went on to tell Digital Spy that he was “delighted” by Carrey’s sentiments – which had become the subject of TV discussions on both sides of the Atlantic. Director Jeff Wadlow even felt compelled to play down reports that the star’s tweets were actually a sneaky promotional “ploy,” thanks to the subsequent media buzz surrounding them.

1. Shia LaBeouf – Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013)

Shia LaBeouf – Nymphomaniac Volume I (2013)

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Let’s be clear: Shia LaBeouf did attend the Berlin Film Festival press conference covering Lars von Trier’s dark 2013 drama Nymphomaniac: Vol. I, in which the actor plays the character of Jerôme. However, the Transformers star walked out after answering a single question on its sex scenes with an enigmatic quote from former French soccer ace Eric Cantona. He later appeared at the movie’s premiere with a bag covering his face, complete with the words “I am not famous anymore.” Interestingly, LaBeouf went on to describe his subsequent 2014 meltdown as an “existential crisis.” Speaking about his arrest for disturbing a performance of Broadway musical Cabaret that year, the troubled star told The Ellen DeGeneres Show, “They put a Hannibal mask on me and a jacket. It was very scary.”

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David Paul Krug
David Paul Krug is the founder of PopCrunch, and currently serves as its General Manager. He has 15 years of experience running high traffic websites, and he is a movie addict, and loves independent music, sports, boxing, and UFC.