Hollywood actors. Unashamedly showy and narcissistic, these peculiar creatures so relish attention that they would c-walk into Mordor simply to draw eyes. Whether they pander to a cultivated image or whether their egos are actually that obnoxiously huge, they constantly present themselves as infallible, with any criticism of their work or lifestyle dismissed as a prudish Philistine misunderstanding motivated by jealousy. However, very occasionally, whether out of honesty, collaborative disagreement or garnering hype, some of these egos will publicly announce their disgust with their own projects. This article considers 15 of these actors and the work that they love to hate.
Halle Berry on Catwoman (2004)
In perhaps the most vituperative slamming of one’s own work, Halle Berry publicly admonished the producers of Catwoman, a phlegmatic hairball of a film that not even the most opportunistic cat would drag in. In her acceptance speech for the scorned 2004 Golden Raspberry Award (Razzie), the awards that celebrate the most crapulescent movies in Hollywoood, Berry got her claws out, thanking Warner Brothers for casting her in “this God-awful piece-of shit” and claiming that “”It was just what my career needed – I was at the top and now I’m at the bottom”. Admittedly, the awards encourage a certain irreverence, but like all good celebrity rags, let’s just ignore that for the sake of the story.
Ben Affleck on I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal With Disney (1993)
Halle Berry’s Razzie for Catwoman was eclipsed in the previous year by the romantic comedy Gigli, the clumsy gooeyness of which elicited a response similar to accidentally finding used gum on the recliner button of a plane seat when one is wedged between two morbidly obese
hideossifications. Starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, it won six Razzies: Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Actress, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Couple. It is therefore surprising to discover that Affleck’s greatest shame is not Gigli, but rather I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal With Disney, a short that marked his directorial debut. Granted, the name alone would make anyone wanting to be taken seriously to hang themselves on a meathook, but Affleck did not hold back on the self-castigation: “It’s horrible. It’s atrocious. I knew I wanted to be a director, and I did a couple of short films, and this is the only one that haunts me. I’m not proud of it…It looks like it was made by someone who has no prospects, no promise.” Ah Ben, don’t be so hard on yourself: It only took 10 short years for your mediocrity to be recognized.
Matthew Goode on Leap Year (2010)
The most recent movie on this list, Leap Year is a romantic comedy that should be skipped not just every four years, but perhaps altogether – at least if one listens to its star Matthew Goode. He famously dismissed his most recent film as “turgid”, a Latinate adjective often employed by Churchill which means “turd with the letters gi rammed in there”. Goode only accepted the role due to his reticence to film in Los Angeles: “It wasn’t because of the script, trust me.” Goode despises talking about films he knows “aren’t brilliant” and is not shy to voice his personal opinions of them: he admits that he thought his prior film, A Single Man, was “banal”. All too happy to accept that Leap Year wasn’t all that good(e), he predicted, “‘I just know that there are a lot of people who will say it is the worst film of 2010.”
Mel Gibson on Summer City (1977)
In A Single Man, Matthew Goode, who is ostensibly heterosexual, took on the role of a homosexual character. As an actor, this did not shake him at all, but this is not the case for Mel Gibson, who made notorious for his alcohol-induced anti Semitic spiel. The normally uncompromising Gibson is allegedly ashamed by his first onscreen kiss – a homosexual one – in his debut film, Summer City. The film was made as part of his graduation from the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art, and Gibson described it as “a cheap, nasty movie that was cranked out in three weeks on a tiny budget.” But Mel could not have hated the scene that much – he later worked with the kissee Steve Bisley on two other feature films.
Nicole Kidman on Australia (2009)
Another expatriate Australian, Nicole Kidman, was unimpressed with her performance in Baz Luhrmann’s Australia. The intended epic, which runs for 3 hours, ended up epically failing. Kidman revealed to Australian newspapers that she “squirmed” during the premiere and said to her husband Keith Urban, “I can’t look at this movie and be proud of what I’ve done”. However, this proved to be another case of the media favoring the sensational soundbyte over veracity – it was not the film that caused her anguish, but rather the fact that she cannot bear watching herself onscreen. And apart from her (ob)scene in Eyes Wide Shut, neither can we.
Megan Fox on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Unlike Nicole Kidman, the vixen Megan Fox obviously takes many pointers from her films. Specifically, her brief appearance in the 2007 film How to Lose Friends and Alienate People has certainly seemed to have influenced her way of relating with others – she had a widely publicized feud with Transformers director Michael Bay which resulted in him removing her from the 3rd installment of the series. After several criticisms directed at Bay himself, Fox had no compunction with setting her sights on the movie itself. Although acquiescing that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was responsible for accelerating her career, she claimed: “I don’t want to blow smoke up people’s ass. People are well aware that this is not
a movie about acting.” Whilst this may invite the response, “Well, that’s why you were cast in it, brat”, Fox’s poorly phrased complaint was about the film’s emphasis on explosive action rather than emotive drama. Her complaining don’t end there: in one interview she declared, “I don’t know how you saw it in IMAX without having a brain aneurysm or at least a migraine headache…I’m in the movie, and I read the script, and I watched the movie, and I still didn’t know what was happening. So I think if you haven’t read the script and you go and you see it and you understand it, I think you might be a genius.” Again, this obviously well thought out statement does not paint Fox’s talents in a strong light – but who cares, she’s still hot.
Katherine Heigl on Knocked Up (2007)
Such a sexist statement would certainly raise the ire of Katherine Heigl, who, similar to an unruly Fox, will also bite the hand that feeds her. In comments that created much furor, Heigl criticized her movie Knocked Up, telling Vanity Fair: “[Knocked Up is] a little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys. It exaggerated the characters, and I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy? Why is this how you’re portraying women? Ninety-eight percent of the time it was an amazing experience, but it was hard for me to love the movie.”
Without stooping to petty insinuations, it is hard to imagine why Heigl waited until the movie’s DVD release, which was well after it had finished taking profits at cinemas, before making such claims. Her Knocked Up co-star Seth Rogen did not worry about insinuations,branding her a hypocrite when she later acted in the misogynistic film The Ugly Truth.
Mathieu Kassovitz on Babylon AD (2008)
Matthieu Kassovitz may not be a household celebrity name, but the director of Gothika, who had brief cameos in Amelie and The Fifth Element, is well known around the Hollywood traps. Kassovitz was so irritated by the interference of Fox (the 20th Century, not Megan, variety) that he publicly badmouthed the movie. Likening its continual violence to “a bad episode of 24” Kassovitz was completely disillusioned: “I’m very unhappy with the film. I never had a chance to do one scene the way it was written or the way I wanted it to be. The script wasn’t respected. Bad producers, bad partners, it was a terrible experience.” Even its star, Vin Diesel, seemed displeased by Fox’s editing – in a remarkably witty rhetorical statement he grunted, “Am I even in the movie any more, or am I on the cutting room floor?”
Sylvester Stallone on Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992)
The undisputed king of serial grunting, Sly Stallone is a man of few distinguishable words, so when he uses them they garner full effect. As noted by PopCrunch earlier this year, Stallone most regrets the1992 slapstick comedy “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.” 120 hours of manpower and 140 hours of supercomputer processing managed to render Stallone’s comments into English: “I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes.” To any Guantanamo inmate with internet access and a penchant for popular culture websites reading this: be afraid; be very afraid.
Bruce Willis on Striking Distance (1993)
Apart from both acting in the upcoming action film The Expendables, what do Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone have in common? If you answered, “The only facial expression they are capable of, no matter the situation, is one that looks like a constipated bulldog-staffie cross with a 4-inch thorn in its paw”, you’re probably very observant and have an impressive knowledge of constipated canines. But the real and obvious answer is, “Bruce Willis also slammed an earlier film of his, many years after its release.” Striking Distance, a formulaic Willis action movie about a Pittsburgh police officer, has almost universally been accepted as mediocre – although Pittsburgh residents, who voted it the best “Pittsburgh Movie”, are a notable exception (whether or not this reinforces its claim to mediocrity is for the reader to decide). Indeed, Willis himself claimed in a 2004 interview with Bob Costas that the movie “sucked”, and apologized to audiences who had to endure it.
Bill Cosby on Leonard Part 6 (1987)
Kids may say the darndest things, but there aren’t any who publicly shamed their own movie quite like Bill Cosby. Leonard Part 6 was an absolute bomb, winning 3 Razzies for Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay and Worst Picture. Cosby was understandably disappointed and on the promotional talk show circuit advised people not to waste their money seeing it. If this wasn’t bad enough Cosby later bought the rights to the movie to prevent it from being shown on television again!
Gore Vidal on Myra Breckinridge(1970)
Perhaps to be discounted from ‘celebrity’ status as he lacks the requisite crass, vain and attention seeking tendencies, Gore Vidal, one of America’s foremost intellectuals, is no stranger to the public eye. In 1968 he published the book Myra Breckinridge, which despite its explicit depictions of sexual deviancy and transsexuality, became a critically acclaimed bestseller. Two years later, it was adapted into an eponymous film, which despite its explicit depictions of the sultry sexpots Raquel Welch and Mae West, become a critically a-shamed bomb. Constantly featuring in “the worst movies of all time” lists, Time magazine said of it, “Myra Breckinridge is about as funny as a child molester. It is an insult to intelligence, an affront to sensibility and an abomination to the eye.” In his conversation with Hollis Alpert
and Jan Kadar, Gore Vidal could hardly contain his disgust with the film, and its director Michael Sarne. He branded the film “not just a bad movie … [but] an awful joke” and said of Sarne, “Anyway, Michael Sarne never worked in films after Myra Breckinridge … [t]his is proof
there is a God”.
Ed Norton on The Italian Job(2003) and The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Perhaps another non-celebrity celebrity is Edward Norton, a man who refuses to embrace the limelight: “If I ever have to stop taking the subway, I’m gonna have a heart attack.” He is well known for his intellectual approach to cinema, often causing much tension with directors when he interferes with their editing. Given this nature, it is understandable that the shallow, macho, adrenalin-pumping action movies The Italian Job and The Incredible Hulk would cause some controversy. Add to this the fact that Norton, although reluctant to act in either film, was compelled to participate through the threat of a multi-million dollar legal suit for breach of contract (he had a three picture deal with Paramount), and you can expect fireworks to fly. And they did: on the promotional circuit Norton advised his “real fans” to avoid seeing The Italian Job and, in a maneuver dubbed The Mighty Sulk, he chose to render aid in Africa rather than promote or show up for the premiere of The Mighty Hulk. The mind boggles at how he can be deemed unethical by doing this, although perhaps it was done in bad faith.
Brad Pitt on The Devil’s Own(1997)
When Brad Pitt worked on The Devil’s Own he was not to know that in two short years he would act with Edward Norton in Fight Club which would catapult him to A-list stardom. Despite lacking the partial immunity that an A-list status grants, Pitt brazenly condemned the film to hell (hur-hur). Coming up with lines slightly more entertaining than the movie, Pitt said, “[this film] the most irresponsible bit of filmmaking – if you can even call it that – that I’ve ever seen…we had a great script, but it got tossed…[now] we had twenty pages of dogshit”. Although later issuing a retracting statement, it was suggested that this was only to placate the studio, and not an apology.
Christopher Plummer on The Sound of Music (1965)
Whilst Plummer might indeed fancy girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes, mentioning this may elicit a rather visceral and vicious reaction: not out of any sense of prudishness or denial of sexual libidinousness (he is quite open about his sexual conquests) but because
The Sound of Music is not at all one of his favorite things. He has redubbed it The Sound of Mucus, and recently did not show up at the 40 year reunion. He has never announced the exact reason for his hatred, although perhaps it was the character of Captain Von Trapp, which he described as “an empty carcass of a part”. Whatever the reason, Plummer’s odium has managed to sour a part of our collective childhood – although let’s face it the Sound of Mucus has a certain (nos)trill to it.