Every actor—yes, even the most famous and award-winning of them—has a turkey in his or her closet. Whether the thespian wants to admit it or not is another story: While Ben Kingsley has kept mum on his reasons for playing the flatulence-prone sex guru Tugginmypudha in 2008's rightfully maligned The Love Guru, Warren Beatty has repeatedly gone on the record to defend his legendary 1987 bomb, Ishtar. In 1991, Beatty told Entertainment Weekly that “Ishtar is a very good, not very big, comedy, made by a brilliant woman. And I think it's funny.”
But badmouthing one’s own not-so-stellar oeuvre has become a popular pastime in Hollywood as of late. Here are 15 actors who weren’t afraid to spray a little venom at the films they’d like to erase from their resumes.
1. BRAD PITT // THE DEVIL'S OWN (1997)
In February of 1997, eight weeks before The Devil's Own premiered, Brad Pitt shared his disappointment about Alan Pakula’s IRA thriller with Newsweek. “We had no script,” Pitt said. “Well, we had a great script but it got tossed for various reasons. To have to make something up as you go along—Jesus, what pressure! It was ridiculous. It was the most irresponsible bit of filmmaking—if you can even call it that—that I've ever seen.” (Has he not seen Cool World?)
2. GEORGE CLOONEY // RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES! (1988)
George Clooney’s likability factor seems to improve with age. And his occasional jabs at his own movies—most notably Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin—only add to his Everyman persona. But his turn as the Caped Crusader has got nothing on his role in this late-’80s camp-fest! At Newsweek’s 2012 Oscar roundtable, Clooney talked about the dangers of acting for money: “As an actor all bets are off if you need money,” he declared. “I've done really [crappy] movies or [crappy] jobs when I was broke, and people go, ‘Why did you do Return of the Killer Tomatoes?’ Because I got the job!”
3. JULIA ROBERTS // I LOVE TROUBLE (1994)
Julia Roberts did not earn her “America’s Sweetheart” moniker by being difficult. But Nick Nolte wouldn’t know that. The two actors fell way short of Hepburn/Tracy expectations when they teamed up for I Love Trouble, Charles Shyer's tribute to the fast-talking rom-com. It wasn’t long before the press got wind of the dueling actors’ on-set antics. While her PR team tried to do damage control, Roberts couldn’t keep herself from making some thinly masked digs at her co-star. In a 1993 interview, she told The New York Times, “From the moment I met him we sort of gave each other a hard time and naturally we get on each other's nerves. [While he can be] completely charming and very nice, he's also completely disgusting. He's going to hate me for saying this, but he seems go out of his way to repel people. He's a kick.” The film, unsurprisingly, repelled audiences and critics alike.
4. ALEC GUINNESS // STAR WARS (1977)
By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Alec Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations, and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have declared that, "Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue—which is lamentable—keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young." The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him.
In his autobiography, A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalled a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy with an autograph on the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.
5. SYLVESTER STALLONE // STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT (1992)
Sylvester Stallone doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was: "I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst," Stallone said. "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."
6. HALLE BERRY // CATWOMAN (2004)
Three years after winning an Oscar for the indie hit Monster’s Ball, Halle Berry donned the famous catsuit to star in this well-known bomb. And she played the role of good sport months later when she actually showed up to collect her Razzie Award for Worst Actress for the film, wherein she told the crowd: “You know, 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 ... First of all, I want to thank Warner Bros. Thank you for putting me in a piece of sh*t, god-awful movie. You know, it was just what my career needed, you know? I was at the top, and then Catwoman just plummeted me to the bottom.” No one involved—not Berry’s manager, agent, lawyers, acting coach, nor the film’s writers, cast, and director—escaped her wrath.
7. MICHAEL CAINE // JAWS: THE REVENGE (1987)
Maybe it’s the English accent, but few people pan their own films as entertainingly as Michael Caine. And while the two-time Oscar winner has seen his career resurrected in recent years, thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan, the decades haven’t always been so kind to Sir Michael. The 1980s were a particularly odd time, as they saw Caine regularly transitioning from fantastic roles to atrocious ones. Case in point: In 1986 Caine was too busy shooting the fourth film in the Jaws franchise to accept his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. In his 1992 autobiography, What’s It All About, Caine wrote of Jaws: The Revenge: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
8. CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER // THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)
The film that made Christopher Plummer a household name is the one he’d like to pretend doesn’t exist. At different times he has referred to The Sound of Music as “The Sound of Mucus,” “S&M” or simply “that movie.” In 2010, he told The Boston Globe: “I was a bit bored with the character. Although we worked hard enough to make him interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse. And the subject matter is not mine. I mean it can’t appeal to every person in the world. It’s not my cup of tea."
9. GWYNETH PALTROW // VIEW FROM THE TOP (2003)
She may get a lot of flak for her lifestyle blog, Goop, but when it comes to picking the right roles, Gwyneth Paltrow has made very few missteps. The two exceptions, according to the Oscar-winning actress, are Shallow Hal and this flight attendant comedy. Calling it “shite” in a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Paltrow described the movie as "terrible.”
10. BOB HOSKINS // SUPER MARIO BROS. (1993)
For anyone who doesn’t understand the cultural differences between Hollywood actors and British ones, behold Bob Hoskins. Whenever the topic turned to Super Mario Bros., the Oscar nominee—who passed away in 2014—never made an attempt to hide his ire. In 2007, The Guardian quoted him as saying, “The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Bros. It was a [freaking] nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set!”
One year later, Hoskins’s Super Mario Bros. co-star—two-time Oscar nominee Dennis Hopper—got in on the bashing action. When asked about his biggest disappointment while appearing on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Hopper replied that “I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my 6-year-old son at the time—he's now 18—said, ‘Dad I think you're probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?’ And I said, 'Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes.' And he said, 'Dad, I don't need shoes that badly.’”
11. GARY OLDMAN // TIPTOES (2003)
What’s that? You’ve never heard of Tiptoes? The 2003 straight-to-DVD flick isn't exactly the gift to movie buffs that one might expect, given the star-studded cast. Gary Oldman and Matthew McConaughey star as brothers, one of them normal-sized (McConaughey) and one of them a little person (Oldman). Oldman played the role on his knees in order to achieve the height disparity; in the years since its release, few of the actors have ever spoken publicly about it (including Oldman), and with good reason. But in March 2012, The New York Times managed to get a few words from Tiptoes co-star Peter Dinklage. “Oh, that movie,” he said, shaking his head. “That was something … It was sort of an amazing idea for a movie, but the result was what we were fighting against—the cutesiness of little people.”
12. CHARLIZE THERON // REINDEER GAMES (2000)
The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer, which sounds like the makings of a decent project. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews—including one from its lead actress who simply stated, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”
13. MARK WAHLBERG // THE HAPPENING (2008)
Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:
"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. 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."
14. MICKEY ROURKE // PASSION PLAY (2010)
Truth be told, it’s probably not all that surprising that Mickey Rourke has done his fair share of badmouthing his own movies. After all, this is the man who gave up his career as a Hollywood hunk to get his face beaten in for a living. But in 2011, Rourke opened up to New York Magazine about his many failed cinematic efforts. When asked about Passion Play, the movie he had recently wrapped with Megan Fox and Bill Murray, Rourke noted that it was “Terrible. Another terrible movie. But, you know, in your career and all the movies you make, you’re going to make dozens of terrible ones.” Fair enough!
15. DAVID CROSS // ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED (2011)
When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. In 2012, David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian and actor went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and urged people not to go see it.
This article was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.