Turns out seeing yourself projected on a 40-foot-tall screen can be kind of awkward. Or at least that’s the case for these 15 actors, all of whom prefer to stay far, far away from their own work.
1. MERYL STREEP
She may be one of the most celebrated actors of her time (she currently holds the record for most Oscar nominations, with 19 and counting), but Meryl Streep doesn’t like to dwell on her past roles. In fact, she’s never seen any of her films more than once. “I don’t do that,” she said. “I just look ahead.
2. JOHNNY DEPP
Throughout a decades-long career, Johnny Depp has racked up a list of iconic performances that any actor should be proud of … but, as he explained to David Letterman in a 2009 interview, his children have seen more of his movies than he has. “In a way, once my job is done on a film, it’s really none of my business,” Depp said. “I stay far away as I possibly can … I don’t like watching myself.”
In a 2013 interview with The Independent, Depp reiterated his ambivalence about watching himself onscreen, noting that “I made a choice a long time ago, that I was better off not watching my films, which is a drag because you miss out on a lot of your friends’ incredible work. But I feel like it would just harm me.”
3. JAVIER BARDEM
Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images
Javier Bardem may be a sex symbol, but sit him down in front of one of his performances and he doesn’t get the appeal. “The fact that I like to make characters doesn’t mean I like to watch my characters being made, my performance,” he told GQ in a 2012 interview. “I can't even watch that f*cking nose, that f*cking voice, those ridiculous eyes. I can't handle that. But when I'm doing it, I don't see my nose or hear my voice; it's like there's something stronger, bigger than that. And I need to express it."
4. JARED LETO
Like Johnny Depp, Jared Leto has no interest in watching his own movies, noting that “the experience for me making a film is the most profound one. I really don’t have any business watching the movie so much. Maybe I could watch it for entertainment purposes, but you have so little input and control of the final product once you’re done that I feel like I just would rather leave it alone.”
The actor admitted that, months after winning an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, he still hadn’t seen the film: “I can't hear that voice! I've never really heard very much of it and I've never watched the film. I will at some point, I'm sure. But too soon! It can never live up to the expectations I would have of it now because it was such a beautiful experience and the response that it got was really wonderful."
5. REESE WITHERSPOON
Reese Witherspoon has a pretty good reason for not watching her movies: Doing so, she says, would make her “spiral into a state of self-hate.”
“I don’t know who feels good looking at themselves. Nobody, right?” Witherspoon mused on Chelsea Lately. “It’s torture. Why would you want to watch yourself being stupid and pretending to be somebody else?”
6. ADAM DRIVER
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios
After watching his work in the pilot episode of HBO’s Girls, Adam Driver made the decision not to watch his own work in the future. “Because I saw all the mistakes. The things that I wished I could change, but couldn’t because it’s permanent,” he explained on The Howard Stern Show. “Plus, I came from a theater background where you don’t get to see it ... I’d want to make it better looking or perfect, and that’s a trap.”
Before you ask: Yes, Driver did make an exception for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, even though doing so was an awkward experience. “Because we did so much work on it … It seemed like I should try getting over it,” Driver explained. “And it’s Star Wars. I literally can’t believe that I was in it.”
7. JESSE EISENBERG
Jesse Eisenberg has been open about the fact that watching his own movies makes him feel extremely self-conscious, so he avoids it whenever possible. (As of mid-April, he still had not watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.) In an interview with Business Insider, the actor compared the experience to looking at vacation photos: “You've taken a hundred pictures and you only like two of the pictures and you send them to all of your friends and the rest you're totally mortified by how you look. The side of your face, that Speedo you decided to wear—that's the experience for me. Two percent of a project I feel so comfortable with and proud of, and the rest of it I feel very self-critical of. I'm doing this willingly, of course, but if you can project that kind of feeling about those 98 pictures of yourself on to a massive scale of a movie that a lot of people are not just going to see but scrutinize, you can understand.”
8. ANDREW GARFIELD
Jesse Eisenberg’s The Social Network co-star Andrew Garfield is similarly gun-shy about watching his own performances—though he admits that The Social Network is one “they made me watch,” per The Hollywood Reporter. For Garfield, the issue is not wanting to over-analyze: “I don’t want to be aware of what I’m doing. As soon as I am, I’m less open … I just want to be fully open to the story and what that subjective moment is.”
9. JULIANNE MOORE
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Julianne Moore may be one today's most critically acclaimed actresses, but there’s one person who hasn’t seen her in anything, and that’s Julianne Moore. “I haven’t seen any of my movies,” the Oscar-winning actress admitted. “I can’t sit there for a premiere or anything. I like being in the movie more than I like watching them. That’s my big thrill, rather than seeing the finished product.”
10. JOAQUIN PHOENIX
Joaquin Phoenix has only watched two of his own movies: The Master and Her. (What, no Space Camp?) He hates seeing himself on the silver screen, telling Hollywood Outbreak that “I don’t ever really want to see myself as the camera sees me … I don’t want to watch myself. Of course, there’s a part of you that’s curious for a second, and I have to constantly tell myself, ‘No.’ Because I know it’s not going to be of any value to me, and in fact it stands a greater chance of having a negative effect on future work.”
11. MEGAN FOX
“I think most actors are pretty insecure,” says Megan Fox—though for Fox in particular, the desire not to watch herself onscreen goes beyond “this is slightly uncomfortable” to out-and-out mental stress. “I never [look at myself], even in still photographs. I don’t look at anything,” Fox says. “I panic if there is a monitor in the room. I immediately go into, like, an anxiety attack.” She was able to make herself watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but doing so involved copious amounts of champagne.
12. ZAC EFRON
Michael Buckner/Getty Images
He’s garnered a sizable and devoted fan base since his turn in the High School Musical movies, but Zac Efron isn’t one for revisiting his past projects. He describes himself as “more of a cringer” at first, though after several years he’s able to revisit his older work. “I tend to, especially the first time around, pick out every single flaw, or things I could have and should have done better,” he says. “I don’t know why, but I tend to dwell on those things.”
13. BEN FOSTER
Though he did watch this year’s Hell or High Water, Ben Foster admitted that that’s a rarity for him, and that it was the first one of his own movies he had watched in years. “I don’t enjoy watching what I do most of the time,” he told Metro. “I’m usually pretty disappointed with how it was handled. That’s the hard truth about it. Filmmakers and financiers come under pressure to serve a certain result, and that’s not necessarily the one we started with. I come in and I build, and sometimes they handle it well, and sometimes they don’t. I try not to worry about it and move onto the next one.”
14. BILLIE PIPER
Not only can British actress Billie Piper not stand to watch herself onscreen, in a 2008 interview, she explained that she also barred her then-husband Laurence Fox, an actor himself, from watching her. “He has never seen an episode of Doctor Who with me in it because I won’t let him,” Piper explained. “I get really edgy watching myself, and I get even more edgy with my loved ones because they know me and I feel they’re going to take the mickey. Sitting down to watch my performances makes me cry. It’s even worse watching it with another actor, because he can dissect your performance.”
15. MATTHEW FOX
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Confused by the ending of Lost? Don’t ask star Matthew Fox, who’s never sat down to watch the biggest thing he’s ever been involved in. “I don’t ever really watch myself,” Fox said in a 2010 roundtable discussion. “I never watched an episode of Lost.” (Bryan Cranston’s response: “It’s a good show. You should see it sometime.”) And Fox isn’t alone among Lost alumni: Naveen Andrews has only seen bits and pieces, though he’s watched some of his other work.