Actors Who Were Too Good for Blockbuster Franchises
There’s no denying the role blockbuster franchises like Star Wars, The Fast and the Furious or Transformers have in pop culture and Hollywood as a whole. Successful film franchises bring in billions of dollars to Hollywood and allow for all the smaller lower-budget films to even get made. And yet, there are plenty of actors out there that look down upon all the big-budget fare.
Made to appeal to the masses, many actors and actresses feel that blockbuster franchise films are void of any artistic value. While they might have delivered actors a pretty enticing paycheck, many of these big-budget film participants have expressed some degree of regret when it came to the finished product.
That’s why we’ve dedicated this piece to all the actors who thought they were above it all. They may not have regretted the money, but they did regret compromising their integrity. From the iconic roles turned down by famous actors to the roles actors wish we would forget, these are the actors who were too good for blockbuster franchises.
Daniel Day Lewis
Known for being quite selective when it comes to roles, Daniel Day-Lewis has only done around 30 films, including made-for-television movies, and he’s now retired. And out of his entire filmography, none of them have been big-budget affairs. The three-time Oscar-winning actor even turned down a huge role in The Lord of the Rings.
Daniel Day-Lewis was initially Peter Jackson’s first choice for the role of Aragorn and had been asked a few times to accept the role, but Daniel Day-Lewis wasn’t having any of it. Day-Lewis once told MTV News he’s uninterested in blockbuster films, saying, “[This is] not meant to belittle those films or the people [working on them], because there are people that need to do those films and love to do those films — they can be fantastically entertaining for the people who love to see them — but it's not for me.”
Jack Nicholson famously stole the show in the 1988 Batman for his role as the Joker, but apparently was not the first choice of director Tim Burton. He initially wanted actor John Lithgow to take on the major role. However, John Lithgow actually talked him out of it.
In an Interview with Vulture, Lithgow told the publication, “My worst audition was for Tim Burton for Batman. I have never told anyone this story, but I tried to persuade him I was not right for the part, and I succeeded.” It’s a move he now regrets because of its success, but ultimately at the time, he didn’t see the big deal about it.
Al Pacino is best known as The Godfather Michael Corleone, as well as his roles in classic films like Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Heat. And while big-budget franchises never come to mind when you think of Al Pacino, he could have snagged another one of the most iconic roles of all time.
Al Pacino was the first choice for the role of Han Solo in the first Star Wars film, but it wasn’t a role that captivated him. He didn’t understand the script at all and turned down the role. He told MTV in 2014, "It was at that time in my career where I was offered everything…I was in The Godfather. They didn't care if I was right or wrong for the role, if I could act or not act."
While Jennifer Lawrence didn’t necessarily hate her part as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, she did regret how famous it made her and wouldn’t consider doing a film franchise again, telling reporters at the BFI London Film Festival, “I could never do one now cause I’m just too old and brittle.”
On top of that, she laments, “I became such ... a commodity that I felt like every decision was a big, big group decision; because I had no idea what a huge movie star does next or what Katniss Everdeen should do after this.”
George Clooney has learned his lesson when it comes to joining blockbuster film franchises after playing Batman in the 1997 film Batman & Robin. At the time, he was a huge star and naturally, studios thought he would be a solid choice for the iconic role. It ended up being the death of the franchise. He’s since regretted his role in the blockbuster bomb, and he’s never done a big-budget film since.
He told Graham Norton, “I always apologize for Batman & Robin. Let me just say that I’d actually thought I’d actually destroyed the franchise until somebody else brought it back years later and changed it,” adding, “I thought at the time that this was going to be a very good career move. It wasn’t.”
The Transformers franchised has grossed billions of dollars at the box office, but there’s a reason Megan Fox has only been in two of them. She was fired after expressing how difficult her experience working on the franchise was for her, also expressing that the movies.
In particular, Transformers director Michael Bay, she found particularly difficult to work with calling him a “tyrant,” among other things. She told Wonderland magazine, “He’s vulnerable and fragile in real life and then on set he’s a tyrant. Shia and I almost die when we make a Transformers movie. He has you do some really insane things that insurance would never let you do.”
Robert Pattinson may not hate his role in The Batman, but there’s definitely one blockbuster film franchise he does regret: Twilight. In the film franchise, he plays Edward Cullen, the angsty Vampire boy who falls in love with Bella Swan. While it brought him instant fame, he regrets his part in it.
While the series was critically panned, it went on to earn billions of dollars worldwide despite that fact. And the Twilight movies were definitely not his cup of tea either. Pattinson told Vanity Fair, “It’s weird kind of representing something you don’t particularly like.”
Oscar Isaac has been a part of some major franchises like X-Men or Star Wars. However, according to an interview with Deadline, his role in those films were more about the money than anything. “It’s not really what I set out to do” He told the publication. Adding, “What I set out to do was to make handmade movies, and to work with people that inspire me.” Nevertheless, there were aspects of his role in the Star Wars franchise he appreciated, telling Deadline “I enjoyed the challenge of those films and working with a very large group of incredible artists and actors, prop makers, set designers, and all that was really fun.”
As for X-Men: Apocalypse, he told The New York Times, “I know exactly what I went in there wanting to do and the reasons why. There were these amazing actors involved that I really wanted to work with, [James] McAvoy and [Michael] Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence. I collected X-Men growing up, and I loved Apocalypse, I just found him such a freaky, weird character. And then you get there and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got all these prosthetics on. I’ve got a suit on. I can’t move. I can’t see anybody. All these actors I wanted to work with — I can’t even see who they are.”
While comedic actor Bill Murray has taken part in franchise films like Ghostbusters and Garfield, he’s openly expressed disdain for working on those films. For Garfield, he took the role by mistake, believing it was written by Oscar-winning Joel Coen when in reality, it was Joel Cohen. Similarly, he was duped when in came to Ghostbusters II. Among other things, he said that he reluctantly made Ghostbusters II after joining under “false pretenses.”
And when it came to the third Ghostbusters, he found the experience to be “physically painful” and confusing. While describing his experience on the third film, Murray expressed at a Santa Barbara International Film Festival panel that “Wearing those packs is extremely uncomfortable. We had batteries the size of batteries. They now have batteries the size of earrings. It’s still a really heavy thing to wear, all the time. The special effects in this one are a lot of wind and dirt in your face, and there was a lot of going down and getting back up. I was like, What is this? What am I doing? These are like Bulgarian deadlifts, or a Russian kettlebell, getting up and down with this thing on my back. It was very uncomfortable.”
In addition to playing Indiana Jones’s dad, Sean Connery is perhaps best known for his role in the James Bond franchise, having played the role for seven films. While he certainly enjoyed the money and security the role brought, he eventually grew to hate his part in the franchise, reportedly saying, “I have always hated that damned James Bond. I’d like to kill him.”
Few may also know that Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. According to MentalFloss, Connery had said “I never understood it. I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t understand it…I would be interested in doing something that I didn’t fully understand, but not for 18 months.”
Shia LeBouf has Deep regrets when it came to his part as Mutt Williams in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, telling The Los Angeles Times “I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished." LaBeouf also claimed that Harrison Ford "wasn’t happy with it either."Shia LeBouf had also found the experience of working with Steven Spielberg to be disappointing, telling Variety he found Spielberg to be more like a company than a director.
As for his role in Transformers, he looks back on the films with further regret, telling Esquire, "My hang-up with those films was that they felt irrelevant. They felt dated as f*ck... You come up on these stories about Easy Rider and Raging Bull and De Niro and Scorsese and Hopper, and you find value in what they do. Meanwhile, you're chasing energon crystals. It's very hard to keep doing what you're doing when you feel like it's the antithesis of your purpose on this planet."
Since starring in the beloved Harry Potter franchise, Daniel Radcliffe has lamented his struggle to break free of his Harry Potter persona, telling The Daily Mail how difficult it’s been to become a “real actor.” On top of that, he also told the publication the performance he regrets the most: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
“I’m just not very good in it,” he said. “I hate it. My acting is very one-note, and I can see I got complacent, and what I was trying to do just didn’t come across. My best film is the fifth one [Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix] because I can see a progression.”
Alec Guinness made quite a profit from his appearance as Obi-Wan in the Star Wars films, earning him more than $100 million by the end of his life. However, it was not a role he looked back on with pride, writing in his autobiography, "A refurbished Star Wars is on somewhere or everywhere, I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned. Twenty years ago, when the film was first shown, it had a freshness, also a sense of moral good and fun. Then I began to be uneasy at the influence it might be having."
Allegedly, the actor had once signed the autograph of a young fan had seen Star Wars more than 100 times. In response to the claim, Guinness agreed to the autograph only on the condition that never watch the films again.
Idris Elba has certainly played in blockbusters before but was not a fan of his appearance in the Thor franchsie. The actor who played Heimdall described the reshoot process of Thor: The Dark World as “torture” and basically, found the whole process of shooting those movies as degrading.
Elba told The Telegraph, “I’m actually falling down from a spaceship, so they had to put me in harness in this green-screen studio. And in between takes I was stuck there, fake hair stuck onto my head with glue, this fucking helmet, while they reset. And I’m thinking: ‘24 hours ago, I was Mandela’…Then there I was, in this stupid harness, with this wig and this sword and these contact lenses. It ripped my heart out.”
Renowned actor Anthony Hopkins also expressed his dissatisfaction working on the Thor franchise, saying “On ‘Thor,’ you have Chris Hemsworth—who looks like Thor—and a director like Kenneth Branagh, who is so certain of what he wants. They put me in armor; they shoved a beard on me. Sit on the throne; shout a bit. If you’re sitting in front of a green screen, it’s pointless acting it.”
Nevertheless, starring in the film did give him the strength to continue acting. Hopkins revealed, “I was gonna give [acting] up, really…But you see, [Kenneth Branagh] won't let you do that. Working with Ken was quite an injection of new energy into my life."
Dave Bautista recently reprised his role as Drax the Destroyer for the final Guardians of the Galaxy entry, but its no longer the kind of role he’s interested in pursuing after starring in more dramatic roles in films like Bladerunner: 2049, Dune and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.
He told GQ magazine, “It wasn’t all pleasant. It was hard playing that role. The makeup process was beating me down. And I just don’t know if I want Drax to be my legacy — it’s a silly performance, and I want to do more dramatic stuff.”