11 actors who regret famous movie roles, from Daniel Radcliffe to Harrison Ford

Some stars wish they could forget certain performances

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 08 March 2024 12:18 GMT
Blade Runner - trailer

“What are your biggest regrets?” This might be one of the more obvious questions a journalist can ask an actor, but the answer can often be hugely revealing.

Just because an actor starred in an acclaimed film doesn’t necessarily mean they reflect upon it positively.

The latest star to call out the quality of their own film is Dakota Johnson, who made some damning comments about her superhero flop Madame Web, which received a mauling from critics and audiences alike.

Still, it might be better to regret starring in a film than not having had the chance in the first place, as was experienced by Scarlett Johansson in 2013.

Here are 11 actors who have expressed regret over playing roles in certain films.

Timothée Chalamet – A Rainy Day in New York (2019)

Timothée Chalamet is one of a few actors to have expressed regret working with Woody Allen as historic allegations made against the director, by his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow, were brought back into the spotlight following the #MeToo movement. Chalamet said: “I don’t want to profit from my work on the film, and to that end, I am going to donate my entire salary to three charities: Time’s Up, the LGBT Centre in New York, and RAINN.” He apologised for accepting the role, stating: “That is not something that sits easily with me in the current or indeed any moment, and I am profoundly sorry. It’s a small gesture and not one intended as close to compensation.”

Matt Damon – The Bourne Ultimatum (200)

Matt Damon’s original Bourne trilogy won plaudits from critics around the world. The actor, though, has spoken unkindly about the third film, saying the original script, written by director Tony Gilroy, was awful. “It’s really the studio’s fault for putting themselves in that position,” Damon told GQ. “I don’t blame Tony for taking a boatload of money and handing in what he handed in. It’s just that it was unreadable. This is a career-ender. I mean, I could put this thing up on eBay and it would be game over for that dude. It’s terrible. It’s really embarrassing. He was having a go, basically, and he took his money and left.”

Matt Damon had candid words about ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’
Matt Damon had candid words about ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ (Getty Images)

Zac Efron – High School Musical (2006-08)

Most people know Zac Efron as Troy Bolton from High School Musical. Zac Efron, though, wishes you knew him for something else. “I step back and look at myself and I still want to kick that guy’s ass sometimes,” he told Men’s Fitness. “He’s done some kind of cool things with some cool people – he did that one thing that was funny – but, I mean, he’s still just that f***ing kid from High School Musical.”

Sally Field – The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

The Amazing Spider-Man series, starring Andrew Garfield as the eponymous web-slinger, was supposed to launch a cinematic universe to match the Avengers. There were even rumours of an Aunt May film entering production – not that the actor who played Aunt May, Sally Field, would have been thrilled by that. “It’s really hard to find a three-dimensional character in it,” she told Howard Stern of playing the character, “and you work it as much as you can, but you can’t put 10 pounds of s** in a five-pound bag.”

Sally Field has some issues with her role in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’
Sally Field has some issues with her role in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (AFP/Getty)

Harrison Ford – Blade Runner (1982)

There are seven cuts of Blade Runner, one of which features Harrison Ford’s character, Rick Deckard, narrating scenes. Another – the one director Ridley Scott approves of – is bleaker and does not have Deckard explaining events. Ford does not care for either version. “I didn’t like the movie one way or the other, with or without,” he said in 2017, before the release of Blade Runner 2049. “I played a detective who did not have any detecting to do. In terms of how I related to the material, I found it very difficult. There was stuff that was going on that was really nuts.”

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Christopher Plummer – The Sound of Music (1965)

The Sound of Music remains one of the most beloved films of all time. Christopher Plummer, though, hated playing Captain von Trapp. “I think the part in The Sound of Music was the toughest,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Because it was so awful and sentimental and gooey. You had to work terribly hard to try and infuse some miniscule bit of humour into it.”

Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Daniel Radcliffe was only 11 years old when he was cast as Harry Potter. That has not prevented the actor from looking back at those films with a critical eye. “I’m just not very good in [The Half Blood Prince],” he told Playboy in 2012. “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 [Order of the Phoenix] because I can see a progression.”

Daniel Radcliffe really doesn’t like one of his performances in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise
Daniel Radcliffe really doesn’t like one of his performances in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise (Getty Images for WarnerMedia)

Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl (2015)

British actor Eddie Redmayne recently told The Sunday Times that he “wouldn’t take” the role of a trans woman if he was offered it now. He played trans artist Lili Elbe in the film, ands received an Oscar nomination. However, while he acknowledged that he “made that film with the best intentions”, he said: “I think it was a mistake.” He stated: “The bigger discussion about the frustrations around casting is because many people don’t have a chair at the table. There must be a levelling, otherwise we are going to carry on having these debates.”

Kate Winslet – Titanic (1997)

Kate Winslet does not mind Titanic as a film. Her performance as Rose is a completely different matter. “Every single scene, I’m like ‘really, really? You did it like that? Oh my God’. Even my American accent, I can’t listen to it. It’s awful,” she once told The Telegraph. “Hopefully it’s so much better now. It sounds terribly self-indulgent but actors do tend to be very self-critical. I have a hard time watching any of my performances, but watching Titanic I was just like, ‘Oh God, I want to do that again.’”

Dakota Johnson – Madame Web (2024)

Johnson was not surprised that Sony’s latest Spider-Man off-shoot, Madame Web, was mauled by critics and audiences alike. Speaking about the film’s terrible box office takings, and early ranking as the worst film of the year, the actor told Bustle: “Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that this has gone down the way it has. But it was definitely an experience for me to make that movie. I had never done anything like it before. I probably will never do anything like it again because I don’t make sense in that world.” Johnson described her time on the film as “a learning experience”, adding: “Sometimes in this industry, you sign on to something, and it’s one thing, and then as you’re making it, it becomes a completely different thing, and you’re like, ‘Wait, what?’” Johnson levelled that, while “it’s not nice to be a part of something that’s ripped to shreds”, she “can’t say that I don’t understand”.

Idris Elba – The Wire (2002-08)

OK, so this one isn’t a film but Idris Elba had some regrets over the way his character in The Wire was received. Elba received huge acclaim for playing Stringer Bell in the HBO series – however, during an appearance on James O’Brien’s podcast alongside David Lammy, he questioned viewers’ reaction to the role. “We’re all idolising Stringer Bell, but who are we really idolising?” he asked, adding: “Are we idolising a smart drug dealer or a dumb narcotics dealer? What are we saying here? Is it OK to pump a community full of heroin but because you’re smart at it, that makes you cool? That was a problem for me.”

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