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7 Stars Who've Apologized for Roles They Played

Some aren't proud of their work, while others realize their characters were problematic.

Many struggling actors spend years striving for their moment in the spotlight, never to make it big. But maybe, some are better off for it—because even a few of Hollywood's biggest stars have appeared in films they came to regret. Whether it's because they took on a problematic part, had a miserable time on set, or merely hated the finished product, read on for seven actors who felt the need to apologize for their performances.

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Timothée Chalamet

Timothée Chalamet in 2022
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In 2018, Timothée Chalamet was riding high on the acclaim and Academy Awards buzz for his breakout performance in the romantic drama Call Me by Your Name, and had already completed work on his follow-up film, Woody Allen's A Rainy Day in New York, when, in the wake of the #TimesUp movement, decades-old allegations of child sexual abuse leveled at the director by his stepdaughter Dylan Farrow resurfaced. (Allen has maintained his innocence.) The resulting controversy prompted Chalamet to share on social media that he didn't "want to profit" from working with the controversial filmmaker and that he would donate his salary from the film to three different non-profit organizations. (One of his co-stars, Rebecca Hall, also donated her fee.) For his part, Allen, in his 2020 memoir Apropos of Nothing (as reported by Entertainment Weekly), claimed the actor privately told Allen's sister that he did so only to improve his chances of winning an Oscar.

Paul Newman

Paul Newman in 2004
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Before he was the Paul Newman (which is to say, an international superstar and sex symbol), Paul Newman was just another working actor when he appeared in 1954's The Silver Chalice, a Biblical epic that was his big screen debut after years of appearances on television. The film opened to poor reviews, but none judged it more harshly than the up-and-coming actor himself, who later dubbed it the worst movie of that decade, according to the biography Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn Levy. Newman was so ashamed of the movie, in fact, that when he found out it would be airing on television in 1963, he took out a week of full-page ads in two Los Angeles newspapers apologizing for his performance and urging people not to watch it.

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Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey in 2009
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A terrible national tragedy led Jim Carrey to regret appearing in a violent superhero sequel. The comedian and actor took on the satirical role of the uber-patriotic vigilante Captain Stars and Stripes in the 2013 movie Kick-Ass 2. However, a month after he completed filming, a gunman murdered 26 people, including 20 children, in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School—an event that made the actor regret appearing in a film that used violence for comedic effect. In a since-deleted tweet, Carrey apologized to his fellow cast and crew for not supporting the film but said that he'd experienced "a change in [his] heart," adding, "In all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence."

George Clooney

George Clooney in 2013
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George Clooney is one of seven actors to play Batman on the big screen and the only one to apologize for doing so—perhaps because he was the one unlucky enough to appear in the most critically reviled film in the caped crusader's long filmography, 1997's Batman & Robin, directed with a shameless embrace of camp by filmmaker Joel Schumacher. The film disappointed at the box office and brought the series to a halt for nearly a decade. In a 2015 interview on The Graham Norton Show, Clooney issued yet another in a string of apologies to fans for appearing in the film, admitting that for years he thought he had "destroyed the franchise." (Luckily, Christian Bale saved the day when he put on the cowl in 2005's Batman Begins.)

Bob Hoskins

Bob Hoskins in 2006
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When it was announced, the casting of Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario in the animated The Super Mario Bros. Movie proved controversial with fans, but the family film ended up being a winner at the box office. The Guardians of the Galaxy actor certainly fared better in the role than Bob Hoskins, who played the mustachioed plumber in 1993's live-action Super Mario Bros., the first feature-length adaptation of a video game and an unmitigated critical and commercial disaster. The late actor proclaimed it the most miserable experience of his long career; reportedly to cope with upheaval on the set, he and co-star John Leguizamo came to the set drunk every day. In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, when asked to name 1) the worst job he'd ever had, 2) his biggest disappointment, and 3) the one thing about his past he'd change, Hoskins answered "Super Mario Bros." to all three.

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana in 2017
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Avatar star Zoe Saldana, who is of Puerto Rician and Dominican descent, apologized for taking on the role of legendary Black musician Nina Simone in the 2016 biopic Nina, for which she wore both a prosthetic nose and skin-darkening makeup to appear more like the real-life songstress. This led to serious backlash and a critical tweet from the Twitter account of the singer's estate aimed at the actor. However, Simone's daughter Simone Kelly came forward later to say that she was not responsible for that social media post and that Saldana should not be held responsible for "the lies" she claims the movie tells about her mother's life. Regardless, the star herself changed her mind about her fitness for the role. Reflecting on the movie in an Instagram Live post in 2020, Saldana stated, "I should have done everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman."

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow in 2018

When asked about her least favorite film role in 2020, Gwyneth Paltrow singled out the crass 2001 comedy Shallow Hal, in which she wore prosthetics and a "fat suit" to play the love interest of Jack Black's Hal, who was hypnotized into seeing her "inner beauty"—i.e., the Shakespeare in Love actor's actual body. While the Goop founder never quite managed to say she was sorry to anyone offended by the film, she did offer something of an apology to herself, characterizing the experience as a "disaster" in an interview with Netflix (as quoted by The Guardian) "The first day I tried the fat suit on, I was in the Tribeca Grand and I walked through the lobby. It was so sad. It was so disturbing. No one would make eye contact with me because I was obese," she said, adding, "For some reason the clothes they make for women that are overweight are horrible. I felt humiliated because people were really dismissive."

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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