Very few actors manage to have a career that’s completely free of bad films. There are several reasons why an actor might make a bad film, and not all of them have to do with it being a bad actor. Some otherwise good actors have made some very bad films. Sometimes it’s because they weren’t aware it was going to be bad until it was too late. Sometimes it’s because they recognize that, although it’s a bad film, it gives them a chance to do something they’ve always wanted to do, whether it was play a certain role or work with a certain person. Sometimes it’s so that their kids have something they can watch that stars their parent. And sometimes it’s for the money.
Many times, an actor seems unaware of how bad their film is. But other times, they come to admit it later on — or immediately upon release. When they do, they often come out with something funny or insightful. So here I’ve gathered a small selection of quotes from actors about some of their least-favorite movies. With a couple exceptions, most of these are fairly well respected actors on the whole. But the films in question? Not so much.
Incidentally, I went with 13 quotes because that was the number of quotes I wound up with on distinct films, after trimming out quotes that didn’t seem as interesting or as pithy. There are a few bonus quotes thrown in as well. In all cases, I believe either the actor, the movie, or usually both, will be recognizable, but I’ve provided some details on the films just to show the reception they’ve gotten.
#13: William H. Macy
I have to hand it to William H. Macy. When asked why he agreed to star in this film, he gave a perfectly reasoned, virtually unassailable defense.
“Because I’m 50 years old and I get to fight a dinosaur.”
#12: Michael Caine
The Film: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: 41%/57%
IMDb Rating: 5.7
Budget: $79 million
Domestic Gross: $104 million (+$25 million)
Worldwide Gross: $222 million (+$143 million)
Michael Caine, certainly no stranger to bad films, seems to have much the same sentiment as Macy, when talking about his role in the Journey to the Center of the Earth sequel.
“I took the film because I have grandchildren now, and I get to ride around on a giant bumblebee.”
#11: Shaquille O’Neal
I realize calling Shaq an actor may be considered a stretch, but I’m operating under the theory that if you’re paid a third of the budget to act, then you were, at least for that duration, an actor.
“I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent from Newark who always dreamed about doing a movie. Someone said ‘Hey, here’s $7 million, come in and do this genie movie.’ What am I going to say, no?”
#10: Jeremy Irons
Why on earth did we see the esteemed Jeremy Irons starring alongside one of the less popular Wayans brothers?
“Are you kidding? I’d just bought a castle, I had to pay for it somehow!”
#9: Jason Flemyng
I’m not really familiar with Jason Flemyng, but I think the experience he relates as an actor is familiar to many viewers who unknowingly stumble into a bad movie.
“I was dressed as Santa, getting killed by a doll, on a set in Romania, thinking: ‘Where did it go wrong?’”
#8: Arnold Schwarzenegger
To be perfectly honest, I would have thought the film that Arnold would be most critical of would be Hercules in New York…
“It’s the worst film I have ever made. Now, when my kids get out of line, they’re sent to their room and forced to watch Red Sonja ten times.’”
#7: Ron Perlman
The Film: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
Rotten Tomatoes Scores: 4%/28%
IMDb Rating: 3.8
Budget: $60 million (estimated)
Domestic Gross: $5 million (-$55 million)
Worldwide Gross: $13 million (-$47 million)
By 2007, people had to have had some idea of what they were getting into with Uwe Boll films, right?
“I’m doing weapons training for this piece of shit, then I go to Romania to shoot another piece of shit, then come back to shoot my part in this piece of shit…. What can I say? My wife loves shoes.”
Of course, Perlman is an actor who knows exactly why he does films like this as well as his better works.
“You do what you gotta do. This is not heart surgery. I’m not curing cancer. I’m just trying to put my kids through school.”
#6: Dennis Hopper
Of course, just because you support your family doesn’t mean they support you…
“I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my six-year-old son at the time — he’s now 18 — he 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.’”
#5: Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier’s name is practically synonymous with “great actor”, even for people who haven’t seen his films. But he had a lot of stinkers as well, and he took no guff about it.
“People ask me why I’m playing in this picture. The answer is simple: Money, dear boy. I’m like a vintage wine. You have to drink me quickly before I turn sour. I’m almost used up now and I can feel the end coming. That’s why I’m taking money now. I’ve got nothing to leave my family but the money I can make from films. Nothing is beneath me if it pays well. I’ve earned the right to damn well grab whatever I can in the time I’ve got left.”
#4: Eddie Murphy
Ladies and gentlemen, everything you ever needed to know about Eddie Murphy’s career.
“Every bad decision I’ve made has been based on money. I grew up in the projects and you don’t turn down money there. You take it, because you never know when it’s all going to end. I made Cop III because they offered me $15 million. That $15 million was worth having Roger Ebert’s thumb up my ass.”
#3: Sylvester Stallone
Sly has made some beloved films, like Rocky, Rambo, and Rocky. He’s also made this, and he’s his own hardest critic.
“I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. 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.”
Oh come on, Sly, surely it can’t be that bad?
“The worst film I’ve ever made by far… maybe one of the worst films in the entire solar system, including alien productions we’ve never seen…. A flatworm could write a better script than Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. In some countries — China, I believe — running Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot once a week on government television has lowered the birth rate to zero.”
#2: Michael Caine (again)
As I said before, Michael Caine is no stranger to bad films. Here he’s at his pithiest.
“I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
And more generally…
“First of all, I choose the great roles, and if none of these come, I choose the mediocre ones, and if they don’t come, I choose the ones that pay the rent.”
#1: Halle Berry
Halle Berry’s acceptance speech for her Worst Actress Razzie Award was self-aware, humorous, acerbic, and rather long. I’ve reproduced it below in its entirety, but you can also check out the YouTube video.
“Oh my gosh. Oh my god. Oh, oh my god. Oh my god. Thank you guys, thank you so much. I never in my life thought I would be up here. Winning a Razzie! I mean, it’s not like I ever aspired to be here. But thank you. Oh gosh. And no, I don’t have to give this [Academy Award] back, it’s got my name on it! But wow.
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. So please indulge me, and just let me go through this. First of all, I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in a piece of shit, 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. Love it. It’s hard being on top, it’s much better being on the bottom.
I want to thank my manager, Vincent Cirrincione… Vince, come here, here’s my manager, Vincent Cirrincione. I want to say… no, no, listen… this guy loves me. He loves me so much. He loves me so much that when he tells me that I’m the greatest actress there ever was… he loves me so much that he convinces me to do projects even when he knows they’re shit! But that’s how much he loves me. That’s how much he really loves me. And my only advice to Vinnie is: Next time I do a movie, if I get a chance to do another movie, maybe you should read the script before reading the check. Just counting the zeroes behind the one really isn’t enough. You really gotta read the script. Thank you. I love you man, I love you.
I want to thank my agent, and my lawyers, who obviously don’t give a shit; they’re not here tonight. But love you guys, love you! I want to thank the writers, all 20 of them. Thank you for thinking this was a good idea. Obviously, it wasn’t, but I appreciate the thought. You thought it was, you tried. Hey, thank you.
I want to thank the cast. You know, it’s really important, in order to give a really bad performance like I did, you need a lot of bad performers around you. So I want to thank all of them, for being bad right along with me. One of them is here, Alex Borstein. Come on out, Alex. Thank you. You know what? Happiest moment of her life. One of the things about Catwoman, one of the great things about Catwoman, one of the best things about Catwoman is that I got to make some really wonderful life-long friendships and this lady is one of them. And you know what? I want to thank you for every single day, looking up at me, and telling me that I was doing a great job, that I was the best Catwoman you ever saw. I want to thank you for lying straight to my face every day. Thank you, thank you. You know in Hollywood, they lie behind your back, but she lied straight to my face. Love that, I love that. Thank you, thank you. Now beat it.
I also want to thank our director, Pitof, you know, that one-name French guy? Thank you very much. It was a joy to come to work every day and work with him, really. I mean, I didn’t know what the hell he was saying, but — I’m sure it showed in my performance — but it really was a pleasure. And I also want to thank my acting coach, Ivana Chubbuck, she wrote a book called The Power of the Actor, you all should rush out and get it. Could change your life too.
And in all serious, OK, I’ve had enough fun joking, I want to really tell you why I’m here tonight. Really. I’m not exactly sure, really, I’m still trying to figure it out. Because when I was a kid, my mother told me, if you could not be a good loser, there was no way you could be a good winner. If you weren’t able to take criticism, then you were not worthy of getting praise. So, I ventured into my career of acting, and I started off in beauty pageants. That’s probably another good reason why I’m here tonight. Started off in beauty pageants, and I won the first three in a row. Just won ‘em. I got to the Miss USA pageant, and there I was on the stage with the first runner up. And I was there, and she was there, and one of us would win. She was this buxom, blonde, blue-eyed Texan. And I looked at her, and I thought “Oh God, I’m probably gonna lose.” Sure enough, they called the winner, it wasn’t me, it was her. I looked at her, and all I could hear was my mother’s voice, in my head, going “OK, here’s my chance.” But all I wanted to do was fucking slap the shit out of her.
So, as you can imagine, I want to fucking slap the shit out of these Razzie people that brought me here tonight. But I won’t do that. I’ll do what my mother taught me, and I’ll stand here graciously. I’ll take the criticism, take it as a lesson learned. And I hope to God I never see these people ever again. Thank you all.”
And that pretty much says it all.