25 Actors Who Were Miserable Filming A Role

“I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do it. What will it cost me to get out?” one actor asked.

Since acting is an actor’s job, you’d think that most of them would enjoy their time shooting films and TV shows. But unfortunately…that’s not always the case.

Here are 25 roles where the actor was truly miserable on set:


One of Zoe Saldaña’s first roles was in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. After an interviewer said that Saldaña “hated” the experience, Saldaña replied, “Those weren’t the right people for me. I’m not talking about the cast. The cast was great. I’m talking about the political stuff that went on behind closed doors. It was a lot of above the line versus below the line, extras versus actors, producers versus PAs. It was very elitist.”

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“I almost quit the business,” she revealed. “I was 23 years old, and I was like, ‘F—k this!’ I am never putting myself in this situation again. People disrespecting me because they look at my number on a call sheet and they think I’m not important. F—k you.”

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Leonardo DiCaprio may have already been famous when he did Titanic, but it definitely skyrocketed him into a new level of fame. Yet apparently, he did NOT have fun on the film. When an interviewer told costar Kate Winslet that DiCaprio had told her he was miserable on the film, Winslet laughed and replied, “I remember! I remember that he was!”

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It wasn’t exactly fun for Winslet, either: “It wasn’t pleasant for any of us, but we were all in it together,” she said. “Though he had way more days off than I ever bloody did. I guess I was raised to be grateful and just get on with it. I didn’t feel it was my right to be miserable, and if I was miserable, I certainly would not have let a journalist know.”

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Burt Reynolds hated the film Boogie Nights and his experience working with director Paul Thomas Anderson, calling him “young and full of himself.” The film’s subject matter (about the porn industry) made him uncomfortable, and Mark Wahlberg walking around with a fake erection didn’t help.

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“It just wasn’t my kind of film,” he told Conan O’Brien, saying that he wanted to hit the director after filming. He hated the film so much, he refused to ever watch it. He’d actually turned down starring in it seven times before he even agreed to be in it.

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Bill Murray apparently hated working on Groundhog Day, though he’s never said this himself. Instead, director Harold Ramis said Murray was “irrationally mean” and threw tantrums during shooting because Murray had wanted the film to be more serious and philosophical than comedic.

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He was going through a divorce at the time, which may have contributed to his rough time on set. Murray was also bitten by the groundhog in the film and had to receive shots to prevent rabies.

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While Daniel Craig didn’t necessarily call his time filming the James Bond films miserable, he talked about the difficulty in taking a year away from home and getting injured, especially since he has a family. In particular, he was burned out after Spectre. “I genuinely felt like I couldn’t do that anymore. I felt like, What was the point?

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In fact, after filming Spectre, Craig famously said he’d rather “slash his wrists” than do another Bond movie, noting that if he did, “it would only be for the money.” He ended up doing a final installment, No Time to Die.

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Sanaa Lathan said she was “miserable” filming Love & Basketball, noting that she felt as if she’d been hired because director Gina Prince-Bythewood couldn’t find anyone else. “There wasn’t a lot of joy, and there wasn’t a lot of trust in me. It was her baby and it was her first time directing. It was a big deal for her, and nobody knows me then, really,” she said.

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“I had to go through so much to get the part, and in all the basketball scenes, [they] surrounded me with real ballplayers,” Lathan said. “There was a lot of crying behind the scenes for me.”

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Brad Pitt also said he was miserable starring in Interview With the Vampire because he spent six months “in the f—king dark.” He said that it broke him and he actually called producer David Geffen to ask how much it would cost to get him out of the movie. Geffen answered, “$40 million.”

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Pitt said that actually made him less anxious, and he decided to “man up and ride this through.” He also didn’t see the screenplay until two months before filming and felt the movie version of his character wasn’t interesting.

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Ian McKellen also called his filming experience “miserable” when he starred as Gandalf in The Hobbit films — but his reason was the opposite of Pitt’s. Instead of filming in a difficult location, McKellen was frustrated that he had to film using green screens on a soundstage rather than shoot on location, as he had for Lord of the Rings.

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For the stars of Saving Private Ryan, it was the preparation for the shoot that was miserable, though filming a war movie was probably grueling as well. To prepare for the film, the actors (save for Matt Damon) were put in an intense boot camp to simulate what troops would actually have experienced. One actor, Edward Burns, called it “the worst experience of [his] life.”

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They trained day and night for about four days with former US Marine Corps Capt. Dale Dye, who called them “turds,” screamed at them, woke them up at 5 a.m., and punished them with pushups and situps. It also rained during the training. Actor Giovanni Ribisi said, “We were soaking wet, hiking five miles a day with 40 pounds of gear on our backs, getting about three hours of sleep. Only, you don’t really sleep because you’re freezing and shaking in a tent.” The actors almost quit the training on day three but were convinced to continue by Tom Hanks.

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David Cross was contractually obligated to appear in all three Alvin and the Chipmunks films, and he was not happy about it. In fact, he called the third film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, “literally, without question, the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had in my professional life.”

“It’s safe to say I won’t be working with some of those people ever again. Not the actors. And the director [Mike Mitchell] was great. We got along. There were a couple of people, though…it was just a really awful, unpleasant experience.”

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At one point, he told Conan O’Brien, “All I wanted was to get the f—k out of there as soon as possible … and buy a summer home with the check,” and that he’d essentially been “forced at legal gunpoint” to film for a week on a Carnival cruise in a pelican costume.


Meryl Streep memorably starred as the unemotional Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada. She tried Method acting for the role, and while Streep’s performance was Oscar nominated, it seems that Method acting wasn’t worth it for Streep, who said it made the experience miserable for her.

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“It was horrible! I was [miserable] in my trailer. I could hear them all rocking and laughing … I was so depressed!” Streep said this was the last time she attempted Method acting.

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One of Shailene Woodley’s first starring roles was as Amy on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. The show ended after five seasons, and Woodley revealed she was happy to be free from her contract. She said that while she was grateful for her years on the show, “Towards the end, morally, the things that we were preaching on that show weren’t really aligned with my own integrity.”

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Woodley continued, “So that was a bit hard, to show up to work every day knowing that we were going to project all of these themes to thousands — millions — of young adults across the country, when, in fact, they weren’t what I would like to be sending out.”

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Blake Lively similarly had trouble playing Serena on the teen drama Gossip Girl. She called playing Serena “personally compromising,” expressing concern about the message her character sent out, and listing some of the horrible things Serena did.

Michael Desmond / The CW / Courtesy Everett Collection


Jennette McCurdy ended up quitting acting after playing Sam for eight years on iCarly and Sam & Cat. She later said she was ashamed of the roles she took as a teenager (most likely speaking about Sam). “[I] felt like it was the most cheesy, embarrassing. I did the shows that I was on from like 13 to 21, and by 15, I was already embarrassed.”


Miley Cyrus also had trouble playing a role she felt was too juvenile for her as an older teenager. When she turned 18, Cyrus began to feel “ridiculous” playing Miley/Hannah on Hannah Montana, saying, “The minute I had sex, I was kind of like, I can’t put the fucking wig on again. It got weird. It just felt like…I was grown-up.” She’s also spoken about the struggle of working as an actor when she was a younger teenager instead of doing what other 13-year-olds were doing.

Jaimie Trueblood / Disney Channel / Courtesy Everett Collection


Rowan Atkinson captured audiences’ hearts for years as Mr. Bean in the Mr. Bean film and TV series, but as it turns out, he did not enjoy the role. He called it stressful and exhausting, stating that there was too much responsibility on his shoulders: “I look forward to the end of it,” he said.

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Jeremy Renner’s first lengthy appearance as Hawkeye was in the superhero team-up film The Avengers. However, he ended up being unhappy with the role, saying it wasn’t what he’d signed on to play, and pointing out how much of the film he spent as a mind-controlled servant to Loki.

Zade Rosenthal / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

He was having such a bad time on the film that he would go around pretending his character was having a heart attack to suggest to producers that he could be killed off.

Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for Disney


He’s not the only one who struggled in a superhero film. Jessica Alba had such a bad experience portraying Sue in the Fantastic Four series — in particular while filming her character’s death scene in the sequel — that she almost gave up on acting.

20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

“The director was like, ‘It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? … Don’t do that thing with your face. Just make it flat. We can CGI the tears in.’” She said the experience made her question her instincts and feel like she wasn’t good enough, and that no one wanted her to be a real person.

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And Idris Elba was NOT happy when he returned to play Heimdall in Thor: The Dark World. Elba called his experience of going straight into Thor: The Dark World reshoots from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom torture. He described his thoughts during a green-screen scene: “In between takes, I was stuck there, fake hair stuck onto my head with glue … while they reset. And I’m thinking, Twenty-four hours ago, I was Mandela.”

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He continued: “When I walked into the set, the extras called me Madiba [Mandela’s clan name]. I was literally walking in this man’s boots. Then there I was, in this stupid harness, with this wig and this sword and these contact lenses. It ripped my heart out.”

Keith Bernstein / Weinstein Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection


Another superhero one for ya — Ben Affleck in Justice League. Affleck called shooting the film awful and “the worst experience,” blaming it on “a confluence of things: my own life, my divorce, being away too much, the competing agendas, and then Zack’s personal tragedy and the reshooting.” Affleck was referring to the death of director Zack Snyder’s daughter and his decision to step away from directing the film.

Warner Bros. Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

“It was awful. It was everything that I didn’t like about this. That became the moment where I said, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’ It’s not even about, like, Justice League was so bad. Because it could have been anything.” Affleck would then drop out of directing and starring in The Batman.

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Jennifer Lawrence apparently loves the X-Men movies she appeared in but absolutely hates the body paint she had to get into to play the role of Mystique, vowing not to return to the role after X-Men: Apocalypse (though she was later “roped in” to appearing as Mystique again). She said that in X-Men: First Class, her makeup took up to eight hours to apply and she couldn’t even sit down to pee once she was in costume.

Alan Markfield / 20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection


Jim Carrey also had a LOT of difficulty with one film because of his makeup and costume. Of his experience making How the Grinch Stole Christmas, he said the process of being made into the Grinch was “like being buried alive every day.”

Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

Makeup on the very first day took eight and a half hours. “I went back to my trailer and put my leg through the wall,” he said on The Graham Norton Show. “And I told Ron Howard that I couldn’t do the movie.” The film then hired someone who trains CIA operatives on how to endure torture to better prepare Carrey for the makeup each day. So…appearing in the film was LITERAL torture.

Franziska Krug / Getty Images


Like Elba earlier on this list, Sarah Paulson also had trouble going from a more fulfilling role (in her case, Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) to a less fulfilling one (as Audrey on AHS: Roanoke). She said she didn’t care about the season at all and even said she wished she hadn’t done it.


And finally, most of the cast of Glee were unhappy by the end of their time on the show.

Adam Rose / Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

Us Weekly reported that Dianna Agron was unhappy on the show and negotiated her character’s exit after having wanted off for a while. Show reps said this was untrue, but there have been numerous instances of cast members having less-than-ideal experiences, and stars Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale revealed that some of the cast really hated being on the show. Though they denied that they hated it and wouldn’t name names, they revealed that Season 5 was extremely difficult to film. Amber Riley also posted a TikTok showing a clip of herself on the show and suggesting she was doing the role just as a job. She has also said that it was “not the most comfortable environment” as far as working with Lea Michele was concerned, following tweets from Samantha Ware that accused Michele of making the set “a living hell.” Various cast members have corroborated this.

Did any of these accounts surprise you? What other roles do you know of where actors were simply miserable? Let us know in the comments!

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