Roles actors weren't prepared for

Like any job, acting can be tough if you don't know what you're doing or fail to prepare correctly. Unlike a lot of jobs, though, what an actor is expected to do on any given day can vary dramatically depending on the project they're working on. As a result, there are countless stories of actors being hilariously underprepared for roles due to time constraints, overconfidence, and sometimes, just plain old bad luck.

Martin Lawrence nearly died trying to get in shape for Big Momma's House

In 1999, the world almost lost Martin Lawrence when the actor collapsed and fell into a coma outside his L.A. home due to severe heat-related exhaustion. Lawrence's condition was so serious that for several days he required a ventilator just to breathe, and there was talk of him potentially suffering permanent kidney or brain damage. Luckily, he went on to make a full recovery.

As Lawrence would later admit on Conan, it all happened largely because he chose to work out while wearing a big plastic suit in 100-degree weather to try and get in shape for Big Momma's House. If the image in your head right now is of Lawrence running in the full Big Momma outfit, we're sorry to ruin your day by saying he was actually running while wearing a heavy plastic suit below his clothes—kind of like how Bradley Cooper's character works out in Silver Linings Playbook.

Curiously, news sources from the time didn't seem to pick up on this, and criticized Lawrence's decision to get in shape, arguing that since he'd spend most of his time in costume, he wouldn't have many opportunities to show off his abs. You know, because it's not like you need to be in shape to walk around in an 80-pound fat suit all day.

Benedict Cumberbatch didn't know how to pronounce the word penguin, took a job voicing a penguin documentary

Benedict Cumberbatch has played everything from a cocky American neurosurgeon/wizard to a giant CGI dragon, in addition to a host of more traditional roles that include Sherlock Holmes, Hamlet, and Frankenstein's' monster. With such an impressive and eclectic résumé, you'd think voiceover work would be a cinch; as it so happens, though, Cumberbatch has a very peculiar and adorable acting Achilles' heel: a total inability to say the word penguin, which he instead pronounced as "peng-wing."

Cumberbatch apparently wasn't aware of this, seeing as how in 2009, he took a voiceover gig for the BBC documentary South Pacific, in which he struggled to pronounce the word almost every single time. In an interview on the The Graham Norton Show, a visibly embarrassed Cumberbatch admitted that he had no idea he couldn't pronounce the word, and was kind of amazed that nobody working on the documentary bothered to correct him.

Paul Bettany never watched any Marvel movies until he was in them

According to Paul Bettany, prior to actually physically appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Vision, he'd never bothered to watch a single film in the Iron Man franchise despite playing Jarvis, Iron Man's trusty AI sidekick. Bettany has admitted that when he was voicing Jarvis he didn't even get a full version of the script, had no context for the lines he read, and only spent about two hours working on the first film—all of which he spent in a recording booth on his own.

Bettany's indifference to the franchise was such that he admitted to feeling like a "pirate" when he took his money, and often had to tell fans he had no idea who the character was when he was approached to speak about what is now arguably his most famous role.

Kit Harington didn't bother to research anything about Pompeii before starring in Pompeii

During the press tour for Pompeii, a historical romantic epic set against the backdrop of a volcanic eruption marketed to the public with endless shots of Kit Harington's abs, Harington coyly revealed that he'd taken "the script as gospel" when it came to the city of Pompeii and the eruption that destroyed it, trusting it to be historically accurate.

After the film wrapped and premiered, Harington, who admitted that he felt kinda bad about doing no independent historical research prior to filming, decided to remedy his lack of knowledge by actually visiting the city. Pleasantly surprised at how accurate the film had been, he talked about how surreal it was to actually walk around a city after spending months walking around a fake version.

Peter Weller literally had no time to get used to the RoboCop suit

Few movies are as honestly titled as RoboCop—and fewer still feature robotic avatars of future justice emasculating rapists with pin-point accurate shots. The titular RoboCop was played by one Peter Weller, who was mostly hired to portray the character due to his slight build (so that he could actually fit into the costume) and his strong jawline (the only human part of the character actually visible).

In regards to the former, Weller planned to spend several weeks getting used to walking around in the RoboCop suit to make his movements seem natural. However, due to the suit being finished late, Weller was instead forced to shoot a scene wearing it on on the day it arrived. This was so frustrating for Weller that production had to be stopped for three days so he could get used to the bulk of the suit—and the rigid, robotic movements audiences would soon associate with RoboCop were really a byproduct of Weller learning to move without fighting against the suit.

Margot Robbie did a bunch of shots before her nude scene in Wolf of Wall Street

Getting naked in front of someone for the first time can be nerve-wracking even there are only two people in the room and both of you want the nakedness to happen. With this in mind, you can only imagine how awkward it must be for an actor to strip on camera while seeming totally at ease.

This exact problem was encountered by Margot Robbie when her role in The Wolf of Wall Street called for an almost excessive amount of nudity, starting with a scene in which her character stands completely naked in a doorway. Knowing the shot would be ruined if she was visibly nervous and having no time to get used to the idea of being nude on camera, Robbie did what a lot of people do when they need confidence to let it all hang out, and pounded three shots of tequila before stripping down and nailing the scene in one take.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill needed coaching on how to act high

Leonardo DiCaprio's character does a lot of drugs in the film The Wolf of Wall Street, all of which have differing effects on the human body, from giving you the energy to take part in an orgy to making you so relaxed you flop down a flight of stairs like a fish

Unfortunately, neither DiCaprio nor his co-star Jonah Hill were all that familiar with the effects of most of the drugs they were supposed to pretend to take, including alcohol, and both had to be coached on how to act convincingly high, drunk, or a combination of the two. In fact, DiCaprio was so unsure about how to act, he'd later admit that he spent hours watching this YouTube video of a guy drunkenly rolling around on the floor to better shape his performance. As a final measure to help DiCaprio really get into the role, a seasoned "drug expert" was also on hand during production in case he had any questions.

Ewan McGregor couldn't stop making lightsaber noises

Like millions of people, Ewan McGregor is a big fan of the Star Wars franchise, and when he was cast as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequels, he had trouble setting aside his childlike glee whenever he got his hands on a lightsaber.

The actor would later admit that he messed up quite a few takes early in production because he simply couldn't help instinctively making lightsaber noises whenever he swung his prop around. According to a persistent rumor, this actually got so frustrating for the crew that a sound guy had to eventually step in and tell McGregor that they added the noises in post after they noticed his humming noises were being picked up by the boom mic.

Hugh Jackman was embarrassed at his body in the first X-men movie

To a lot of people, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine, and the actor put an astonishing amount of effort into physically portraying the character during his lengthy tenure as the character. This is especially notable in later movies in the X-Men series, where Jackman is noticeably more muscular than he was in the first film in the franchise.

Jackman has since noted that he was actually pretty embarrassed by his physique in the first X-Men movie, explaining that he figured he'd be able to get in shape with just a few weeks of preparation. Director Bryan Singer didn't agree, and pushed his shirtless scenes to the end of shooting four months later when he saw his progress—or lack thereof. Even then, Jackman still admits that those scenes were pretty embarrassing, considering how buff he looked over a decade and a half later.

Marlon Brando turned up to the set of Apocalypse Now 100 pounds overweight having not read the script

Marlon Brando's seeming inability to give a crap during film production was the stuff of legend. Notoriously indifferent when it came to reading scripts and learning his lines, Brando very often turned up on set without any idea about what he was actually supposed to be doing. Perhaps the greatest example of this was when Brando was set to appear in Apocalypse Now and was so clueless about his role that production had to be shut down for an entire week so director Francis Ford Coppola could read the script to him and explain his character.

On top of this, the ending to the film had to be entirely re-written because Brando, who was supposed to be playing a character described in the script as "a lean and hungry warrior," weighed roughly 300 pounds. To get around this, Coppola shot Brando almost exclusively when he was cast in shadow and made him wear all black—partly because they couldn't find a Green Beret uniform to fit him.

Finn Jones learned the choreography for Iron Fist 10 minutes before shooting

Fans and critics alike took issue with the subpar fight choreography of Marvel's Iron Fist and its seeming reliance on excessive cuts to hide actor Finn Jones' apparent lack of martial arts skill—a fairly major problem, considering Iron Fist is supposed to be a master of all forms of unarmed combat, as well as the fact another Marvel series, Daredevil, had a fight scene in which the titular character backflip-kicks bikers half to death for five minutes straight with only a handful of carefully hidden cuts. 

Jones later explained that he literally had just 10 minutes to learn the choreography for his fight scenes—and only three weeks to train before filming started, explaining why the guy who physically bested Shou-Lao the immortal dragon with his fists was in worse shape than a blind lawyer.

Ewan McGregor had to re-record all his dialogue for Beauty and the Beast

Ewan McGregor totally bombed his initial audition to play the French-accented candlestick Lumiere in the live-action adaption of Beauty and the Beast because he was totally unable to affect a convincing French accent—something he had no idea he'd be unable to do and was more than a little embarrassed about, given that his wife is French and he's presumably exposed to the accent daily at home.

Describing his first attempt as sounding more Mexican than anything, McGregor was ultimately called back in by Disney after spending some time with a vocal coach to re-record his lines with a more convincing French accent.

Jackie Chan arrived in the US not being able to speak English

When Jackie Chan first arrived in the U.S. in the 1980s, he was reportedly unable to speak even basic English and quickly set about teaching himself how to communicate by absorbing Western media. To facilitate this it's noted that Chan's employer at the time, Golden Harvest, sent him to America alone so he could "immerse himself in the English-speaking world" and learn the language that way—a method that resulted in Chan once apparently believing a menu to be an important English document he couldn't read, resulting in a frantic late-night call to his agent.

Although Chan did learn English commendably well, he still had trouble reading scripts as late as the Rush Hour series, and had to learn the lines for many of his Western films phonetically. Sometimes crews would take advantage of this and make Chan say swear words or things he didn't mean—like in Rush Hour 3, when someone made him infer that he liked horse pornography.

James McAvoy accidentally shaved all his hair off to play Professor X

When he learned he'd to be playing Professor Xavier in X-Men: First Class, James McAvoy naturally assumed that because he was going to be playing a younger version of the bald-headed superhero previously played by Patrick Stewart, the studio would want him to be similarly shorn. To save time, he took the initiative and shaved off all his hair before filming started—only for a production official to have a minor meltdown when he turned up to start filming.

Apparently the studio wanted McAvoy to have hair for the role since it was set in the '60s, forcing the actor to sheepishly ask a hairstylist friend to correct the mistake with some hair extensions. A wig was apparently also used for some scenes, though it's not clear which ones—which probably means it was a pretty good wig.

All the Stark men had to have Yorkshire accents in Game of Thrones

Loosely speaking, most of the actors in Games of Thrones have accents roughly based on where in the fictional world of Westeros they hail from relative to the U.K. For example, characters hailing from the North have thick Northern accents, whereas those from the south speak with accents more commonly found in the more southerly parts of the U.K.

Though not a firm rule by any stretch of the imagination, production was insistent that the actors playing the sons of Ned Stark should adopt Sean Bean's native Yorkshire accent. According to one rumor, Bean was asked if he'd put on an accent, and said no. Kit Harington had no idea that this would be expected of him and auditioned for the role of Jon Snow in his native southern accent, only to be told while he was good for for the character, he needed to speak more like Sean Bean. Harington—along with the rest of the actors expected to portray Ned Stark's sons—reportedly had only a short while to learn to emulate Bean's distinctive voice, with Harington arguably managing it best.

Tom Hardy was nowhere near ripped enough to play Charles Bronson, according to Charles Bronson

Upon being cast to play infamous British criminal Charles Bronson, a man so dangerously violent and superhumanly built he once punched clean through bulletproof glass in a fit of anger, Tom Hardy met with the man himself to see if he'd sign off on Hardy portraying him onscreen. Bronson, unimpressed with Hardy's physique, initially said no.

Hoping to change Bronson's mind, Hardy started bulking up after their first meeting, consuming nothing but pizza, ice cream, chicken and rice while exercising as hard as he could. Two weeks later, he'd bulked up enough for Bronson to realize he was committed to physically portraying him. The fact that Hardy also brought Bronson a muffin and some milkshakes also likely didn't hurt.

Along with giving Hardy his blessing, Bronson shaved off his mustache and mailed it to the actor, hoping the makeup department could figure out a way to glue it to his face. Failing that, Bronson hoped Hardy could carry the clippings around in his pocket as a good luck charm. It's unclear which option Hardy chose.