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Actors That Got Really Defensive About Their Box Office Bombs

Nobody likes a bad movie — that goes for movie critics as much as movie-goers. But nobody hates a flop any more than the stars themselves. After all, when an actor signs up for a new movie, they're always hoping it'll be the next big smash hit at the box office or critically acclaimed success that could raise their profile or increase their earning power. So if a movie fails, it's more than just disappointment. It can hurt their career, or worse, embarrass them.

While most actors are willing to let a bomb or two roll off their backs, sometimes the scrutiny they face from a flop forces them to respond. Harping by the media about how much money their film lost or how badly it was trashed by critics can get under even the thickest skin. Everyone has their limits, and even the biggest superstars can only take criticism for so long before they feel the need to push back. 

So sit back and whip out some rotten tomatoes, because we've found some major movie stars who got defensive over their box office bombs.

Taron Egerton - Robin Hood

Hollywood has always been enamored with the classic tale of Robin Hood, and it's really not surprising. A do-gooder who battles a tyrannical villain to help the less fortunate, Robin Hood is essentially a medieval superhero. But reimagining the folklore as a gritty action movie probably wasn't the best idea. So when this version of "Robin Hood" landed in theaters in 2018 starring Taron Egerton as the bow-wielding rogue, it bombed at the box office. But in the aftermath of the movie's failure, Egerton was quick to throw blame and defend his part in the film. 

"It was absolutely not the movie that I signed up to make," Egerton told Variety in a wide-ranging interview a year after the movie's release. "It was pitched to me in a different way." What that way could have been we're not sure, but perhaps they left the dark, gritty reboot part out when selling him on the film. Whatever the case may be, the star believed the film's problems came down to excessive studio meddling. "I think it was made by committee and I think it lost its vision. I wasn't very happy on set. I didn't have a very happy time making it."

Variety reached out to Lionsgate and the film's director, Otto Bathurst, to respond to the actor's comments, but neither had anything to say.

Halle Berry - Catwoman

Arguably one of the most infamous comic book flops, 2004's "Catwoman" started out in the 1990s as a spin-off of Michelle Pfeiffer's character from "Batman Returns" (per Variety). But after years in development hell, it eventually became a standalone entry, and acclaimed actress (and "X-Men" veteran) Halle Berry took over the role. A critical dud and a bomb in theaters, it took home a number of "worst" awards at the Razzies the following year.

But star Halle Berry has surprisingly never been ashamed of this one, even showing up in person to collect her "Worst Actress" Razzie. In fact, she's always defended the film, and had plenty to say about it in response to its harshest critics. "It was definitely different from any other [movie] I had seen," Berry said, addressing the bad reviews faced by the film. Berry also had thoughts about what may have gone wrong. "I thought that we needed a better villain, but I was outnumbered in that area."

Like Egerton on "Robin Hood," Berry also talked about the struggles of assessing a project even after it's produced. 'You just never know how people are going to respond. [For example] I thought that 'Monster's Ball' was going to end my career. And look what happened. You just never know." You never know is right: Berry took home an Academy Award for her part in "Monster's Ball."

Matt Smith - Morbius

If "Catwoman" was the biggest comic book movie bust of the 2000s, "Morbius" might be its successor in the 2020s. A high-profile project led by Jared Leto, the film was intended to open the floodgates of a shared "Spider-Man" universe of cross-connecting films (per THR). Centered on the titular vampire anti-hero, "Morbius" was savaged by critics, becoming the butt of jokes that helped fuel long-running internet memes mocking its self-deluded greatness.

But despite the negative reaction and lack of box office bucks, Matt Smith — who played the movie's villain — wasn't letting it get him down. "Yeah, it was thrown under the bus," the former "Doctor Who" star told Rolling Stone. "But you just have to roll with it. What else are you gonna do?" Unwilling to be dragged down by the film's failure, Smith had some wise words, insisting that it all be put in the proper perspective. "It's a film, at the end of the day, we're not saving lives. For whatever reason, it didn't quite work out and ... It is what it is."

What did the film's star Jared Leto have to say? While he hasn't commented directly, it would seem he feels similar to Smith. In the wake of all the jokes at his expense, he released a short clip via social media that teased a sequel that is unlikely to ever happen.

Dwayne Johnson - Black Adam

Can we really call "Black Adam" a bomb? At first glance, it doesn't look like the hit that studio execs were expecting, not even pulling in $400 million on a reported $200 million dollar budget (per The Numbers). In addition, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" amassed more domestically in just three days than "Black Adam" did in its entire run, which didn't make it look any better. Worse yet, the film was somehow knocked to fourth place in less than 30 days, even beaten by the third season premiere of the TV Series "The Chosen," which had a limited theatrical run.

When entertainment site IGN commented on the film's poor box office showing in comparison to its Marvel sibling, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson wasn't happy with the assertion. His response sounded awfully defensive at the mere suggestion that the movie wasn't meeting expectations when compared to "Wakanda Forever," its main rival. "There's no competition with the established global brand of 'Black Panther' compared to 'Black Adam' & JSA who a year ago no one even heard of. ... we're new babies and have to grow."

Meanwhile, when Variety outright called the film a bust, Johnson pushed back on Twitter, saying "our film will PROFIT ... we are building our new franchise step by step" and comparing its gross to the first "Captain America" film. Not long after, Johnson reportedly leaked a misleading financial statement to refute claims of the film losing money (via The Direct), an unusual step for a major star to say the least.

Jennifer Hudson - Cats

On Broadway, "Cats" had been a celebrated, Tony Award-winning musical for decades. That it was never made into a musical film until 2019 is actually somewhat surprising, as it could have made for a delightful Disney animated movie. But with the evolution of digital motion capture technology, what audiences got was a live-action retelling starring the likes of Judi Dench, Ian McKellan, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, and more, all digitally dolled-up as bizarre anthropomorphic human-cat hybrids.

Critics and audiences alike were baffled and horrified in equal measure, and the film was a major disaster all the way around. But its cast never wavered, and Jennifer Hudson — who played Grizabella in the film — was particularly defensive when the critical response was harsh. "You know what? I think it was a bit overwhelming. It's unfortunate that it was misunderstood," Hudson told Total Film in 2021 while promoting another project. Though she didn't seem angry at the film's critics, she did suggest that time may soften opinions of the movie. "I think later down the line, people will see it differently."

But whether the film gets better with age, or remains a derided misfire, Hudson isn't lamenting her role in the film. "It is something I am still very proud of and grateful to have been a part of. Yeah, I got to be Grizabella the Glamour Cat!"

Toby Kebbell - Fantastic Four

There have been few films in recent years with a more complicated, controversial, and well-publicized production than the 2015 reboot of "Fantastic Four." This new version of the classic Marvel comic series was billed as a darker, almost horror-inspired take on the characters by indie filmmaker Josh Trank, with a cast of hot up-and-comers that included Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Toby Kebbell. Unfortunately, due to clashes on set that got surprisingly personal — combined with meddling by the studio — everything fell apart, Trank was fired, and much of the movie was rewritten and reshot on the fly.

On its release, the film was a bomb, and big plans for sequels and crossovers were scrapped. But as the director blamed the studio for derailing his script, Kebbell defended the film, perhaps to help ease the stink of its failure. "I tell you, the honest truth is [Josh Trank] did cut a great film that you'll never see," Kebbell told The Daily Beast a year later. "A much darker version, and you'll never see it." Despite all the reports of behind-the-scenes drama though, Kebbell insists he enjoyed his time making the movie. 

"There are always frustrations with these tentpoles. But it generally comes from the script changing, sadly enough," Kebbell acknowledged, before refusing to denounce his much-mocked role of Victor Von Doom. "But I'm very proud of my work. I'm also just as heartbroken as the fans are."

Taylor Kitsch - John Carter

In the late 2000s, sci-fi and fantasy franchises were delivering unprecedented blockbuster box office returns, and Disney wanted one of their own, and in the late 2000s moved forward with the ultimately ill-fated flop "John Carter." Slammed by critics on its release in 2012, it was knocked for a confusing story, an incoherent plot, and nonsensical characters. It didn't just fail to spark a franchise, it became one of the biggest box office disasters of the 2000s.  

But if anyone had reason to be angry, it would be the movie's star Taylor Kitsch, for whom the role of John Carter represented his first major theatrical tentpole performance. But despite all the derision the movie received and all the money it lost, Kitsch maintained that it wasn't a flop at all. "I don't see it as a failure, that's the thing," Kitsch said in a report published by the Huffington Post. "I'm incredibly proud of it and I would do it all over again."

Pointing out that the film still sold plenty of tickets, Kitsch added that "if someone told me that my first lead film will make well over 300 million dollars, that's a good thing." But the actor sounded most defensive about his own role in the film, insisting any shortcomings had nothing to do with him. "I know personally I literally did everything possible I could have in 'John Carter.' ... That's why I prep so hard, and why I push myself so hard, so I can have no regrets."

Jennifer Lopez - Gigli

Another notorious money pit, "Gigli" was a romantic crime thriller from 2003 starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, revolving around a pair of crooks who screw up a kidnapping plot. The film garnered attention when Affleck and Lopez began dating during production, which pushed the studio to rewrite the script, according to Entertainment Weekly. In the end, however, the movie was a total disaster, earning a fraction of its budget, and getting roundly roasted by reviewers

Of course, we've already heard from Lopez's co-star and now-husband Ben Affleck, who blamed the studio for playing up the publicity around their real-life romance which was in its infancy at the time. "Because I had begun having this relationship with Jennifer Lopez, which was selling a lot of magazines and appeared to generate a lot of enthusiasm, they just predictably latched onto, 'They want a romantic comedy. They want the two of them together. More of that!' And it was just like that 'SNL' sketch."

But Lopez went further, openly admitting that the film "sucked." On her appearance on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Lopez got defensive when pressed, snapping, "There's worse movies than 'Gigli' out there, OK?" But Lopez, like Affleck, admitted that their burgeoning relationship — which was getting all the attention during filming — was at least part of the problem that befell the film. "[Ben and I] got a lot of crap at that time. It was because we were together. It was a whole other thing going on as well."

Zooey Deschanel - The Happening

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan was one of the hottest rising stars of the 2000s, following a pair of breakout hits, "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable," at the turn of the millennium. But in 2006, he had his first major flop with "Lady in the Water." He attempted a comeback with "The Happening," a suspense thriller about a wave of unexplained mass deaths that starred Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. While the movie was profitable, it was lambasted by critics and moviegoers, and wasn't nearly the box office smash that films like "Signs" and "The Village" had been. But despite getting knocked around by reviewers, Deschanel has continued defending the film as recently as 2022.

"M. Night Shyamalan – Night – had a strong vision and we were all trying to do what he wanted," Deschanel told The Guardian, while suggesting that maybe even she wasn't sure of the film at the time, before placing some of the blame for the poor response on the audience itself. "I trusted him, because he's a great filmmaker. I didn't know until I saw the film, but I think he was going for a stylized horror, like 'The Birds,' maybe people didn't get that." 

Deschanel doesn't seem to regret the role in the film, no matter how it fared or how she perceived her own performance. "I had a blast working with Night and Mark Wahlberg, but while I've done serious drama, I'm not sure I fit with thrillers."

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer - The Lone Ranger

Adapted from an iconic TV series, "The Lone Ranger" was thought by some to be the next big franchise for Disney and Johnny Depp, who'd had blockbuster hits together with "The Pirates of the Caribbean." Flogged by the masses, however, the movie was anything but a blockbuster, and was estimated to lose nearly $200 million. But that didn't seem to bother the film's stars, Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, who both brushed off any suggestion that the movie had failed.

"I think the reviews were written seven-to-eight months before we released the film," Depp said in an interview published by Yahoo. "I think the reviews were written when they heard Gore and Jerry and me were going to do 'The Lone Ranger'. They had expectations that it must be a blockbuster. I didn't have any expectations of that. I never do." 

Hammer, meanwhile, was more feisty in his defense of the film, ripping reviewers. "If you go back and read the negative reviews, most of them aren't about the content of the movie, but more what's behind it. It's got to the point with American critics where if you're not as smart as Plato, you're stupid. That seems like a sad way to live your life." Blaming bad reviews on a snowballing effect, Hammer added, "I think it was the popular thing when the movie hit rocky terrain they jumped on the bandwagon to try and bash it."

Anne Hathaway - Serenity

The thriller "Serenity" launched to little fanfare in 2019, but boasted quite a cast. In addition to stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, it also featured Diane Lane, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, and Jeremy Strong. The film tells the story of a divorced boat captain who reluctantly comes to the aid of his ex-wife when she is looking to have her current abusive husband taken out of the picture. Unfortunately, it failed to connect with critics or audiences and couldn't even make back its modest budget.

But Hathaway wasn't deterred by the film's poor reception — critically or commercially — and took to social media to defend her work. "We keep it real around here," said Hathaway. "Some critics get 'Serenity' and, like me, find it interesting, moving, ambitious and different, and for some it just doesn't work. That's cool," said the actor, accepting that not everyone has to like it. But her defense was more than just a fair-minded retort, as she seemed to take some personal offense to the bad reviews. "There is no failure, only learned events, not everyone has to like everything, and the critical response doesn't change my feelings about the movie," before adding more sternly that "other people's time and money are not to be taken for granted."

Billy Eichner - Bros

Produced by Judd Apatow, "Bros" is a romantic comedy written by and starring comedian Billy Eichner. It centers on two men who are decidedly not looking for commitment but nevertheless fall in love. Despite praise for its use of an LGBTQ cast including Luke McFarlane, Ts Madison, and Eichner himself, the film bombed at the box office. But unlike most flops on this list, "Bros" received critical acclaim for its clever comedy, earnest story, and loads of heart. As a result, Eichner was more than just disappointed by its take at the ticket counter, and he lashed out not at both critics and at audiences while defending its failure.

In some since-deleted Twitter comments (via THR), Eichner put the blame on homophobic audiences who refused to show up for the well-reviewed film. "Straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn't show up for 'Bros'," said Eichner in comments that surely rubbed many the wrong way. "Everyone who ISN'T a homophobic weirdo should go see 'Bros' tonight." 

But despite his emotional outburst, he did make a few valid points. "Rolling Stone already has 'BROS' on the list of the best comedies of the 21st century," said the writer and actor. "What's also true is that at one point a theater chain called Universal said they were pulling the trailer because of the gay content. (Uni convinced them not to.)," evidence that we may still have a ways to go before LGBTQ content is completely uncontroversial at the cinema.