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Movie Flops That Totally Devastated Actors

Any actor who's in a lot of movies is inevitably going to be in some movies that lose money. Generally, this isn't too hard to deal with — actors are already paid for their work before a film is released, and while a string of flops can do damage to a career, one-off disappointments are rarely catastrophic. As such, actors usually have one of two responses when audiences and or critics reject one of their movies: they'll either politely disagree and defend a film they think is good, or they'll agree that the movie had problems anyway and treat it as a learning experience for the next one.

Sometimes, however, stars will get really defensive of a bomb they liked or get really down about one they disliked. Even if it's only temporary, dealing with overwhelmingly negative press for a flop can take its toll on an actor, especially if said actor had some additional creative involvement in the project as a writer, producer, or director. This list features both those actors who found themselves intensely defending a flop and those who hated every aspect of being involved.

Zachary Levi - Shazam: Fury of the Gods

The disappointing box office for "Shazam: Fury of the Gods" didn't come as a surprise. By the time the long-delayed superhero sequel hit theaters in March 2023, a full reboot of the DC Universe had already been announced, making the film already seem like yesterday's news and getting much worse reviews than the 2019 original didn't help matters. While the fate of Shazam in James Gunn's new DC Universe has yet to be officially decided, star Zachary Levi has certainly been acting like his once-steady superhero gig is threatened if not already over.

On his Instagram account, Levi pleaded for moviegoers to boost the Rotten Tomatoes audience score for "Fury of the Gods" to increase the discrepancy with the negative critics' score, saying, "It doesn't make any sense that we got shook down the way that we got shook down [by critics]." While begging more people to see his current movie, he's also been publicly asking for new roles, tweeting at Neil Druckmann asking to join the cast of "The Last of Us."

Levi has also provided a look at some of the chaos behind-the-scenes at Warner Bros., specifically calling out Dwayne Johnson for blocking the Justice Society of America characters from the "Black Adam" movie from cameoing in "Fury of the Gods" and vetoing a potential Shazam cameo in "Black Adam." Speaking of "Black Adam"...

Dwayne Johnson - Black Adam

Compared to other films on this list, "Black Adam" wasn't the biggest disaster at the box office, making $393 million worldwide as the 15th highest-grossing movie of 2022. Factoring in a budget that ballooned up to $260 million before marketing costs, however, the film was still far from a hit (a movie's box office needs to at least double its budget to break even). For Johnson, a star who's described himself as "franchise viagra" in the past, his big DC superhero movie not "shifting the hierarchy of power" in the direction he hoped it would seems to have been hard to process — so he's been trying to pretend the movie was more successful than it was.

In some truly messy press drama, Johnson's team reported leaked misleading financials to the Hollywood trade paper, Deadline, that claimed "Black Adam" would ultimately turn a profit of $52-72 million after taking into account VOD, streaming, and physical media sales. This contradicted previous reports the film was expected to lose Warner Bros. $50-100 million. A response from the news site, Puck, claims that the Deadline report both underestimated the film's marketing budget and overestimated its likely revenues.

Billy Eichner - Bros

In general, it's easier to find more public examples of writers and directors speaking about feeling devastated following a flop than actors. It makes sense why — audiences rejecting a film can feel more personal when the whole thing is a product of your vision. Such is the case with "Bros," the well-reviewed but financially unsuccessful 2022 gay romcom starring, executive produced, and co-written by Billy Eichner.

In a since-deleted tweet, Eichner lamented, "Even with glowing reviews, great Rotten Tomatoes scores, an A CinemaScore, etc, straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn't show up for 'Bros.'" This assessment of why the movie flopped was naturally subject to controversy. While homophobia was likely one factor for why the film — sold as the first major studio movie with an all-LGBTQ+ lead cast — struggled in theaters, the fact is a lot of LGBTQ+ viewers avoided the movie as well judging by the box office results. Perhaps this was due to poor marketing, or maybe people just felt like this type of movie is something they'd rather watch on streaming than in theaters.

Jack Black - Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny

Here's another entry for an actor-writer, and one that proved so upsetting it actually killed their writing career. Before he became a household name, Jack Black was half of the comedy-rock band Tenacious D alongside Kyle Gass. "The D" had an HBO series in the late '90s, and thanks in part to Black's breakout performance in "High Fidelity," the band got a record contract and released their self-titled first album in 2001. In 2006, their long-in-the-works movie, "Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny," finally hit theaters — but nobody saw it.

Directed by Liam Lynch and co-written by Lynch, Black, and Gass, this fantasy origin story about the band's formation and quest to claim Satan's guitar pick got mixed reviews from critics, who questioned whether the band's stoner schtick that worked great in episodic format successfully sustained a full feature. Black described the film's box office failure as "a body blow" to Maxim Magazine (via Newshub) and quit screenwriting as a result.

Tenacious D's next album, 2012's "Rize of the Fenix," opened with the lines, "When 'The Pick of Destiny' was released, it was a bomb," and joked about the experience with a fictional story of the group breaking up and needing to reunite as a result of that failure. Though he was heartbroken by this financial failure, Black has been heartened by the fact his fans still enjoy the movie years later.

Ben Affleck - Gigli

2003 was not a great year for Ben Affleck. His growing celebrity was met with a growing backlash, and all three of his acting credits that year were savaged by critics: "Daredevil," "Payback," and "Gigli." The former two made money despite bad reviews. The latter, a romcom in which Affleck played a gangster with a silly-sounding name who falls in love with a lesbian played by Jennifer Lopez, became one of the most infamous bombs of the 21st century. The fact Affleck began dating Lopez on the set of the film made for perfect tabloid fodder, cementing its infamy even when Affleck has starred in even bigger money-losers.

Reflecting on "Gigli" 20 years later in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Affleck said that there's still some "wonderful stuff" in the film while admitting that overall "it doesn't work." What really hurt was how the response to the film impacted people's perceptions of him as a person: "I can see now how people looked at me and thought of this person as some callow frat guy who's cavalier, or has too much. It engendered a lot of negative feelings in people about me. There's that aspect of people that I got to see that was sad and hard, it was depressing and really made me question things and feel disappointed and have a lot of self-doubt."

Faye Dunaway - Mommie Dearest

Faye Dunaway's campily over-the-top performance as the movie star and abusive mother Joan Crawford in the 1981 drama, "Mommie Dearest," was instantly divisive: she was runner-up for best actress at the National Society of Film Critics Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, and also won worst actress at the Razzies and the Stinkers Bad Movies Awards. Though the movie has gone on to be embraced as a "so bad, it's good" cult film, the movie disappointed at the box office and had a negative effect on Dunaway's career.

The actress has mostly avoided talking about her experience with "Mommie Dearest," but in a 2016 interview with People, she explained that in the aftermath of the film's release, "people would irretrievably have the wrong impression of me." She considers the movie a bad decision, but one she can't take back, saying, "It's unfortunate they felt they had to make that kind of movie. But you can't be ashamed of the work you've done. You make a decision, and then you have to live with the consequence."

George Clooney - Batman & Robin

Has any actor taken more opportunities to express their hatred for a certain role of theirs than George Clooney has with his performance as the Dark Knight in "Batman & Robin"? The 1997 Joel Schumacher flop was one of the first movies to be majorly hit by nerd backlash in the early years of the internet, killing the live-action "Batman" movie franchise until Christopher Nolan's gritty 2005 reboot, "Batman Begins." The failure didn't hurt Clooney's career, as he'd rise up as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the years following its release, but it's nonetheless an experience he regrets.

One article from Vulture in 2014 chronicled six different instances of Clooney apologizing for or making fun of "Batman & Robin" over the years — and he's continued to do it multiple times since. As he said on The Graham Norton Show in 2015, "I always apologize for 'Batman & Robin.'" In particular, he's complained about how hard it was to act in the Batman suit and has made plentiful jokes about that version of the suit's infamous nipples. Even when accepting "Icon of the Year" honors from GQ in 2020, Clooney still made sure to talk about how bad his acting was in "Batman & Robin" in the context of being honest about one's shortcomings.

Bob Hoskins - Super Mario Bros.

Even Clooney's hatred of "Batman & Robin," however, might not compare to the sheer loathing Bob Hoskins felt towards the 1993 "Super Mario Bros." movie. Long before Chris Pratt voiced an animated Mario in 2023's "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," Hoskins wore the red plumber's uniform in a bizarre live-action adaptation that seemingly took more inspiration from "Blade Runner" than from the whimsical Nintendo games.

Hoskins didn't even know the movie was based on a video game when he started working on it; when his kids told him, he responded, "I used to play King Lear." The production was a mess, going over schedule and over budget with the script constantly changing. Hoskins and his co-star, John Leguizamo, were drinking a lot on the set, and one stunt broke Hoskins' finger. All this suffering for a movie that was universally hated by critics and Mario fans alike. In a 2011 interview with The Guardian, Hoskins called "Super Mario Bros." his worst job, biggest disappointment, and the one thing he wished he could erase from his past.

Jason Derulo - Cats

What can even be said about a bomb as bad and bafflingly weird as "Cats?" The stars of Tom Hooper's 2019 uncanny valley adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical have mostly responded to the film's critical and financial failure with bemusement. James Corden and Rebel Wilson mocked the special effects at the Oscars, Taylor Swift and Sir Ian McKellen emphasized that they had fun on the set of that ridiculous movie, and Dame Judi Dench didn't even see it. Some actors have praised the film, while others criticized it, but none of them responded with anger or hatred towards the film's critics — except Jason Derulo.

The Rum Tum Tugger in "Cats" was the singer's first acting role, which might explain why he felt more defensive about it than his co-stars. Speaking to TMZ at the time of the film's release, he questioned whether critics knew what they were even talking about: "Have they made a film in their life?" He later told The Telegraph, "I thought it was gonna change the world." Ultimately, he says he learned a lesson from the experience: "You can't wait for the perfect moment, 'cause that might not be your moment. So you've just got to go for gold. That's how I'll move forward."

David Harbour - Hellboy

Neil Marshall's 2019 reboot of "Hellboy," starring David Harbour as the titular red demon, was greeted with skepticism from the moment it was announced. Many fans were disappointed that Guillermo Del Toro never got the chance to make a third "Hellboy" film with Ron Perlman, and Harbour believes that this disappointment colored the reactions to the reboot, leading critics and fans to judge it unfairly.

Speaking with Digital Spy shortly after the film's release, Harbour admitted that the film had "major problems" but that it was still "unfairly bludgeoned" based on audiences' expectations. In 2022, he opened up to GQ about having a hard time personally following the film's failure, and even called Ryan Reynolds, who had his own widely hated superhero flop with "Green Lantern," for support. Harbour succinctly put the ultimate lesson he learned from his "Hellboy" experience this way: "DON'T F**K WITH ESTABLISHED IP."

Mike Myers - The Love Guru

The 2008 comedy, "The Love Guru," is one of those rare bombs so disastrous it basically singlehandedly killed its lead actor's career. Mike Myers starred in, co-wrote, and co-produced the film, and he won Razzies for all three of those jobs (in combination with his "The Cat in the Hat" performance, "The Love Guru" also earned Myers a "Worst Actor of the Decade" Razzie nomination). Aside from voice acting in the fourth "Shrek" film, he hasn't had a leading role in a movie since, only occasionally appearing on TV, in documentaries, and in bit parts in films like "Inglourious Basterds" and "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Despite the huge failure of "The Love Guru" and its devastating impact on his career, Myers still defended the film in a 2014 GQ interview. "But there's a lot in that movie [The Love Guru] comedically that I'm really, really proud of," he said while acknowledging, "I completely recognize it didn't meet an audience." He also tries not to get too personally upset about the film bombing, saying, "I just love making stuff, dude, you know, you can't be too attached up and you can't be too attached down."

Jennifer Lawrence - mother!

Unlike the other examples on this list, Jennifer Lawrence was not personally bothered by the fact her 2017 psychological horror movie, "mother!," bombed. The ultraviolent religious allegory was always going to confuse some viewers and offend others, so it's not a shocker that critics were divided on the film and mainstream audiences rejected it. In a Variety "Actors on Actors" video discussion with Adam Sandler, Lawrence said she typically doesn't read reviews or think about her films after she's done promoting them.

So why is Lawrence on this list? Because, as revealed in the Variety video, the film's writer-director and her then-boyfriend, Darren Aronofskywas devastated by the response to the film, and Lawrence got sick of hearing him constantly talking about the film's reviews: "I was doing double duty of trying to be a supportive partner while also being like, 'Can I please, for the love of God, not think about 'mother!" for one second?'" Lawrence describes the dynamic as "not healthy" for either of them, and she broke up with Aronofsky in the months after the film's release.