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Actors Who Were Forced To Take Roles They Hated

At certain points in their careers, actors no longer need to audition for the roles they take. Eventually, if they're popular enough, filmmakers and studios offer them roles, and they can pick and choose their jobs as they please. It generally takes a lot of time, persistence, and outright luck to get to that point, however, and when an actor is just starting out, they've got to take pretty much any job they can get.

And it isn't just young budding stars who end up contractually obligated to perform in projects they're pretty sure will be subpar. In today's franchise-driven Hollywood, lots of contracts include options for multiple sequels—and even if the experience of filming the original installment is less than ideal, a star can find themselves compelled to come back for the follow-up chapters whether or not they want to. With that in mind, we've looked back over Hollywood history and rounded up a few cases when actors were somehow forced to take on roles they really didn't want at all.

Jennifer Garner - Elektra

After the fairly successful 2003 release of Daredevil, nearly everyone involved in the project was excited for a spinoff focusing exclusively on Jennifer Garner's character, Elektra. Daredevil writer and director Mark Steven Johnson discussed bringing Kevin Smith on board to help with the screenplay, and Garner—herself a major fan of the original Frank Miller comics—gushed in interviews about possible paths the storyline could take in the sequel she was already under contract to complete.

Unfortunately, sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry, and 2005's Elektra didn't live up to anyone's expectations. Johnson was replaced as the writer and director, the film bombed at the box office and was panned by audiences and critics, and Garner herself even told her ex-boyfriend Michael Vartan that the movie was "awful." In an interview with Us Weekly, Vartan explained, "She had to do it because of Daredevil. It was in her contract."

Mike Myers - The Cat in the Hat

Following his first Austin Powers movie, Universal signed Myers to appear in what was to be a comedy based on his "Dieter" character from Saturday Night Live. He backed out of the part due to issues with the screenplay—a screenplay he allegedly wrote himself—which launched a series of legal battles, lawsuits, and countersuits between the studio and the star.

Eventually, the sides reached an agreement—one that obligated Myers to play the title character in a live-action adaptation of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat. Even after agreeing to the part, Myers made no effort to play nice while on the set; his co-star Amy Hill revealed that he acted like a "hermit" and a "diva" throughout the whole production. The end result was so underwhelming that Dr. Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel, stated in 2004 that she'd never allow Hollywood to make another live-action adaptation of one of his works again.

Channing Tatum - G.I. Joe

Channing Tatum, of Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street fame, has made some big hits—but he hated acting in one of his most high-profile releases, G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

In an interview with Howard Stern, Tatum alleged that he was "pushed into doing that movie," and claimed he had to do it to fulfill a contract with Paramount Pictures. Tatum went on to say that, although he was a fan of the cartoon growing up, the script was subpar, and he was unsure if he wanted to actually be Joe. After all that hassle, the picture didn't even open the post-blockbuster doors it was supposed to—rather than making a case for Tatum as a leading man, it simply saddled him with an underperforming action movie. All that being said, Tatum made it clear he felt "super lucky and blessed" for the work.

The entire cast - Movie 43

It was a critically derided bomb, but Movie 43 has one thing going for it: a stellar cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, and Naomi Watts, to name a few. How'd the film's producers get all of these A-list stars to agree to such an awful movie? Turns out it's a bit of a scandal.

Producer Charles Wessler, responsible for films like Shallow Hal and There's Something About Mary, somehow managed to sign Jackman and Winslet and film their scenes sometime in 2009. With their portion in the can, Wessler lined up financing for the picture, which was supposed to be a zany, short-attention-span comedy along the lines of midnight classics like Kentucky Fried Movie. Leaning on all of his contacts in the industry and suffering through some fairly painful rejections (co-producer Peter Farrelly admitted George Clooney rather profanely declined the offer), Wessler waited years to finish the film—even holding out for a year at one point just so Richard Gere was available for a day of filming.

Given that Movie 43 was a series of short, allegedly funny vignettes, none of the cast members were really aware of anything else going on in the rest of the movie—and when it came out, they all unsurprisingly refused to promote it. "We did it, and then cut to a year or something later they're like, 'Hey there's a movie coming out,'" said Liev Schrieber. "I'm like, 'Uh-oh' ... But you know, you do these things. We'll see. It was a goof."

Edward Norton - The Italian Job

Edward Norton signed a three-picture deal with Paramount when he landed his breakout role in 1996's Primal Fear, which turned him into an Oscar-nominated star with lots of new options—and as a result, he never got around to fulfilling the terms of that deal. Finally, Paramount took action; in order for him to appear in 1999's Fight Club, he had to negotiate a new contract—one that obliged him to make one more movie with the studio after filming on Fight Club ended.

By 2002, Norton had yet to agree on a film—a significant sticking point, given that he'd later claim he was promised he'd never have to make a movie against his will. Out of patience, Paramount offered him The Italian Job, and after he declined, the studio sent him a letter saying he didn't have a choice. Both sides lawyered up, threatening to take each other to court, but Norton finally complied.

Natalie Portman - Thor: The Dark World

Natalie Portman added some major acclaimed actor cred to the budding Marvel Cinematic Universe when she signed on to play Jane Foster in Thor—and when the time came to film the sequel, she flexed a fair bit of her Hollywood clout to let Marvel know exactly how she felt about the way the studio did business.

Reportedly reluctant to get back in front of the cameras for Thor: The Dark World, Portman was said to be "re-engaged" in the project after successfully lobbying for Patty Jenkins to direct. But her happiness proved short-lived: Marvel and Jenkins clashed over creative direction, and ultimately, Jenkins was forced out—and Portman was still contractually obligated to appear. Although she never publicly spoke ill of the project, it was pretty clear she'd had her fill of blockbuster superhero action; after word got out she wouldn't be returning for the third Thor, she told the Wall Street Journal, "As far as I know, I'm done. I don't know if maybe one day they'll ask for an Avengers 7 or whatever, I have no idea. But as far as I know, I'm done."

Bill Murray - Garfield: The Movie

The story of how comedy legend Bill Murray ended up voicing a lasagna-loving cat in a horrible live action/animated movie almost sounds like the plot to a comedy film itself: apparently, he'd been wanting to do a cartoon movie, and when a script came his way that appeared to have been written by the legendary Joel Coen (of the Coen brothers), he didn't look beyond the first few pages before signing up.

As Murray tells the story, it wasn't until filming was about to begin that he learned the writer was not Joel Coen of The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men fame, but actually Joel Cohen, best-known for writing films like Monster Mash: The Movie and Cheaper By The Dozen. At that point, it was too late to back out, and Murray claims he spent weeks in the sound booth working on the dialogue in a futile attempt to save both Garfield and its sequel, A Tale of Two Kitties. It's definitely a cautionary tale, but now we wish the Coen Brothers would really make a Garfield movie.

Emily Blunt - Gulliver's Travels

Emily Blunt shot to fame when she appeared in The Devil Wears Prada, and naturally, numerous studios wanted her for a variety of high-profile projects—including Marvel, who had Blunt in mind for the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2. However, Fox Studios, who produced The Devil Wears Prada, preferred that she appear in their remake of Gulliver's Travels instead. Luckily for Fox—and unluckily for Blunt—her Prada contract had a clause that required her to star in another Fox-made release, and they used it on Gulliver's, a movie that wound up becoming a critical and financial bomb. Fortunately, Blunt's career was none the worse for wear; she's gone on to make many more successful films since.

Shia LaBeouf - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Multiple-movie contracts have been a staple of Hollywood since the "studio system" days of the '30s and '40s, and they're still quite common today—even though actors should probably know better by now. In one recent example, Shia LaBeouf was roped into a three-movie deal for the Transformers franchise. Following the second movie in the series, Revenge of the Fallen, LaBeouf wasn't shy about his disdain for the sequel, saying that he "wasn't impressed with what we did" and singling out director Michael Bay. "There were some really wild stunts in it, but the heart was gone," he argued. "We got lost...Mike went so big that it became too big. Unless you have those relationships, then the movie doesn't matter. Then it's just a bunch of robots fighting each other."

Despite the heavy derision from critics, all of the Transformers films have been box-office successes, particularly internationally. LaBeouf would finally manage to exit the franchise after the third film, Dark of the Moon, and even though he may have hated the creative experience of working on them, surely the millions of dollars he made as "Sam Witwicky" offer some consolation.

Keanu Reeves - The Watcher

Keanu Reeves' involvement in The Watcher is proof that not all of our friends have our best interests at heart. In this case, the so-called friend is Joe Charbanic, who filmed a tour of Reeves' band Dogstar—and happens to be the director of The Watcher.

Shortly after Reeves' huge success with The Matrix, Charbanic allegedly forged Reeves' signature on a contract to appear in the serial-killer flick. Rather than deal with a long and costly legal dispute, and unable to prove that Charbanic forged his signature, Reeves appeared in the movie. Once the movie was released, Reeves did nothing to promote it, but for 12 months, he was contractually prevented from talking about how he got involved in it. However, once that contract was up, he didn't hold any secrets back; as he said later, "I never found the script interesting."

Jessica Alba - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

When you agree to play a major character in a superhero movie, you'd better be prepared to play that same role again in the future—even if the movie is a flop. This was the case for Jessica Alba, who played Fantastic Four team member Sue Storm/Invisible Woman in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie. Because of her three-movie contract, Alba was obligated to return for the 2007 sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer—an experience she hated so much that she actually considered quitting acting for good.

Luckily for Alba, Rise of the Silver Surfer underperformed at the box office, and Fox opted to cancel the planned third film and develop a reboot of the franchise with a whole new cast. Fox even went so far as to pull their 2005 and 2007 efforts from digital distribution markets to focus fans on the reboot. The new Fantastic Four did even worse than its predecessors, earning scathing reviews on its way to becoming one of 2015's biggest box-office flops.

Whoopi Goldberg - Theodore Rex

Whoopi Goldberg was riding high from her success with Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit when producers approached her to star in their movie Theodore Rex. At the time, Goldberg agreed to appear in the movie via an oral contract, but over the next two years, she changed her mind for some reason. (Our guess? It was probably the animatronic talking dinosaur.)

Goldberg attempted to back out, but a court case involving Kim Basinger getting out of Boxing Helena created a precedent that would have made it very expensive for Goldberg to quit Theodore Rex, so she relented and appeared in the movie. It did so horribly on its test run that it was released direct-to-video and has the distinction of being the only movie of its kind to earn a Razzie nomination.

Daniel Craig - Skyfall and Spectre

He's been enormously successful in his role as British spy James Bond, but Daniel Craig has always been brutally honest about why he hates playing the character—and why he keeps doing it. After the release of Skyfall in 2012, Craig admitted that he was never keen on becoming "Bond, James Bond" in the first place. "I've been trying to get out of this from the very moment I got into it," he explained, "but they won't let me go, and I've agreed to do a couple more." Hollywood contracts strike again, proving that they're capable of defeating even 007 himself.

During the 2015 promotional tour for Spectre, Craig turned the Bond hatred up a notch, responding to the prospect of more sequels by telling Esquire "At this moment, no. I have a life and I've got to get on with it," and stunning Time Out readers by saying he'd "rather break this glass and slash my wrists" than appear in another Bond film. With the 25th installment in the franchise still in early pre-production and no word yet on whether Craig will reprise his role, we have to wonder if he's finally had enough and is ready to turn in his license to kill.

Val Kilmer - Top Gun

Surprisingly, Val Kilmer wanted nothing to do with Top Gun, the movie that arguably shot him to stardom. It was all the result of a three-picture deal he signed with Paramount. He'd completed the first two films, Top Secret! and Real Genius, and owed them one more, so in order to get his agent off his back, Kilmer went to meet with the film's director, the late Tony Scott. According to Kilmer, when he went to get on the elevator after the meeting, "I heard this swooshing round the corner. The doors opened and Tony jumped in front of the lift and wouldn't let me leave." Kilmer thought Scott knew he didn't want to make the movie, but Kilmer took the role anyway. All's well that ends well: after Top Gun, Kilmer worked with Scott again in True Romance.

Roy Scheider - Jaws 2

Roy Scheider rose to worldwide fame with his role as Police Chief Martin Brody in the 1975 thriller movie Jaws, but he wasn't particularly excited to reprise his role in the 1978 sequel. So why was he the only member of the original cast to come back for the second Jaws film? Two words: contractual obligations.

Scheider had signed a multiple-movie contract with Universal Studios, and they'd originally cast him as the lead in 1978's The Deer Hunter. Unhappy with the script, he dropped out of the film, replaced by Robert De Niro—but because of that contract, Universal was able to force Scheider to reprise his role as Chief Brody in Jaws 2.

Marlon Brando - Desiree

As one of the greatest and most famous actors who has ever lived, you'd think Marlon Brando always got a say in which movies he did or didn't make. But even Brando had to deal with contractual obligations—perhaps most infamously when, as a result of a lawsuit filed by producer Darryl Zanuck, he was forced to appear as Napoleon in Desiree. But Brando didn't take his forced involvement lying down. He made a point of "forgetting his lines or reciting them with a nasal pseudo-British intonation and creating havoc between takes, passing around a football, [and] squirting extras with a fire hose," among other things.

According to Brando's costar, the late Jean Simmons, upon the film's release, Brando was amazed at the movie's success, which included two Oscar nominations, one for art direction and the other for design. Had Brando put some effort into his role, he probably could have garnered a nomination for himself. He could'a been a contender!