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Roles That Got Actors In Big Trouble With Their Mom

If decades of awards acceptance speeches have taught us anything, it's that just like the rest of us, the number one person most actors really want to please is their mom.

But that's not always easy when the most exciting roles involve behavior you really don't want your mom to see you engaging in. Love scenes are awkward enough without having to picture your mother watching in the audience. It's not just sex and nudity that have landed actors in trouble at home, though. Turns out moms don't like watching their children being violently murdered, even when it's fake, but they also don't like seeing them play violent murderers. Even the filming process can be a cause of concern. Moms apparently don't care about "suffering for your art" as much as they care that you ate lunch. 

These are the roles that got actors in big trouble with their mothers — whose side are you on?

Chris Evans' mom cried when she watched Endgame

Even the hardest-hearted superhero nerds cried when they watched Avengers: Endgame, as there are enough heartbreaking Endgame moments to occupy a whole box of Kleenex per audience member. But Chris Evans' mom had an extra emotional response to the movie.

Specifically, we're talking about the scene where Evans is aged up to play the version of Steve Rogers who meets Falcon (Anthony Mackie) on the park bench, having grown old with Peggy (Hayley Atwell). According to Esquire, Evans' mom, Lisa, cried when she saw that scene because she thought Evans looked exactly like her late father.

Lisa wasn't the only one in the family brought to tears by the movie. Charmingly, the Star-Spangled Man himself has never been shy about sharing his softer side. Chris Evans told The Hollywood Reporter that he "cried like six times" at the Endgame premiere. Evidently, tears run in the family.

These American Horror Story actors say their moms can't watch the show

American Horror Story is famously gory, which explains why many of the actors' moms are too scared to watch.

AHS long-timer Evan Peters told People that his dad warned his mom to avoid one of the most controversial American Horror Story moments – the school shooting episode of Murder House

The second season didn't get less gruesome. Chloë Sevigny played Shelley in AHS: Asylum, and suffice it to say the character went through a lot. Sevigny told StayFamous.net, "Nobody in my family is watching. I know my mom couldn't watch it. She's too much of a scaredy cat." Sevigny doesn't scare easily, though, as she returned as a different character for Hotel.

Evans' fellow AHS veteran Emma Roberts says her mom wasn't keen on her very first story arc. In the first episode of Coven, her character, Madison, was raped by a group of frat boys. "My mom called me, and she was like, 'I had to turn it off at that point,'" Roberts told Buzzfeed. Her aunt Julia (you may have heard of her) isn't tuning in, either. Hearing the premise, she told her niece, "I don't think I can watch this show." So don't expect a cameo.

Julia Roberts struggled to explain Pretty Woman to her mother

In 1989, Julia Roberts was best known for making people cry in her Oscar-nominated role as Shelby in Steel Magnolias. But by the time the ceremony took place in March 1990, she'd already staked her claim to leading lady status, as sex worker Vivian in Pretty Woman.

Roberts won over audiences and Richard Gere's corporate raider with her bathtub karaoke, legendary comeback to a snooty sales assistant, and combination of toughness and vulnerability. But she was most worried about what her mom would think. The LA Times reports that Roberts told Rolling Stone, "My mom works for the Catholic archdiocese of Atlanta ... I mean, my mom's boss baptized me." Hoping to avoid the inevitable, Roberts tried evasive maneuvers. "I called her at work, and it was like, 'Hi, mom, I got a job. ... It's a Disney movie! I've got to go, talk to you later.'" As the movie was released by Buena Vista Pictures, which was owned by Disney, she technically wasn't lying. And hopefully the Best Actress Oscar nomination helped smooth things over between the two.

Kathy Bates' mom felt Misery's Annie Wilkes was too close for comfort

Most parents would struggle to watch their offspring playing a character who gets brutally murdered on screen. But watching them carrying out the fictional torture and murder can also provoke some, er, interesting emotions.

Kathy Bates' American Horror Story characters have made her a horror TV legend. But before she was torturing enslaved people in Coven or terrifying the residents of Outpost 3 in Apocalypse, she played Annie Wilkes in Misery. Wilkes is an obsessive fan who traps her favorite author in her house and forces him to write a new book the way she wants it. Even if you've never seen the movie or read the Stephen King novel it's based on, you probably know about Kathy Bates' hobbling scene in Misery.

The character is widely considered one of the greatest movie villains of all time, and the portrayal earned Bates the Best Actress Oscar in 1991. But Bates' mother wasn't on board. "She saw [Misery], and she said she didn't know what all the fuss was about, that she had actually seen that behavior while I was growing up," Bates told Conan O'Brien in 2017. Hide the sledgehammers.

Wolf of Wall Street was the last straw for Jonah Hill's mom

Jonah Hill's resume doesn't scream "family fun." Movies like Knocked Up, Superbad, and Get Him to the Greek were definitely NSFWWM (that's Not Safe for Watching with Mom, of course).

But in 2011, Hill proved he could carry a dramatic role when he picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Moneyball. He combined Oscar-worthy drama with his comedy background in Wolf of Wall Street in 2014, in which he played Donnie Azoff, a Wall Street trader who made Hill's previous characters look like well-behaved kindergartners.

Hill struggled to find anything to like about the goldfish-eating, party-flashing delinquent, who's based on Stratton Oakmont co-founder Danny Porush (who really did eat a live goldfish). So perhaps watching it with his mom wasn't the best idea.

"She sat next to me at the Wolf of Wall Street premiere, and it's all fun and games until you pull your d*** out of your pants [in the movie]," Hill told Late Night With Seth Meyers. It was a prosthetic, but the damage was done. "She's like, 'Alright, you know, I think I've got enough of your body of work,'" Hill said.

Robert Downey Jr.'s mother warned him against Tropic Thunder

There are two main schools of thought on Robert Downey Jr.'s performance in Tropic Thunder. One says that the blackface the white actor donned to play a white actor who's undergone cosmetic surgery to darken his skin is a hilarious commentary on the ridiculousness of actors who change their appearance for a role. The other says that, ultimately, Downey was still a white actor in blackface and playing on stereotypes about Black men.

Downey's mom was in the second camp. In an interview on podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, Downey admitted, "My mother was horrified." She apparently told him, "'I have a bad feeling about this.' I was like, 'Yeah, me too, Mom.'"

Downey tried to explain his decision to take the role despite his mother's warning. He said that he believed playing the character would mean that he'd "get to be Black for a summer." He also wanted "to hold up ... the insane self-involved hypocrisy of artists and what they think they're allowed to do." Plus, he added, "And 90% of my Black friends are like, 'Dude, that was great.'"

Aubrey Plaza's mom worried about her during Black Bear

If you only know Aubrey Plaza as deadpan but surprisingly emotional April Ludgate in Parks and Recreation, watching her movies might be a shock. Plaza tends to pick projects that take April's misanthropic outsider tendencies to the extreme. She played a wannabe time traveler in sci-fi comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, a zombie in Life After Beth, had a sex scene with Robert De Niro in Dirty Grandpa, played a sadistic witch nun in The Little Hours, and starred as an aspiring influencer/stalker in Ingrid Goes West.

But it was psychological thriller Black Bear that proved too much for Plaza's family. And it wasn't just the plot, in which Plaza plays an actress on the edge of a breakdown over her director husband's emotional abuse. In an interview with Adam Sandler, Plaza said that the shoot was tough, as it involved a lot of nights and, "We were living in these weird cabins in the middle of nowhere. ... I really fell apart afterwards." Understandably, her family was worried about her during shooting "because [she] just wasn't normal." She said that her parents did see the movie, adding, "My mom was horrified."

The sharks in Open Water weren't the issue for Blanchard Ryan's mom

Any parent who's seen Jaws could be forgiven for fearing the worst upon learning their child had landed a role in a movie about a couple being stalked by sharks. But strangely enough, when it comes to Blanchard Ryan, that wasn't the top of her mom's list of concerns before attending a screening of indie hit Open Water.

Ryan told the Proudly Resents podcast that her mother was "horrified" at the thought of her daughter doing nude scenes. "Like, 'My little girl!'" Ryan recalled. "She's a WASPy Boston lady. She was like, 'Look at what it's come to, she's selling herself, taking her clothes off.'"

Ryan's dad was more relaxed. "My dad was a really good sport about it. ... He's like, 'Whatever, I changed your diapers, who cares?' He was okay with it," she said. The two found the fun in her mom's attitude. As Ryan explained, "My father and I were actually laughing about how she really didn't care about me swimming with the sharks — she was just worried about me taking my clothes off! My father thought the more important thing was that my life was at risk."

Dakota Johnson and Melanie Griffith had a red carpet spat over Fifty Shades of Grey

Just because your parents are actors doesn't mean they're going to be happy about all your roles, as Dakota Johnson discovered. Her maternal grandma was Tippi Hedren (The Birds) and her parents are Melanie Griffith (Working Girl) and Don Johnson (the original Miami Vice, Knives Out). But when Dakota landed the coveted lead role in the Fifty Shades trilogy — based on the bestselling novels about a BDSM relationship — her mom couldn't bring herself to watch. And the conflict spilled onto the red carpet when Griffith and Johnson attended the 2015 Oscars together.

Asked by ABC's Lara Spencer if she would see Fifty Shades of Grey, Griffith replied, "I don't think I can. I think it would be strange." Dakota said it was fine that her mom didn't want to watch it, but she still held out some hope, adding, "I think one day you can see it." When Spencer assured Griffith that her daughter was very good in the movie, Griffith said she didn't need to watch it to know that. To which Dakota responded, "All right, you don't have to see it." 

Griffith apparently got her way. In 2018, Dakota told Hello! that neither of her parents had seen any of the Fifty Shades movies, explaining, "It's inappropriate for them. But they're okay about it."

The plane crash wasn't the scary part of Flight for Nadine Velazquez's mom

Flight will make anyone who's felt the tiniest sliver of fear while flying vow to get familiar with trains. Pilot "Whip" Whitaker (Denzel Washington) averts a plane crash by rolling the jet, only for the subsequent inquest to uncover that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time. Granted, most of the passengers and crew survived, but an air stewardess who Whip spent the previous night with, one played by Nadine Velazquez, died during the incident.

In addition to watching the graphic depiction of the crash, Velazquez's parents had to watch their daughter's character die. But that's not why she didn't tell them about the role until a month before the movie came out. She was more worried about their reactions to her nude scenes.

"I knew they wouldn't have understood. I would have felt guilty doing it had I [told them] when I got the offer. So I just waited until it was done," Velazquez told the Chicago Tribune.

Her parents' responses were what she'd expected. "My mom was horrified for about five seconds. And my dad in the background was like, 'No, you didn't,'" she said. Helpfully, the scene happens within the first ten minutes, so she told them, "Just be late for the movie."

Zac Efron's mother didn't like seeing him as a serial killer

Many Zac Efron fans were disturbed to hear that he would be playing serial killer Ted Bundy, who raped and murdered at least 36 women and girls in the 1970s. The character was quite the departure for the Disney star turned comedy lead. And Efron's mom couldn't get her head around it, either.

According to Page Six, in 2019, during a screening of the Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Efron admitted that when he told his mom about the role, she "was so scared, she was terrified." He explained, "I've never seen my mom like that before." Far from putting him off playing the part, he said that her reaction made him curious about Bundy, whom he described as "the most notorious, evil, scumbag killer of women."

Efron's mom also had opinions about one of his more lighthearted roles. In Bad Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Efron's character (weirdly also called Teddy) distracts a party full of sorority girls with a dance that ends with him revealing his genitals. (They were prosthetics IRL.) A paparazzi picture from the set got back to Efron's mom. Her response? "She was like, 'Have some class!'" Efron told Us.

Mila Kunis' mom worried about her during Black Swan

There are no actual statistics on this, but it's fair to say that a significant number of people thought that a movie about rival ballerinas that came out in the holiday season and starred a Harvard graduate would be a very safe, mom-friendly choice for a family movie trip. They learned too late that Black Swan was less about twirling in tulle and more about the terrifying psychological toll of a highly competitive athletic profession — which is actually why Mila Kunis' mom was wary of her daughter's part in the movie.

Kunis told E! that while playing ballerina Lily, opposite Natalie Portman's Nina, she lost a significant amount of weight, to the point that her mom got worried about her. "My mom freaked out," Kunis said. "Everybody started panicking. She was like, 'You have to promise me this isn't going to affect you.'"

Being so underweight opened Kunis' eyes to the movie industry's unhealthy concept of what makes a good-looking body. "I had no shape, no boobs, no a***. ... All you saw was bone. ... In real life, it looked disgusting," she said. She kept her promise to her mom, though. "It took me just five days to gain it all back," Kunis said.

Natalie Wood defied her mom to make Rebel Without a Cause

Natalie Wood had a pretty good cause when she auditioned for Rebel Without a Cause – to rebel against her controlling mother. 

Maria Gurdin had fled the aftermath of the Russian Revolution for Hollywood, where she pushed her five-year-old daughter into making movies. Gurdin cajoled and threatened Wood into becoming a perfect child star. She once killed a butterfly to make her daughter cry for a scene, and she even forbade Wood from seeing her high school sweetheart.

But when Wood turned 16, she wanted more control. With 20 child roles behind her, she didn't want to be seen as a little girl anymore. She defied Gurdin to audition for Rebel Without a Cause, and Wood's performance proved she could play characters her age, earning her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination and taking her career to legendary new levels.

Tom Holland's mom was furious about Cherry

Since 2016's Captain America: Civil War, Tom Holland has been best known as Spider-Man, possibly the most earnest and innocent superhero in the MCU. Understandably, as much as he's enjoyed playing the iconic web-slinger, the actor is looking to branch out into a broader range of roles. And Cherry couldn't be more of a contrast — much to his mum's horror.

Holland plays the title character, a veteran of the Iraq war who self-medicates his PTSD with heroin, and he ends up robbing banks to fund his drug habit. During filming, Holland sent his mum a video of an especially grueling scene, in which his character is going through withdrawal on the floor of a prison cell. "Biggest mistake ever. ... She was furious with me," he told Esquire.

Holland realized — too late — that what his mum likes about his movies "are the moments she goes, 'Oh, that's my little boy.' But in this film there's nothing like that." Tom Holland considers Cherry the hardest role of his career, and it certainly has been for his mum. However, she came around. Holland said that his parents "were able to enjoy it as a movie and not a biopic of their son doing heroin. They are really proud."