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Roles Actors Weren't Prepared For

Just as with any job, acting can be difficult if you fail to prepare correctly. But when an actor falls down on the job, it can be a little more public — and permanent — than your typical bad day at the office. 

What an actor is expected to do on any given day can vary dramatically — perhaps they're expected to recite a lengthy monologue, execute a dance number, move like a ninja or convincingly portray an athlete in peak condition or a famed personality the audience is already expecting to move, look, and speak a certain way. It's often a well-paid gig, but there's a good reason why it pays so well – a tiny micro-percentage of human walking the planet can pull it off with professional, convincing precision.

It's no surprise, then, that there are countless stories of actors being hilariously overmatched by the requirements of their roles, often due to lack of preparation. Sure, sometimes excuses can be made for time constraints, overconfidence — or perhaps, just plain old bad luck. Nevertheless, the proof is in the pudding – and forever enshrined on their IMDb page. Here's a look at some of the most noteworthy roles actors simply weren't prepared to play.

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

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 including 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 happens, however, Cumberbatch has a peculiar (and somewhat adorable) acting Achilles' heel: A complete inability to say the word penguin, which he instead pronounced as "peng-wing."

Nevertheless, in 2009 he took a voiceover gig for the BBC documentary "South Pacific," in which he struggled to pronounce the word every time it was required. In a 2015 interview on "The Graham Norton Show," a visibly embarrassed Cumberbatch admitted he had no idea he couldn't pronounce the name of the tuxedoed, flightless bird, and felt bad when he saw the documentary after it came out and realized nobody bothered to correct him.

"Now I'm completely terrified to say the word," Cumberbatch admitted to Norton, who played a clip from the documentary. "The funny thing is, you don't do this in isolation. You have a team of natural history experts, based in Bristol, funded by you, the tax-paying public ... it's not just me in a booth saying 'I think I know how to say penguin, I'll say peng-wings.' It's mortifying, but there are other people who should take some credit."

Irony of ironies, Norton then pointed out Cumberbatch's next film: "Penguins of Madagascar."

But hey, don't feel bad. As one YouTube commenter observed: "I doubt penguins can say Benedict Cumberbatch either, so fair's fair."

Kit Harington didn't bother to research anything about Pompeii

During the press tour for "Pompeii," the notorious 2014 historical epic set against the backdrop of a volcanic eruption — and marketed to the public largely as a showcase for Kit Harington's abs — the "Game of Thrones" star coyly revealed that he'd taken "the script as gospel" when it came to the city of Pompeii and the eruption that destroyed it. Which means, much like Jon Snow, he knew nothing.

After the film wrapped and premiered, Harington said he felt bad about not having done any research prior to filming. Because he had since gone there, and seen how much he missed.

"I didn't have time before we started shooting," he explained to the BBC in 2014. "I know it's bizarre, but I went after we wrapped. I wanted to go to this place that I'd be pretended to be in for so long."

"Then I went to all the exhibitions and I was pleasantly surprised to see that we were very historically accurate," he added. "I mean, we're a big-budget action movie and we're bound to take historical liberties. But [we didn't take] many."

Peter Weller literally had no time to get accustomed 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 accuracy. The titular RoboCop was played by Peter Weller, and the veteran "Buckaroo Banzai" star was hired not only for his acting talents but in the pre-CGI '80s, also his slight build (so that he could fit into the costume) and strong jawline (the only human part of the character visible in full costume).

In regards to the former, Weller planned to spend several weeks getting accustomed 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 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, which were really a byproduct of Weller learning to move without fighting against the suit.

Taika Waititi played a dream role, literally

Taika Waititi admitted he didn't prepare to play Adolf Hitler in the quirky 2019 drama "Jojo Rabbit," which he wrote and directed. In many ways, this lack of preparation helped his out-of-left-field performance.

Waititi told Deadline the version of Hitler in the film was a child's imaginary friend, not the detestable historical figure. "I didn't have to do any research, and I didn't do any research. I didn't base him on anything I'd seen about Hitler before," Waititi told Deadline, adding, "I just made him a version of myself that happened to have a bad haircut and a s***** little mustache. And a mediocre German accent."

Waititi hadn't planned to cast himself in his adaptation of the children's book "Caging Skies," but the studio pushed for it. "You start [out] thinking of bigger stars to be part of a film like this or to play an imaginary Hitler," Waititi told Variety. "But at the end of the day, it came down to the simple fact that if we had done that, that would have overshadowed the heart of the story, which is this beautiful story, this relationship story between these two kids."

It's hard to imagine a movie about a 10-year-old boy who is an active member of the Hitler Youth and idolizes Hitler as the protagonist of a heartwarming story, but Waititi walked the tightrope with both his film and performance, delivering something many viewers deemed charming and original. "Jojo Rabbit" won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, and Waititi won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, despite not doing a lick of research for his satirical role.

Paul Bettany never watched any Marvel movies before 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 series — keep in mind, this revelation came after he had voiced Jarvis, Iron Man's trusty AI sidekick, in multiple appearances. Bettany also admitted that when he was voicing Jarvis he didn't get a full version of the script — so he had no context for the lines he read.

"I feel like a pirate," he said in a 2012 interview, admitting he had worked on the original "Iron Man" film for about as much time as it takes to have a nice dinner. "This is robbery. I walk in, I say some lines on a piece of paper for two hours, and then they give me a bag of money and I leave and I go about my day." 

Sometimes, in the aftermath of those films, he has had Marvel fans come up to him and quote a line that he delivered once and has since completely forgotten about. "I'm plagued by fanboys who love Jarvis," he said. "They come up and I've got no idea what they're talking about."

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

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

According to the stars, however, 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, and both had to be coached on how to convincingly act high. In fact, DiCaprio was so unsure about how to act, he'd later admit that he spent hours watching a 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 on hand during production in case he had any questions.

"I saw this stuff literally every day when I was 3 or 4 years old," DiCaprio said in 2014. "So Hollywood was a walk in the park for me.... I'd go to parties and it was there and, yeah, there's that temptation. Hollywood is a very volatile place where artists come in and they essentially say they want to belong. It's incredibly vulnerable to be an actor and also get criticism at a young age when you're formulating who you are. We've seen a lot of people fall victim to that, and it's very unfortunate."

Ewan McGregor couldn't stop making lightsaber noises

Like millions of people, Ewan McGregor has been a big fan of the "Star Wars" series since his youth; also like millions, in his youthful play he frequently imagined himself wielding a lightsaber. But unlike most of those folks, McGregor grew up to be cast in a "Star Wars" prequel by George Lucas. And when he found himself on the set, he had trouble setting aside his childlike glee and releasing old habits.

"To begin with, it was quite difficult not to make the sound," McGregor told Graham Norton (and couchmate Chris O'Dowd) in 2019. As it turned out, years later, McGregor still hadn't dropped the desire to whirr and zoom every time he swatted his saber.

"It's impossible not to," McGregor said in 2022 while doing press for the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" Disney+ series, his high-profile return to the character. "And if you're not making them, you're doing it in your head, I think."

Ana de Armas liked it hot

Busy movie stars have to frequently serve as air-traffic controllers, shifting their schedules to accommodate productions that are shifting their own schedules to accommodate other talent. This happened to rising star Ana de Armas when she found herself caught between Bond and a blonde.

First, the Cuban-born actress spent a year preparing to portray Marilyn Monroe in Netflix's "Blonde." When production dates shifted, de Armas jumped at the chance to appear in the James bond film "No Time to Die," even if it meant she wouldn't have time to properly train for the physically demanding film.  

"I went to London, and I only had like 10 days to two weeks of training," de Armas told Entertainment Weekly. "Which is not much for everything I had to do, which made me very nervous." 

Suddenly, 007 Daniel Craig came up injured, so the "Bond" shoot was postponed and de Armas went back to playing Monroe in the drama. "All that training I did [for Bond]," she recalled, "was kind of gone and forgotten."

When it was time to get back to the realm of Ian Fleming, de Armas had to rely on muscle memory.

"I went straight from 'Blonde' to shoot for Bond," de Armas told Harper's Bazaar in 2021. "I didn't have the time to actually commit to any kind of diet or workout or training because my schedule just didn't allow for it. Those few days that I did have some training — I had the gun training and learned the choreography for the scenes [...] it was a short but really intense immersion into the Bond universe, so I quickly transformed into a CIA agent." 

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

To a lot of people, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine, and the actor has put an astonishing amount of effort into physically transforming himself into the character numerous times during his lengthy tenure. 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 noted that he was 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 Jackman's progress — or lack thereof. Even then, Jackman still admits that those scenes are pretty embarrassing to look back on now, considering how buff he would look in later incarnations.

"There's a couple of split screen shots going around the internet that show the difference," he said in 2020. "The first day, I had to have my shirt off. And Bryan Singer didn't see anything at the time but later said, 'OK I gotta shoot your from [the neck up] and have the camera low. I remember looking at the comic books — I'd never read the comic books before — so I'm looking at the comics and I'm like, 'Uh, how long do I have to get ready for this?' They said, 'Well we're shooting in three weeks.' I remember thinking, 'Oh, three weeks!' I'd never buffed up for anything really. I was like, 'I think three weeks I can buff up if I really hit it hard.' No."

Viggo Mortensen had a nervous LOTR flight

Viggo Mortensen had very little time to prepare to play Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." Mortensen was cast after filming had already begun on Peter Jackson's ambitious, epic fantasy trilogy. Jackson had fired Stuart Townsend one day before filming began, replacing the Irish actor with Mortensen at the last minute. Mortensen was initially quite reluctant to take on the role, as he hadn't read the Tolkien books and had no time for preparation; Mortensen's son Henry, however, a big fan of Tolkien's books, convinced the actor to take the role.

Mortensen had the flight to New Zealand to prepare. "I relaxed a bit as I started reading the book but then once I landed I got very nervous all over again," Mortensen admitted in 2020

"I felt unprepared," he said to Yahoo a year later. "The other actors had been there for weeks and months in some cases preparing for the arduous task of shooting the whole trilogy. I also felt awkward, because I'd never been in a position of replacing another actor."

Mortensen got right to work when he arrived in New Zealand. "The first thing I did when I landed was learn how to do the sword fighting required," Mortensen told Yahoo. Despite playing catch up with the other actors, he became a consummate swordsman while filming the "LOTR" trilogy. According to The Guardian's obituary for Bob Anderson, the legendary swordmaster proudly called Mortensen "the best swordsman I've ever trained."

Marlon Brando turned up to the set of Apocalypse Now 100 pounds overweight

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.

Billy Burke never read Twilight

Billy Burke admitted he hadn't even heard of the Twilight Saga when he was approached about playing Charlie Swan. 

"I had no idea what 'Twilight' was, at all. Catherine Hardwicke had seen a movie that I did a number of years ago, called 'Dill Scallion,' and she requested to have me in," Burke explained to Collider in 2010. "I came in and we talked a little bit about it, and we read a couple of scenes. In the movie sense, we both fell in love, at that moment."

"I've been told that Charlie is more prominent in the next book," he added in another 2008 interview with MTV. "I haven't read the books, surprisingly enough ... I read bits and pieces of 'Twilight' as we were making it. I'm just not a good reader, so I haven't been able to sit down and get myself through an entire book in my whole life." 

Burke added that he prefers to not get bogged down with too much backstory. "I'm a guy who likes to make it up as he goes along."

Burke also wasn't prepared for the franchise's rapidly-developed, rabid fan base. "I've been working in this business for a long time and these kind of things only come along once in a while where it becomes a part of popular culture. There are a lot of worse things to be than Charlie Swan," Burke told Independent in 2010. "When I read the script, I had the idea the movie would become a success, I didn't think it would become this juggernaut."

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

Ewan McGregor admits that he bombed his initial audition to play the French-accented candlestick Lumiere in 2017's live-action adaption of "Beauty and the Beast" because he was unable to affect a convincing French accent. This is perhaps something he should have been embarrassed about, given that his wife (at the time) Eve Mavrakis was French, and he was presumably listening to the accent at home on a regular basis.

"I've been married to a French woman for 20 years, I thought 'yeah, I can do the French accent'," he said in an interview at the time. "I got there and I couldn't at all."

Part of the problem occurred when McGregor was given the note to drop a certain utterance from his repertoire. 

"They didn't want the French 'rrr,'" he said, defending himself. "When you take that out, it sounds Mexican."

McGregor was ultimately called back in by Disney after spending some time with a vocal coach, then re-recorded 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' he quickly set about teaching himself how to communicate by absorbing Western media. 

To facilitate this, Chan's employer at the time, Golden Harvest, sent him to America alone so he could "immerse himself in the English-speaking world," 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 eventually learn English well enough to make a proper American run at stardom in films like "Rumble in the Bronx" and the "Rush Hour" films, he still had trouble reading scripts even later in his career, learning 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 imply that he liked horse pornography.

James McAvoy accidentally shaved his hair off to play Professor X

When he learned he'd to be playing Professor Xavier in 2011's "X-Men: First Class," James McAvoy naturally assumed that because he was going to be playing a younger version of the bald-headed mutant mastermind previously played by Patrick Stewart, the studio would want him to be similarly shorn. To save time, he took the initiative himself, shaving off his hair before filming started. Then a production official had a minor meltdown when he turned up to start filming.

The studio wanted McAvoy to have hair for the role, since it was set in the '60s, long before the Stewart films; it wasn't until subsequent "X-Men" films (like "X-Men: Apocalypse," pictured above) that they'd want him with a bare dome. So, the actor was forced to sheepishly ask a hairstylist friend to correct the mistake with some hair extensions. A wig was also used for some scenes, though it's not clear which ones — which probably means it was a pretty good wig.

Christopher Plummer got spacey as a replacement

Christopher Plummer had no time to prepare for his role in "All the Money in the World" because, well, it was kind of unprecedented. 

In the thick of the #MeToo-fueled reckonings that rocked Hollywood, Spacey was fired from the film about the 1973 J. Paul Getty kidnapping that had the oil tycoon refusing to pay ransom for his grandson. What complicated matters was that Spacey played Getty — and the film had already wrapped production.

A scrambling Ridley Scott tapped Plummer to replace Spacey, with plans to reassemble the cast for nine days of reshoots alongside the new Getty. Scott offered to let Plummer watch the scrapped Spacey footage, but the "Sound of Music" legend declined.

"It doesn't do an actor any good to watch someone else," he explained. "When you take over a part in the theater, it's better that you don't go and see it first so you're not influenced in any way, the role comes from you. I saw some of the kidnapping stuff, which I thought was very well done, but that's all I saw. Bits and pieces that didn't involve J. Paul Getty at all. I hadn't seen the trailer [with Spacey] either."

Plummer (who died in 2021) played several few notable historical figures during his career, including novelist Rudyard Kipling, journalist Mike Wallace, and acclaimed Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. It makes sense, then, that he had developed a method for such roles.

"The thing I learned very much is to try and look and move like the creature you're playing, and try to get their voice if you can," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "But don't over-makeup or do too many tricks because then it looks like an imitation." Despite having little time to prepare, Plummer was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film. 

Sabrina Carpenter danced like nobody was watching

Arriving on set intentionally unprepared for a role may not seem like the best game plan, but for "Girl Meets World" veteran Carpenter, it was a way to help her play an equally unprepared character on the 2020 Netflix dancing flick "Work it."

"It was on purpose," Carpenter said in a 2020 interview. "I would half-learn the choreography. I'd learned it, but not to the point where it was muscle memory." 

Playing a character learning how to dance, to beef up her extra-curricular activities so she can get into her dream college, Carpenter needed to make it look like she had two left feet. It was a big ask, because Carpenter herself grew up dancing. Her solution? Learn just enough to be able to convincingly act like someone who knew nothing

"I'd learned it to the point where I wouldn't run into people," she said in a 2020 interview. "But I didn't always know what move was coming next." 

Carpenter participated in a two-week training workshop before filming began, but her hesitancy to take it further effectively rendered her character awkward and clumsy throughout the film. Like Baby in "Dirty Dancing," when the character finally does find her rhythm, she discovers life is full of pleasant surprises.

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

Loosely speaking, most of the actors in "Game of Thrones" have accents 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 he 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 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, said Charles Bronson

Upon being cast to play infamous British criminal Charles Bronson (birth name: Michael Gordon Peterson), 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 began 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 muffins and banana milkshakes also likely didn't hurt.

"Tom looks more like me than I look like me," Bronson said in 2013. "I'm so f****** proud of him."

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.

Finn Jones learned the choreography for Iron Fist right before shooting

Fans and critics for the most part praised "Daredevil," "Luke Cage," Jessica Jones" and the other "Defenders"-orbiting series that came as a result of the Netflix/Marvel partnership of the mid-2010s. Then came "Iron Fist."

Aside from representation issues, the big knock on Danny Rand's live-action debut was in its subpar fight choreography, and the blatant rapid-cut editing frequently employed in an attempt to cover it up. Such excessive cuts appeared to be concealing "Game of Thrones" actor Finn Jones' lack of martial arts skills — a major problem, considering Iron Fist is supposed to be a master of all forms of unarmed combat. This was only exacerbated by the fact that another Marvel/Netflix series ("Daredevil") had been praised for its fight scenes, including a now-legendary 3 minute hallway battle that was shot with minimal, carefully-hidden cuts. 

Jones later explained that he had mere minutes to learn the choreography for his fight scenes — and only three weeks to train before filming began. 

"Well, here's the situation," he told the Telegraph in 2017. "Unfortunately, with the filming schedule, I wasn't given as much time as I would have liked to continue the training ... I was learning those fight scenes just 15 minutes before we shot them, because that was the schedule... It would be 2am, 3am, I'd just done a long day of work, and usually the stunt department would come up and say 'Hey, right, we've got this huge 30 person fight and you've got to learn it right now.' So I was learning it on the spot, within 15-20 minutes, and then shooting it. That was the reality for six months."

Many Marvel fans weren't buying the excuse. The proof appears to be in the pudding: Years later, while Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal and Vincent D'Onofrio have made the jump to the MCU, and some fans are still clamoring for Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone hoping to see Finn Jones and his rapid-edit fight scenes ever again.

Marlon Brando was off his rocker for Moreau

Brando reportedly didn't bother to read the script of "The Island of Doctor Moreau," arrived a week late for filming after the suicide of his daughter, insisted on script changes and, as detailed vividly in the Val Kilmer documentary "Val," relied heavily on a stand-in to do many of his scenes. When he was on set, the film legend refused to learn his lines — they were relayed through an earpiece by an assistant, which at least once resulted in confusion when his signal was interrupted by a police scanner.

The actor's bizarre demands further disrupted an already troubled production that lost its original director, Richard Stanley, within days of beginning production. Brando did his own makeup, hid in his trailer, and insisted an extra named Nelson de la Rosa become Moreau's constant companion in the film. When all was said and done, this 1996 "Doctor Moreau" remake would earn the notoriety of becoming one of the most disastrous film productions of its time; it even spawned a documentary ("Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's 'The Island of Dr. Moreau'") about its tortured trip to the movie screen.

Screenwriter Ron Hutchinson wrote in his 2018 memoir that Brando was "Overweight, unprepared, mocking, dismissive, on the razor's edge where caprice becomes malice [...] He was indeed here to sabotage this movie." Stanley and the director who replaced him, John Frankenheimer, both were excited to work with Brando, but the actor's antics and lack of preparation contributed to the miasma of hostility that the cursed production exuded.

Ewan McGregor flipped his wig for Emma

Ewan McGregor didn't read Jane Austen's novel "Emma" before taking on the role of Frank Churchill in the 1996 adaptation, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. McGregor thought he was terrible in the role, and many would agree. 

"I made the decision to do that film because I thought I should be seen to be doing something different from 'Trainspotting.' My decision-making was wrong," McGregor told The Guardian. "It's the only time I've done that. And I learned from it." 

"It's a good film, 'Emma'," he added. "But I'm just... not very good in it."

Typically, McGregor is an actor who prepares thoroughly for his roles. To play Mark Renton in "Trainspotting," the Scottish actor lost 30 pounds and shaved his head to look convincing as a drug addict. For "Moulin Rouge," he joined the rest of the cast for a two-week dancing and singing workshop six months before production began. McGregor was equally dedicated to portraying Curt Wild and embodying the swagger of a rock star in Todd Haynes' glam-rock fantasy "Velvet Goldmine." "I said I would only do it if he let me do all my singing live so that I could live out my Liam Gallagher fantasies," he told Yahoo in 2021. "[I wanted] to get it out of my system. So I did." 

Rafe Spall, doing his own thing

Rafe Spall didn't read H. G. Wells' novel "The War of the Worlds" before taking on the role of George, the unnamed narrator from the novel, for the 2019 BBC television miniseries. And he defended the decision.

"The problem with any sort of adaptation is that people have read the book, they have an idea of it in their minds and you're always gonna set yourself up for a fall," Spall said in a 2019 interview. "I felt alright with it and I wanted to treat it as a thing unto itself." 

Set in Edwardian London, Spall insisted that the period didn't change how he approached his character. "When it comes to playing period characters, I always start from the position of how I would play this character in present day," Spall told The BBC. "Obviously societal conventions were different and people spoke slightly differently, but if you read Tolstoy or Chekhov, people have always had the same concerns, desires, wants and needs."

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

In 1999, the world almost lost Martin Lawrence, when the comedian 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. Fortunately, he went on to make a full recovery.

As Lawrence would recall on "Conan" in 2015, it happened because he thought working out while wearing a plastic running suit in 100-degree weather would help him prepare for "Big Momma's House."

"I don't do that no more," he laughed. "I did that, and I went into a coma and passed out. Please, I recommend, do not run in a plastic suit. I was trying to lose weight; I used to box, and that's my training, running and wearing plastic. I just picked the hottest day of the summer. Next thing I know, I was asleep on the ground." 

Michael Gambon had big shoes to fill as Dumbledore

Replacing the late Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore for "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Gambon didn't even read the J. K. Rowling novels the films were adapted from before arriving on-set for the third film in the franchise.

"You'd get upset about all the scenes it's missing from the book, wouldn't you?" Gambon told The Los Angeles Times while promoting "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" in 2009. "[There is] no point in reading the books, because you're playing with [screenwriter] Steve Kloves' words."

Gambon defended his decision, pointing out that his co-stars Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman also chose not to read the books. While this might be the norm in the "Potter" films, Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen, who portrayed the wizards Saruman the White and Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" loved Tolkien's novels and read them with relish.

Some fans were not happy with Gambon's portrayal of the wizard, pointing out how the character became more fierce and loud once Gambon took on the role. But Gambon has always contended that his portrayal of Dumbledore in the film franchise was intentional. 

"He's got to be a bit scary," Gambon told the LA Times. "All headmasters should be a bit scary, shouldn't they? A top wizard like him would be intimidating. And ultimately, he's protecting Harry. Essentially, I play myself. A little Irish, a little scary. That's what I'm like in real life."