8 Actors Forced To Take Jobs They Hated

©Walt Disney Studios/courtesy Everett Collection

It must be rough to feel forced into taking a job that will pay you millions of dollars. Alas, such is the life of an actor who is under contract with a studio, or under the assumption they’re making a great career decision only to be totally let down. Snarky comments aside, when your next job as an actor so often depends on what you’ve done most recently, it’s understood why you don’t wanna be a part of a stinker. Here are eight actors who took jobs they really didn’t want to, and for various reasons.

8. Jennifer Garner – Elektra

No, Jennifer’s least favorite role was not being the wife of Ben Affleck, though she probably felt just as betrayed by signing that contract as she did when she signed to play superhero, Elektra. The suck of this one lasted for more than one film. Jennifer appeared in the terrible feature film version of Daredevil, opposite Ben, playing Elektra, before enduring the equally bad feature film adaptation and spin-off, Elektra, playing the titular role. Looking back, this may have suggested a lot about the relationship between Ben and Jennifer. Yes, Jennifer did Elektra, because her Daredevil contract stipulated she would also do a spin-off. Jennifer was dating Michael Vartan at the time, an Alias co-star, and he was the one who spilled Jennifer’s beans: she didn’t want to do, or like Elektra. She dumped Michael shortly thereafter.

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7. Mike Myers – The Cat In The Hat

Mike Myers. He made a rash of stinkers for awhile. The Cat In The Hat was among them. How did this come to be? After Mike finished the third Austin Powers film, he was still contractually obligated to do one more film with Universal Studios. It was originally thought that he would do another adaptation from a former Saturday Night Live character — Dieter — but Mike showed little interest after seeing script ideas. Mike was also going through some heavy personal stuff at the time, and things got ugly between him and the studio. They sued, he counter-sued, and they settled on the idea of The Cat In The Hat. Mike still had no desire to do it, and only agreed because he adored Dr. Seuss, and remembered The Cat in The Hat being the first story he read. And we thought he just really wanted to work with Dakota Fanning.

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6. Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer

Jessica Alba wasn’t nuts about the first Fantastic Four experience, but again, contract negotiations rope many actors into things they’d rather not do. It’s tough to pity someone pulling down a seven-figure paycheck of any kind of work, but this film completely bummed Jessica out. So much so, she didn’t care if she did anymore acting after they wrapped. This was one reason she began to look into other business opportunities, and as we’re all well aware, that’s where she’s killing it financially these days. Who’d have thought? Back to FF: Rise of The Silver Surfer… Jessica felt she was led toward a wooden, paint-by-numbers performance, and everything she once loved to do began to lose its luster — she was able to see it for what it was. It hasn’t stopped her from working in front of the camera, most recently appearing in Taylor Swift’s music video for Bad Blood.

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5. Bill Murray – Garfield

Bill was tight-lipped about his participation in this strange meld of animation and live-action, and it was a bit of a mystery for industry insiders. For awhile, people thought Bill must have had a desire to do a children’s movie. Bill let the cat out of the bag while being interviewed by Dan Fierman of GQ. He agreed to do the film after they upped their original offer to pay him more, and he expected to spend no more than a couple of days doing the voice over work for everyone’s favorite, lasagna eating cat. Once in the studio, he realized the script was atrocious. He tried to fix Garfield’s lines, but became depressed in doing so. He was shocked that Joel Coen would write something so bad. He was then informed it was written by Joel Cohen, not Joel Coen. Yes. Bill Murray duped himself into doing Garfield.

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4. Natalie Portman – Thor: The Dark World

Didn’t wanna do it. She just didn’t. She signed the contract, and thought maybe, just maybe they would move on in the Marvel world without needing to do just another Thor movie. Maybe, just maybe, they would keep Thor in The Avengers, and let that be that. Yes, Natalie was another who signed a contract that included a clause for multiple pictures, and when they wrote Thor: The Dark World, of course they had to write Jane into the script. At the time, Natalie was most interested in motherhood, and following up an Oscar winning performance with something possessing depth… but mostly interested in being a mom. Like a champ, she phoned it in. Unfortunately, for Natalie, they made her central to the story again, so she did the film out of contractual obligation. And then… nobody saw it. It wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t so good, either.

©Walt Disney Studios/courtesy Everett Collection

3. Channing Tatum – G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Channing Tatum has never been shy about expressing his disdain for G.I. Joe. He knew the film would be terrible when he read the script, but he was encouraged to take the role by several people in his camp. Maybe they knew it would afford him the opportunity to maintain his lifestyle yet do films like Foxcatcher. Either way, Channing opened up to Howard Stern when discussing the film, and roles he regretted. As to be expected, when he signed on to do G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, he also signed on to do a sequel. Fate — and some great negotiation — smiled on Channing when he was killed off in the sequel, ensuring he would never again do another G.I. Joe movie… which… Paramount is considering. Of course. Gotta milk those cash cows.

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2. Emily Blunt – Gulliver’s Travels

Emily was a star on the rise when she caught everyone’s eye in the 2006 surprise hit, The Devil Wears Prada. Like so many others on this list, Emily’s role in the film came with a clause to do another film with the studio. These contracts vary, but usually, if a film is successful, the studio will want an actor for another film down the line. Yes, the actor or actress is offered a little something in the say, but it doesn’t always work out for the best, because studios can also stipulate that the follow-up — or sequel — needs to happen within a certain amount of time. Oh, to be well versed in contract law if you’re an actor. For Emily, her follow up to “Devil,” came in the form of another remake of Gulliver’s Travels, starring Jack Black. It didn’t have to be terrible, but the script was, and the film followed suit.

©Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

1. Val Kilmer – Top Gun

Would you guess that Val Kilmer avoided Top Gun like the plague? He had done two films for Paramount — both comedies — and owed the studio a third. They wanted his services in the action-drama, Top Gun. Director, Tony Scott, hoped Val would agree to play the role of “Iceman,” but the actor wasn’t picking up the vibe of another jet fighter movie. To that point, nothing had been done in the genre that was all that intriguing. According to Val, he tried to bolt from the studio meeting after politely declining, but was chased down by Tony Scott, who really began to hard-sell the feature in the elevator. Eventually, Val agreed to the terms. The film became the it film of 1986 — regardless of Platoon winning the Oscar — and Val Kilmer enjoyed even bigger paydays because of it. Will we see Val in the sequel? Too early to tell.

Mary Evans Picture Library

James Sheldon