15 Movies Actors Were Contractually Forced To Do

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Talk about a bad day at work 😬

No matter how much you love your career, it probably comes with a few job duties you absolutely hate doing.

When you’re an actor, that part of your job you hate could very well be an entire movie.

Fox / Via giphy.com

Despite an actor’s preferences for which projects they want to take on, the contracts they sign can lock them into certain movies or prevent them from taking other roles. If they break those contracts, they could face legal action from the studio.

Here are 15 actors who were contractually obligated to do movies they hated:


Keanu Reeves alleged that a friend forged his signature on the contract that locked him into The Watcher, but, unable to prove his claims, he decided to do the movie instead of pursuing legal action.

Universal / ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

For legal reasons, he also had to wait until a year after the movie’s release to talk about his frustrations with the production publicly. 


Ryan Reynolds was attached to the Deadpool movie before the script was written, so when X-Men: Origins went into production, the studio basically told him, “Play Deadpool in this movie, or we’ll get someone else to.”

20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

He told Entertainment Weekly, “I just said, ‘I’ll do it, but it’s the wrong version. Deadpool isn’t correct in it.’”

The movie was shot during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, so he also had to write all of his lines himself.


Faced with a $20 million lawsuit for going back on a verbal pact she made to star in Theodore Rex, Whoopi Goldberg took on the role of Katie Coltrane.

New Line Cinema / ©New Line Cinema/Courtesy Everett Collection

In her countersuit, Goldberg claimed that she never agreed to do the film, but producer Richard Abramson found a recording of a conversation in which she said she was “100% committed” to it on his answering machine.

After several mediations, they met out of court, and Goldberg agreed to do the movie for $7 million instead of the initial offer of $5 million. She also banned Abramson from set.


After a months-long legal battle with Universal over the failed movie Dieter, Mike Myers reached a settlement and agreed to do another movie with the studio — The Cat in the Hat.

Universal / ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Costar Amy Hill told the AV Club that Myers was a “diva” on set. She said, “I don’t think he got to know anybody. He’d just be with his people and walk away. People would come and then he’d stand there. There was a guy who held his chocolates in a little Tupperware. Whenever he needed chocolate, he’d come running over and give him a chocolate.”


Natalie Portman lobbied for Patty Jenkins to direct Thor: The Dark World, but after Jenkins left the project over fear the bad script would be blamed on her, Portman was still contractually obligated to reprise her role as Jane Foster.

Walt Disney Co. / ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

Initially, Portman was excited to join the film because, with Jenkins at its helm, it would’ve been the first superhero film to be directed by a woman. 

Jenkins was replaced by Alan Taylor, but she still went on to become the first woman to direct a superhero film with Wonder Woman


Emily Blunt wanted to accept the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, but she had to drop out because she was already contracted to do Gulliver’s Travels.

20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

She told The Howard Stern Show, “It was a bit of a heartbreaker for me. I take such pride in the decisions that I make, and they mean so much to me, the films that I do.”


Bill Murray signed on to voice the iconic orange cat in Garfield: The Movie because he misread the director’s name as Jeff Coen (Burn After Reading and Fargo), when it was actually Jeff Cohen (Cheaper By The Dozen and Daddy Day Camp).

John Phillips / Getty Images for BFI /  20th Century Fox Film Corp courtesy Everett Collection

The production also hit continuous delays. In a Reddit AMA, Murray said, “It was sort of like Fantastic Mr. Fox without the joy or the fun.”


After director Steven Spielberg turned down Jaws 2, Roy Scheider also wanted to bail, but Universal forced him to reprise the role of Martin Brody because of a contract dispute.

Universal / ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

The studio paid Scheider four times more for the sequel than they paid him for the original Jaws.


Channing Tatum said that, as part of their three-picture deal, Paramount didn’t give him an option to pass on G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, so he was “pushed” to take on the role of Duke.

Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection


Jennifer Garner hated playing the titular character in Elektra, but because she originated the role in Daredevil, the spinoff was part of her contract.

20thcentfox / ©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

She told Movie Web, “It’s such a shame, honestly, because once Kevin [Feige] took over [Marvel Studios], everything there was elevated: the writing, the direction, the comedy inside of the stories they were telling. And I did not have that experience.”


Val Kilmer purposefully botched his audition for Top Gun, but due to contractual obligations, he had to take the role of Iceman anyway.

Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Decades later, however, he begged to be included in Top Gun: Maverick

In his memoir, he wrote, “I’d not only contacted the producers but created heartrending scenes with Iceman…The producers went for it. [Tom] Cruise went for it.”


In order to avoid being sued by Paramount Pictures, Edward Norton took on the role of Steve in The Italian Job.

Paramount / ©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

His attorneys alleged that he felt “that he was betrayed and lied to by Paramount executives.”


Paul Bettany only agreed to be in Dogville because Stellan Skarsgård lied that it would be “fantastic” and “like a party all the time,” but in truth, Skarsgård “couldn’t face doing it without [Bettany].”

Lions Gate / ©Lions Gate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Bettany told the Guardian, “I found it a peculiarly unsatisfying experience because [director Lars von Trier] has no interest in you being any part of the cerebral process with him. You’re absolutely his puppet.”

While he’s purposefully never watched the film himself, he clarified that the director “is extraordinary and he is a sensation.”


Matt Damon said that the script for The Bourne Ultimatum — the third Jason Bourne film he starred in — was “unreadable,” a “career-ender,” and “embarrassing.”

Universal / ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Screenwriter Tony Gilroy negotiated a deal to only turn in one draft of the script with no notes or rewrites for “an exorbitant amount of money.”

Damon told GQ, “It’s really the studio’s fault for putting themselves in that position. … He was having a go, basically, and he took his money and left.”


And finally, during the height of his professional rivalry with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger read the terrible script for Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot then spread a rumor about having “tremendous interest” in it, which he knew would prompt Stallone to accept the lead role.

Universal / ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Stallone described the movie as “one of the worst films in the entire solar system, including alien productions we’ve never seen.”

It earned him his fourth Razzie for Worst Actor.