Daniel Day-Lewis has one. Robert De Niro, too. So do Anne Hathaway and Bradley Cooper.
Every actor—yes, even those nominated for Hollywood’s highest honor—has a turkey in his or her (custom-designed) closet. Whether said thespian wants to admit it is another story: Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley has kept mum on his reasons for playing the flatulence-prone sex guru Tugginmypudha in the rightfully maligned The Love Guru, while 14-time nominee Warren Beatty has repeatedly gone on the record to defend his legendary 1987 bomb, Ishtar. In 1991, Beatty told Entertainment Weekly that “Ishtar is a very good, not very big, comedy, made by a brilliant woman. And I think it's funny.”
But like recreational drug use, badmouthing one’s own not-so-stellar oeuvre has become a popular pastime in Hollywood. Here’s a list of 10 Oscar-nominated actors who weren’t afraid to spray a little venom (we've edited some of it to make it safe for work!) at the films they’d like to erase from their resumes.
1. Brad Pitt, The Devil’s Own (1997)
In February of 1997, eight weeks before its premiere, Brad Pitt shared his disappointment about Alan Pakula’s IRA thriller with Newsweek. “We had no script,” declared the now four-time (then one-time) Oscar nominee. “Well, we had a great script but it got tossed for various reasons. To have to make something up as you go along—Jesus, what pressure! It was ridiculous. It was the most irresponsible bit of filmmaking—if you can even call it that—that I've ever seen.” Wait, has he not seen Cool World?
2. George Clooney, Return of the Killer Tomatoes! (1988)
George Clooney’s likability factor seems to improve with age. And his occasional jabs at his own movies—most notably Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin—only add to his Everyman persona. But the eight-time Oscar nominee’s turn as the Caped Crusader has got nothing on his role in this late-’80s camp-fest! At Newsweek’s 2012 Oscar roundtable, Clooney talked about the dangers of acting for money: “As an actor all bets are off if you need money,” he declared. “I've done really [crappy] movies or [crappy] jobs when I was broke, and people go, ‘Why did you do Return of the Killer Tomatoes?’ Because I got the job!”
3. Michael Caine, Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
Maybe it’s the English accent, but few people pan their own films as entertainingly as Michael Caine. And while the six-time Oscar nominee has seen his career resurrected in recent years, thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan, the decades haven’t always been so kind to Sir Michael. The 1980s were a particularly odd time, as they saw Caine regularly transitioning from fantastic roles to atrocious ones. Case in point: in 1986 Caine was too busy shooting the fourth film in the Jaws franchise to accept his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters. In his 1992 autobiography, What’s It All About, Caine wrote of Jaws: The Revenge: “I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.”
4. Halle Berry, Catwoman (2004)
Three years after winning an Oscar for the indie hit Monster’s Ball, Halle Berry donned the famous catsuit to star in this well-known bomb. And she played the role of good sport months later when she actually showed up to collect her Razzie Award for Worst Actress for the film, wherein she told the crowd: “You know, I’ve got so many people to thank, because you don’t win a Razzie without a lot of help from a lot of people... First of all, I want to thank Warner Bros. Thank you for putting me in a piece of [crap], god-awful movie. You know, it was just what my career needed, you know? I was at the top, and then Catwoman just plummeted me to the bottom.” No one involved—not Berry’s manager, agent, lawyers and acting coach, nor the film’s writers, cast and director—escaped her wrath.
5. Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music (1965)
The film that made Christopher Plummer a household name is the one he’d like to pretend doesn’t exist. At different times he’s referred to it as “The Sound of Mucus,” “S&M” or simply “that movie.” In 2010, he told The Boston Globe , “I was a bit bored with the character. Although we worked hard enough to make him interesting, it was a bit like flogging a dead horse. And the subject matter is not mine. I mean it can’t appeal to every person in the world. It’s not my cup of tea.’’
6. Julia Roberts, I Love Trouble (1994)
Julia Roberts did not earn her “America’s Sweetheart” moniker by being difficult. But Nick Nolte wouldn’t know that. The two actors—each three-time Oscar nominees—fell way short of Hepburn/Tracy expectations when they teamed up for this fast-talking rom-com. It wasn’t long before the press got wind of the dueling actors’ on-set antics. While her PR team tried to do damage control, Roberts couldn’t keep herself from making some thinly masked digs at her co-star. In a 1993 interview, she told The New York Times, “From the moment I met him we sort of gave each other a hard time and naturally we get on each other's nerves. [While he can be] completely charming and very nice, he's also completely disgusting. He's going to hate me for saying this, but he seems go out of his way to repel people. He's a kick.” The film, unsurprisingly, repelled audiences and critics alike.
7. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Bros. (1993)
For anyone who doesn’t understand the cultural differences between Hollywood actors and British ones, behold Bob Hoskins. When the topic turns to Super Mario Bros., the recently retired Oscar nominee makes no attempt to hide his ire. In 2007, The Guardian quoted him as saying, “The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Bros. It was a [freaking] nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set!”
One year later, Hoskins’ Super Mario Bros. co-star—two-time Oscar nominee Dennis Hopper—got in on the bashing action. When asked about his biggest disappointment, on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, Hopper said that “I made a picture called Super Mario Bros., and my 6-year-old son at the time—he's now 18—said, ‘Dad I think you're probably a pretty good actor, but why did you play that terrible guy King Koopa in Super Mario Bros.?’ And I said, 'Well Henry, I did that so you could have shoes.' And he said, 'Dad, I don't need shoes that badly.’”
8. Gwyneth Paltrow, View From the Top (2003)
She may get a lot of flak for her lifestyle blog, "Goop," but when it comes to picking the right roles, Gwyneth Paltrow has made very few missteps. The two exceptions, according to the actress, are Shallow Hal and this high-flying stewardess comedy. Calling it “shite” in a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Paltrow refers to the film as "this terrible movie called View From the Top that Harvey Weinstein talked me into doing.”
9. Gary Oldman, Tiptoes (2003)
What’s that? You’ve never heard of Tiptoes? The 2003 straight-to-DVD flick in which Gary Oldman and Matthew McConaughey star as brothers, one of them normal-sized (McConaughey) and one of them a little person (Oldman)? The one where Oldman played the role on his knees in order to achieve the height disparity? Perhaps that’s because few of the actors have ever spoken publicly about it. Including Oldman. And with good reason. But in March 2012, the New York Times managed to get a few words from Tiptoes co-star Peter Dinklage. “Oh, that movie,” he said, shaking his head. “That was something… It was sort of an amazing idea for a movie, but the result was what we were fighting against—the cutesiness of little people.”
10. Mickey Rourke, Passion Play (2010)
Truth be told, it’s probably more surprising that Mickey Rourke touts the “Oscar-nominated” title before his name than that he has done his fair share of badmouthing his own movies. After all, this is the man who gave up his career as a Hollywood hunk to get his face beaten in for a living. But in 2011, Rourke opened up to New York Magazine about his many failed cinematic efforts. When asked about Passion Play, the movie he had recently wrapped with Megan Fox and Bill Murray, Rourke noted that it was “Terrible. Another terrible movie. But, you know, in your career and all the movies you make, you’re going to make dozens of terrible ones.” Fair enough!