6 Actors Who Had No Clue What Their Movie Was About
Some actors care so much about a role that they'll give away all their worldly possessions, dump their girlfriends, or lock themselves in sensory deprivation chambers to get into character -- and that's just Adrien Brody. Others, not so much. This article is about the latter.
While the Christian Bales and, uh, Ashton Kutchers of the world are starving themselves for parts, other great thespians gave so few shits about some of their performances that they couldn't even tell you know what the movies in question are about. So why they do take these jobs, other than for the insane amounts of money? Sometimes, their explanations are way more entertaining than the movies themselves. Like in the case of ...
Hugo Weaving As Megatron In Transformers -- "I Just Have My Lines, And I Don't Know What They Mean"
When Michael Bay decided to turn Transformers, the beloved series of toy commercials, into a movie franchise, he needed someone sinister-sounding enough to provide the voice of the villainous Megatron. Of all the British-accented actors in the world, Bay ended up going with Hugo Weaving, best known for saying "Mr. Anderson" a lot in the Matrix trilogy.
The CGI version is actually less scary.
But despite taking on the role of one of the most elite supervillains of the '80s, Weaving had very little else to do with the project. He never read the script. He never saw the set. He never met his nemesis, Shia LaBeouf. All of his interactions with Michael Bay happened over Skype. He did the entire thing in two hours in a studio while wearing a T-shirt, and it looked like this:
This seems like the common reaction to finding yourself in a Bay movie.
Why He Took It:
Weaving talks about acting in Transformers as if he's recalling the time someone asked him to pose for a selfie. He says he was doing a play, so he didn't have much time, but "they wanted to do it," so he agreed to be in the movie. Barely. "It was one of the only things I've ever done where I had no knowledge of it, I didn't care about it, I didn't think about it," he said, calling the experience "meaningless" and his connection to Michael Bay "minimal." He all but sleepwalked through the whole production, to the point that he never knew (or cared) what his dialogue even meant.
"What about the second and third movies?"
"I'm in those?!"
Of course, Bay wasn't happy about being associated with the word "minimal," a concept he has spent his entire career trying to escape. He wrote an open letter to "whiners" on his website, scandalized at the idea that anyone would complain about their job not being "artistic" or "fulfilling enough" (quotes in the original) when there's so much suffering in the world. "What happened to people who had integrity, who did a job, got paid for their hard work, and just smiled afterward?" he wondered, letting us know that he thinks everyone in his movies is always miserable, but they're really professional about it. That's a little bit sad, Michael Bay.
"What, you think I like being in Michael Bay movies? Have you seen that crap?"
Judi Dench In The Chronicles Of Riddick -- "I Had Absolutely No Idea What Was Going On In The Plot"
Did you know that Judi Dench, seven-time Oscar nominee and all-around classy lady, played a major character in Vin Diesel's The Chronicles of Riddick? That's alright; she probably doesn't remember herself. When reminded of the movie's existence in 2015, an embarrassed Dench said, "I've never watched it and I don't think many other people have." Even while doing press for the film, she admitted that she'd never thought about being in a sci-fi movie ("This is one of the avenues that I didn't know existed"), and that she had no idea what the plot was about.
Pictured: Dench trying to cover for the fact that she doesn't know if the character is a villain or not.
Why She Took It:
Because Vin Diesel is a big, adorable nerd. For starters, Diesel is super into Dungeons & Dragons, and The Chronicles of Riddick is essentially D&D in space. Dench's character, Aereon, is a semi-corporeal air elemental of neutral alignment, an idea shamelessly pilfered from D&D.
"Can I do the whole movie in invisible air form? I should be a mute, too."
Originally, the part was meant to be played by a man, but according to the commentary track, Diesel threw that out the window when he realized that there was a major lack of Dench in his life. He'd always been a massive fan of Dame Judi, so he decided that this was the perfect opportunity to work with her, probably recognizing that she was more likely to play a space goddess than a streetwise car thief in Fast & Fur10s.
Now he had to convince her to be in the movie, a delicate task which Riddick director David Twhohy describes thusly: "we sort of tag-teamed her." They traveled to London, where Dench was doing a play, and Diesel filled her dressing room with so many flowers that they couldn't get them all the way up the stairs. Meanwhile, Twohy went backstage (where Diesel wasn't allowed, presumably due to a restraining order) to talk to her about the movie. Finally, Diesel invited her over for dinner and a little D&D. Please imagine Judi Dench and Vin Diesel sitting in an apartment, reading Dungeons & Dragons books. Now tell us what it's like, because we can't.
It helps if you imagine this Vin Diesel.
After that, Dench didn't have a chance -- she says "you can't say no to a man like that." We're gonna go ahead and assume that Diesel convinced Karl Urban to be in the third Riddick movie in the exact same way.
Leslie Howard In Gone With The Wind -- "Heaven Help Me If I Ever Read The Book"
English actor Leslie Howard played Ashley Wilkes, the initial object of Scarlett O'Hara's affection in Gone With The Wind. That one movie alone made him a part of cinema history forever ... and he hated every single thing about it. He hated the character, hated the costumes, never read the book, and (unlike most people alive back then) never ended up seeing the movie. He said that his clothes made him look like a "fairy doorman," and added, "Terrible lot of nonsense -- Heaven help me if I ever read the book." It's entirely possible that no actor has hated his role more than Leslie Howard hated his.
Actual soldiers had more fun being in the real Civil War.
Why He Took It:
Howard was more or less seduced into playing Wilkes. When he was first asked, he flatly refused, and no amount of money could change his mind. However, producer David O. Selznick knew that Howard wanted to be a producer himself (a job that doesn't require wearing silly costumes unless you want to), so he offered him the chance to produce another movie in exchange for suffering through Gone With The Wind.
And Howard did suffer. Because of constant rewrites, he would spend whole nights learning his lines, only to find them changed the next morning. He and Selznick fought about everything, and Howard remembered it as the worst film he ever acted in. But he still put the work in, turning himself Southern for the camera (or into some sort of British/Southern hybrid, anyway).
Until the Intermission, that is. By then, he was evidently so fed up that he didn't give a fuck and made his character straight-up British.
The worst part? Gone With The Wind took so long to finish that Howard didn't have time for his production duties on the other movie (which consisted of rolling up bills for the blow and sampling the hookers, we're guessing).
Kanye West In Anchorman 2 -- "Hey Man, What's Going On?"
When you think comedy, you think Kanye West. Or at least, it seems that when Will Ferrell thinks comedy, he thinks of West, because he asked the rapper to make a cameo in Anchorman 2 as an MTV personality during a fight scene.
The movie is set in the '80s, when seeing a musician on MTV wasn't so jarring.
At this point, it's foolish to be surprised by anything West does, but this still seemed random. As it turns out, the explanation is perfectly Kanye-esque ...
Why He Took It:
West simply likes comedy a lot. In fact, he even took private improv lessons. So unlike most examples in this article, he did want to be in the movie ... but he was so enthusiastic that he occasionally forgot he was in one. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ferrell describes working with West the way most people might talk about living with an excitable teenager. If he wasn't rapping live for them, he was playing tracks from his upcoming album and asking for people's opinions. This is Kanye, though, so he was running the tracks through the sound department between shots, and didn't understand that it had to be turned off during takes. Ferrell says: "He was like, 'Hey man, what's going on?' We didn't want Kanye to get upset, but at the same time, we kind of had to film."
It's unclear whether this is a shot from the film or not.
According to his interviews, Kanye feels creatively thwarted in many ways. He wants to make movies, clothes, music, and art, but the world won't let him. The irony of this is that you cannot tell him "no." Ferrell said on The Jonathan Ross Show that he and his co-stars eventually asked a scared 18-year-old intern to tell Kanye to shut off his tracks and let them film. Even after his shots were finished, he refused to leave. "He hung out, even after we said: 'You're done.' He was like, 'no, no' and stayed in the background, hanging out and fighting with people."
It's been two years, and Ferrell is sure that one day he'll get tired and stop following him.
Armie Hammer In Entourage -- "I Can Almost Say With 100 Percent Certainty That I Wasn't In The Original Script"
Armie Hammer is famous for playing two guys in The Social Network, for being Hammer royalty in America, and, of course, for Entourage. In the movie about a TV show about movies, Hammer appears as himself and behaves like an angry, womanizing douchebag, and threatens the protagonist with physical violence. We know; someone wanting to punch an Entourage character? Is this ... is this science fiction?
Of course, in real life, Hammer is not only a very nice guy, but he's also very married. Why would he agree to make himself look like an ass? Other than the prestige and respectability brought by this franchise, we mean.
Why He Took It:
Entourage needed a "Hollywood" guy for a cameo, and Hammer had nothing better to do that day. He's pretty sure that the part wasn't written for him, and that it was all hastily put together at the last minute. What he's wearing in the film is apparently what he was wearing that day when he left the house.
"But I haven't even eaten the hobo livers that keep me youthful."
Hammer says it went down like this: "I think the way it works with the cameos on Entourage is they basically sent out mass emails, 'Can anybody show up? Please? Just show up. Help us!' kind of thing." He says that Entourage's Jeremy Piven, who used to be his neighbor, called him and asked if he'd be around on Tuesday, to which Hammer said: "Yeah, I'm an out of work actor, I'm around all the time." And boom, another credit for his IMDb page.
It literally could have been anyone. Entourage merely wanted someone attractive and cool enough to play Emily Ratajkowski's ex-boyfriend. He was the Armie we needed. Not the Armie we deserved.
Marlon Brando In Superman -- "..."
For most people, Marlon Brando may be Vito Corleone, Stanley Kowalski, Paul Parisfucker, or Doctor Dolphin. But for nerds of a certain age , he'll always be Superman's dad, Jor-El. Brando's casting in the first Superman movie in 1978 almost singlehandedly brought respectability to the project. It told people that this wasn't Adam West's Batman with more colorful underpants and flying. It became one of Brando's most memorable roles for many people ... which didn't include Marlon Brando.
Brando's level of respect for the project can be summed up with the fact that he strongly suggested that Jor-El look like a bagel or a suitcase. Which has two possible explanations: 1) he wanted to turn the role into a voice-acting gig and do less work, or 2) he wanted a bagel, and this seemed easier than going to the kitchen. Director Richard Donner was only able to dissuade him by telling him that Jor-El already had an appearance in the comics, and he wasn't a bagel.
That's clearly a donut.
Why He Took It:
A shitload of money, of course. Though with caveats. One of the things Brando was very firm about was that there is a time and a place for reading scripts -- and that it's during takes, when they're taped to your co-star's body.
Robert Duvall was cast solely because of his appropriately-sized chest.
So for Superman, Brando secured an agreement that he would never, ever be asked to do a scene without cue cards, thus allowing him to half-ass his way into the nerd pantheon. This is best illustrated when you watch the scene in which Jor-El sends young Kal to Earth. Brando is supposedly reading everything off the baby's diaper. Say what you will about Russell Crowe in Man Of Steel, but at least he didn't do his lines off of Henry Cavill's butt (at least, not in that way).
"You will travel far, my little Kal-Huggies Extra Absorbent."
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