5 Famous People Who Were Way Too Honest About Their Movies
No one feels sorry for movie stars. Even their bad days on the job involve getting paid huge money to play make-believe and eat catered food. Still, it has to be incredibly awkward to make what you know is an insultingly awful film, and then realize you now have to spend a solid month doing publicity for it. "We're very proud of the creative direction we were able to take Transformers ... five ... wait, is this five or six?"
So it's always special when a big-name actor or director says "fuck it" and admits to the press that they created something which in fact made the world worse.
Nicolas Cage And His Colleagues Launch A Social Media Protest Against Their Own Movie
In 2014, Nicolas Cage was a cast in a thriller called Dying Of The Light. He played a CIA agent with dementia who goes on a rogue mission to find a terrorist. Plot twist: The movie sucked. Double twist: This time, Cage somehow noticed this.
He knew something was awry after realizing that even his hat got to be wackier than him.
The movie was directed by Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and directed the Academy-Award-winning Affliction. So you figure he kind of knows his stuff. But after it was supposed to be finished, the studio decided it hated Dying Of The Light and ordered it to be completely reedited and re-scored, without Schrader's input or knowledge.
Now, we will never know if there was ever a non-terrible version of this film, but Schrader, Cage, and the rest of the cast certainly seem to think so. (One change: The studio digitally gave the whole movie a washed-out, gray color scheme, otherwise known as the "Zack Snyder strategy.") Their problem was that the filmmakers and actors had all signed a non-disparagement agreement -- a standard contract these days which ensures that you're not allowed to say anything negative about a film you made, even if it's a figurative dumpster fire behind a store that sells car tires and human hair.
Cinematographer Gabriel Kosuth wrote an article for Variety which outlined his criticisms while carefully distancing himself from the movie, but Schrader, Cage, and others went for an even more subtle tactic. They went on social media, taking selfies of themselves wearing T-shirts printed with text from the non-disparagement agreement:
Good luck fitting that onto a Crazy Cage meme.
Granted, the stunt is useless for any viewer unaware of the context. Or anyone who saw Cage and thought, "Yep, that's totally something Nic Cage would wear. Those are probably words he thinks a talking goat whispered to him on the set of Ghost Rider." Still, it's a pretty clever way to say, "My contract forbids me from saying anything bad about this movie, therefore I am forced to say nothing."
David Cross Gets In Trouble For Trashing His Alvin And The Chipmunks Sequel
Though you might prefer to forget it, you probably remember that back in 2007, Hollywood released a live action Alvin And The Chipmunks movie. You might even remember that they made a sequel -- sorry, a "squeakquel" -- in 2009. But who among you knows that they made a third movie in 2011, subtitled Chipwrecked?
David Cross remembers. Oh god, he does.
The Arrested Development star signed on to the first movie to play the villain and, as is standard in the industry, locked himself into a contract to appear in two squeakquels, should the studio decide to make them (like if the studio decided it was mad at the audience or something). If you're a comedian like Cross (who made his name with profane, surreal comedy like Mr. Show), this is the kind of work you do to pay the bills.
"Alas, poor career! They knew me, Brittany the Chipette. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy."
But the fact that he had to appear in these movies didn't mean he had to promote them. Which is why, after fulfilling his contractual obligations with Chipwrecked, he proceeded to shit all over these movies to the press. (If he had signed one of those non-disparagement agreements, he either didn't know or didn't care.) He openly told audiences to avoid it during one late-night talk show appearance, then described Chipwrecked to the press as "without question, the most unpleasant experience I've ever had in my professional life," and added, "It's safe to say I won't be working with some of those people ever again."
One complaint was that he was "forced at legal gunpoint" to spend a week on a cruise ship dressed in a pelican costume. That does sound terrible, though it also seems like the sort of thing you'd expect to happen to you when you sign on to the Alvin And The Chipmunks franchise.
"My God. What have I become?"
What follows is a great lesson for anyone tempted to go out in public and shit on a large-scale project they've worked on. For example, a film has hundreds of people working on it, some of whom may be friends and/or future employers. Keep that in mind when you hear that Cross went on TV and said that one of the producers is "The personification of what people think about when they think negatively about Jews." This was on Conan O'Brien's show, causing a visibly uncomfortable Conan to quickly change the subject.
"So ... uh, what's your favorite Mel Gibson movie?"
Cross (who was raised Jewish) was forced to apologize at length, naming off all of the great people on the crew who treated him well and whom he loved dearly. Despite, you know, having urged audiences not to go see the movie they'd spent the last couple of years making. Also, if you're ever in the middle of an angry string of insults and you feel the word "Jew" about to hit your tongue, that's a good time to throw on the brakes. You've gone down kind of a dark path there.
A Director Who Made A Movie Satirizing Directors Who Disown Their Own Movies Wound Up Disowning His Movie
Alan Smithee is possibly the worst director in film history, his name being attached to more cinematic super-turds than Ed Wood's. But, as many of you know, there's a reason for that: "Alan Smithee" doesn't exist. It's a ubiquitous pseudonym those in the film industry use if they don't want to put their own name on a project. The Academy requires a director to submit a name, but can't stop them from using a pseudonym. So it's been a long-running inside joke in Hollywood for directors from David Lynch (for certain cuts of Dune) to Dennis Hopper (for Catchfire) to credit Smithee for their misfires.
That is, if you feel Sting wearing nothing but a ribbed codpiece counts as a misfire ...
Now, in 1997, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas and director Arthur Hiller came up with a funny idea for a movie that became Burn Hollywood Burn, starring Eric Idle, Sylvester Stallone, and Jackie Chan. The plot concerns a director (played by Idle) who makes a film which, due to studio interference, is re-cut behind his back into a terrible movie that he wants nothing to do with, but he finds himself unable to remove his name from the project because -- get this -- his actual name is Alan Smithee.
And international law forbids someone from using any other fake name ever.
That's right, they made an entire movie out of a one-note gag that would be much better suited to a three-minute comedy sketch (something that Saturday Night Live had to learn the hard way). Here's the kicker: Before Burn Hollywood Burn hit theaters, the studio told Eszterhas to go back to the editing room and make a bunch of changes without Hiller's knowledge. The result? When Arthur Hiller saw the final product, he hated it so much that he demanded his name be removed from it upon release. The name he chose instead was ... well, take a guess.
If you're thinking this was all part of some kind of elaborate performance art or hoax, it was certainly an expensive one: Burn Hollywood Burn, a movie about Alan Smithee, directed by "Alan Smithee," was such a box office disaster that the Academy wound up banning anyone from putting that cancerous name on a film ever again. So if your name really is Alan Smithee, we're sorry to say that your career prospects have become a little more limited.
A Director Makes An Insane Public Apology For His Disastrous Burt Reynolds Musical
During the early 1970s, Peter Bogdanovich was one of the most successful directors in Hollywood, helming Oscar-nominated films like The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon. At this point, Bogdanovich decided try something ambitious by directing a musical. The project was titled At Long Last Love, and was intended as a throwback to the classic Fred Astaire / Ginger Rogers musicals of the 1930s. Hey, sounds like fun!
Oh, and the actor who was chosen for the Astaire role? Burt Reynolds. A man who isn't exactly known for his crooning. Or his dancing. Or ... Well, take a look at what we wound up with. If you're unable to watch the video, let's just say that it's about as awkward as that time you were having a birthday party with friends and your mother started rapping:
Even beyond Reynolds' questionable singing ability, the movie made some strange choices for a musical, like one scene in which Reynolds' character's chauffeur breaks the fourth wall by interrupting him mid-song to ask him why he's singing.
"Sir, are you having a seizure, or are you merely possessed by some kind of foul demon?"
When it was released, At Long Last Love was met with such glowing reviews as "Failure so dismal that it goes beyond failure," and " sings like Dean Martin on adenoids and dances like a drunk killing cockroaches." Wait, are they trying to make us not want to see it?
He looks like he dropped a giant Turd Furguson in his trousers.
Rather than ineffectually flailing to defend his cinematic poop, Bogdanovich made the unconventional decision to run a nationwide apology for the film in a whole bunch of American newspapers. At least, we think it's an apology, given that even professional linguists are probably unable to decode what appears to be one part passive-aggressive rant and two parts whiskey regret. We will show it in its entirety, because we don't want you to think we left out the parts that add some kind of context to the lunacy:
Clearly, nothing else needs to be said.
Bill Cosby Makes A Terrible Comedy, Tells The Public Not To See It
Back when the world was steadfastly ignoring the collective sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby (that is, most of the last half-century), the following incident was considered the sole PR disaster of the star's long, prolific career. If only we'd known.
So it was 1987, and Cosby was not only the biggest star on television, but also a bestselling author and one of the most recognizable faces on the planet. When he decided to produce, write, and star in his own movie, the studio saw dollar signs twinkling in front of their eyes and rushed it into production.
Shooting was 99 percent stupid Cosby faces, one percent some intern scribbling a plot on toilet paper during his bathroom break.
The result was the spy comedyLeonard Part 6. Now, if you're unfamiliar with this fiasco, you're probably wondering why you've never heard of the first five installments in the Leonard series. That's because they don't exist -- titling the film "Part 6" was a joke, with the movie claiming that the first five films were so awesome that they had to be locked away in a vault for the interests of national security. That, sadly, is the best joke in the film. It is universally considered to be one of the worst things ever made. Not just movies. Things.
Somewhere on the list, between man-made super viruses and caged puppy fighting, is Cosby in ballet slippers.
The plot of Leonard Part 6, to the extent that it can be said to have one, involves Cosby's Bond spoof character, Leonard Parker, fighting a militant vegetarian villainess who is training animals to take over the world. And man, if you've ever thought that PETA's propaganda is cringeworthy, then you should check out the opposite side of the coin, in which Bill Cosby defeats vegetarian bad guys by force-feeding them meat, which makes their heads explode.
The movie opens with Cosby riding an ostrich off the roof of an exploding building, which sounds awesome right up until you see it ...
... and ends with a completely baffling "romantic" scene in which his love interest erotically ladles soup all over him in a restaurant.
Leonard Part 6 was such a legendary turd that it found itself getting tag-teamed by every movie critic in the business, including being on the receiving end of one of Roger Ebert's all-time most epic smackdowns. But perhaps nobody was a bigger critic of the movie than Bill Cosby himself.
Cosby knew it was going to be a disaster on a scale that might cause audiences to storm the studio and burn it to the ground. What ensued was a bizarre game of hot potato in which everyone involved tried to pretend they had nothing to do with it. Thus, weeks before the movie even appeared in cinemas, Cosby appeared on Larry King Live to basically discourage his fans from seeing it, because it wasn't truly his movie and it had been botched by the director. Remember: This is a movie which Cosby himself produced and wrote.
We're sure all the blatant, shameless product placement was the director's idea, too.
Even weirder is how Cosby's defense was that there were too many British people on staff, including director Paul Weiland and producer Alan Marshall, and the British have no idea how to do comedy. Weiland, meanwhile, would call the film "a terrible mistake" and say that Cosby "just wasn't funny." At this point, you kind of feel sorry for whatever fans out there legitimately liked the movie. It'd be like going to a restaurant, having the best bowl of soup in your life, only for the chef to rush out of the kitchen saying, "Sir, I have accidentally served you a bowl of sweat I wrung from my pubic hair! My sincerest apologies!"
There is someone out there who thought Cosby menacingly waggling a wiener was hilarious.
Well, used to, anyway.
None of this stopped them from releasing the movie, by the way. Leonard Part 6 bombed horribly at the box office and swept the Golden Raspberries (which Cosby presented in good humor on the Tonight Show). Cosby surely hoped that his other accomplishments would ensure that the incident would be completely forgotten in time. Careful what you wish for, Bill.
Robin Warder has started a new true crime podcast about unsolved mysteries called The Trail Went Cold.
These weren't the only folks to shake their heads at their own creations. See more in 5 Famous Actors Who Hate Their Most Iconic Roles and 5 Iconic Roles That Made Actors' Lives A Living Hell.
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