Generally actors choose roles for various reasons, because the character “speaks” to them, because it symbolizes something for them, because the role represents a challenge or simply because the production pays well. But sometimes they also accept a role for strange reasons. Even so good, the excuse of making a shitty movie for the tune is enough for me.
1. Sylvester Stallone and “Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot”
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When he accepts the role of this 1992 film which tells the story of a detective whose mother begins to want to “clean up” the streets, Sylvester Stallone does it for a very precise reason (and really very stupid): so that ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t get the role. Indeed, the two stars were rivals in the 90s and Schwarzy had hinted that he was interested in the script, so Stallone signed on directly to piss him off. Finally, the best way to piss off his rival would have been to let him do the film, given how horrible it is…
2. Dave Chappelle and “A star is born”
American stand-up comic genius Dave Chappelle threw a big star party that we weren’t invited to. Bradley Cooper, on the other hand, was there, and he had offered Chappelle a role that evening in his next film “A star is born” with Lady Gaga. The thing is that Cooper was really very very insistent and called Dave almost every day to tell him “azy come and play in my fdp movie lol there are cakes on the control table too” and finally the poor man accepted the role only for Cooper to stop pissing him off. Harassment, clearly.
3. Bill Burr and “The Mandalorian”
Speaking of American stand-up stars, it’s Bill Burr’s role in the Star Wars universe series that’s quite interesting. Indeed, Burr has been famous in the United States for literally criticizing (or rather hating) Star Wars for years in several of his shows. Suddenly when John Favreau offers him a role he replies that it would still be very stupid of him to accept it, which Favreau admits by telling him that precisely, that is what would clearly be funny. And since Bill Burr likes what is funny, he accepted the role and is doing very well in it.
4. Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 3: Tokyo Drift
When “Fast and Furious 3” comes out, most of the actors of the first two parts are not in the game, but Vin Diesel is offered to make an appearance. At the same time, Vin Diesel wanted to remake a film in Riddick’s universe after “Pitch Black” and “The Chronicles of Riddick”, which Universal refused because it was too expensive and didn’t really work. Except that the studio also refused to sell the film rights. Vin Diesel then agreed to “play” in “Tokyo Drift” on the one and only condition that he was not paid but that he was given the rights to Riddick. And it happened. Years later he made “Riddick”, but it was not phew phew.
5. Richard Harris and the role of Dumbledore
The late British actor Richard Harris, who played the great Albus Dumbledore in the first two installments of the “Harry Potter” saga, accepted the role for one simple reason: to be able to continue talking to his granddaughter. He had been offered the role three times but he had always refused, and his granddaughter who had heard of it threatened him not to speak to her again if he did not make the film. Forced by the threat of this little plague (sorry, but frankly…) he therefore accepted the film.
6. Wil Smith and the Prince of Bel-Air
Before being an actor, Will Smith was a rapper. His first album had done pretty well, but he had spent all his money without paying income tax. Broke, he is offered the title role of the series “The Prince of Bel-Air” which he refuses because he does not consider himself an actor. Instead, he tells himself that his second album will be a hit and allow him to repay his debts. Except that he flopped grooooos, so he accepted the role and at the same time became an actor, the career for which we know him the most today. Strange to think that if his 2nd opus had worked, we might never have seen Smith in a film.
7. Bill Murray and the Garfield Movie
Bill Murray is a valuable and talented actor as all of his former Saturday Night Live colleagues say. When he is offered a role in the adaptation of Garfield he is not necessarily thrilled but accepts because he sees that the screenplay is written by Joel Cohen. He thinks it’s THE Joel Coen of the Coen brothers, except no, there’s an “h” in this Cohen there. It was then too late to back out of the project and he finally made the film. You might think it’s sad, but it made for a great joke in the movie “Zombieland” and that alone was worth it.
8. Zach Galifianakis and the Mission-G Movie
Remember the movie “Mission-G” (G-Force) in which animals are trained to become spies? Well, that was the movie, guinea pigs with crazy gadgets playing James Bond. Well Zach Galifianakis, who you probably know from the “Very Bad Trip” trilogy, accepted a role in this film for the simple reason that he was stoned when he was exposed to the script. He probably laughed at the stupidity of the thing and signed the contract. Sometimes it doesn’t take more…
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Is there a pilot on the plane
After his career as a professional basketball player in the NBA, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar starred in a few films. In particular in the excellent “Is there a pilot in the plane” for which he accepted the role only to buy a Persian carpet. He had been offered $30,000 but he negotiated $35,000 because that was the cash price of the famous rug he had spotted. The producers accepted, saying to themselves that he must be playing a good joke on them by negotiating, but no, he was very serious.
10. Bruce Willis in Friends
At the time when he appeared in the series Friends, Bruce Willis was at the height of his glory, a global star who will have punctuated our childhood (well mine anyway). Anyway, it was when actor Matthew Perry bet him that the film they had just shot “My Neighbor the Killer” was going to be number 1 at the box office that Bruce Willis was not convinced. Perry tells him that if he wins, Willis will have to star in the series Friends, and the sequel well you know it, he lost his bet and did appear in the series.
11. Hugh Jackman in X-men First Class
If the appearance of the famous Wolverine in the X-Men First Class is very fast, it is still quite funny. When young Professor Xavier and Magneto recruit mutants to start their poor man’s Hogwarts, they approach Logan who is smoking his cigar in a bar and asks them to fuck off. Well behind this “Fuck Off” of not even thirty seconds hides a great action since Hugh Jackman asked that Fox make a donation to his children’s school rather than pay it. Nice gesture.
12. Brad Pitt in Deadpool 2
You may know that Brad Pitt appears in “Deadpool 2” as the invisible man at the very beginning of the film. This short appearance was accepted by Brad Pitt for one condition. Already he did not ask to be paid according to his fame, so we made him a contract at the lowest rate for his participation (about $1000) but he had the condition that Ryan Reynolds pay him and bring him a specific coffee from the Starbucks chain. Reynolds hand-delivered the coffee to him, and Pitt played the part. It’s dumb, but it’s funny. Like the movie.
It’s still funny the job of a known actor, you can accept work for any reason, like that. Besides, we can also do the opposite, like those actors who refused roles for strange reasons, there are very particular ones.