For some actors, there’s lights, camera, and no action. Hollywood history is full of stories about stars who’ve refused to film a particular scene for one reason or another, and some cases feel like something out of a movie script. Of course, being in a film that’ll be on the big screen is a huge deal, and it’s safe to say even the biggest movie star is conscious of not angering decision-makers or rocking the boat. That way they can be invited back onto that boat for future projects.
We’ve listed some of the actors who’ve said no to shooting a certain scene and also shared the reasons they gave, whether it had to do with a personal conviction, wanting their characters to have authenticity, or just being uncomfortable. And for the most part, these actors have been applauded for taking control of their art and career. Plus, they’ve probably set an example for up-and-coming thespians who feel they have to film a scene, even if they’re uncomfortable, just to keep a job and not be called difficult. Like a reel of film, this list is about to get rolling.
Will Smith said that he lacked maturity
After making a successful transition from rapping to acting, first starring in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then in the movie Made in America, Will Smith played his first dramatic role in the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation. The Philadelphia native played the role of Paul, a conman who convinced a well-to-do New York couple that he was actor Sidney Poitier’s son and their children’s classmate. The couple, charmed and impressed by Smith’s character, invite him over, give him money, and let him into their glitzy world of Manhattan high society.
As Entertainment Weekly noted the year the movie came out, there was one scene in the film where Paul had to kiss Anthony Michael Hall’s character, but Smith refused to do it, so director Fred Schepisi “was forced to use a stand-in and show only the backs of the actors’ heads.” Smith told EW that he regretted bailing out of the scene and explained why decision bothered him so much. “It was very immature on my part,” he admitted. “I was thinking, ‘How are my friends in Philly going to think about this?’ I wasn’t emotionally stable enough to artistically commit to that aspect of the film.”
Ben Affleck loves his Boston Red Sox
Ben Affleck might have left Boston for Hollywood long ago, but he has remained loyal to his beloved Boston Red Sox. And that allegiance was a thorn in the side of Gone Girl director David Fincher. In the acclaimed flick, Affleck plays Nick Dunne, a character who got into hat water after wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike, disappears. According to The New York Times, Affleck was supposed to wear a New York Yankees cap in one scene while walking through an airport to obscure his identity but he refused. The actor said he and Fincher got into “a legitimate fight” over the hat, calling it “a one-man riot against the Yankees.”
“I said, ‘David, I love you, I would do anything for you,'” Affleck recalled telling Fincher. “‘But I will not wear a Yankees hat. I just can’t. I can’t wear it because it’s going to become a thing … I will never hear the end of it. I can’t do it and I couldn’t put it on my head.” As many baseball fans may know, the rivalry between the Sox and the Yanks goes way back, with their fan bases sometimes fighting each other. So how was the hat problem solved? Affleck wore a New York Mets cap instead. Alas, some diehard Red Sox fans might have questioned that move as well since the Mets beat the Sox in that classic 1986 World Series, which caused a lot of hurt feelings in Beantown.
Gal Gadot had to speak to her 'higher-ups'
Rumor has it that Gal Gadot refused to shoot a scene in the 2017 film Justice League because it included Flash Gordon landing on top of her Wonder Woman character during a fight scene. This is according to a tweet sent by comic book writer Grace Randolph in 2020. Reportedly, the scene was writer and director Joss Whedon’s idea, who used a stunt double for Gadot. “That’s why you can’t see her face,” wrote Randolph, who also shared a screengrab of the scene. Then another claim about that scene came from photographer Jason Laboy when he responded to Randolph’s message.
“Don’t forget to add that he locked her in a room and threatened her career if she didn’t do the scene,” Laboy alleged. “That is very important and should not be omitted.” And all of that was in addition to Justice League actor Ray Fisher accusing Whedon on Twitter of treating cast and crew with “abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” behavior. Eventually, WarnerMedia launched an investigation about the negative claims surrounding the director, and in 2020 Gadot said in Variety that she gave testimony. But whatever action was taken wasn’t disclosed. Plus, Gadot told the Los Angeles Times that her experience with Whedon wasn’t the best one, but she “took care of it there and when it happened” and took her issue to “higher-ups”, who fixed it.
Emma Watson found one scene too raunchy
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This Is the End was Emma Watson’s first comedy after she grew to fame Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films. And let’s just say she got an awkward and uncomfortable introduction into the comedy film world. It happened when Watson, who was playing a character based on herself, was supposed to be in a scene with Channing Tatum, but she refused to film the scene, according to a report by Pop Focal. A source claimed she left the set when Tatum “decided to do some of his breakdancing in front of her but alas he was in nothing but a thong” while filming a scene. Rogen, who was co-director, said in the May 2021 issue of British GQ that as far as that incident is concerned, there are no hard feelings.
“I mean, I don’t look back on that and think, ‘How dare she do that?'” he explained. “But it was not some terrible ending to our relationship. She came back the next day to say goodbye. She helped promote the film.” Then on Monday, March 29, Rogen took to Twitter and clarified that Watson “did not ‘storm off the set,'” and he’s bothered that the story is being spun that way. “The scene was not what was originally scripted, it was getting improvised, changed drastically, and was not what she agreed to,” he stated. “The narrative that she was in some way uncool or unprofessional is complete bulls***.”
Michelle Rodriguez wanted to keep it real
Michelle Rodriguez wanted her role in 2001’s The Fast and the Furious to be dripping with authenticity, so when her character Leticia “Letty” Ortiz was supposed to be split between two love interests, Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto and the late Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner, she said absolutely not. In fact, the New Jersey native didn’t just say she wouldn’t shoot the scenes. As she told the Daily Beast in 2017, she threatened to walk away from the movie if she was forced to be in a love triangle. “They just followed the format without thinking about the reality of it,” she said. “Is it realistic for a Latin girl who’s with the alpha-est of the alpha males to cheat on him with the cute boy? I had to put my foot down … My whole point in being an actress is that I thought I got to live a dream and I don’t dream about being a sl**. Do you?”
Then after that interview, Rodriguez threatened to leave the franchise again. In June of 2017, she stated that the women in the series were being under-utilized. “F8 is out digitally today, I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise,” she wrote on Instagram.
Isla Fisher prefers nudity-free comedy
Isla Fisher believes that nudity has the potential to ruin a comedic moment, take away from a funny scene, and impact the actor negatively. It’s something she told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2005 while talking about Wedding Crashers, a film where her character hooks up with Vince Vaughn’s character. Fisher was supposed to be nude in the movie, but a body double was used instead.
“It is not like I have a problem with nudity, but I didn’t think there was anything funny about seeing a woman’s nipple,” she explained. “I feel like if you have a female comic character and then you see her nipples, then she is no longer funny, which is clearly wrong, but that was my theory, and that’s why I didn’t want to do it. Fisher also spoke about nudity during a 2005 interview with Hello and said while she can’t stand the “puritanical approach” to nudity on film, taking her clothes off on-camera just isn’t for her. “When it comes to me, I have double standards,” she explained. “No way am I doing anything like that.”
Kirk Cameron said he'll only kiss one woman
In Kirk Cameron’s 2008 film Fireproof, his wife Chelsea Noble wasn’t part of the cast but she was still on-screen. It’s understandable if that’s confusing, so we’ll start from the beginning. At 17 years old, Cameron became a born-again Christian after first achieving fame on the ’80s sitcom Growing Pains. To uphold his values, he will not film any scene where he has to kiss another woman. (And it’s probably safe to assume that he won’t kiss another woman off-camera either.)
So, when it came time to shoot the smooch scene in Fireproof, they used a little Hollywood magic. As Cameron shared on Today in 2008, Noble was brought in and was told to wear a wig so she could look like Erin Bethea, who played Cameron’s wife in the film. The kiss is in a silhouette, and Noble’s face is totally hidden. “So when I’m kissing my wife, we’re actually husband and wife honoring marriage behind the scenes,” Cameron said. He also talked about the kissing vow he made in an interview with LifeZette that was posted to YouTube in 2017. “It is my great privilege to love and cherish exclusively my beautiful wife and that seems like an anomaly to some people … It’s my honor to be married and I want to honor my wife.”
Chadwick Boseman wanted to avoid playing stereotypes
The late actor Chadwick Boseman may be known for playing heroic giants on screen like Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and Black Panther, but early in his career he briefly played a young street-tough on the ABC soap All My Children. In 2003, Boseman was cast as troubled teen Reggie Montgomery. But that quickly came to an end after he expressed concern to producers about playing a part who, as TheWrap noted, “came across as little more than a stereotypical thug.”
“When I got it, I was like, ‘This is not part of my manifesto. This is not part of what I want to do. How can I make it work?'” he told TheWrap. “Because with a soap opera, you don’t know the full scope of what’s gonna happen — you don’t know where they’re gonna take the character because they don’t always know where the character is going.” Boseman said he was fired for voicing his opinion a week after he got the gig and guess who was hired to replace him? His Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan, who because of Boseman had a better script for the Reggie Montgomery character. “They said, ‘You are too much trouble,’ but they took my suggestions or some of them. And for me, honestly, that’s what this is about,” said Boseman, who tragically died of colon cancer on Aug. 28, 2020.
Taron Egerton said he was uncomfortable
There’s one scene in the 2017 spy film Kingsman: The Golden Circle where actor Taron Egerton’s character, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, puts a tracking device inside the body of Poppy Delevingne’s character, Clara Von Gluckfberg, to further his mission. But first, Eggsy has to become intimate with Gluckgberg to insert the device and eventually, a hand is seen doing the strange deed. And it’s probably no surprise that the scene was steeped in controversy, which is something that director Matthew Vaughn said he wanted.
“I like to push boundaries,” he told IndieWire in 2017. “I’m quite happy if people love my work and they hate my work. What I don’t want is people not to discuss it and be bland and boring.” But it turns out that Egerton didn’t shoot the scene and his hand wasn’t used. Instead, it was another person’s hand that Delevingne probably knows a whole lot better. “In this one, I’m in the shot and I said to Matthew, ‘I’m not comfortable doing this,'” Egerton said while speaking to Screen Rant in 2017. “So it’s not my hand, it’s Poppy husband’s [James Cook’s] hand. He saved the world.”
Anna Kendrick didn't want a romantic storyline
Anna Kendrick had no interest in filming Pitch Perfect 3 storyline that placed the character Beca Mitchell in a romantic relationship with Guy Burnet’s character Theo. Her reason? As she told Harper’s Bazaar the same year Pitch Perfect 3 was released, Theo — who’s DJ Khaled’s producer in the film — initially showed interest in Beca’s musical talents, not her looks or the possibility that they’d hook up. In short, Theo wanted Beca to leave her group the Bellas, and be a solo artist, so Kendrick thought a romantic angle between them would convey the wrong message to moviegoers. She also said no to a scene where the two characters locked lips at the end of the movie for the same reason. “Originally the music executive was supposed [to be] my romantic interest but I said no to that because I thought that would be kind of f***ing problematic,” Kendrick said.
And the senseless romantic angle wasn’t the only thing the actor had a problem with, she also didn’t care for some of the wardrobe suggestions. “It’s funny, whenever we do the wardrobe fittings I feel like we get notes from the top saying they should be tighter and sexier and show more skin,” she explained to the publication. “And I’m like, that’s not why people are coming to see the movie. They definitely aren’t showing up because of our sex appeal.” Kendrick isn’t afraid to speak up and that sure is aca-awesome.
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