Look a few decades back and you’ll find a raft of memorable characters from the big screen. From gritty action heroes to kick-ass princesses, these vibrant personalities helped shape peoples’ childhoods.
It may surprise you to hear the opinions of those behind the roles. They were not happy at all in some cases! Shatter your dreams if you dare…
George Reeves, Superman
Before Henry Cavill was even thought about, George Reeves played the Man of Steel in 1951’s Superman and the Mole Men. The TV show Adventures of Superman thrilled viewers between 1952 – 58.
Reeves came along for the ride… well, flight… but was less than excited about the role. As mentioned by Closer Weekly, he “felt trapped, stifled by the part, and lost in the sense that his career was over.”
Superman may have soared high but the star felt low. Despite embracing his responsibilities as a screen hero and role model, the part obscured his talent beyond Krypton. He’s said to have referred to the iconic blue and red outfit as a “monkey suit.”
Sean Connery, James Bond
007 made Sean Connery’s name and provided him with a springboard to greater things. However, the role, which he initially played between 1962-67, left him shaken rather than stirred.
Like Reeves, he felt the part held him back, though he went on to appear in some memorable movies in different parts. Still, he couldn’t resist returning for Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and rival production Never Say Never Again (1983).
Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music
He was immortalized as Baron von Trapp in the enduring movie musical The Sound Of Music. Yet Christopher Plummer had another name for the flick – “The Sound of Mucus.”
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, he described it as “so awful and sentimental and gooey.”
Speaking of gooey, Plummer reportedly indulged at the dinner table, piling on the pounds and testing the mettle of the wardrobe department with his waistline.
Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange
Alex the futuristic “droog” was a role any young actor would be eager to play. The honor fell to Malcolm McDowell, who found himself working with the great Stanley Kubrick on his adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1971).
The shine appeared to come off rather quickly. Speaking to NME, McDowell revealed the words of an electrician on set: “He’s tryin’ to kill you Malc, he’s tryin’ to kill you.”
Ever the perfectionist, Kubrick put his star through hell – the infamous sequence where Alex has his eyes forcibly held open resulted in McDowell scratching his cornea!
Carrie Fisher, Star Wars
The classic “cinnamon bun” hairstyle wasn’t a sweet treat for Fisher. And there was further indignity to come, thanks to the famous gold bikini worn in Return Of The Jedi (1983).
Leia got her own back on slavemaster Jabba The Hut, throttling him with her own chains. Fisher found it therapeutic. Talking to NPR, she said: “I really relished that because I hated wearing that outfit and sitting there rigid straight, and I couldn’t wait to kill him.”
Faye Dunaway, Mommie Dearest
Dunaway was well-cast in 1981’s Mommie Dearest, which presented the memories of Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter Christina Crawford.
This far-from-flattering portrayal of Crawford grabbed attention but maybe for the wrong reasons. It was a hysterical production, both in terms of the performances and critics’ reactions!
Quoted by The Independent from 2016, Dunaway said: “it turned my career in a direction where people would irretrievably have the wrong impression of me ”“ and that’s an awful hard thing to beat.”
Harrison Ford, Blade Runner
Blade Runner (1982) was a game-changer for science-fiction. That said, it wasn’t exactly a pleasure to shoot. Among the stresses of life in Los Angeles in 2019 (!) were a fractious working relationship between director Ridley Scott and star Harrison Ford.
A bankable name thanks to Star Wars, Ford wanted a say over how things went. Visual genius Scott appeared to think otherwise. Vanity Fair mentions Ford’s response when shooting the original ending.
His character Deckard realizes he’s not really a man but a machine after finding an origami unicorn. “Goddammit,” the leading man exclaimed, “I thought we said I wasn’t a replicant!”
Ford returned decades later for Blade Runner 2049. Sadly that movie, like its predecessor, was a box office flop.
Molly Ringwald, The Breakfast Club
Many a teenager who grew up in the 1980s found solace in John Hughes’ high school rite of passage tale The Breakfast Club. Among those famous faces in detention was Molly Ringwald, a frequent collaborator with Hughes who played the role of Claire, or “The Princess.”
However, Ringwald turned against the movie in 2017. She felt her character wasn’t treated with respect. This was in light of the #MeToo movement. Watching it with her daughter and becoming unsettled by some onscreen objectification reportedly made her realize the problem. She penned a piece about The Breakfast Club and Hughes’ output for The New Yorker in 2018.
While she hadn’t stopped appreciating the films, “lately I have felt the need to examine the role that these movies have played in our cultural life.”