It’s not easy breaking out into acting, especially in Hollywood. Performers from around the world and from different backgrounds try their hands at it, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes an actor goes on to be a living legend, other times they vanish without a trace. Then there’s actors whose reputation off-camera almost eclipses their on-screen personas; some of these actors can overcome it, while others are not so fortunate.
This list covers actors who, over the years, have amassed the reputation that they are difficult to work with, to the point where it has affected their chances at getting roles. We’ve also done our darnedest to not give the impression that the actors are bad at what they do (or are bad people all-around). As is the case with many of the entries, their reputations haven’t always prevented them from getting roles and staying popular.
Without further delay, here are 15 Difficult Actors That Nobody Wants To Work With.
15. Shia LaBeouf
Anyone who’s seen the first three Transformers films is more than familiar with Shia LaBeouf, and even if you’re not a fan of giant robot fighting, there’s no shortage of other movies he’s starred in over the course of his career. From his early appearance on the hit Disney show Even Stevens, LaBeouf managed to be quite the popular actor for a decent chunk of time, from the aforementioned Transformers to appearing in such hits as Disturbia and even the fourth Indiana Jones film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
However, especially in recent years, LaBeouf has been known to be a bit of a challenge for those on set. Most stories involving him center around his strange method approach, and how difficult it can be to work with him in general. However, there’s also stories such as ones involving him fighting with fellow co-stars, such as Tom Hardy on the set of Lawless, and having a public feud with Alec Baldwin, with whom he had done a Broadway play with. When you factor in his off-set troubles, he’s not exactly a guy that studio execs are lining up to hire, despite his talent.
14. Katherine Heigl
One could very easily feel sympathy for Katherine Heigl, a once up-and-coming actress who made her breakthrough with both Grey’s Anatomy and the Judd Apatow hit, Knocked Up. From there, one would hope and think Heigl would appear in a nice variety of films that would show off her range, perhaps garnering her more good publicity, but that latter mention is the main issue.
Heigl has been known to be outspoken and critical with regards to projects she’s worked on (calling the aforementioned Knocked Up “sexist” and criticizing Grey’s, the show that made her a star). It doesn’t help that Heigl’s choices for projects weren’t any good either; stinkers like The Ugly Truth and Killers did little to further her career. Along with her publicist quitting, Heigl’s following projects were almost all direct-to-video fare….or television commercials. She recently starred in the 2017 thriller Unforgettable, which, contrary to the title, has already been forgotten.
13. Charlie Sheen
It should come as no surprise that Charlie Sheen has been known to be a difficult actor to work with. The son of Martin Sheen and brother of Emilio Estevez (who kept the original family name), Charlie got his start in the 1980s, featuring in beloved classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and starring in hits like Major League. From there on out, he’d continue to show up in various films before establishing his cred as a funny man on the hit CBS series, Two-and-a-Half Men.
However, even by this time, Sheen was known for his wild antics, drug use, and partying. His marriage to Denise Richards didn’t last (nor end too well), and he was eventually forced off Two-and-a-Half Men because of his unpredictable behavior. By this point, Sheen is well known for being a crazy actor who can’t get nearly the same amount of work that he used to, and is now more recognized for saying bizarre things and for being a generally bizarre person.
12. Bruce Willis
Though he started out as more of a comedic actor, starring alongside Cybill Shepard on the hit series Moonlighting, Bruce Willis broke onto the A-list as an action star with the massive success of Die Hard in 1988. With Moonlighting ending, Willis became a major celebrity in the 1990s, starring in two Die Hard sequels, along with several other major action films, as well as the now-legendary The Sixth Sense. In between, Willis did manage to star in a comedy or two, including The Whole Nine Yards and its sequel.
However, by the time the sequel to Red had been released in 2013, Willis’ reputation for being a chore to work with had become a bit more well-known. Most famously, director Kevin Smith, who had worked with Willis on the forgettable 2010 comedy Cop Out, claims the experience was “soul crushing.” Even fellow action star Sylvester Stallone had problems with him when Willis wouldn’t do Expendables 3 because he wanted a pay raise – despite the fact that he was a supporting player in the series at best.
11. Steven Seagal
Well-known for being a major martial arts action star throughout the 1990s, Steven Seagal is also known for managing to fall from stardom in spectacular fashion. Being a master in the art of Aikido, Seagal trained in Japan before moving to Los Angeles and training actors such as Sean Connery (whose wrist he once broke). He’d later star in films himself (most famously Under Siege), from genre action films to more mainstream fare. However, since the 2000s, Seagal has mostly done direct-to-video films, as well as being a business entrepreneur and reality TV star.
He’s also been known to be extremely tough to work alongside on the set of films. For years, rumors and stories have persisted that Seagal harasses and physically abuses other cast and crew members. One particular story involves John Leguizamo claiming that he, after laughing at something Seagal said, was physically attacked and thrown against a wall.
10. Sharon Stone
Actress, model, and sex symbol, Sharon Stone made her mark in the 1990s, being featured in Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and Basic Instinct. This latter film brought her much attention and recognition, and she’d later be seen in Martin Scorsese’s Casino (which netted her an Academy Award nomination). Her work in the 2000s and 2010s has varied from mainstream flops (Catwoman) to more independent but better regarded films (Broken Flowers), as well as the upcoming The Disaster Artist.
However, Stone does have a bit of a reputation for being demanding. A minor example, but one of the big reasons a sequel to Basic Instinct took so long to get off the ground, was because Stone had disputes with studio execs with regards to its sexual content. A more recent and somewhat infamous example comes from her time on the set of the Italian film A Golden Boy, where she reportedly would go off shopping with the production credit card.
9. Sean Young
Those familiar with the 1982 now-classic Blade Runner will surely recognize Sean Young, who played Rachael alongside Harrison Ford’s Deckard. A former model and dancer, Young has had an interesting history of being difficult to work with, going as far back as the 1980s. She reportedly clashed with director Oliver Stone during the filming of Wall Street, harassed actor James Woods (which resulted in him suing her), and reportedly bothered Tim Burton and Michael Keaton during the production of Batman Returns (she really wanted to be Catwoman).
Unsurprisingly, the 1990s saw Young’s star fade significantly. While she did appear in the popular Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, she was fired from Dick Tracy earlier in the decade, and she’s been restricted to the small screen in more recent years, including a couple of reality shows, which is rarely a good sign.
8. Lindsay Lohan
You know you’re difficult to work with when producers (reportedly) included a clause in your contract in case you violate your parole. Starting in the early 1990s, the world witnessed the beginnings of one Lindsay Lohan, an actress who came to fame with hit films such as Mean Girls and Freaky Friday. In addition to a few other popular works (such as Herbie: Fully Loaded), Lohan seemed poised to be the next big young star of her generation.
But that didn’t happen. Other than going for more mature roles (Chapter 27, Bobby), as well as a recording career, Lohan’s acting career nosedived as she continued to get in trouble with the law and exhibit unprofessional behavior during the filming of certain projects. Since those days in the mid-2000s, she’s remained a problematic actress to work with, as recent projects (The Canyons, Liz & Dick) have continued to demonstrate.
7. January Jones
Nominated for two Golden Globes and an Emmy, January Jones is best known for playing Betty Draper on the hit AMC series Mad Men. She’s also appeared on the NBC comedy The Last Man on Earth, and she popped up in a less-than-memorable portrayal as Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class. In the real world, however, she’s also known for being what could be described as cold, if what’s been said by co-stars is to be believed.
There’s the anecdote about how Jones was the one person you wouldn’t want to approach on the set of Mad Men, as well as comedian Zach Galifianakis claiming she was very rude to him during an encounter. However, Jones herself has said that she feeds off any negativity that goes her way as a form of motivation to do better, so at least any and all negativity she receives does some good.
6. William Shatner
Better known as James T. Kirk on the much beloved and celebrated Star Trek series, William Shatner has certainly had an interesting career. Before Trek, Shatner’s resume largely consisted of a couple episodes of The Twilight Zone and a few odd movies here and there. Even after Trek had been cancelled (and in-between the Trek movies), he starred and acted in a variety of strange films that very few even know exist, though, like his Trek co-stars, he did have a bit of a resurgence in the past couple of decades.
His time during Star Trek is easily what he’ll be most remembered for, of course, but it comes with stories of Shatner being a less-than-comfy co-star. Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, and George Takei all have their stories about how Shatner was around them, whether it was stealing lines, being jealous, or feeling the need to be the center of attention.
5. Chevy Chase
One of the biggest comedians from the mid 1970s all the way through the ’80s and ’90s, Cornelius Crane Chase (otherwise known as Chevy) has built up an infamous reputation since he first showed up on Saturday Night Live. Even back then, he was well-known for being rude and antagonistic towards his cast members, to the point that when he left SNL after a year, nobody minded all that much. He’d later show up in the Harold Ramis directed Caddyshack, where his feud with Bill Murray (which involved a physical altercation or two) lead to a hilariously awkward scene between their two characters. From that point on, Chevy would make a few Vacation films (and show up in the Ed Helms version), as well Fletch and its sequel. He even tried to be a talk show host, but that didn’t work out. Those guys are usually a bit friendlier, after all.
Most recently, he’s starred on the cult favorite sitcom Community, a show he famously quit. But he didn’t just quit – no, he made it public that he wasn’t even a fan of the show, which caused a great deal of animosity between him and creator Dan Harmon. Co-star Joel McHale has also mentioned how rude and offensive Chevy would be towards the rest of the cast. Few names in Hollywood are as cold as Chevy Chase, at the moment.
4. Dustin Hoffman
While this list demonstrates that there’s plenty of actors who are known to be difficult, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t really mind the reputation too much. Dustin Hoffman has been known to be a tough guy to work with, due to his insistence on redoing takes and being something of a perfectionist.
His breakout role in Tinseltown came with 1967’s The Graduate, but he’d been performing long before that in theater. As a result of his newfound stardom, he turned down several directors for one reason or another, not wanting his fame to get out of hand. But the following years saw him in classics like Midnight Cowboy, and he’d later star in critically acclaimed films such as All the President’s Men, Kramer vs Kramer, and Tootsie, so…there goes that.
In between all this, he managed to garner a reputation as a chore of a performer, something he seemed to have in common with his character in Tootise. It’s also well known he and director Sydney Pollack would shout at each other, but Hoffman has insisted that he only ever shouted at those who could shout back (so, movie producers).
3. Russell Crowe
Known for a variety of film roles, from Gladiator to Les Miserables, and even last year’s The Nice Guys, Russell Crowe tough guy persona has become cemented in Hollywood. Born in New Zealand but living most of his life in Australia, Crowe had starred in a couple critically acclaimed films (L.A. Confidential, The Insider) before his breakthrough in the aforementioned Gladiator.
Despite all the talent he has at his disposal, Crowe is just as well-known for being quite the rowdy Aussie as he is an onscreen powerhouse. Aside from the occasional physical altercation (and he’s been in several documented incidents), he apparently got riled up at film producer Branko Lustig, to the point where the producer wanted out of the production on Gladiator, fearing for his life. But are you not entertained?
2. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow has had quite a career over the last two decades. She’s been in the hit David Fincher thriller Se7en, the Oscar winning Shakespeare in Love, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Royal Tenenbaums, and the little-seen, little-remembered, but well-liked Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. She most recently has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Tony Stark’s partner in crime, Pepper Potts.
That said, Paltrow isn’t the most liked starlet in Hollywood. It’s been said by more than a few folks that she’s not a very enjoyable person to be with, due to her coldness and demands as an actress. Much of this stems from her apparently unpleasant demeanor, which may explain why she was voted “Most Stuck-Up” in Movieline magazine all the way back in 1998. All that said, it hasn’t stopped Paltrow any, as she continues to have a solid acting career all these years later.
1. Edward Norton
Of the many popular actors working today, none may be so infamous for being tough to work with as Edward Norton. Getting his break in 1996 with the films Primal Fear and The People vs. Larry Flynt, Norton would famously star in American History X, and later co-star with Brad Pitt on David Fincher’s Fight Club. From here, Norton himself would star in and direct Keeping the Faith, as well as headline Red Dragon and 25th Hour, among a host of other films. Most recently, he received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the Best Picture winning Birdman.
Throughout it all, Norton has been described as a control-freak, and it’s been claimed that he’s at least attempted to direct nearly every film he stars in. He has an uncredited role as scriptwriter for The Incredible Hulk, just one of many things that bothered the film’s director and Marvel Studios; so bothered with Norton were they, and vice versa, that he was recast for the 2012 Avengers team-up effort. Though as difficult as Norton is, his talent as an actor has never been questioned…he’s just too much for some people.
Surely there are dozens of other stars who have built up a reputation of their own in Hollywood. Let us know who else belonged on our list in the comments!
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