Hollywood has been on a journey of inclusivity, embracing people of diverse backgrounds and orientations into its fold. While strides have been made, there are still moments when the industry falls back into familiar patterns, restricting actors to certain roles. Unfortunately, this tends to impact groups that have historically faced obstacles in the entertainment world.
Celebrities have candidly admitted to taking on roles that they wish they hadn’t. Even some of the biggest names in the business have shared stories of being pigeonholed in troublesome situations throughout their careers.
1. Javier Barden Experienced Some Backlash As A Result Of Being Cast In ‘Being the Ricardos’
Javier Bardem, known for his roles in Spanish films, gained recognition from American audiences for his outstanding performances in No Country for Old Men and Skyfall. He has proven himself to be a versatile actor, effortlessly playing charming leading men and menacing villains.
In his latest film, Being the Ricardos, Bardem takes on the role of Desi Arnaz, whose tumultuous yet fruitful marriage to Lucille Ball is a central part of the story. Some people criticized Bardem’s casting, suggesting that a Latino actor should have been chosen instead. However, Bardem responded to this criticism in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, highlighting the disproportionate focus on actors who speak English as a second language. He said:
“I’m an actor, and my job is to embody characters that are different from who I am. What about Marlon Brando playing Vito Corleone? Or Meryl Streep portraying Margaret Thatcher? And let’s not forget Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln. Why does this conversation about accents only arise when it comes to non-native English speakers? Your accent is part of your identity. It’s complicated.”
“Why isn’t there a similar conversation about English-speaking actors playing French characters in films like The Last Duel, set in the Middle Ages? That seems to be accepted without question. But when it comes to me, with my Spanish accent, playing a Cuban character, suddenly it’s an issue. If we’re going to have this discussion, let’s have it for everyone. The role came to me, and one thing I know for certain is that I’ll give it my all.”
Bardem’s perspective sheds light on the double standards in the industry and emphasizes the importance of inclusive conversations about representation. Despite the criticism, he remains committed to delivering a compelling performance in the role.
2. Chris Farley Was Embarrassed To Perform In His Famous ‘Chippendale’s Sketch On ‘SNL’
Chris Farley was a comedian who rose to fame through his hilarious performances on Saturday Night Live. He had a unique comedic style, often portraying characters who were prone to intense emotions like anger or outrage. Unfortunately, during the 1990s, when fatphobia was prevalent in American culture, many of his skits relied on exploiting his larger size for cheap laughs.
One of the most well-known examples of this was the Chippendales sketch, where Farley’s body was contrasted with Patrick Swayze’s. According to Tom Arnold, a close friend of Farley, the actor had mixed feelings about this particular sketch. In a conversation with Arnold, Farley expressed his embarrassment and conflict:
“He called me and said, ‘Lorne and everyone wants me to be a fat guy. They want me to do a sketch where I’m stripping for Chippendales with Patrick Swayze, and they want me to take my shirt off. And then I’m the fat guy. What do you think? It’s just embarrassing.'”
Despite his reservations, Farley’s desire for approval and acceptance led him to accept the role. While the sketch secured his place in television comedy history, it is evident that the weight of it lingered on Farley’s mind.
3. Rebel Wilson Was Banned From Losing Weight During Her Time In The ‘Pitch Perfect’ Franchise
Rebel Wilson, a charismatic actress, gained fame through her supporting roles in various films. However, it was her role as “Fat Amy” in the highly successful Pitch Perfect series that truly propelled her into the spotlight. In her own words, she said, “I was very much stereotyped into playing the fat, funny girl, which I loved and which I played into and made millions of dollars doing.”
Despite the immense success of her appearance in Pitch Perfect, Wilson faced several restrictions due to her role. She was not only pigeonholed because of her appearance but also contractually forbidden from losing weight. “You have to kind of stay at the weight,” she revealed, sharing that maintaining her “Fat Amy” weight was a requirement of her contract for the films.
However, once her time on the series concluded, Wilson embarked on a physical fitness journey and successfully shed a significant amount of weight.
4. Regina King Decided To Shift Her Career After Being Offered The Role Of Samuel L. Jackson’s Wife
Regina King, a highly respected actress of her time, has made a name for herself in both television and film. Starting with her success in the sitcom 227, she has since become a star in various projects, including the acclaimed movie If Beale Street Could Talk, where she won the Best Supporting Actress award.
Despite her accomplishments, she has faced some challenges in her career, particularly the issue of being typecast. This was partly due to her role as a wife character in the film Jerry Maguire. Speaking on The Graham Norton Show, she shared her thoughts on the matter:
“When you receive a call asking you to play Samuel L Jackson’s wife, who is 70 years old, you can’t help but think, ‘Did you mean daughter or mistress?’ I have great love for Sam, but that made me realize it was time for a change.”
Overall, Regina King’s journey in the entertainment industry has been filled with success and obstacles, but she continues to thrive and seek new opportunities.
5. Christopher Walken Has A Term For When Writers ‘Tweak’ Scripts To Make His Roles More ‘Quirky’
Christopher Walken has certainly made a name for himself in Hollywood with his quirky roles. From his peculiar line-readings to his appearances in unexpected projects like a Fatboy Slim music video and The Jungle Book adaptation, Walken has become synonymous with eccentric characters.
While this reputation has certainly contributed to his fame, Walken doesn’t seem too thrilled about being typecast. Despite his undeniable status in the industry, he finds this kind of pigeonholing to be limiting. In an interview with The Guardian, he expressed his frustration, saying:
“Sometimes, I’ll receive a script that I genuinely like, so I agree to be a part of it. But then they go ahead and rewrite it for me. They add all these quirks and oddities that I find bothersome. I even have a name for it: Walkenising.”
It seems that Walken would prefer to have more diverse roles that showcase his range as an actor, rather than constantly being pushed into the “quirky” box.
6. Jason Momoa Was Unable To Get Work After ‘Game Of Thrones’ Because People Assumed He ‘Didn’t Speak English’
Jason Momoa, known for his role as Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe, has experienced great success as a male star in his generation. However, even before his superhero fame, he became a well-known figure through his portrayal of Khal Drogo in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Although his character met an early demise in the series, Momoa’s performance made him instantly recognizable. Unfortunately, as is often the case in Hollywood, this level of fame came at a cost. Momoa candidly shared his experience with Entertainment Weekly:
“Afterwards, many people criticized me. It really hurt. They assumed I couldn’t speak English and didn’t realize I was just playing a role. The truth is, I am nothing like Drogo. I only resemble him when I am affectionate and loving towards the woman I care about. His other side is not me. However, when people rewatched the show, they fell in love with Drogo.”
It is evident that Momoa faced challenges due to the misconceptions surrounding his character, but it is reassuring to know that viewers eventually appreciated his portrayal.
7. Barbie Ferreira Left ‘Euphoria’ Because She Didn’t Want To Be ‘The Fat Best Friend’
HBO’s Euphoria has been making waves with its raw and sometimes unsettling portrayal of high school students’ desires and drug-fueled escapades. Among the well-crafted characters in the series, Kat Hernandez, played by Barbie Ferreira, stands out.
However, as the second season progressed, Kat’s character development seemed to hit a roadblock, prompting Ferreira to make the tough decision to leave the show. In an interview with Dax Shephard, she revealed that her departure stemmed from her frustrations with how her character was handled and the limitations imposed on plus-size women.
According to Ferreira, there seemed to be no clear path for Kat in the narrative. While there were potential directions her character could have taken, it didn’t seem to fit seamlessly into the show. Both Ferreira and the show’s creators recognized her desire to break away from the cliché of being the “fat best friend.” They shared the belief that this wouldn’t do justice to her talent, and they wanted to avoid perpetuating such stereotypes.
8. Donald Glover Was Told He Was A ‘Diversity’ Hire On ’30 Rock’
Donald Glover is a true jack-of-all-trades when it comes to entertainment. He has proven his versatility as an actor, comedian, rapper, and writer throughout his career. From his roles in shows like Community and Atlanta to his music as Childish Gambino, and even his appearances in Star Wars, it’s clear that there’s not much he can’t do. It’s no wonder that his undeniable charisma has propelled him to become a Hollywood star.
But despite his success, Glover has faced racism in the industry. He first gained recognition on the hit comedy 30 Rock, created by and starring Tina Fey. In an interview with GQ, Glover revealed, “There is no animosity between us or anything like that, but [Tina Fey] said it herself… [My hiring] was a diversity thing.” It turns out that NBC had implemented a diversity initiative, which allowed Fey to hire Glover without any cost.
9. Danny Trejo Didn’t Realize He Was Being Stereotyped When He First Started Working In Hollywood
Over the years, Danny Trejo has become a well-loved and easily recognizable character actor. He’s appeared in some of the most highly praised TV shows like Breaking Bad and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as well as in movies such as From Dusk Till Dawn and the various Machete films. With his distinct scarred face and gravelly voice, he’s a natural at portraying rough and edgy characters.
Trejo’s life took a turn when he had a few run-ins with the law and ended up serving time in prison. However, his life changed when he got a chance to be an extra in the film Runaway Train. From that moment, he found himself getting typecast and offered limited roles. In an interview, he reflected on this by saying,
“I didn’t realize I was being typecast. I was just grateful to be working. And I believe that being typecast for so long actually provided many people with job opportunities. It allowed us to open doors.”
10. Octavia Spencer Turned Down Many Roles Because They Were Retreads Of ‘The Help’
Octavia Spencer is widely regarded as one of the most adored actors in the industry today. She has brought power, emotional honesty, and strength to her portrayals of women of color in films such as Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water, and notably, The Help. What sets her apart is her ability to captivate audiences as both a beloved star and a chilling villain, as seen in her unforgettable performance in Ma.
Unfortunately, like many women of color in Hollywood, Octavia Spencer has faced the challenge of typecasting. Following the immense success of The Help, for which she won the Best Supporting Actress award, she found herself being offered similar roles repeatedly. In an interview with Marc Maron, she expressed her frustration, saying,
“I just played the best maid role written. And if they’re going to keep bringing those to me we’re going to have to keep saying no. Like, what’s different about this maid than the one [I just played]? What I felt is that people don’t have any imagination.”
Spencer’s candid remark sheds light on the lack of diversity and creativity in the roles offered to women of color in the industry. Despite her immense talent and range as an actress, she has often found herself battling against limited opportunities. It serves as a reminder that Hollywood still has a long way to go in providing equal and varied representation for actors of all backgrounds.
11. Idris Elba Didn’t Receive Many Good Offers After Appearing In ‘The Wire’
Idris Elba, known for his gravelly voice, dashing good looks, and distinctive accent, has steadily risen to become one of Hollywood’s most prominent leading actors. He has showcased his versatility by appearing in various genres, from lending his voice to the menacing Shere Khan in Disney’s The Jungle Book, to his involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, his portrayal of Luther in the eponymous series is widely regarded as one of his most noteworthy roles, leading to speculations about his potential casting as James Bond.
Unfortunately, like many people of color in the industry, Elba has faced the limitations imposed by Hollywood. After his career-defining success in The Wire, he found himself being offered roles that closely resembled his character, Stringer Bell:
“I could have continued playing characters like Stringer Bell indefinitely. I could have had my own television show right now, earning a hefty sum of 150 grand per episode. However, the truth is that the film scripts I receive are nothing like the exceptional writing I have been privileged to work with, The Wire being the epitome of that.”
Elba expresses his frustration with the lack of diversity in the roles he is offered, longing for more opportunities to showcase his talent in projects that match the caliber of The Wire. Despite his accomplishments, he continues to face the industry’s limitations, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by actors of color in Hollywood.