35 Iconic Performances That Actors Look Back At And Cringe


Even Pierce Brosnan himself admitted, “Singing is not necessarily my forte,” after appearing in Mamma Mia.

In an actor’s career, they’re bound to have good and bad performances. However, with the bad performances, it’s rare that an actor themselves actually admits to faults in their own acting.

Here are 35 times actors have been critical of their past performances, cringed watching them, or were straight-up embarrassed by them.


Elizabeth Olsen was not a fan of her performance in the pilot of WandaVision. “We did a live audience for the first episode, and that was the first thing we shot,” Olsen said. “It was very confusing how to play to the camera.”

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“Like, I was like projecting, because I’m used to stage,” Olsen continued. “When I watched the first episode, I’m like, ‘Oh, goddamn it.’ I was so frustrated, because I can see my 10-year-old theater-kid self playing out to the audience instead of the camera.”

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She was nominated for an Emmy for her work on the series.


Meryl Streep was similarly critical of her Oscar-nominated performance as Sarah and Anna in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. “I was young and new at this,” Meryl said on The Graham Norton Show. “I wasn’t as pleased as I could…I didn’t feel like I was living it.”

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Marilyn Monroe also reportedly hated her work on The Misfits and didn’t want to advertise it — even though her performance was critically acclaimed.

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Pierce Brosnan’s performance as James Bond, in contrast, was pretty poorly received. But it wasn’t only fans who disliked his performance. Brosnan himself said he was “caught somewhere in between the Roger Moore and the Sean Connery of it all. And both men, I adored as James Bond. But it never felt — I don’t know — real.”

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“I felt like I was in a period-piece sometimes,” Brosnan continued. “Because I could hear echoes or sensations of Connery or of Roger, which I didn’t try to censor; I’d just allow them to come in.” He also told the Telegraph, “I have no desire to watch myself as James Bond. ‘Cause it’s just never good enough. It’s a horrible feeling.”

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However, he did say he wouldn’t change anything about the performances, mostly because he doesn’t allow himself to “go over that terrain.” He also said he thinks the first film stands up.


Brosnan has also said he cringed when he heard his singing in Mamma Mia. “There is certainly a sense of cringe-making when it comes to singing,” he said. “You’re very vulnerable. … Singing is not necessarily my forte — I enjoy singing, I’m not quite sure other people enjoy my singing, but they have good entertainment value out of my singing.”

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However, speaking about the film’s sequel, for which he reprised his role, he said, “I’m excited. I don’t know if the people will be excited, but one way or the other I shall sing again, whether they like it or not. I don’t care what they say! I love my voice! I think that it will grow on people. They will always just want to hear a little singing from me.”


Helena Bonham Carter was also reportedly disappointed with her singing in Les Misérables. “I had lots of vocal training for Les Mis, but I didn’t improve as much as I thought I would,” she told the Daily Mail. “I watched it and thought… I was going to be so much better, I thought my voice was going to be so much bigger.”

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“I practiced and practiced and practiced but the thing with Les Mis is that it was real so that’s what we sounded like. In Sweeney, I had people making me sound better than I am but not for this.” She went on to say, “I would do another singing (film) role if someone else was foolish enough to employ me but I wouldn’t do a stage musical. I don’t have a strong enough voice. Maybe for one night but with singing it’s like any muscle, it doesn’t last.”

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Amanda Seyfried was also no fan of her work on Les Misérables. She even said that she wished she could redo the film. “I still have nightmares about it. I was very weak. … From a very technical standpoint, I was very unhappy with my singing.”

Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection / Via youtube.com


Emily Blunt also said she was embarrassed by her singing in Into the Woods, even though she’d received vocal training, saying, “Oh, my God! It’s hideous watching it,” though she didn’t clarify if she was ultimately unhappy with her performance.

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She also, notably, went on to appear in the movie musical Mary Poppins.


While this wasn’t necessarily a singing role, Adam Driver sang briefly in the film Inside Llewyn Davis. He reportedly hated watching the scene so much that he decided to never watch his films again.


Nicole Kidman admitted to squirming in her seat at the screening of her film Australia, saying she immediately left Australia (as in the country) afterward.

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Nicole said of the film, “I can’t look at this movie and be proud of what I’ve done. I sat there and I looked at Keith [Urban] and went, ‘Am I any good in this movie?’ … It’s just impossible for me to connect to it emotionally at all.”

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Comedian Sarah Silverman was memorably fired from Saturday Night Live after only appearing for a single season. While she said she didn’t do anything wrong, she did say part of the reason she was fired was likely because she simply wasn’t funny on the show: “I wrote not a single funny sketch,” she told HuffPost.

When asked if she’d do things differently if she could go back, Silverman said, “Yeah! I’m funnier. I’m so much funnier. The fact that Lorne Michaels saw anything in me at that age and at that time for me where I don’t think I was close to where I would become is impressive for him.”

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Zac Efron said he “didn’t know how to dance” in the High School Musical films, mocking, along with the interviewer, a particular move from the number “The Boys Are Back” in High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

While he spoke of his positive memories of the filming process, he’s also said of the Zac that starred in HSM, “I step back and look at myself and I still want to kick that guy’s ass sometimes. Like, fuck that guy. He’s done some kind of cool things with some cool people — he did that one thing [Neighbors] that was funny — but, I mean, he’s still just that fucking kid from [High School Musical].”

Adam Orchon/Everett Collection


Looking back on his 1987 standup routine, Raw, Eddie Murphy also cringes. “I was a young guy processing a broken heart, you know, kind of an asshole,” he said, calling his jokes (which included homophobic jokes) “a bit much.” He’s also previously apologized for his homophobic jokes (particularly in his set Delirious), saying he was “misinformed.”

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Ewan McGregor called his film Emma, in which he starred as Frank Churchill, the worst thing he’d done workwise: “It’s a good film, Emma, but I’m just…not very good in it,” he admitted.

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During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Charlie Hunnam visibly cringed during a clip of his first acting role in Byker Grove, calling it humiliating to show before it even began.


Jake Gyllenhaal similarly covered his face as a clip from his old role in City Slickers was shown on Good Morning America.


Kate Winslet also cringed at her performance in Titanic to CNN, calling her American accent “awful” and saying she wished she could go back and redo it — however, she still loves the film and looks back fondly on it.

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Emma Watson’s first large non-Harry Potter role was starring in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for which she had to use an American accent. Like Winslet, she was not pleased with how it turned out. “I think it sounded terrible!” she told MTV ahead of the film’s release.

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Jupiter Ascending was an all-around poorly received film, and Eddie Redmayne’s performance was no exception. In particular, he used a very strange accent/voice for the part.

Murray Close / Warner Bros. Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Eddie said, “My character had had his larynx ripped out by this wolf man, and so I made the slightly bold choice — which I thought was right. I won a prize for it for the Worst Performance of the Year. So, yeah, it was a pretty bad performance on my account.”

Dee Cercone/Everett Collection


Batman & Robin was another infamously bad film, and star George Clooney has taken plenty of the blame for that. Clooney has admitted that he was “terrible in it,” calling it a terrible film and pointing out some of the cheesier lines.

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Christian Bale memorably helped turn the role of Batman around in The Dark Knight trilogy. However, he told Yahoo, “I didn’t quite manage what I hoped I would throughout the trilogy … My own sense of self is like, ‘I didn’t quite nail it.’ … Heath [Ledger] turned up and just kind of completely ruined all my plans. Because I went, ‘He’s so much more interesting than me and what I’m doing.’“

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Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his work on The Dark Knight.


Shay Mitchell’s first large role was on the series Pretty Little Liars. While she hasn’t talked about her performance on the actual show, she decided to go back and react to her audition video on her YouTube channel, making fun of her acting throughout.

Danny Feld / ABC Family / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Prefacing showing the video by saying she was “a little baby” and that she was a little embarrassed, she went on to say, “You hope that as the years go on, as with any job, that you get better at your craft, so looking back on this as the years go by, I get more mortified and more mortified when I watch it because I just see little me extremely nervous, this being the first big audition I’d ever done.”


This wasn’t necessarily a role, but one filmed gig Anne Hathaway now finds wildly embarrassing is co-hosting the Oscars in 2011. “The thing about me and embarrassment is you have to remember that it all happens on a scale,” Hathaway pointed out to Fallon. “If you think about embarrassment on scale of 1 to 10, 1 being a person walking down the street and 10 is, for me, co-hosting the Oscars with James Franco.”

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Will Smith is well known for appearing in the Men in Black series, but as it turns out, he wasn’t a fan of his work on the sequels. Speaking to Jimmy Fallon about Bad Boys for Life, Will said he “fumbled” a few prior sequels, in particular the Men in Black sequel. He didn’t state which he was referring to, so it could’ve been either Men in Black II or III.

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Megan Fox’s first big movie break was Transformers. While she said the movie itself wasn’t bad, she said she was “terrible” in it. “It’s my first real movie, and it’s not honest and not realistic. The movie wasn’t bad; I just wasn’t proud about what I did,” she said.

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She also cringed while watching a scene from Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. “I’m glad you didn’t make me watch the dialogue scenes,” Megan said in the Entertainment Tonight interview, calling it a “shame” that her old roles “survived long enough to see the dawn of the internet … It would be nice if it had eclipsed, like the internet was born but these things had sort of fallen away and no one could find them.”

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Katherine Heigl famously withdrew herself from Emmy consideration for Grey’s Anatomy in 2008, saying, “I did not feel I was given the material this season to warrant a nomination,” which sparked a lot of drama and rumors of her being ungrateful for her role on the show.

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However, she later said, “I was a little defensive about my season because I thought I hadn’t had a great one. And a lot of that had to do with me and my performances,” suggesting that she wasn’t happy with her own performance that season.

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Jennifer Aniston also cringed while watching herself in Leprechaun. Describing the time Justin Theroux made her rewatch the film, Jennifer said, “It was one of those things when I tried to get that remote out of his hand, and there was just no having it. He was like, ‘No, no, no, no, this is happening.’ I just kept walking in and out, cringing.”


Daniel Radcliffe’s most famous role is as Harry in the Harry Potter films. However, he’s admitted that he wasn’t a fan of everything he did: “Mistakes other actors get to make in rehearsal rooms or at drama school are all on film for everyone to see.”

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He stated that he was particularly unhappy with his acting in the sixth film: “I’m just not very good in it. I hate it. My acting is very one-note, and I can see I got complacent and what I was trying to do just didn’t come across.”

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Back in 2010, Sam Worthington starred in Clash of the Titans. The film received a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Worthington said of his performance, “I think I can fucking act better, to be honest.”

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He promised to be better in the sequel, Wrath of the Titans — however, it was also panned and currently has a 26% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes.


When Brad Pitt starred in12 Monkeys, he said he “nailed” the first half of the film, but felt he got the second half wrong: “That performance bothered me because there was a trap in the writing.”

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“It’s not the writing’s fault, but it was something that I couldn’t figure out. I knew in the second half of the film, I was playing the gimmick of what was real in the first half — until the last scene — and it bugged the [expletive] out of me.” He ended up winning a Golden Globe for his performance.

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In the same interview, Brad described being contractually obligated to make Troy, saying it wasn’t “painful” but wasn’t made the way he would have liked. He admitted that he “made [his] own mistakes in it” as well, suggesting he was unhappy with his performance.

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Colin Farrell starred in Miami Vice in 2006. Like Pitt, Colin had more of an issue with the film than his acting in it, but he still felt his acting left something to be desired: “I didn’t like it so much — I thought it was style over substance, and I accept a good bit of the responsibility.”

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Anya Taylor-Joy is a household name now, but she was just starting out when she appeared in The Witch. She later said she was “devastated” by the performance in the film. “I thought I’d never work again; I still get shivers thinking about it. It was just the worst feeling of, ‘I have let down the people I love most in the world. I didn’t do it right,'” she said.

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And finally, Josh Brolin said that he thought he could’ve been better in Deadpool 2 and he wants to “redeem [himself] to [himself]” in future films where he’s playing the part, as he found a lot of the rhythm of the character’s banter with Deadpool during the press tour after the movie was filmed.

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Which one surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments below!

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