6 Actors Who Sabotaged Their Own Careers

It’s so difficult to make it as a Hollywood star that once you’ve got there, you’d think you’d do everything you could to stay.

But that’s not always the case, as these six stars prove. Sometimes the only thing standing in the way of success is yourself.

Marcus Chong

Who is Marcus Chong? Exactly. The actor played the key role of tech operator Tank in the first ‘Matrix’ movie and was all set to come back for the rest of the trilogy when talks allegedly broke down over his salary demands.

He subsequently sued the filmmakers and studio, saying that they had succeeded in essentially blackballing him from Hollywood, although they countered by arguing he had verbally threatened them by phone, which resulted in him getting arrested in October 2000.

Ultimately, Tank’s brother-in-law (played by someone else) became the new tech operator for the other two ‘Matrix’ films and Chong hasn’t appeared on the big-screen since ‘The Crow: Wicked Prayer’ in 2005.

George Lazenby

The Australian model’s career is a lesson in ‘almost’, having taken over from Sean Connery in what many people consider to be the best Bond movie, 1969’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’.

Despite being offered a $1million contract for six more 007 films, Lazenby turned them down before his instalment even hit cinemas, annoying the producers by showing up at the premiere with long hair and a beard.

He has said the filmmakers treated him like dirt and refused to listen to his ideas because he was new to the industry, while his then-manager convinced him Bond would soon be old hat in the era of hippies and ‘Easy Rider’.

Various other members of the cast, including Bond girl Diana Rigg and Q actor Desmond Llewellyn, have admitted he was difficult and not prepared to pay his thespian dues. Now 75, Lazenby’s career essentially stalled post-‘OHMSS’ and he has spent a lot of time playing on his Bond persona as well doing the convention circuit.

Top fact: He married (and subsequently divorced) champion tennis player Pam Shriver.

Chevy Chase

It’s quite hard to find someone in Hollywood to say a nice word about Chevy Chase, such is the number of bridges the comedian has burned over the years.

An original member of ‘Saturday Night Live’, he quit after the first season (much to the annoyance of creator Lorne Michaels) but looked set to have a successful film career having starred in iconic comedies like ‘Caddyshack’, ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ and ‘Fletch’.

However, his personality seems to have rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way. He fought with Bill Murray backstage at ‘SNL’, made Kevin Smith feel uncomfortable while they talked about rebooting ‘Fletch’ and left sitcom ‘Community’ in acrimony having argued with showrunner Dan Harmon.

Chevy often seems to think he’s doing it for comedic effect, but anyone who’s seen his brutal Comedy Central roast will understand how little Hollywood seems to like him. Unfortunately, the result is an unfulfilled movie career that could have had a lot more classics in it. Rather than ‘Cops & Robbersons’.

Katherine Heigl

Being branded as difficult to work with is a nasty tag for any actor, but it’s one that Heigl has lived with for some time, ever since she criticised her breakout film ‘Knocked Up’ for being sexist as well as the writing on her TV show, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’.

The star was the subject of a scathing Hollywood Reporter article that spoke to people who had worked with her, with some saying “she’s not worth it” and slamming the on-set behaviour of both her and momager Nancy.

The actress for her part has said, “I’m not a rude person. I’m not an unkind or mean person…I will continue to stand up for myself and I’m never going to stop standing up for my right to be heard, my right to be treated respectfully and professionally in return, my right to draw boundaries.”

Her most recent big-screen outings have been flops, including ‘One for the Money’ (for which she was paid north of £7million) and ‘The Big Wedding’. More recently, she’s tried to consolidate her popularity by returning to TV and has just been cast in the CBS pilot ‘Doubt’.

Richard Castellano

By the time the late Castellano came to play Clemenza in ‘The Godfather’, he was already an acclaimed Oscar-nominated character actor.

His role in the mafia classic should have set him up for life (he was apparently considered to play the Don instead of Brando), but instead he found himself sacked from the sequel.

The story goes that the actor told his agent to push for control over Clemenza’s dialogue in ‘Part II’, as well as asking for more money than the rest of the cast. Castellano has disputed this, saying Francis Ford Coppola misled him over the weight of the character and he was the wrong shape for the role. “The next thing, I saw Coppola quoted as saying that I asked for more money than anyone else, that I asked to rewrite the script,” he explained. “Once the lie gets out, the lie is told and it takes.”

Despite a short run in 1975 sitcom ‘Joe and Sons’ and a small handful for other movies, his career never really recovered and he died aged 55 in 1988.

Vincent Gallo

It must be hard being Vincent Gallo. After all, Vincent Gallo – according to Vincent Gallo – is an artistic genius, a cinematic visionary unmatched by anyone living or dead. If you asked him, he’d probably say he’s better at football than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Unfortunately, you’ve got to back up that kind of spectacular narcissism with quality movies.

His 1998 debut ‘Buffalo 66’ was lauded and threatened to turn the 54-year-old into one of indie cinema’s premier auteurs. 2003’s ‘The Brown Bunny’, in which he showed Vincent Jr. during an explicit oral sex scene, was laughed off the screen at the Cannes Film Festival and he’s since disappeared into obscurity.

His most recent film is ‘Don Quixote 3000’, which promises to be a surreal pop/rock version of the Spanish legend. Yay!

Read more:
Bond Girls: Then And Now
90s Movie Stars: Then And Now
The Best and Worst Models Turned Actors