The most bizarre reasons why actors made movies

From blackmail to mistaken identity, sometimes it's not all about the money.

Sometimes they love the script, most of the time they need the money, but occasionally, an actor will accept a part in a movie for a reason unrelated to quality or cash. With 'Movie 43' making a fleeting apperanece at cinemas, we're sure we're not the only ones who wondered how a low-rent sketch comedy assembled such a stellar cast, but Peter Farrelly has revealed all...

[Related story: Movie 43 gets critical panning]

Guilt tripped... Halle Berry ended up "dunking her bare breasts in guacamole." (Credit: Relativity Media)
The cast of Movie 43

The roles: An assortment of bit-parts for the likes of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Emma Stone and a dozen other high-profile actors.

Why? Producer/director Peter Farrelly has revealed that several of the stars were guilt-tripped into appearing, admitting that his tactic for hiring his big-name cast was: “Wait for them. Shoot when they want to shoot. Guilt them to death.” Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman shot their segment first (a blind date in which Jackman sports testicles on his neck) and were used to ensnare the rest of the talent. Before they knew it, Halle Berry was stirring guacamole with her breasts and Anna Faris was asking to be pooped on. "They clearly wanted out!” joked Farrelly. “But we wouldn't let them."

The wrong Brolin... The Coens meant to hire Josh's dad. (Credit: Miramax)
Josh Brolin

The role: Cowpoke chancer Llewelyn Moss in 'No Country For Old Men' (2007)

Why? According to the Coen Brothers, Brolin was hired by accident when they had intended to hire his actor father, James Brolin. They admitted: “Crossed wires, misunderstanding – who knows what kind of snafu – had resulted in our casting office offering the part to an actor who was patently 30 years too young. Talk about a boo-boo.” They claim they changed the movie's setting to the 80s to accommodate Brolin Jr, but knowing the Coens, this whole anecdote may be an example of their arid sense of humour. “Turns out the Brolin kid is not bad. Still, Jim Brolin. It could have been great.”

The worst movie he could make... Brolin as Jonah Hex. (Credit: Warner Bros.)
Josh Brolin (Again)

The role: The lead in comic sci-fi Western 'Jonah Hex' (2008)

Why? The directors of 'Jonah Hex' definitely hired the right Brolin, but it turns out he was only interested because the movie sounded like it sucked. Talking to MTV News, Brolin confessed: "When I first read [the script] I thought, 'Oh my God it’s awful!' And then I had a moment a week later and I thought why is it awful? Maybe the thing to do is to do the most awful movie I can find.” We hate to break it to you Josh, but this is not how Oscars are won. This is how Adam Sandler movies are made.

Contracted... Norton was forced to do Italian Job. (Credit: Paramount)
Edward Norton

The role: Treacherous villain Steve in 'The Italian Job' (2003)

Why? Norton has a reputation for choosing his roles carefully – and almost always giving them an 'uncredited rewrite' when he does. However, Norton had signed a three-picture deal with Paramount and was being a little too choosy following up 'Primal Fear'. Eventually, the studio coerced Norton into playing the bad guy in Mark Wahlberg's remake of 'The Italian Job', which he wasn't exactly chuffed about – but a contract is a contract. Norton refused to promote the film and made no effort to hide the fact he was obliged to take part in the movie.

Mistaken... Murray confused his Cohen with Coen (Credit: 20th Century Fox)
Bill Murray


The role: Lasagne-loving moggy 'Garfield' (2004)

Why? Murray is even choosier than Ed Norton when it comes to headlining movies – instead of an agent, he has an answering machine which he checks intermittently. Back in 2004, however, he made the bizarre decision of voicing CG cat Garfield, which caused a few puzzled responses. Turns out, Murray had glanced at the script and thought it was written by Joel Coen (one half of the Coen Brothers), but it was actually written by Joel Cohen ('Cheaper By The Dozen'). “I was exhausted, soaked with sweat, and the lines got worse and worse,” he admits. “You sit there and go, 'What can I say that will make this funny?'” Still, this doesn't explain why Murray returned for the sequel...

Defrauded... Keanu claimed he never agreed to do The Watcher (Credit: Universal)
Keanu Reeves

The role: Murderer Griffin in drama 'The Watcher' (2000)

Why? Playing a serial killer in Joe Charbanic's dark thriller is actually one of the bolder moves in Keanu Reeves' career – it's just a shame he was universally ridiculed for it, and didn't even want to do it in the first place. Reeves had allegedly verbally agreed to play a small role in Charbanic's movie, but later claimed that a friend had forged his signature on the contract – but he couldn't prove it. The role grew, but Reeves' miniscule paycheque stayed the same. Understandably, he did no interviews to promote the movie.

Mates-rates... DiCaprio and Maguire thought Don's Plum would never be seen. (Credit: Polo Pictures)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire

The roles: Ian and Derek in low-budget indie 'Don's Plum' (2001)

Why? Back in 1995, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire agreed to star in a cheap and cheerful mini-movie shot by their friend RD Robb for a favour, assuming it'd never actually see the light of day. To their surprise, 'Don's Plum' – a black and white drama set in a diner – was eventually finished, and post-'Titanic', DiCaprio was now the world's biggest star. DiCaprio and Maguire filed a lawsuit, meaning the film could never be shown commercially in the US or Canada. It's probably just as well: Variety called it “unpleasant” and “tedious”.

Raul Julia only made Street fighter for his kids. (Credit: Columbia)
Raul Julia

The role: Videogame villain M Bison in 'Street Fighter: The Movie' (1994)

Why? Generally considered one of the worst videogame movies of all time, if not one of the worst movies period, there's a sad story behind 'Street Fighter' that might make you look at it a little differently. Raul Julia – respected, Golden Globe-winning actor of repute – knew he was dying of stomach cancer, so let his kids pick his final movie role. Huge fans of the videogame, they chose the part of General M Bison in the adaptation of 'Street Fighter', and Julia complied, purely so the youngsters could see their Dad on screen. To his credit, Julia stole the movie from under the nose of Van Damme and friends.

Embarrassing... Meryl tried to show up her kids with her dancing act. (Credit: Universal)
Meryl Streep

The role: Loose woman Donna in musical 'Mamma Mia!' (2008)

Why? Never mind that 'Mamma Mia!' was already a Broadway sensation: Meryl Streep signed up for the all-singing, all-dancing lead role specifically to embarrass her grown-up children. “The dancing part will mortify them. They'll have to move to Alaska,” she laughed. “Just the overalls alone will do it for them.” Weirdly though, she makes no mention of the shame attached to playing mother to a daughter with three possible fathers...