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From the Wire: Criticizing Your Own Movies

From the Wire: Criticizing Your Own Movies

As noted by Slate’s Brow Beat blog, several of the actors involved with the new film “Cloud Atlas” have been promoting it by bashing their older work. Hugo Weaving told Collider that playing the voice of Megatron in the “Transformers” movies was “meaningless” to him, while Tom Hanks qualified his praise for the film (which he compared to “the most extraordinary movie I’ve ever seen”) by noting “It’s not like I’m pushing ‘Turner and Hooch’ or ‘Angels and Demons.'” That inspired Brow Beat to compile a list of other notable examples of actors throwing their own filmography under the bus, like when Mark Wahlberg admitted at a press conference that M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” was kind of completely awful:

“It is what it is. F—ing trees, man. The plants. F— it.” 

Like Weaving and Hanks, Wahlberg made his comments in the context of promoting another movie; in his case, it was 2010’s “The Fighter.” And while I appreciate the candor, and I don’t doubt their honesty (like I’m going to disagree that “Transformers” is meaningless?), let’s not forget how this game is played. After all, when “Angels and Demons” came out, Hanks seemed to like it okay. Don’t believe me? Just ask Tom Hanks:

Yeah that “Angels and Demons” sure is a “fabulous game… loaded with subtext.” Or it’s a piece of junk. Whatever.

Again, I’m not picking on Hanks; merely observing that when you’ve made something quote-unquote “important” (like “Cloud Atlas” or “The Fighter”) one of the easiest ways to prove its importance is by retroactively belittling something you made in the past that was “unimportant.” I happen to like “Cloud Atlas” quite a bit, and Hanks probably does too. But if ten years from now he’s promoting another movie, would you really be that surprised if he took a couple of good natured shots at it? “Can you believe what they had me doing and saying in that movie? A Cockney gangster with a buzz cut and mutton chops?”

Until that new movie comes out, it’s always a masterpiece. After that, well, things change. And, hey, I kind of like “Turner and Hooch.”

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Else Harbeau

For the record, Hugo Weaving has always been consistent in his statements about Transformers (which is why the current brouhaha baffles me) and has never participated in any promotion for those films. As early as 2008 he was saying he'd never seen the first film, a year later he said he never fully understood his own lines, had never met Michael Bay and wasn't a fan of the franchise. He's never been impolite about this or insulting, just disinterested. Fans often think actors should share their zeal for a given project, but actors view certain gigs as just jobs and others as passion projects. Most of the actors involved in Cloud Atlas took a hefty pay cut to participate, and had to work much harder than usual. So it balances out.


One of my favourites is Forest Whitaker reluctantly wriggling his way out of saying Vantage Point was any good during an interview. Can't remember if that was during or after the release, but he's a swell guy for being honest, but not *too* honest that it comes off as churlish.


For a lot of actors (especially the more high-profile ones like here), it is commonplace for their contracts to stipulate that they have to do the press tours and can't say anything negative in regards to the film that could harm it financially. So they're required to speak positively about it, but then after it's been out of theaters and everything all bets are off.

Jordan Hoffman

This is why I will always respect Spike Lee. When promoting Clockers he said something to the tune of: go see my movie, it's not bad, but it is the least interesting thing I've done. And he was right!

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