Movies That Traumatized Actors and Nearly Caused Them To Give Up Their Careers

By: Lisa Lee | Last updated: Jun 03, 2022

From the outside looking in, actors have it made in the shade. They are able to reach great wealth, have a lot of time in between films, and are widely respected for the work that they do. And did we mention the pay?

However, sometimes the process of creating a film can be mentally and physically draining on actors. Some have even reached points where it almost turned them away from the career. We’ve compiled a list of actors who almost had enough of their acting careers after these difficult films.

Jim Carrey In The Grinch

The process of filming The Grinch was enough to turn Jim Carrey into a real-life Grinch! Not only did Carrey have to wear a prosthetic suit covered in yak hair, but he had to spend hours in the makeup chair. Carrey said that the process felt like being buried alive.


After Carrey repeatedly walked off set and the film’s makeup artist temporarily quit, a professional was brought in to help Carrey endure the grueling process. Carrey has said that the experience made him a “zen master.”


Janet Leigh In Psycho

When Psycho was released in 1960, it frightened audiences, but it also scared its lead actress, Janet Leigh. The movie’s famous shower scene took seven days to film, which was tough for Leigh to film. While it wasn’t enough to make her quit acting, it did push her to give up showers, opting to take baths instead.


Leigh once said that she thought about the horrifying scene on a daily basis. The iconic scene left a mark on audiences, and it clearly stuck with Leigh as well.

Carl Weathers In Rocky IV

Rocky IV saw Carl Weather’s Apollo Creed facing off against the deadly Ivan Drago, who was played by Dolph Lundgren. The two actors didn’t get along with each other, which made it difficult to shoot the movie’s intense fight scenes.


While filming, Lundgren threw Weathers to the ground, which pushed Weathers to break his contract and quit the movie. The movie stopped filming for four days while Sylvester Stallone persuaded Weathers to come back. Eventually, Weathers was convinced to return and finished filming his role.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio In The Abyss

While filming The Abyss, actors worked overnights and 70-hour weeks. Many scenes were shot inside a tank, creating an intense, grueling experience for all involved. It was especially difficult for Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, who walked off set after one tough scene.


In the scene, Mastrantonio’s husband, played by Ed Harris, repeatedly slaps her after she drowns. Harris was asked to actually slap Mastrantonio, which made the scene painful to film. When director James Cameron didn’t cut the scene after the cameras ran out of film, she became very upset.

Ian McKellen In The Hobbit Trilogy

Ian McKellen had a tough time when he reprised his role as Gandalf the Gray for The Hobbit. Since Gandalf was supposed to tower over the other characters, many of McKellen’s scenes were filmed on a separate green screen set. The actor found it difficult to perform this way, and it made him wonder he should quit acting.

Although McKellen didn’t enjoy working in front of a green screen, the cast and crew worked to make his filming experience positive. They were successful, and McKellen appeared in all three Hobbit films.


Faye Dunaway In Chinatown

Jack Nicholson convinced Faye Dunaway to star alongside him in Chinatown, but she may have regretted her decision. While the 1974 movie is considered to be a classic, Dunaway clashed with the film’s director, Roman Polanski. During one scene, when Dunaway had a stray hair, Polanski plucked it out of her head.

While filming another scene, Polanski refused to give Dunaway a bathroom break. She eventually had to relieve herself on set in a cup. It was a difficult experience, but Dunaway did receive rave reviews for her performance.


Shelley Duvall In The Shining

Stanley Kubrick pushed Shelley Duvall to her limits when she played Wendy Torrence in The Shining. He demanded constant retakes of shots, and made Duvall shoot the scene where she protects herself with a baseball bat 127 times. To this day, the scene holds the Guinness World Record for the most takes.

On top of that, Kubrick asked the crew to ignore Duvall so that she would feel as isolated as her character does. Duvall has said the experience was so difficult that she begin to lose hair from stress.


Bob Hoskins In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

In order to give a convincing performance while acting against cartoon characters, Bob Hoskins pretended that the characters were actually there. He taught himself to hallucinate the imaginary characters in the scene with him. While this technique was effective, it wound up taking a toll on Hoskins.

After the movie finished filming, Hoskins continued to have hallucinations, even when he wasn’t acting at all. He sought help from doctors, who advised him to take time off from acting. Thankfully, after a year-long acting break, Hoskins fully recovered from his condition.


Tippi Hedren In The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds tells a terrifying story, but the actual experience Tippi Hedren had on set may have been even scarier! In one intense scene, when her character is attacked by birds in an attic, Hitchcock pelted her with real-live birds.

The scene took five days to film, making the process even more grueling. After Hedren was attacked by one of the birds, she walked off set, threatening to quit the movie. While she did return, she had to take a week off to recover from filming the scene.


Melanie Griffith In Roar

Tippi Hedren and her daughter, Melanie Griffith, had more upsetting experiences while filming the movie Roar. Often referred to as the most dangerous film ever made, the movie was filmed around a pride of real lions that had moved into an abandoned house.

Many cast and crew members were attacked while filming, including Melanie Griffith. Afraid for her safety, Griffith quit the film, but was persuaded to come back. When she returned, she was mauled by a lion, which left her with injuries so severe they required plastic surgery.