Bad Advice Actors Are Glad They Ignored

July 9, 2018

With all the relentless competition in the acting world, sage advice can be invaluable. Acclaimed movie stars share their golden words of wisdom with aspiring actors during interviews; casting professionals advise talent according to their hands-on, practical experience in the biz; and even people on the street or in theater lobbies have plenty of input for performers. It’s up to each actor to decide which tidbits are worthy of their time and which are best ignored. Here are some actors who opted to reject the advice of industry professionals–and they’re glad they did.

Jeff Daniels

Respected actor Jeff Daniels basically found himself in the midst of an intervention by his agents when he decided to take on the role of Harry Dunne opposite Jim Carrey in the slapstick comedy Dumb & Dumber. In a Hollywood Reporter interview, Daniels details the urgent warnings he received in regards to playing the dimwitted Dunne in the relentlessly silly 1994 film. He recalls:

“There were three agents on the phone the night before I flew to do wardrobe for ‘Dumb & Dumber.’ Three agents–one in New York, two in L.A. The two in L.A. were going, ‘We’re going to stop you, you’re not going to do this, you’re a serious actor, we’re trying to get you to the Oscars, this will be the end of your career. Frankly, Jim Carrey is a comedic genius and–with all due respect–he’s gonna wipe you off the screen. Say no, and we’ll take care of it.’ I said, ‘You know what? I’m bored with the career, I want to change it up. If this is a mistake, guys, it’s mine. I’m going.’”

Daniels can feel good about his choice as he’s been credited as carrying “himself admirably in an against-type performance,” and the film developed a following raking in almost $250 million worldwide. Daniels’ 50-year-long career includes performances in Ragtime, Terms of Endearment, The Martian, Godless, The Looming Tower as well as the 1993 Civil War epic Gettysburg, and he won an Emmy for his work in HBO’s The Newsroom.

Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder told Interview magazine about a time when she received discouraging remarks from a casting director when she was a newbie.“I was in the middle of auditioning, and I was mid-sentence when the casting director said, ‘Listen, kid. You should not be an actress. You are not pretty enough. You should go back to where you came from, and you should go to school. You don’t have it.’” That short-sighted casting director would have been far more accurate if he or she had said, “Don’t give up, Winona. You’ll be a superstar with a long, varied, celebrated career–and will even be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!”

Lea Michele

The talented Lea Michele once spoke about a potential manager who gave her some rather unwelcome advice–get plastic surgery. In a New York Daily News interview, Michele recalled, “When I was 15, my mother and I went to meet a manager who said, ‘You have to get a nose job in order for me to work with you’ … My mother would say to me, ‘Barbra Streisand never got a nose job. You’re not getting a nose job.’” The Glee star wrote about her role models in her book Brunette Ambition, saying, “[Streisand] is someone who has built her career on focusing on what makes her unique and special.” Certainly, Michele embraced her authenticity, and her decision to reject that manager’s advice has served her quite well. She followed her heart to Broadway success, won an Emmy for her portrayal as Rachel Berry in Glee, and made the Billboard charts with multiple hit songs.

Helen Mirren

English actress Helen Mirren once stated,“The worst advice I’ve ever gotten was when I was very young, and someone told me, ‘Oh, you’ll never be an actress–you’ll get married and have children.’” Mirren is one of the few performers who have achieved the Triple Crown of Acting in her career and she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to drama. Now, Mirren says, “I’m always open to advice, but some I know not to listen to.”

Steve Carell

The versatile Steve Carell said on The Tonight Show“I had an agent before I auditioned at ‘The Dana Carvey Show’–I had an agent who told me, ‘If something doesn’t happen soon, you should get out of the business.’ My agent said, ‘It’s over.’ And then I moved to New York, and I got this and she wasn’t my agent anymore.” Good thing Carell didn’t heed that agent’s advice. He’s now an acclaimed actor winning a Golden Globe for his work in The Office; he’s a celebrated comedian, a producer, writer, and director to boot!