Jacob Elordi almost quit acting after his sudden fame from The Kissing Booth left him feeling like his brain had gone “through the f*cking wringer.”
In a recent interview with GQ, Elordi opened up about the negative effects overnight fame had on his mental health: “It felt like, all of a sudden, I was a poster. Like I was a billboard. It felt like it was for sale. … Like, I wasn’t sure if I was genuine. … I hated being a character to the public. I felt so far from myself.”
Keira Knightley hasn’t shied away from talking about the darker aspects of fame. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she opened up about “having a breakdown at 22” and almost walking away from acting altogether.
“I think I was the female version of an angry young man,” Knightley said. “I felt I was sinking. I hadn’t been out of the house for three months when the BAFTA nomination [for Atonement] happened, and I remember having conversations with my agent and going, ‘I can’t get there,’ and everyone going, ‘If you don’t get to the BAFTAs, the heat on you is going to be ten times more.’ So I actually did hypnotherapy so that I could stand on the red carpet at the BAFTAs and not have a panic attack.”
In another interview with Balance, Knightley elaborated on the pressures she faced as a young actor. “All of a sudden, people were being very vocal with their views on me as a young woman and as an actress,” she explained. “I lost confidence in myself because I was made to feel that I didn’t deserve to be doing what I was doing. … Looking back, that whole period between 19 and 23 is a big blur. I don’t remember it in a linear way because I think my coping mechanisms were kicking in and shutting a lot of it out.”
Kelly Marie Tran took a step back from acting after she was subject to mass harassment and racism for her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Tran turned down several projects and eventually quit social media altogether. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she explained: “I left. I said no to a lot of things. It felt like I was just hearing the voice of my agents and my publicity team and all of these people telling me what to say and what to do and how to feel. I realized, I didn’t know how I felt anymore. And I didn’t remember why I was in this in the first place.”
“Any time that happens, I have to close up shop and go away for a while and really interact in the real world,” Tran continued. “[I had to] read books and journal and go on hikes and look at a tree and remind myself that there was a fire that burned inside of me before Star Wars, before any of this. And I needed to find that again.”
Dylan O’Brien wasn’t sure if he would ever return to acting after a stunt incident on the set of Maze Runner: The Death Cure left him severely injured.
The accident left O’Brien to deal with a grueling six-month recovery battle. In an interview with Vulture, he explained: “I really was in a dark place there for a while and it wasn’t an easy journey back. There was a time there where I didn’t know if I would ever do it [acting] again … and that thought scared me, too.”
Chris Evans nearly walked away from acting after experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks on set. In fact, he actually turned Marvel down when they first asked him to test screen for the role of Captain America, fearing his anxiety would hinder him.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Evans revealed that he first began experiencing panic attacks on set when he was filming Puncture (2011): “It was the first time I started having mini panic attacks on set. I really started to think, ‘I’m not sure if this [acting] is the right thing for me, I’m not sure if I’m feeling as healthy as I should be feeling.'”
Today, however, Evans calls accepting the role of Captain America “the best decision [he’s] ever made.” He explained: “I really owe that to [Marvel chief] Kevin Feige for being persistent and helping me avoid making a giant mistake. To be honest, all the things that I was fearing never really came to fruition.”
Ashleigh Murray was about to walk away from acting due to financial struggles right before she landed the part of Josie on Riverdale.
“I was $4,700 behind in rent. I lived in New York City, so it was a lot of money,” Murray said in an interview with Collider. “I was just about to take a break from acting for about six months, until I could get myself back on my feet financially, and then hit the ground running. This was my last audition.”
“I went on the audition, and the next day, I was on my way home from the grocery store with $12 in my bank account,” Murray continued. “I had to call my mom and ask her for an extra $5 because the last of it went to food at Whole Foods, just so that I could get home.”
Millie Bobby Brown almost gave up on Hollywood altogether after a failed Game of Thrones audition.
“I think I was just very disheartened by the rejection, which is something I tell everyone. Like, this industry is just full of rejection, 24/7,” the Stranger Things star explained in an interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. “You get far more nos…a lot of nos…before you get a yes. I was auditioning for commercials, for anything, really. I then auditioned for Game of Thrones and I got a ‘no’ for that. Then that’s kind of when I was like, ‘Oh, this is really difficult,’ because I guess I really wanted that role.”
Here’s the full interview:
Daniel Kaluuya said that before he landed the lead in Jordan Peele’s Get Out, he was on the verge of quitting acting due to his experiences with racism in casting.
In a joint interview for Essence, Kaluuya told Peele: “I’ve never told you this, but when you reached out to me and we had that Skype, I was really disillusioned with acting. I had stopped acting for like a year and a half. I checked out, because I was just like, this isn’t working.”
Uzo Aduba decided to quit acting after she was late to an audition. Then, on that very same day, she got a call telling her she’d landed the role of Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren for Orange Is the New Black.
“I walked out and said, ‘That was a great audition, you’re not going to get that job, and you’re not going to get it because you were 20 minutes late,'” Aduba said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “And this is God, the universe, telling you, as it has been trying to tell you all summer long, this is not for you. And you need to stop trying. Because I had been hearing ‘no, no,’ ‘thank you, but no’ since trying this medium. And I sat on the train in tears. … I said, ‘Okay, you win. I’m going to quit.’ And I gave up.”
But that certainly wasn’t the end of Aduba’s career. “[I] got home [and] 45 minutes later, I got the phone call to go and be a part of Orange Is the New Black,” she continued. “5:43 p.m. I’ll never forget it.”
Chris Hemsworth almost quit acting when he didn’t immediately find much success in auditions after his role in Star Trek.
“I was about to quit,” Hemsworth revealed in an interview with Australian Men’s Health. “I got more and more anxious to the point where I couldn’t harness or use that energy. It was all to my detriment. … I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t nervous before auditions rather than grabbing hold of it and going, ‘Use it, raise up the awareness here, sharpen your focus, point it in the right direction.'”
Ashley Benson said that taking a serious break from acting after Pretty Little Liars ended was necessary for her mental health.
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Benson revealed that she took a full year off from acting before deciding to jump back in. “I wanted a break,” she said. “Coming off a show after so long and doing TV continuously throughout my whole life… I needed to take a mental break.”
Before landing her breakout role as Alexis on Schitt’s Creek, Annie Murphy was very close to quitting acting due to financial and personal circumstances.
“My house had just burned down,” Murphy explained in an interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show. “I had, like, $3 in my bank account. I hadn’t worked in close to two years, and I had just blown my very first screen test. Like, blown it, blown it, blown it, blown it. I found myself crying in the Pacific Ocean, a very snotty cry. And the universe was like, ‘Don’t do this anymore. This is not for you.'”
And finally: Robert Pattinson was ready to walk away from acting altogether after a bad experience with a movie and a failed audition.
“I once decided to quit acting; it was when I did Little Ashes,” Pattinson said in an interview with HuffPost. “I played Salvador Dali and had to do a lot of scenes where I was naked, and I also had to masturbate. I mean really. My orgasm face is recorded for eternity.”
The actor said that on top of that, his “entire confidence just sh*t the bed” when he blew an audition. “I remember calling my parents and saying, ‘I’m done, I can’t torture myself anymore,” he explained in an interview with Metro. Two days later, however, Pattinson landed his audition for Twilight.