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16 Actors Who Have Admitted They Regret Their Past Problematic Roles

Gwyneth Paltrow called her fat suit role a "disaster."

1. Emma Stone regrets playing a half-Asian character in Aloha.

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The role: Emma, who is white, played a character of Chinese and Hawaiian descent in the 2015 film Aloha.

What she said about it later: "I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important," she said in an interview. And in 2019, she yelled "I'm sorry!" to Sandra Oh when she made a joke about it at the Golden Globes.

2. Gwyneth Paltrow cringes at her fat suit in Shallow Hal.

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The role: Gwyneth donned a fat suit to play her character in 2001's Shallow Hal, opposite Jack Black.

What she said about it later: In 2020, Gwyneth said in an interview with her assistant that the movie was a "disaster."

3. Jake Gyllenhaal says it "wasn't right" for him star in Prince of Persia.

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The role: Jake, who is white, played Dastan in Disney's Prince of Persia in 2010. Many have questioned why the role didn't go to an actor of Iranian descent.

What he said about it later: "I think I learned a lot from that movie in that I spend a lot of time trying to be very thoughtful about the roles that I pick and why I’m picking them... And you’re bound to slip up and be like, ‘That wasn’t right for me,’ or ‘That didn’t fit perfectly,'" he said in a 2019 interview.

4. Scarlett Johansson backed out of playing a trans man in Rub and Tug after facing criticism.

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The role: In 2018, it was announced that Scarlett would play a trans man in a film called Rub and Tug. At first, she defended her decision, citing other cis actors who have played trans characters.

What she said about it later: “In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project," she wrote in a statement. "Our cultural understanding of transgender people continues to advance, and I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive."

5. Zoe Saldana says she never should have played Nina Simone.

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The role: Zoe, who is of Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Lebanese ancestry, was cast to play the legendary Black singer Nina Simone in a 2016 biopic. She wore dark makeup and a prosthetic nose for the role.

What she said about it later: "I should have done everything in my power with the leverage that I had 10 years ago... I should have done everything in my power to cast a Black woman to play an exceptionally perfect Black woman," she said on Instagram live in 2020.

6. Rooney Mara regrets accepting the role of Tiger Lily.

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The role: Rooney, who is white, played the Native American character Tiger Lily in a 2015 adaptation of Peter Pan.

What she said about it later: "I really hate, hate, hate that I am on that side of the whitewashing conversation. I really do," she said a year later. "I don’t ever want to be on that side of it again. I can understand why people were upset and frustrated.”

7. Jimmy Fallon apologized for playing Chris Rock on SNL in blackface.

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The role: Jimmy wore blackface and did an impersonation of the comedian on Saturday Night Live in 2000. The clip resurfaced last year, sparking backlash.

What he said about it later: "In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable," he tweeted.

8. Hank Azaria stepped down from his longtime role as Apu on The Simpsons.

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The role: Hank, who is white, voiced the role of the Indian character Apu on The Simpsons for 30 years. Hank's portrayal has been criticized as offensive, stereotypical, and a "caricature" of an Indian American immigrant.

What he said about it later: “Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore. It just didn’t feel right," he told the New York Times last year.

9. Anne Hathaway apologized to people with limb differences for her role in The Witches.

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The role: Anne Hathaway played the Grand High Witch in 2020's The Witches, and special effects were used to give her three fingers on each hand. The portrayal was seen as offensive by some, with one advocacy group suggesting that filmmakers used limb differences "to make her more creepy and sinister."

What she said about it later: "I have recently learned that many people with limb differences, especially children, are in pain because of the portrayal of the Grand High Witch in The Witches... As someone who really believes in inclusivity and really, really detests cruelty, I owe you all an apology for the pain caused. I am sorry. I did not connect limb difference with the GHW when the look of the character was brought to me; if I had, I assure you this never would have happened," she wrote on Instagram.

10. Jenny Slate decided to stop voicing a biracial character on Big Mouth.

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The role: Jenny, a white woman, provided the voice of Missy Foreman-Greenwald on Big Mouth for three years. Missy has a white mother and Black father.

What she said about it later: "At the start of the show, I reasoned with myself that it was permissible for me to play 'Missy' because her mom is Jewish and white — as am I. But 'Missy' is also Black, and Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people," she wrote in a statement on her Instagram last year.

11. Kristen Bell left the animated series Central Park, where she played a biracial character.

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The role: Kristen, who is white, was cast to play the role of Molly, who is biracial. Molly has one white parent and one Black parent.

What she said about it later: "This is a time to acknowledge our acts of complicity. Here's [one] of mine. Playing Molly in Central Park shows a lack of awareness of my pervasive privilege. Casting a mixed-race character [with] a white actress undermines the specificity of the mixed-race and Black American experience," she tweeted last year.

12. Alison Brie regrets voicing a Vietnamese American character in BoJack Horseman.

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The role: Alison, a white woman, voiced the character of Diane Nguyen, who is Vietnamese American, for the Netflix hit's six-year run.

What she said about it later: "In hindsight, I wish that I didn't voice the character of Diane Nguyen. I now understand that people of color should always voice people of color. We missed a great opportunity to represent the Vietnamese American community accurately and respectfully, and for that I am truly sorry," she wrote on Instagram last year.

13. Julianne Moore says she's not sure she would play a lesbian again after The Kids Are All Right.

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The role: Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, two straight women, played a lesbian couple in the 2010 Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are All Rright.

What she said about it later: "I look back and go, 'Ouch. Wow.' I don’t know that we would do that today. I don’t know that we would be comfortable. We need to give real representation to people, but I’m grateful for all of the experiences that I’ve had as an actor because my job is to communicate a universality of experience to the world," she told Variety last year.

14. Jimmy Kimmel apologized for doing sketches in blackface.

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The role: Last year, old sketches Jimmy Kimmel did in the '90s went viral. He wore blackface to impersonate celebrities including Karl Malone and Oprah.

What he said about it later: "I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us. That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke," he wrote in a statement last year.

15. Ed Skrein dropped out of Hellboy after learning that his character is supposed to be of Asian descent.

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The role: Ed Skrein, a white actor, accepted the role of Major Ben Daimio in the 2019 Hellboy reboot. In the comics, this character has a multiracial Asian heritage.

What he said about it later: “It is clear that representing this character in a culturally accurate way holds significance for people and that to neglect this responsibility would continue a worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the arts. I feel it is important to honor and respect that. Therefore I have decided to step down so the role can be cast appropriately,” he wrote in a statement shortly after his casting.

16. And finally, Halle Berry apologized for considering the role of a trans man in a movie.

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The role: Halle revealed in an Instagram live that she was considering accepting the role of a trans man in an upcoming, unnamed movie, saying she was excited to take a "deep dive" into "that world."

What she said about it later: "Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks. As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories," she wrote in a statement on Twitter.