“I remember calling my parents and saying, ‘I’m done, I can’t torture myself anymore.'”
In Hollywood, dealing with rejection is a daily occurrence. Actors who aspire to make it big hear a lot of “no” before they get a life changing “yes” — and sometimes it’s difficult to stick it out for long enough to get that big break.
For many actors, they were on the brink of packing their bags and heading home when they got an audition that changed everything. And had they not decided to stick around for just a little bit longer, we probably wouldn’t know of some incredible actors like John Krasinski, Chris Hemsworth, and Gal Gadot!
Keep reading to find out which actors almost called it quits…
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Right before John Krasinski landed “The Office,” he considered giving up on his dream of becoming an actor. He says that he had moved to New York but made an agreement with his mom that if he didn’t get any roles within a few years, he should try to pursue something else.
“Cut to two and a half years later, I was like, ‘So, I’m out. This is terrible. It’s so scary. Waiting tables, not as fun as they say.’ And she said, ‘It’s September. Give it to the end of the year. Don’t give up just yet.’ I was telling her to come get me. And three weeks later I got ‘The Office,’” John said on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
Gal Gadot wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue acting when she landed her role in “Wonder Woman.” She explained that she had so many auditions that almost panned out but ended up falling through that she became discouraged from continuing her career. But a phone call from Zack Snyder changed everything.
“This profession, the rejection, dude — it’s tough. I had so many ‘almosts,’ and another camera test, and it was almost mine, and another one and another one. I was telling my husband, ‘I’m not sure how long I can take it.’ Dragging my family to Los Angeles…I went back to Israel to shoot a movie and didn’t know if I wanted to continue acting afterwards…I got a phone call from Zack Snyder who wanted to audition me for a secret role,” Gal said on “The Tonight Show” of the role which ended up being Wonder Woman.
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Chris Hemsworth may have been cast in “Star Trek” in 2009 but following his appearance in the film, he didn’t land any roles for eight months. He was on the verge of quitting but was motivated to continue in order to fulfill his dream of paying off his parent’s home.
“I was about to quit. I always wanted to act, and one of the first things I wanted to do when I got any money was pay my parents’ house off…So I was super active with auditions. Then in that eight-month period, I got more and more anxious, to the point where I couldn’t harness that energy…And then my mentality changed, which came from being at a point where I was like, ‘I’m going to go back to Australia.’ I had one more audition where I was like, ‘Do this for his house. Think about reasons other than yourself.’ That was for ‘The Cabin in the Woods,’ and I got that job, and from there I got ‘Red Dawn.’ And then I got ‘Thor,’” Chris told Men’s Health.
Chrissy Metz was nominated for an Emmy for her role in “This Is Us” but she almost gave up on her acting aspirations right before she landed the part. Chrissy explained that things had gotten so bad that she was on unemployment and had to move in with a friend. She says that at the time, she had just cents to her name and had to borrow money to get to the audition.
“I was very close. I was literally calling my family and saying ‘Twelve years? Maybe this is just not happening for me.’ I don’t want to be delusional. I was on unemployment for maybe two months, and my friend had welcomed me into her home, and I’m not paying any bills, and I had to borrow money [for gas] to go to the audition,” Chrissy said on “The IMDB Show.”
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Robert Pattinson nearly quit acting right before landing his starring role as Edward Cullen and it was actually his “Twilight” audition that made him feel like acting wasn’t for him. Robert says he thought the audition went so badly that he called his parents to tell them he was giving up.
“It was the scene when [Edward] had a guitar…My agent was like, ‘Take your guitar into the audition.’ I just walked in and they were like, ‘Oh. You brought a guitar. Do you want to play us a song?’ and I was like, ‘No. This is the worst decision I ever made.’ I was saying no and they were like, ‘You just brought a guitar into just to hold it? Why did you bring a guitar in?’ My entire confidence just s**t the bed. The audition was one of the worst auditions I did in my whole life. I remember calling my parents and saying, ‘I’m done, I can’t torture myself anymore,’” Robert said on the “HFPA In Conversation” podcast.
Amy Adams was on the verge of fame when she faced some setbacks that made her want to quit acting. She was cast in a show called “Dr. Vegas” but soon after learned that her character had been dumped from the show. She had also been cast in an independent film called “Junebug” at the time and thought it might be her final role. She ended up with an Oscar nomination.
“I didn’t know what ‘Junebug’ would be like. They were making it for under $1 million—you just don’t know when you’re involved in smaller projects if they’re going to be seen. So I had to really come to terms with what I wanted in my life and what was going to make me happy. Did that mean staying in L.A. and continuing to pursue a career in film acting? Was it moving to New York and trying to go back to the stage? Or stopping acting altogether? I was at that point in my life where I did not know where I was going to go. I wanted to be a grown-up, but I didn’t know how,” Amy told Vanity Fair.
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Before Henry Cavill was cast as Superman, he was labeled the “unluckiest man in Hollywood.” Henry would so often make the final stages of an audition but not land the role, that he began to think acting wasn’t for him. He even considered joining the armed forces instead.
“I always figured I was okay acting-wise for the job, but I didn’t figure the industry was for me, because I got so close to stuff, I’m ticking all the boxes, but it’s not happening for whatever reason. They would say, ‘You’re the best guy in the room, [but the part is] already on offer to someone else. You’re amazing, you’re absolutely amazing, but we just want to see what this person says.’ Then the agent calls you a few days later and says, ‘No, the other person got it. You were better than him but you’re not a name at this stage.’ It went on and on and on. I was thinking this is ridiculous. How am I supposed to get into a lead role if I’m not a name, yet you have to have one to get there?” Henry told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Then when Henry did a screen test for “James Bond,” his name made headlines in the press and his career took a turn for the better.
Jenna Fischer was ready to quit acting and become a vet technician when she was cast in “The Office.” She explained that she had even signed up for a course and told her agents she was planning to leave but fortunately stuck it out long enough to land the role.
“I did call my managers after seven years of failures and said, ‘I’ve decided to become a vet technician.’ I had signed up. It was a two-year program. I’d been doing some animal rescue, and I was gonna do it full-time. I wanted my vet tech license so that I could administer medicines. And so I was like, ‘I’m outta here.’…My manager and my acting coach sort of yelled at me. They were like, ‘What did you think an acting career was? You thought it was just a bunch of ups? Just a bunch of successes? No! It’s little successes followed by many failures. This is what being an actor is,’” Jenna explained on “The Office Ladies” podcast.
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Brie Larson may have grown up in the entertainment industry but she wasn’t finding the level of success she was hoping for when it came time to go to college. She says she considered leaving acting behind and following in the footsteps of her classmates but soon learned that she’d been cast in “United States of Tara,” playing the daughter of her acting hero Toni Collette.
“It just wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. All the kids I went to school with were going to college and I was still trying to do this thing called ‘acting’ and not going very far. What’s weird about this profession is that no one can really tell you when you are delusional…I was toying with the idea of either studying interior design or marine biology, but then I got a call. All of a sudden I was there with bigger leagues, and I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope I’m doing this right,’” Brie told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Kristen Stewart did numerous auditions growing up but there came a point in time when she hadn’t gotten any commercials for a year and was ready to give up.
“[I said] f**k it. I won’t make my mom drive around Los Angeles anymore. I also got so nervous for every single audition. I was just dying. I had one appointment left and my mom said, ‘Have a little integrity and go to your last one.’ And it was ‘The Safety of Objects.’ If I hadn’t gotten that, I would have been done,” Kristen told Newsweek.
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Claire Danes was out of work for two years before she landed a starring role in “Homeland.” Despite her award-winning role in “Temple Grandin,” it didn’t translate into bigger parts and she considered changing her career to become an interior designer.
“I was stuck. It was confusing. I got a lot of plaudits, and it didn’t translate into more work. I was really, really struggling during that time. It was grim. I was very hurt. Two years of not working was brutal. And a point came where I thought, ‘I really like interior design,’” Claire told Vogue.
Melissa McCarthy had always told herself that she would stop pursuing acting when she turned 30 if things weren’t working out. She ended up landing her role in “Gilmore Girls” right before she celebrated her birthday.
“Things weren’t ‘bad’ but I had been working two jobs and I got to a point where I thought, ‘Why am I doing this? Why am I beating myself up?’Acting wasn’t working out, I was getting rejection after rejection, I wasn’t even getting auditions — I couldn’t get a job to save my life. I always said if I don’t get anything substantial by the time I’m 30, I’m done. And a week before I turned 30, I got ‘Gilmore Girls,’” Melissa told heat magazine.