Major stars who refuse to watch their own films

Sam Ashurst
Contributor
Angelina Jolie, Joaquin Phoenix and Tom Hanks don't watch their own films (Getty/AP/Warner Bros.)

It might sound strange to anyone who enjoys going to the cinema as often as possible, but some movie stars are pretty dedicated to avoiding seeing their own work on the big screen - and even the little screen.

For every Hugh Grant enjoying the stuffing out of Paddington 2, there’s a Joaquin Phoenix squirming away from the screen.

But there’s actually a whole variety of perfectly valid reasons why they might want to dodge experiencing their own performances. We could list them, but it’s probably better we just let them speak for themselves.

Tom Hanks

Actor Tom Hanks attends the premiere for "Toy Story 4" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Unlike a lot of people on this list, Tom Hanks watches his movies once. And we’re pleased about that, because it means he’s been able to see the perfect Toy Story quadrilogy (tetralogy?). But, unlike pretty much everyone reading this list, he’s never watched any of them more than once.

"I don't watch any of my old movies," Hanks told ShortList. "The one that I might watch with great affection is a little movie I directed, That Thing You Do, which I'm not in that much. I loved doing it so much that when I watch it now it still brings a smile to my face."

Read more: Tom Hanks: ‘I'm more Woody than Tom at this point’

"I don't watch my own performances—who does that? That would be madness. I've seen all the movies once, but I don't need to see them again, because they don't change."

Which of course means Hanks has never had the sheer joy of rewatching Big, or any of the other comfort movies he’s in that we like to stick on when we’ve got the flu. Which is obviously a massive shame.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie arrives at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Like Tom Hanks, Jolie has made the jump from actor to director - and it sounds like that move is connected to the reason she doesn’t watch her own movies.

“As an actress, you learn about your character, and you understand the overall picture of any film you’re working on, but there’s so much you’re not a part of,” she said. “And there’s many times I’ve felt frustrated with the films I’ve been in, or seen them and not felt connected to them, or haven’t wanted to watch them at all.”

Let’s hope she’s watched the films she’s directed that she’s also appeared in - where she does have control over every element.

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix arrives for the world premiere of The Sisters Brothers at the Toronto International Film Festival, 2018. REUTERS/Mario Anzouni

Joaquin Phoenix has created some of the most complex and layered performances in cinema.

His take on Joker looks set to elevate what we expect from comic-book movie performances when it lands in cinemas in October. But there’s one person who won’t have their expectations shifted, because he’ll never, ever watch it.

Read more: Joker is ‘going straight to the Oscars’

“Paul Thomas Anderson [the director] got me to watch The Master and I saw Her. Those are the only two I’ve seen,” Phoenix said.

“I thought I might be mature enough to watch and learn. To think: These are the mistakes that were made. But it’s still something I struggle with … Oh, this sounds stupid. Who gives a s**t?”

We do Joaquin!

Johnny Depp

Actor Johnny Depp attends the British premiere of 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald' movie in London, Britain, November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

It’s almost a tragedy that Johnny Depp doesn’t watch his own films - he’s created so many distinctive characters over the years. But whether it’s Jack Sparrow or Edward Scissorhands, his only experience of them exists during the making of the movies - once he steps off set, they’re done with as far as he’s concerned.

Read more: Disney might have cancelled its Pirates reboot

“I made a choice a long time ago, that I was better off not watching my films, which is a drag because you miss out on a lot of your friends’ incredible work,” Depp said.

“But I feel like it would just harm me. I would rather stay as ignorant as possible about the result of anything because once you’re done playing that character, it’s really not your business anymore.”

Julianne Moore

71st Cannes Film Festival - Screening of the film “Yomeddine” in competition - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France May 9, 2018. Actor Julianne Moore poses. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

In 2015, Julianne Moore won an Oscar for her work in Still Alice. It was her fifth nomination. Which makes us wonder if there are career benefits to actors avoiding their own work.

"I haven't seen any of my own movies," Moore said. "I can't sit there for a premiere or anything. I like being in the movie more than I like watching them. That's my big thrill, rather than seeing the finished product."

Javier Bardem

Opening ceremony and screening of the film "The Dead Don't Die" in competition - Cannes, France, May 14, 2019. (REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

Okay, we’re starting to see a pattern when it comes to people who shut their eyes when their movies come onto the telly.

They generally tend to be Oscar winners (everyone on this list except Johnny Depp has won an Oscar - and even he was nominated three times). Oh, and their names begin with ‘J’ - Joaquin, Jolie, Julianne, Johnny, and you can add Javier to the list.

“The fact that I like to make characters doesn’t mean that I like to watch my characters being made, my performance,” he told GQ.

“I can’t even watch that f***ing nose, that f***ing voice, those ridiculous eyes. I can’t handle that. But when I’m doing it, I don’t see my nose or hear my voice; it’s like there’s something stronger, bigger than that. And I need to express it.”

Joker will be in cinemas on 4 October.