Editor’s Note: This post includes references of fat-shaming and anti-fatness that might be hard for some to read.
Chris Pratt was originally told he was “too fat” to play Scott Hatteberg in Moneyball — causing him to turn to crash dieting, among other things, in order to lose weight. He ultimately got the role.
Ashley Benson also said she’s been told she’s “too fat” for roles multiple times. “It’s come up a few times in the last few years, like, ‘You’re too fat for this,'” she said. “And I’m just sitting here like, ‘Wait, what? Do you want a skeleton?’ But I feel good. I don’t want to lose 20 pounds, because I don’t need to. You feel pressure to be skinny to get acting work? I get told all the time to lose weight. I got that a month ago. It’s just weird. With my stuff recently, it’s been, ‘You have to be skin and bones or you’re not getting it.’”
At age 37, Maggie Gyllenhaal was told she was “too old” to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man.
Similarly, Geena Davis was told she was too old to play the love interest of a character 20 years older than her.
And Olivia Wilde was interested in playing Naomi in The Wolf of Wall Street at age 29, but was also told she was too old.
Jamie Denbo was also told she was “too old” to play the mother of an 18-year-old and wife of a 57-year-old at age 43.
Tiffany Haddish used to “accidentally” leave her purse (with her phone on inside recording) in audition rooms so that she could hear what casting directors said about her and why she was rejected. Reasons included: “She is not as urban as I thought she would be,” “She’s so ghetto, I just can’t,” “Her boobs aren’t big enough,” and “I really think we should just go with a white girl. This role should be changed to white.”
Zoë Kravitz was similarly rejected for an audition for The Dark Knight Rises because she was “too urban.” Saying it probably came from a casting director or their assistant, and not Christopher Nolan himself, Kravitz expressed frustration. “Being a woman of color and being an actor, and being told at that time that I wasn’t able to read because of the color of my skin, and the word ‘urban’ being thrown around like that, that was what was really hard about that moment,” she said.
Priyanka Chopra was rejected from a 2017 movie role for her race. “I was out for a movie, and somebody [from the studio] called one of my agents and said, ‘She’s the wrong…’ ― what word did they use? ― ‘…physicality.’ So in my defense as an actor, I’m like, ‘Do I need to be skinnier? Do I need to get in shape? Do I need to have abs?’ Like, what does ‘wrong physicality’ mean?” Chopra told InStyle. “And then my agent broke it down for me. Like, ‘I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.'”
It was reported that Regé-Jean Page was also denied the role of Seg-El in Krypton because he was Black. DC Films co-founder Geoff Johns allegedly said, “Superman could not have a Black grandfather,” even after bringing Page in to audition.
And Daniel Kaluuya has also said he was rejected for roles because he’s Black while auditioning in the UK.
Catherine Zeta-Jones was told she was “too old” (at age 19) and “too pretty” for the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show Aspects of Love. The lead was supposed to be 20.
The very day Rachel Brosnahan found out she’d been cast as the lead in comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, she’d lost a role that morning for not being “funny enough.” This was something Brosnahan was told throughout her career.
James McAvoy has been turned down for roles because he’s “too short.” He’s 5’7″, the same height as Tom Cruise.
Mindy Kaling was told that not only was she not attractive enough to play herself in a sketch show, but she wasn’t funny enough. She then became a writer and an actor on The Office, one of the most famous and successful comedies of all time.
And finally, this wasn’t technically for a specific role, but Colton Haynes was told early in his career by his manager that he’d need to change his mannerisms, because they were too “theater” — which Haynes said was “code for gay.” He even took voice lessons to “make my S sounds less sibilant, since the softness of them made me sound gay.”