21 Actors Who Were Called Too Pretty Or Ugly For A Role

I literally can’t imagine anyone ever thinking Winona Ryder is too ugly for a role, but here we are.


Winona Ryder recently talked about being told she wasn’t attractive enough to be a star in the ’80s. In particular, she’s mentioned in the past that at a specific ’80s audition a casting director stopped her mid-sentence and told her, “You should not be an actress. You are not pretty enough. You should go back to wherever you came from and you should go to school. You. don’t have it.”

Happy Sad Confused

“She was very blunt — I honestly think that she thought she was doing me a favor,” Ryder said of the casting director at the unnamed audition.


Winona’s Stranger Things costar and onscreen love interest, David Harbor, has also discussed not being deemed attractive enough for roles. When he had a bit part in Brokeback Mountainhe says that director Ang Lee told him he needed to look more handsome during a take.


Jessica Alba was similarly told she needed to “be prettier” and “cry pretty” during her character’s death scene in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

20th Century Fox / courtesy Everett Collection


Emmy Rossum almost didn’t get to star as Fiona in Shameless because producers felt she wasn’t capable of not being pretty. “They didn’t want to see me; they wouldn’t even [let me] audition,” she said. “They thought my image was too glamorous, that I couldn’t be pretty.”

Cliff Lipson / Showtime / courtesy Everett Collection


Similarly, Jennifer Lawrence was originally turned down for her role in Winter’s Bone because she was “too pretty” — she had to prove to them she was “not cute.”

Sebastian Mlynarski/Roadside Attractions/ courtesy Everett Collection

Lawrence took a red-eye (they had just moved casting to New York) and then auditioned again. She said of getting the role, “That always helps. Red-eye. Not showering. No makeup. Eventually they went, ‘Oh, she’s right. She’s not cute!”


Last month, Emma Thompson says she was deemed “not pretty enough” by male executives to do nude scenes, which lost her roles. “I have also never conformed to the shape or look of someone they might want to see naked.”

Mark Sagliocco / WireImage via Getty Images


Four Weddings and a Funeral writer Richard Curtis didn’t want Hugh Grant to star in the film because he was too handsome.

Gramercy Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Grant claimed Curtis did “everything in his power to stop me getting the part.” Curtis would later say, “The absolutely key thing for that film when I was writing it was that the person who was playing the lead would not be good-looking. That was the absolute starting thesis of the film” as his reasoning for why.


And Andrew Garfield lost out on the role of Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia series because he “wasn’t handsome enough.”

Walt Disney Co. / courtesy Everett Collection, Phillip Faraone / FilmMagic via Getty Images

He had made it down to the final two, but they went with Ben Barnes instead.


Mindy Kaling wasn’t considered pretty enough to play herself in an unnamed sketch show early in her career. The network (which is no longer on the air, according to Kaling) offered her the show, but then had her audition for the part of herself, and rejected her.

Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images for Early Warning Services, LLC


Alison Brie claims that her past playing polished and “cute” roles almost prevented her from being cast as the less conventionally attractive Ruth in Glow.

Erica Parise / Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection

In an interview with Vulture, which claimed that the character wasn’t meant to be “conventionally attractive,” Brie said, “they didn’t think I was right for the role.” She said that for her auditions she would wear workout clothes with no makeup and tie her hair back, saying she wanted to prove them wrong that she could do the role.


Benedict Cumberbatch was originally considered “not sexy enough” to play Sherlock in Sherlock by BBC execs.

BBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

“You promised us a sexy Sherlock, not him,” Sherlock showrunner Steven Moffat claimed they said.


BBC execs reportedly thought the same of David Tennant as Casanova in Casanova, and wanted Moffat to cast someone sexier.

Laurie Sparham / BBC/Red Productions / Courtesy: Everett Collection


Conversely, Scarlett Johansson was “too sexyto star in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Gregg DeGuire / FilmMagic via Getty Images

Director David Fincher said, “Scarlett Johansson was great. It was a great audition, I’m telling you. But the thing with Scarlett is, you can’t wait for her to take her clothes off.” The role went to Rooney Mara instead.


According to Kate Beckinsale, director Michael Bay didn’t think she was attractive enough for her role in Pearl Harbor because she “wasn’t blonde and [her] boobs weren’t bigger than [her] head.”

Touchstone Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

“I didn’t make sense to him as an attractive woman,” Beckinsale told Yahoo Entertainment. “So there was a lot of panic and concern over, ‘How on earth are we gonna make her attractive?” Beckinsale was put on an intense workout regimen and diet.


Director Joe Wright originally didn’t want Keira Knightley to star in his film Pride and Prejudice because of her good looks.

Focus Features / courtesy Everett Collection

“Then he met me and said, ‘Oh no, you’re fine!”‘ Knightley joked.


After being recast following the pilot for Stumptown, actor Mark Webber went on social media to talk about how he was allegedly fired for not being attractive enough.

ABC, Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images

Webber wrote, “Look, I’m a straight white male so I know my journey has been way less painful in this warped industry, but I’m being recast in a network television show because I’m not handsome enough for the executives, ” calling his treatment “degrading.” The role went to Jake Johnson.


Minnie Driver almost didn’t star in Good Will Hunting because the producer didn’t think she was “hot enough.”

George Kraychyk / Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

Driver called it the rudest thing anyone had said to her in Hollywood — she later revealed it was Harvey Weinstein who said it. Luckily, writers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as well as director Gus Van Sant fought for her to get the role, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.


According to composer Anne Dudley, Polark executive producer Damien Timmer was worried women wouldn’t find star Aidan Turner attractive.

PBS/Mammoth Screen/BBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Dudley reassured Timmer than they would — and she was right. Turner quickly became a major heartthrob.


After being named Esquire’s “sexiest woman alive” in 2005, Jessica Biel said she struggled to get work and was told by a director, “I’m not looking for the sexiest woman; I’m looking for the girl next door.”

Jim Spellman / WireImage via Getty Images

She didn’t name the exact film, but she did name The Other Boleyn Girl as a part she wanted that didn’t go to her.


Meryl Streep was considered “too ugly” to star in King Kong.

Jack Mitchell / Getty Images, Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Producer Dino De Laurentiis actually said “che brutta” (“how ugly”) in front of Meryl when she came to audition — she understood and fired back in Italian. The part went to Jessica Lange instead.


And finally, Melissa De Sousa was considered “too pretty” to play a “down-on-her-luck stripper” in Hustle & Flow.

Paul Archuleta / FilmMagic via Getty Images

De Sousa said she begged them to see her anyway, and that she ended up screen testing, though the role ultimately went to Paula Jai ​​Parker.

Which of these was the most shocking? Got any other examples of actors being told they were too attractive or not attractive enough? Let us know in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.